Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fix the Secret Service

    Starting with Abraham Lincoln, the American public has lived with the potential assassination of our president. Since the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, the United States Secret Service has had the responsibility of protecting the president and his family.
    Our nation long ago learned the painful lessons of what can happen when protective measures fail. It also learned about the courage of Secret Service agents who took or tried to take bullets intended for the president.
    Unhappily, something has gone terribly wrong with our Secret Service. When a man recently scaled the White House fence, agents did not unleash attack dogs, apparently out of fear they would bite the wrong person. A congressional hearing to find out how the man gained entrance through an unlocked door and sprinted through the East Wing until an off-duty official tackled him found gaping holes in protection of the official residence. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, who failed to tell the president—or anyone else—that an armed man previously had been allowed into an elevator with him, resigned.
    Defenders of the Secret Service ridiculously blamed the scrutiny on a media frenzy. Sequestration has cost the Secret Service in preparedness, but that’s not the only problem. There are deeper issues evident when people who live with the assignment to take a bullet apparently have are afraid to expose agency problems.
    Secret Service agents are not a fraternity or a boy’s club. The country needs to break down the heavy drinking, woman-chasing, macho attitude that has been part of the culture of the Secret Service, the same attitudes that resulted in the Navy’s 1992 Tailhook scandal.
    It’s now Congress’ responsibility to fix the Secret Service and fix it fast to prevent another national tragedy.

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