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?