One the most powerful regulators in the United States is having trouble leaving the confines Washington, DC. Just yesterday, FCC commissioner Ajit Pai abruptly cancelled a keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
The cancellation, confirmed yesterday by CES organizers, comes less than a week before the scheduled event.
Pai has attended CES for the past six consecutive years, raising questions over why the latest speech was abruptly nixed. Neither CES nor the FCC has fered a reason for the sudden cancellation. But it now appears that numerous death threats are to blame.
According to a pair sources on Capitol Hill, Pai’s security detail is now ‘untenable’ with ‘multiple, unsubstantiated death threats’ linked specifically to the Vegas itinerary. One source indicated that such threats are ‘routine for presidents and vice presidents’ but highly unusual for heads government agencies like the FCC.
“There’s not the budget for staffing CES] from threats that level,” the second source relayed, noting that Pai’s security detail is ill-equipped to protect against snipers, attackers, bombs, gas attacks, vehicular blockades, and other assassination attempts. The Consumer Electronics Show is one the largest conferences in the world, with hundreds thousands crowding the city.
That creates constant gridlock, huge crowds, and increased vulnerability.
“Basically if these threats are credible, you need armored vehicles — and I mean plural — not to mention area sweeps, aerial support, and Secret Service directly manning the commissioner at all times,” one the sources relayed.
In October last year, a gunman opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest music festival. The incident became the single worst shooting in US history by a lone gunman, and raised awareness serious security vulnerabilities.
Neither source works for the US Secret Service, though both have connections to the agency and knowledge its operations.
Earlier, Pai complained various death threats.
But it’s unclear who was making those threats, or how serious they were. All which makes it difficult to ascertain the seriousness the latest threats.
Meanwhile, protesters have flooded Pai’s suburban Virginia residence following the aggressive rollback net neutrality. According to Pai himself, aggressive protesters have lurked directly outside the windows his home, displayed signs carrying the names his children, and even distributed information to neighbors.
In response to inquiries, CES merely fered the following statement on the cancellation:
“Unfortunately, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is unable to attend CES 2018. We look forward to our next opportunity to host a technology policy discussion with him before a public audience.”
At this stage, it’s unclear if other FCC commissioners are also canceling.
More as this develops.