After revelations about flagrant security breaches and bipartisan backlash, Secret Service director Julia Pierson resigned from her post. The final straw was the news that an armed man rode the elevator with President Obama during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control in September. Despite having met with the President after the incident, the White House only found out about the incident in the days leading up to her resignation.
“You have a convicted felon within arm’s reach of the president, and they never did a background check. Words aren’t strong enough for the outrage I feel for the safety of the president and his family,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who heads a House subcommittee that oversees the Secret Service.
Talk about the Secret Service’s failures hit fever pitch when a 42-year-old-vet, Omar Gonzalez, jumped the White House fence and managed to not just enter the building, but make it all the way to an area near the First Family’s living quarters. At first, the public was led to believe that Gonzalez was stopped at the door.
Pierson was appointed to her post 18 months ago after a Secret Service prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia. She has 30 years experience, but wasn’t the first choice. That person, David O’Connor, another former Serviceman, became the head of security at investment company, Bain Capital, instead. Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security, has appointed Joseph Clancy, a former Secret Service agent, as acting director.
The security issues at the department charged with protecting the President are particularly scary when you consider that President Obama has received four times the number of death threats than predecessor George W. Bush. According to The Guardian, the President gets more than 30 death threats per day. The Secret Service had to take extra precautions during Obama’s inaugurations and has had to field all sorts of reported plots against him, including one in which a group from Tennessee threatened to kill Black citizens before assassinating the President.
“Instead of bringing in more agents – instantly identifiable because of their bulky suits, worn over bullet-proof jackets, and earpieces – the Secret Service directed agents to work longer hours to cover the extra load and to miss firearms training, physical fitness sessions and tests,” reports the paper. Between these threats and the needs of the Vice President, the Secret Service is stretched thin.
Clearly, this is an agency in need of an overhaul.