"A U.S. Secret Service agent, in an apparent accident, discharged his shotgun as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was loading his motorcade at the InterContinental Hotel yesterday,” an official told the authors.
Relations between the U.S. and Iran's leadership were already tense, and the Bush administration was in the midst of trying to shape its response to Iran's ramping up its nuclear weapons program.
"Here a Secret Service agent had just given Iran a potentially devastating public-relations coup. Ahmadinejad was certain to reveal the accident in some grand form before the whole of the United Nations. He might allege that the United States had tried to assassinate him, and thus upend the entire conference. 'When I read that, I remember closing my eyes,' recalls the official.
The agent was adjusting the side-mounted shotgun on one of the motorcade’s armored follow-up Suburbans when it discharged. 'Everyone just stopped. The Iranians looked at us and we looked at the Iranians. The agent began to apologize. Ahmadinejad just turned his head and got into his car.' And that was it.
The Iranians told no one. Their silence led several White House aides to begin to see Ahmadinejad in a new light. Here was evidence that maybe Iran was acting strategically, and therefore cautiously."
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