Entries in Secret Service (4)

Friday
Apr272012

Secret Service Sex Scandal Much Ado About Nothing

The biggest non-story story of the year involves the United States Secret Service.  Its all Secret Service, all the time.  Google hits for Secret Service in 2012 are literally off the chart.

There are over 3,200 news articles listed on Google at the time of this posting.  Whats the big news?  Secret Service agents partied with members of the opposite sex in El Salvador as well as Colombia. 

I began working in law enforcement at age 22.  As an Officer with the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service, I assigned to the White House division in 1976-77.  The job was so boring, I quit to become a police officer in my home town.  After receiving my degree in criminal justice in 1980, I was hired by the U.S. State Department.  From 1980-83 I worked as a special agent for the Diplomatic Security Service, traveling to 14 countries on various assignments. 

Contrary to popular belief, personal protection is not a glamorous job.  Agents work very hard for long hours, planning for every possible scenario during the visit.  The logistics are mind boggling.  Agents spend hundreds of hours planning for overseas trips.

We spent over a month in London on the advance team for the Secretary of States visit to Great Britain with Ronald Reagan in 1982. We worked side by side with the Secret Service and White House advance teams.

President Ronald Reagan delivered his 1982 speech to members of the British Parliament in the Royal Gallery at the Palace of Westminster in London. The speech was broadcast live in the U.S. on all the national morning talk shows. I was inside the Westminster Palace sitting a next to the Military Officer carrying the football with the nuclear codes the POTUS would need to launch a response from a Soviet missile attack.  My parents saw me while watching the Today Show and recorded the speech on a VHS tape. 

While in London we worked with the Metropolitan Police, the agency responsible for law enforcement at all levels in England, much like the RCMP in Canada.  Prior to the arrival of the President and Secretary of State  we socialized at pubs, clubs, and casinos after work, on our own dime and time.  We did not compromise the security of our protectees.  By the way, this was during the cold war.

The Presidents speech contains one of the more memorable phrases spoken during his presidency. He predicts the eventual downfall of Communism, stating that it will be left on the ash heap of history.  President Reagan eloquently explains the reasons behind his staunch opposition to Communism while encouraging the British to aid in the worldwide struggle for freedom, recalling the success of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the fight against Nazi tyranny. This speech occurred during a period of heightened tensions between the United States and Soviet Russia which at that time dominated much of Eastern Europe and was attempting to spread its Communist ideology into other countries as well, a provocative endeavor adamantly opposed by President Reagan.

The cold war is over.  The Secret Service and other federal law enforcement agencies have been hiring gay and lesbian agents for over twenty years.  Blackmail for heing and sheing is not the issue it was in 1982.  Yet for some reason, its now national news that members of Secret Service advance teams in Colombia and El Salvador drank and socialized with members of the opposite sex in 2012. 

Heres a news bulletin. If DHS decides to polygraph and fire every Secret Service agent/officer who has ever partied in strip clubs after work, or had an overnight guest in their hotel room, the agency will be hiring thousands of new agents.  The majority of agents cant pass that polygraph. 

No doubt agent applications from lesbian teetotalers will go to the top of the pile. Good luck with that.

Be careful what kind of shit you stir up for no good reason other than titillating headlines, main stream media. If you keep this up, there will be real stories to write about compromising the Presidents security. 

Only in America

Tuesday
Apr172012

No Secrets in the Secret Service

I wasnt going to write on this story but Ive received several emails about it and had quite a number of hits from search engines queries of Secret Service.

Since the Washington Post first broke the story Saturday, details have started to leak about the incident, which took place during a wild night of partying at a hotel in Cartagena Wednesday night, two days before Obamas arrival in Colombia.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the staff at the Hotel Caribe was first alerted to the Secret Service agents cavorting by a dispute between at least one local woman and at least one Secret Service agent over a bill for services rendered. When the agent would not open the door for the hotel manager, the hotel called the local police. 

The hotel then checked to see who might have brought the call girls to the party, and initially came up with a list of 22 Americans — 17 Secret Service agents and five members of the U.S. special forces — who may have been involved in the partying.

The U.S. Embassy was then informed and 11 agents were recalled from Colombia on Thursday. The Secret Service said  that all 11 agents were put on administrative leave today following interviews about the incident with agency officials in Washington. Their Top Secret clearances have been revoked, which will almost certainly result in all of them being fired.

