National Tragedy: The Secret Service's Lapses

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Secret Service agents guarding the president

The Secret Service is charged with two very solemn and all-encompassing tasks: protection and financial crimes.

The Secret Service’s protection mission is to ensure the safety of the President of the United States (past and present), the First Family (past and present), the Vice president and his family (past and present), presidential candidates, visiting heads of state, and foreign embassies just to name a few.

The Secret Service’s financial mission is to combat the creation and distribution of counterfeit U.S currency, U.S. treasury bonds/certificates, and the investigation of instances of major financial fraud. By recent accounts, the agency is succeeding in its financial mission and failing at its protection mission.

The USSS protection directive came as a direct result of the 1901 assassination of President William McKinney.

The President of the United States must be protected at all times regardless as to whether male or female, young or older, Republican or Democrat (or Independent), popular or unpopular. The American President must be protected at home and abroad, on the clock or off the clock, and by land, sea, and air. These requirements things are concrete – not abstract; mandatory – not optional; functional – not political. That’s why the USSS is a federal law enforcement agency under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

If a Secret Service agent has a bad day, something catastrophic can easily occur. If you ask anyone who remembers President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, TX on November 22nd, 1963, you’ll be quickly informed of how utterly devastating an event the loss of POTUS is – especially due to violence. President Kennedy’s death is widely considered the agency’s biggest public failure to perform its duties.

The Secret Service has had quite a few bad days in recent days and weeks over the last two years.

On November 11th, 2011, an assailant fired 7 bullets into the upper residential quarters of the White House from a black Honda over 700 yards away. Although we are all aware of the March 2012 scandal which occurred in Cartagena, Colombia involving U.S. Secret Service advance team agents, Colombian prostitutes, and copious amounts of alcohol, were you also aware that there have been eight other alcohol-related scandals connected to Secret Service personnel since 2009?

On September 16th, 2014, a security contractor for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta accompanied President Obama and his security detail in an elevator. His bizarre behavior and insistence on videotaping POTUS after being asked and warned to stop is what got the Secret Service’s attention.

This man – who had been previously arrested several times for assault – was carrying a loaded firearm on his person at the time. Three days later (September 19th), an intruder armed with a knife scaled the White House fence, entered an unlocked East Room door, and managed to deeply penetrate the presidential mansion before being apprehended by an off-duty security officer.

A once-proud governmental agency hailed for its professionalism now relegated to relying on happenstance, internal cover-ups, and sheer denial? Say it isn’t so.

This week, U.S. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson – a 35 year veteran of the USSS – appeared at a hearing on Capitol Hill. It didn’t go well. Her attempts to deflect blame and explain away the recent agency failures as protocol malfunctions were not tolerated by Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. They were genuinely furious. 24 hours later, Director Pierson resigned her post. She had no choice.

While it was encouraging that bipartisanship spontaneously erupted over the widespread concern for Mr. Obama’s safety, much work remains to be done moving forward. He is statistically the most threatened American President in this nation’s history – and until the Secret Service gets its act together, he and everyone else they are supposed to be protecting are in more peril than they should be or would be.The USSS’s motto is: “Worthy of trust of confidence.”

Currently, the Secret Service is neither.

 

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