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Dallas Gets Ready for the President's Return

By Bill Zeeble, KERA News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-818984.mp3

Dallas, TX – The Secret Service isn't saying much. The Dallas Police are mostly mum. But the FBI's former Number 2 says life's about to change in Dallas' Preston Hollow neighborhood. KERA's Bill Zeeble has more on how the return of George W. and Laura Bush will change an area.

We already know some things about the security gate planned for Meaders Lane at Daria Drive. It's designed to keep the curious and dangerous away from the Bush's cul-de-sac home, and the 13 houses behind it. A 1993 Texas law [by Houston Senator Don Henderson] passed with George H.W. Bush in mind. With city council approval, it allows a gate on public property where a former president lives. Without opposition or discussion, the Dallas City Council approved the gate last month. Many Preston Hollow residents say they'll warmly welcome the Bushes and expect no big changes. But retired FBI Executive Assistant Director Buck Revell says changes have already occurred.

Buck Revell, retired Executive Assistant Director, FBI: Changes started as soon as they started looking for a home. The Secret Service would have conducted background investigations on all potential neighbors. If there had been a problem in the area, they wouldn't have bought the home.

Revell knows about security. When he was with the FBI, it was his job to protect the U.S. Attorney General and the FBI Director. Revell says those living behind the Preston Hollow gate will receive passes to come and go. That may not hold true for Preston Hollow's maintenance & work crews. Revell says they better be here legally.

Revell: Because if they do security checks & ask for drivers licenses and identification, and they're illegal immigrants, then the Secret Service has the obligation to notify Immigration. So that could be a complication in getting yard work or repair work done in the neighborhood.

Revell says despite Mr. Bush's high negatives upon leaving office, he does not think there are significant threats against Bush.

Revell: But you can never tell about the individual zealot, the Lee Harvey Oswalds of the world, people who act independently, people who think the president is a war criminal and action needs to be taken. There's a radical element out there who has a grudge against President Bush. The Secret Service will take those seriously and be prepared for any contingency.

A small band of protesters recently gathered at Daria, Bush's new street, and also near SMU, future home of the Bush library. Activist Hadi Jawad led a dozen people who call Bush a war criminal.

Hadi Jawad, anti war protester: In our country, if no one s above the law and if a man robs a bank, we don't launch investigations, we arrest the offender and lock them up. That's what needs to happen to George W.Bush for the crimes he's committed. for the war crimes he's committed in iraq and in Abu Graib. Guantanamo Bay.

Allegations like those might make some security people nervous. Dallas Assistant City Attorney, Art Hudman, says that's why the security gate may be more like a brick wall.

Art Hudman, Senior Assistant City Attorney, Dallas: We haven't seen a design yet. It'll be a total block-off of the street. To prevent people from jumping the gate, I think it is planned to extend into the neighbor's property on either side... The applicant is supposed to be working that out with the specific individual abutting neighbors.

Buck Revell says expect 24-7 security, with electronic surveillance & agents on patrol. He does not believe roads will be closed every time the Bushes travel. Revell: At this point that would be unacceptable to people in the area. Whenever they go out they will be driven by Secret Service & will be escorted. I think the Bushes want to be as quiet and as unobtrusive as possible in the neighborhood.

Charles Armstrong's not worried. As treasurer of the Preston Hollow East Homeowners Association, the president will once again be a neighbor. He remembers when Mr. Bush was accompanied by Secret Service members while his father was president.

Charles Armstrong, Preston Hollow East Homeowners Association: Even though he had Secret Service protection, it didn't inhibit the neighborhood or put a strain on it. I really don't think it'll be a negative on the neighborhood. There'll be Secret Service vehicles but I think he'll go around the neighborhood no different than he did before he was governor. I think the Bushes seem very much acclimated to the neighborhood.

He also thinks protests will die away. No matter what, security surrounding the Bushes won't last forever. While other living presidents have had lifetime security, a law passed during the Clinton administration now limits it to 10 years, unless a security threat warrants an extension.

Send E-mail to Bill Zeeble