Former Secret Service Agent Talks Inauguration Safety
Dan Bongino spoke with Patch about what it was like to walk next to the president during the 2009 inauguration.
When President Barack Obama first walked from the U.S. Capitol to the White House for the 56th Presidential Inaugural Parade in January 2009, Severna Park resident Dan Bongino was at his side.
"It is anxiety inducing to the extent that’s really hard to explain to folks," Bongino said. "I was the guy responsible for the parade route portion for a good chunk of it where he got out and started waving to the crowd."
The former Secret Service agent said preparations for the 2013 inauguration started shortly after the 2009 inauguration wrapped up.
"You're securing a quadrant of Washington, DC, to the same level of security that you’re securing the second floor of the White House," Bongino said. "It’s an enormous endeavor."
He said his biggest challenge for him or any long-term Secret Service agent was to remain vigilent throughout the walk.
"The best analogy is riding a motorcycle or handling weapons," Bongino said. "They only become dangerous when you lose respect for it."
Bongino left his job with the Secret Service in 2010 to launch a political campaign for one of Maryland's U.S. Senate seats. A campaign he lost to Sen. Ben Cardin in November.
This year he will watch the inauguration as a spectator and commentor on CNN.
Obama will be sworn in at noon on Jan. 21 on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and the parade will start at 2:30 p.m.
Bongino said one of the nice things about watching the inauguration is he'll get to sleep in. In 2009, his day started at 2 a.m.
"There was no parking down there—even for a Secret Service agent—and my wife was a trooper and agreed to get up at midnight ... and drop me off," Bongino said. "My night did not end until 11 p.m. ... It’s probably the longest day I ever spent."
The other thing he won't miss is the cold weather.
"You can’t make a business suit warm," Bongino said. "You have to look professional too. I just froze."
When Obama took office in 2009, the temperature in Washington was 30 degrees. This time around, the temperature is predicted to be 38 degrees, according to Weather.com.
Despite the cold, the anxiety and the long day, Bongino said he felt proud and honored to serve as part of the security detail in 2009. It offered him a unique view of the inauguration and of the presidency itself.
As to whether he has any future plans of having his own security detail, Bongino said he's still deciding on whether he plans to run for Maryland's governorship or Anne Arundel County Executive.
Bongino said he's likely to make an announcement sometime in late February or early March.