A Secret Service spokesman told reporters that, This incident is not reflective of the behavior of our personnel as they travel every day throughout the country and the world performing their duties in a dedicated, professional manner, the agency said in a statement. We regret any distraction from the Summit of the Americas this situation has caused.

None of the agents involved were on the Presidents personal security detail, according to the statement. 

As a former Secret Service Uniformed Officer and a former U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security special agent, I was surprised when this story was reported as national news.   You could make a case that its the biggest story in the country and has been since it broke.  The Secret Service titillation (pun intended) has definitely overshadowed the actual Summit.  You couldnt find a random person on the street who knows ANYTHING about the Summit except the Secret Service sex scandal. Thats a hint as to how important these boondoggles are in the first place.

In fairness, its been over 30 years since I worked for the Secret Service or DSS but more recently, I was assigned to protective security details for DSS durig the United Nationals General Assembly meetings in New York as a U.S. Customs special agent.  I also assisted the Secret Service, which was also located in the same building as ICE Homeland Security Investigations, on some grunt work during my career. I retired in August of 2008.

Im old school and  believe in the code, which is in effect in baseball locker rooms, Las Vegas and yes, law enforcement agencies all over the world.  Heres a news flash for you, guys with low testosterone levels, dont go to work for law enforcement agencies.  The same can be said for most U.S. Presidents, Obama being the obvious exception. 

The real story is not the heing and sheing of consenting adults on their own time.  The real story is the waste and mismanagement all over the federal government.  I traveled to 14 countries doing advances for the Secretary of State of other high level U.S. officials.  An advance team could fit in a sedan back in the day. 

Today it takes a fleet of C14 cargo planes and hundreds of personnel to perform the same function that half a dozen agents used to do.  The federal government is simply too big to function effectively and efficiently.  The Secret Service now has well over 5,000 agents and officers. When JFK was shot almost 50 years ago, there were less than 500.  The population has not grown ten fold in fifty years.

My agency grew ten fold in less than 25 years.  Believe me, the work did not.  The federal government is the largest and most dysfunctional organization in America.  Until taxpayers and Congress acknowledges this problem, nothing is going to change.  Doing more with less is a concept that does not exist inside the federal bureaucracy because the government is not held accountable to anyone. 

Oh, theyll fire a dozen or so agents at the Secret Service and a half dozen supervisors at GSA.  But the waste, fraud and mismanagement is part of EVERY agency in the federal government.  Its the culture of the bureaucracy. Youre more likely to be fired for bucking the corrupt system than reporting misconduct. Whistle blowers careers end instantly.  And most importantly, federal spending continues to increase, no matter what happens with the economy.

Ive said it before and Ill say it again, the federal government needs to be cut across the board by a third, a minimum of 33% has to go.  This could easily be accomplished through attrition if the feds would institute a hiring freeze.  But this still has not happened, in spite of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  In fact the number of federal employees and the size of the federal deficit grows larger by the minute. 

Wake up America.  Heing and sheing have been going on since Adam and Eve and its never going to stop.  But the size and scope of the government can and should be controlled. Cut taxes, cut spending, cut the size of the bureaucracy.  Government is the problem, not the solution to our problems. 

Sunday
Mar042012

Secret Service to Supersede First Amendment 

The House of Representatives recently approved a bill that outlaws protests in instances where some government officials are nearby, whether or not you even know it.

The US House of Representatives voted 388-to-3 in favor of H.R. 347 , a bill which is being dubbed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. In the bill, Congress officially makes it illegal to trespass on the grounds of the White House, which, on the surface, seems not just harmless and necessary, but somewhat shocking that such a rule isn’t already on the books. The wording in the bill, however, extends to allow the government to go after much more than tourists that transverse the wrought iron White House fence.

Under the act, the government is also given the power to bring charges against Americans engaged in political protest anywhere in the country.

Under current law, White House trespassers are prosecuted under a local ordinance, a Washington, DC legislation that can bring misdemeanor charges for anyone trying to get close to the president without authorization. Under H.R. 347, a federal law will formally be applied to such instances, but will also allow the government to bring charges to protesters, demonstrators and activists at political events and other outings across America.

The new legislation allows prosecutors to charge anyone who enters a building without permission or with the intent to disrupt a government function with a federal offense if Secret Service is on the scene, but the law stretches to include not just the president’s palatial Pennsylvania Avenue home. Under the law, any building or grounds where the president is visiting — even temporarily — is covered, as is any building or grounds “restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance.

