Summer turns to fall and another scandal hits the already tumultuously corrupt Obama Administration. This scandal affects the Secret Service an agency created in the aftermath of President Lincoln’s assassination to protect the President. The Secret Service is also responsible with combating currency counterfeiting and it’s nearly a century and a half existence has seen success and failures. As part federal agency rotating chairs during its history it has been located in the Treasury and Homeland Security Departments.
The Secret Service’s failures have become particularly evident during the Obama Administration. Noted journalist George Will recently observed on Fox News that there’s a direct correlation between a government agency’s arrogance and incompetence. Earlier in the Obama Administration it was revealed that Secret Service agents on assignment in Colombia had become involved with prostitutes and were publicly intoxicated in Amsterdam. There have been bullets into White House window, various White House fence security breaches, an intruder armed with a knife was able to actually enter the White House, get beyond the portico, and be in the East Room before he was apprehended. We’ve also recently learned that a contractor carrying a gun and with three felony convictions on his criminal record was able to get into an elevator with the President while he was visiting the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
The instinctive response of the Secret Service, as is often true for government agencies confronted by a self-inflicted crisis, is to blame budget cuts. In the case of the Secret Service they are blaming sequestration the way an alcoholic turns to the bottle and a drug addict turns to their needle. When an agency such as the Secret Service can afford a multimillion dollar “renovation” of the 8th floor of their headquarters, but can’t put its financial resources into protecting the President and his family it’s a sign of an agency with misplaced priorities. I’m also tired of hearing the impersonal euphemism “mistakes were made.” Try demonstrating personal accountability and say “we made mistakes” or “I made mistakes.”
For obvious reasons, the Secret Service has to keep much of its presidential protection procedures secret. In the case of securing the White House, I would suggest they quit fixating on computer and closed circuit tv screens, and actually have agents on the beat walking the White House grounds on a regular basis to spot potential intrusions. Having well-trained guard dogs would also be beneficial. They should also quit engaging in superficial measures like adding additional barriers outside of the White House fence and extending the security perimeter farther north of the White House. Secret Service agents should also try basic human relations skills in their public interactions. George Will, in this same Fox News appearance, mentioned how he had President-elect Obama at his house for dinner a week before Obama’s first inauguration. Apparently some of Will’s neighbors across the street stood out in their front yards to get an view of the incoming President before he entered Will’s house. According to Will, Secret Service agents brusquely forced the neighbors to get inside their house.
The Secret Service needs to remember that they serve the American public and that their salaries are paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Besides protecting the President and his family, we should at least expect respectful treatment from Secret Service agents as long as we are not physically threatening the President. I support the calls for a blue ribbon commission to carefully examine the Secret Service’s cultural and performance problems. Hopefully, recommendations from this commission will be implemented to restructure and reform this now rogue agency. Today’s resignation of the Secret Service director is also a step in the right direction. The Senate will have to be particularly vigilant in reviewing the nomination of the next Director to ensure this individual is enthusiastically committed to reforming this agency and making it more effective instead of being a bureaucratic Obama Administration sycophant.