For those already credentialed for the G20, the process began Thursday morning at Mellon Arena, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins. This was no clean skate-through, however. Greeting journalists were screeners from the Transportation Safety Administration, wearing those same uniforms we see at the airport. But this screening was much tougher.
First, computer bags went on the ground, where a police dog gave an olfactory examination. Journalists emptied their pockets and transited through metal detectors . Then the Secret Service opened the computer bags, turned the screening machine on, pulled out every electronic device and searched every nook and cranny. When he was through, a second dog — call him the quality control German shepherd — sniffed each bag all over again.
Once through this gauntlet, the journalists were escorted to a bus complete with a police officer on board. Our bus driver got in the wrong line and we sat behind city buses stretching out for a mile. Finally, the bus navigated the deserted streets of Pittsburgh, passing a man holding an American flag upside down. There are no other signs of protesters, though, as the bus began passing through a series of manned gates armed with tire puncturing devices.
Finally, the bus arrived at the convention center, where the meeting is being held. Total time: about 45 minutes.