Update on the Secret Service: Mud


The Secret Service Director, Julia Pierson, resigned.

Because today’s news carried yet another tale of a dangerous botch by her agency, an episode in which the President was allowed to ride in a elevator with an unscreened individual who had a gun on his person, this looks like a final straw situation when no final straw was needed.

It was crucial that she be fired, by Obama, and that this be made clear, as well as why she was being fired: incompetence, poor performance by the Service, no trust of confidence by him, Congress or the public. This should have been conveyed immediately after the fence-jumper fiasco. If not then, immediately after Pierson’s embarrassing performance before Congress yesterday. The message that the President himself will not tolerate sub-par performance would be a welcome and encouraging one even as ridiculously late as that would be, six years into his Presidency.

But no. As usual, the Administration’s message, and values,  are as clear as mud. Homeland Security Secretary Joe Jeh’s statement announcement of the resignation was typical equivocal murk:

1. I have accepted Pierson’s resignation.

2. I salute her 30 years of service.

3. We are studying the fence-jumping incident.

4. Scrutiny “by a distinguished panel of independent experts of the September 19 incident and related issues concerning the Secret Service is warranted. The Panelists will be named shortly.”

5. “The Secret Service is one of the finest official protection services in the world, consisting of men and women who are highly trained and skilled professionals prepared to put their own lives on the line in a second’s notice for the people they protect. Last week, the Secret Service was responsible for the protection of the President as well as 140 visiting heads of state or government as they convened at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. Likewise, in August the Secret Service handled the protection of 60 world leaders as they convened in Washington, D.C. for the African Summit. As usual, the Secret Service executed these highly complex and demanding assignments without incident. There is no other protection service in the world that could have done this.”

So if the Secret Service it is so good, and performed so well recently, why is the Director quitting? Why is a panel needed, if the agents are so well-trained and the agency performs so well?



Pointer: Slate

Sources: Washington Post 1, 2

22 thoughts on “Update on the Secret Service: Mud

  1. No, Pierson’s NAME should be mud at this point. I think she resigned because she knew with this new information about an armed convict being near the President she was going to be fired and wanted to get out of there before the axe came down. Good for her for realizing that it was time to get the hell out of Dodge. I still say Obama wouldn’t have fired her because of her gender. Then again, perhaps she, as the first female Secret Service director, has as has been mentioned here, flunked trailblazer ethics.

  2. Personally, I’m unsurprised at how the White House handled this, including their announcement. They couldn’t find it in themselves to admit that their politically correct chief of the Secret Service had brought this once fine agency down into the dirt in record time. When you appoint key personnel on the basis of politics and image, rather than of ability, you risk such things at every turn. And Obama makes his appointments SOLELY on that basis. Little wonder that his administration has become a case study in ineptitude.

    • The Secret Service ‘brand’ was already in the mud when Pierson took over. The difference is that prior to this the assumption was that they were competent – sleazy and unprofessional scum who don’t reliably pay the hookers they were always picking up, but still capable of protecting the president.

      • I dealt with the Secret Service on nearly a regular basis throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s. They were a fine bunch of guys and as thoroughly professional as you could ask for. As a veteran, though, I can tell you that an outfit’s leadership can make a world of difference and in an amazingly short period of time. I think it’s been made abundantly evident- especially from the events of the past year- that low morale and the corresponding loss of discipline has taken its toll on the Secret Service. Don’t delude yourself into thinking this is another of those endless “Blame Bush” situations. I’m sure the administration would love to be able to present it that way, but they’ve played that card so ragged that even MSNBC is leery of it.

  3. I never say anything bad about my former employers, even though I could. It’s neither polite nor constructive, and it rarely makes good sense to burn bridges. I learned a long time ago as a young supervisor to make every criticism sound positive and uplifting, because I heard from mine if I didn’t. One mistake teaches quickly.

    The agency has been a joke for a long time. The US Marshal Service is even worse, and justifiably refer to the F.B.I. as “Firearm-Bearing Idiots.” Pierson didn’t screw the pooch; it had already been gang-banged.

