A Uniformed US Secret Service Agent stands guard in riot gear outside the White HouseBy: Andrew Selman
Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. is considered "America's Main Street". Along this road are many historical sites and prominent buildings, namely the U.S. Capitol building, and most known being the 1600 address of The White House. Pennsylvania Avenue has been used as the main road for prominent funeral processions, including 7 of the 8 Presidents that have died while in office.
When did Republicans become the party willing to play a game of chicken with our national security? In their ceaseless drive to undermine President Obama at every turn, they have now backed themselves into a corner with no easy way to get out.
A man masquerading as a member of Congress walked into a secure backstage area without being properly screened and spoke with President Obama at an awards dinner last fall. Five days later, a woman walked backstage unchecked at a gala dinner where Obama was a featured guest. Months after that, two people strolled unnoticed past a Secret Service checkpoint into the first layer of the White House grounds.
President Barack Obama has chosen Joseph Clancy as the new head of the U.S. Secret Service, the White House said on Wednesday, after a series of high profile security lapses led to a shake-up in the troubled agency's leadership. Clancy, who personally helped guard the lives of three U.S. presidents, has been head of the agency on an interim basis for the past four months. Director Julia Pierson stepped down in October after an embarrassing Sept. 19 White House breach in which a man carrying a knife jumped the fence and ran into the executive mansion. Obama chose Clancy, a 27-year veteran of the Secret Service, despite the recommendation of an independent review panel in December that the next director be someone from outside the agency, which it said had become too insular.
Two weeks after the Secret Service forced out four of its top officials, lawmakers are questioning whether the agency should have ousted one more — its influential second-in-command. Members of Congress from both parties are concerned that by keeping in place Alvin “A.T.” Smith, the Secret Service stopped short of fully reforming upper management following a string of embarrassing security lapses, according to government officials familiar with the discussions. Smith, as a top official for nearly a decade and the deputy director since 2012, has managed the agency’s day-to-day operations and was a key architect of its budgets and policies. He has overseen the departments responsible for the missteps and is now helping to engineer the agency’s overhaul.
The Secret Service couldn't protect the White House, and so now it's being forced to clean its own house. The agency said Tuesday it was sweeping out four assistant directors, and a fifth had already announced his retirement. Acting Director Joseph Clancy gave the bosses of four divisions—protection, investigations, technology and public affairs—a month to clean out their desks. (They can retire, or request reassignment elsewhere in the Department of Homeland Security, which houses the Secret Service.) The Washington Post's Carol Leonnig, who has consistently broken news about the Secret Service's chaos, had the scoop.
An independent panel is recommending deep changes in the Secret Service, including heightened security around the White House, saying the elite protective agency is “an organization starved for leadership.’’ The panel, named in October by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson after a series of highly publicized security failures, recommended that the fence around the White House be immediately upgraded. It was reacting to the Sept. 19 incident in which a man scaled the fence and ran far into the executive mansion through an unlocked front door.
During most of my two-decade career as an agent, the Secret Service was small, elite, and part of the Department of the Treasury. We were generally well-led and avoided many of the political issues other government agencies seemed to experience all the time. That changed in the aftermath of 9/11, when the Secret Service was torn from Treasury and forced to become a part of the new, mammoth Department of Homeland Security. Most of the problems in today's Secret Service started with the move to DHS. Now a series of embarrassing revelations have called into question the Secret Service's competence. The mean-spirited, classless, bipartisan beat down by the congressional oversight committee of former Secret Service Director Julia Pierson is now mercifully concluded.
Julia Pierson called it quits Wednesday, stepping down as director of the U.S. Secret Service just 18 months after she took the job and one day after her dismal performance in front of Congress failed to appease lawmakers angry about the recent White House security breach. In announcing the news, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson promised an independent review of the failures that allowed Omar Gonzalez to hop the fence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and dash into the executive mansion, with a “review of broader issues concerning the Secret Service” a possibility as well.
In case you were worried that Laura Ingraham would be the only media personality to suggest that the recent White House security breach had something to do with the presence of a female Secret Service agent on call (or the presence of women in the Secret Service at all!), don’t be. On Wednesday’s edition of “Morning Joe,” host Joe Scarborough and regular contributor Donny Deutsch corroborated Ingraham’s “hot take,” suggesting that the Secret Service hired director Julia Pierson not for her qualifications but out of a need to “rebrand.” “A point that Mika [Brzezinski] delicately touched on, I’ll touch on a little less delicately,” Deutsch said.
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