Too many people think that what happens among a bunch of “faceless bureaucrats” doesn’t matter. The truth is totally different: What private or public officials do–or fail to do–can have devastating consequences.
And the actions taken–or not taken–by the topmost officials at the United States Secret Service may eventually plunge the Nation into the nightmare of another Presidential assassination.
A new book on the Secret Service by the respected author Ronald Kessler warns that the agency is risking the safety of many of its protectees, including President Obama.
In the President’s Secret Service praises the courage and integrity of Secret Service agents as a whole. But it slams SS management for such practices as:
• Shutting off magnetometers to screen crowds for Presidential candidates and even for Presidents Bush and Obama. It was at one such event in Tiblisi, Georgia, that a man threw a grenade at Bush—which failed to explode.
• Secret Service agents are still being trained to expect an attempt by a lone gunman—rather than a professional squad of terrorist assassins.
• The Service’s Counter Assault Teams (CATs) have generally been cut back from five or six agents to two, rendering them useless if a real attack occurred.
• Salaries paid to SS agents have not kept pace with reality. Veteran SS men and women are now being offered up to four times their salary for moving to the private sector, and many are leaving the agency for that reason.
• Another reason for the high attrition rate is that while Congress has greatly expanded the duties of this agency, its top management has not asked for corresponding increases in funding and agents.
• A third reason why many agents are leaving is the widespread knowledge that it takes “juice” or connections with top management to advance one’s career.
• SS agents are being trained with weapons that are outdated (such as the MP5) compared to those used by other law enforcement agencies and the potential assassins they face (such as the M4).
• The agency refuses to ask for help from other agencies to meet its manpower needs. Thus, a visiting head of state at the U.N. General Assembly will generally be assigned only three agents as protection.
• The agency tells agents to grade themselves on their physical training test forms.
• Congressional members who visit the agency’s Rowley Training Center in Laurel, Maryland, are treated to rehearsed scenarios of how the agency would deal with attacks. If agents were allowed to perform these exercises without rehearsals, Congress members would see they can and do make mistakes like anyone else.
Kessler closes his book with the warning: “Without these changes, an assassination of Barack Obama or a future president is likely.
“If that happens, a new Warren Commission will be appointed to study the tragedy. It will find that the Secret Service was shockingly derelict in its duty to the American people and to its own elite corps of brave and dedicated agents.”