    After that last incident, she needed to go. And while we can say they are a bunch of clowns, he really can’t. We can all read between the lines. It is the world in which we live, and the world we all laugh at.

    If there is a second constant in the world, it is human folly.

  4. You know… There’s a little bit of moral luck involved here. What if that guy had actually shot Obama? My god. I don’t care for his policies, but you think America is a little bit crazy right now? Kill the president and see what happens. (a little Trollin’ for the NSA happening there.)

      • Valerie Jarrett would probably find him easier to control. However, foreign and domestic regard for the Presidency would undoubtedly go from disdain to full blown contempt with the administration of a President Biden. Some Vice Presidents- chosen deliberately from political “non-entities” for their regional electoral benefit- rose to the occasion when a president died in office. Teddy Roosevelt, Chester A. Arthur, Calvin Coolidge and Harry S. Truman are examples. I can state without hesitation that Joe Biden would not ascend to their ranks!

        • Oh, since you made that assertion, I have to argue with you.

          You have studied presidents – by what you have written, I have no reason to doubt or dispute that. So I trust you a great deal about what you say about presidents (past and present).

          But, you have not said that you have studied VICE presidents as diligently. Thus I believe you have not qualified yourself to be as credible in what you say about guys like Ford and Biden. I, on the other hand, freely admit that I am talking out of my arse about both presidents and vice presidents – plus, despite all my Eeyore-ness, I am actually optimistic about a thing or two, now and then. So, I don’t expect that Biden would be MUCH better. But I can’t imagine a veteran politician at the national level, not even Biden, being a worse president than Obama – no matter how brief his term, no matter how much Valerie Jarrett manages to screw up what he aims to do.

          • Oh, I’ve studied Vice-presidents. In general, they have serious handicaps that would stop them from becoming President, unless they get lucky. More to the point, I’ve followed Biden long before I knew there was a Barack Obama. Unless I find out that the President lifted his own life story in his autobiography, like Biden did in his infamous autobiographical campaign speech, or that he ever told the Chinese that he “understood” why they encouraged killing baby girls, I’ll trust Obama. If Biden was just a political hack, I would agree with you. He’s a dumb and unethical hack, and I’ve seen no indication that he has any special ability where Obama so obviously lacks it—leadership, management. I agree that it is unlikely that Biden could be much worse than Obama. Still, it’s a gamble I would not take.

            • Well, I wasn’t aware of those two particular incidents. I do have to wonder what would happen if the media harped on Biden’s crap the way they do anything Sarah Palin ever says that’s the least bit controversial. At least he actually has some sort of public office, which should make his stupid comments more newsworthy to our perfectly fair and unbiased media. 😉

              • Bingo. During the 2008 campaign, the media worked overtime to paint Palin as an idiot, while Biden’s credentials as an idiot were far more disturbing….and he adds to them almost daily. This was sexist, classist, unfair, and of course, partisan. Similarly, Dan Quayle never got close to accumulating the number of gaffes Biden has, but the media relentless portrayed him as just short of mentally handicapped. I wouldn’t sign up for a course taught be any of the three, but go ahead, Democrats, explain the disparity without conceding a partisan media bias.

  5. I’ve been pondering these mishaps that we’ve learned about the last few days, especially an account I read that the bullets shot at the White House were, at one point, thought to have been the work of a gang fighting on the White House lawn. Seriously? The Secret Service considered the possibility that there’d been a gang fight on the White House lawn?

    It’s been particularly jarring reading about these things while I’ve been watching the wonderful PBS series “The Roosevelts”. Is there any doubt that Theodore Roosevelt himself would have 1) fired right back at the people shooting at the White House and 2) personally tackled Omar Gonzalez himself?

    • Nope…no doubt that TR would have taken care of those situations himself. Furthermore, if TR were alive today, he just might be keeping the peace in the Mid East and using a big stick to knock the hell out of any pesky “would be” terrorists…all while serving as the NFL commissioner. I think he would kick Lance Armstrong’s ass also. Basically, for being such a jerk.

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