It’s not just the president who would be spared from protesters, either.

Covered under the bill is any person protected by the Secret Service. Although such protection isn’t extended to just everybody, making it a federal offense to even accidently disrupt an event attended by a person with such status essentially crushes whatever currently remains of the right to assemble and peacefully protest.

Hours after the act passed, presidential candidate Rick Santorum was granted Secret Service protection. For the American protester, this indeed means that glitter-bombing the former Pennsylvania senator is officially a very big no-no, but it doesn’t stop with just him. Santorum’s coverage under the Secret Service began on Tuesday, but fellow GOP hopeful Mitt Romney has already been receiving such security. A campaign aide who asked not to be identified confirmed last week to CBS News that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has sought Secret Service protection as well.

In the text of the act, the law is allowed to be used against anyone who knowingly enters or remains in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so, but those grounds are considered any area where someone — rather it’s President Obama, Senator Santorum or Governor Romney — will be temporarily visiting, whether or not the public is even made aware. Entering such a facility is thus outlawed, as is disrupting the orderly conduct of “official functions,” engaging in disorderly conduct “within such proximity to” the event or acting violent to anyone, anywhere near the premises. Under that verbiage, that means a peaceful protest outside a candidate’s concession speech would be a federal offense, but those occurrences covered as special event of national significance don’t just stop there, either. And neither does the list of covered persons that receive protection.

Outside of the current presidential race, the Secret Service is responsible for guarding an array of politicians, even those from outside America. George W Bush is granted protection until ten years after his administration ended, or 2019, and every living president before him is eligible for life-time, federally funded coverage. Visiting heads of state are extended an offer too, and the events sanctioned as those of national significance — a decision that is left up to the US Department of Homeland Security — extends to more than the obvious. While presidential inaugurations and meeting of foreign dignitaries are awarded the title, nearly three dozen events in all have been considered a National Special Security Event (NSSE) since the term was created under President Clinton. Among past events on the DHS-sanctioned NSSE list are Super Bowl XXXVI, the funerals of Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, most State of the Union addresses and the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

With Secret Service protection awarded to visiting dignitaries, this also means, for instance, that the federal government could consider a demonstration against any foreign president on American soil as a violation of federal law, as long as it could be considered disruptive to whatever function is occurring.

United States Representative Justin Amash (MI-03) was one of only three lawmakers to vote against the act when it appeared in the House late Monday. Explaining his take on the act through his official Facebook account on Tuesday, Rep. Amash writes, “The bill expands current law to make it a crime to enter or remain in an area where an official is visiting even if the person does not know its illegal to be in that area and has no reason to suspect its illegal.”

“Some government officials may need extraordinary protection to ensure their safety. But criminalizing legitimate First Amendment activity — even if that activity is annoying to those government officials — violates our rights,” adds the representative.

Now that the act has overwhelmingly made it through the House, the next set of hands to sift through its pages could very well be President Barack Obama; the US Senate had already passed the bill back on February 6. Less than two months ago, the president approved the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, essentially suspending habeas corpus from American citizens. Could the next order out of the Executive Branch be revoking some of the Bill of Rights? Only if you consider the part about being able to assemble a staple of the First Amendment, really. Don’t worry, though. Obama was, after all, a constitutional law professor. When he signed the NDAA on December 31, he accompanied his signature with a signing statement that let Americans know that, just because he authorized the indefinite detention of Americans didn’t mean he thought it was right.

Should President Obama suspend the right to assemble, Americans might expect another apology to accompany it in which the commander-in-chief condemns the very act he authorizes. If you disagree with such a decision, however, don’t take it to the White House. Sixteen-hundred Pennsylvania Avenue and the vicinity is, of course, covered under this act.

Monday
Mar142011

Secret Service Audio Tape of Assassination Attempt on Reagan

A 30 year old Secret Service audiotape sheds light on the chaotic aftermath of Ronald Reagans shooting when neither the president nor his guardians realized hed been shot. 

The President lost half his blood and came closer to death that day than the nation realized until years later. 

The Secret Service released the tape Friday in response to a public-records request from Del Wilber, a Washington Post reporter whose book, Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan, comes out next week.

President Reagan is Rawhide.  Crown is the White House. Rainbow is the First Lady.

Listen to the Secret Service audio tape here