This could have been bad: According to an excerpt from Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry by Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady, a Secret Service agent accidentally discharged his shotgun outside New York's InterContinental Hotel in fall 2006, nearly shooting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the process. The incident took place during the United Nations General Assembly and was described in a brief item in one of President George W. Bush's daily intelligence briefs.

According to one official, it began, "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."

At the time, the Bush administration was weighing how to deal with the Iranian nuclear-weapons program. And 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.

Good to know. If you want George W. Bush's personal take on the incident, you could always ask him yourself.

[The Atlantic/Image via AP]