Terrorist attacks in the U.S., from the World Trade Center in 1993 to Oklahoma City in 1995 to the Centennial Olympic Park nail bomb in Atlanta in 1996, inspired a new approach for protecting Americans and visiting dignitaries at large events, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Atlanta Olympics bombing prompted the White House two decades ago to give the U.S. Secret Service the high level of power it has shown in managing security for Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia Saturday and Sunday. Measures include closed highways, concentric security zones inside a nearly 5-square-mile section of central Philadelphia, fenced-in viewing areas, magnetometers and sharpshooters.
“You’ve got to have structure,” said Secret Service Director Joe Clancy. “If you don’t . . . you’ll have mayhem.” Top officials met last week at a secret communications center established expressly for the global event. Office buildings will go empty in the days ahead because employees will be blocked from driving into the city’s core. Courts and schools will be closed. Hospitals have canceled elective operations. “I have never seen anything like this,” said James Cuorato, the onetime city commerce director who is now president of the Independence Visitor Center on Independence Mall. The Secret Service will take over a large balcony of his building, which faces Independence Hall.