As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

The Secret Service I Know

The members of the Secret Service who brought a horde of prostitutes back to their hotel should and will be punished. For those who are guilty, their careers are over. This is unfortunate but necessary.

These people do have stressful jobs and are frequently sent away from home, and it’s not surprising they wanted to blow off steam. But the way they did it is not only morally reprehensible, it endangered national security and the life of the president. They didn’t know who these women were and whose agenda they might have been serving.

It’s sad, because any one of these men would have given their life for their country and their president. But there is no choice in the matter. Discipline in the U.S. Secret Service must be upheld

What’s more, the participation of supervisors and veteran agents suggests a deeper problem at the USSS that must be resolved, in all likelihood starting with the firing of its director, Mark Sullivan. I can’t imagine how he stays after this.

But let’s keep some things in perspective.

The Secret Service is a magnificent organization that, as government agencies go, has performed its duties in nothing less than a glorious manner.

Think about it. In more than 30 years, since Ronald Reagan was shot, nobody has really come close to killing a president or a candidate for the presidency. The three decade mark is a record, extending all the way back to Andrew Jackson, who might have been killed in 1835 had his assassin’s gun not misfired.

The Secret Service is the ultimate example of the job that gets people’s attention only when you fail. So let’s applaud 31 years of success at a time the country has had more people living within it than ever and presumably, more lunatics and bad guys than ever eager to do away with our leader.

As someone who has worked at the White House as a reporter for nearly 15 years, I am one of those who has been protected by the Secret Service and who owes their life to their fearless devotion to their work.

Once, about eight or nine years ago, in the nerve racking days following 9/11 and during the early period of the Iraq War, I was working in the basement of the White House when one of the other reporters came running into the room screaming at everyone that the uniformed Secret Service officers who guard the building were all bearing weapons and shouting for us to get out.

As I prepared to leave, I heard a thunderous boom. My first thought was that an airliner had hit the White House, and I looked around to see whether there was already smoke or fire. I thought of my newly born son and my wife. And then, not seeing any signs of an explosion, I proceeded to get out.

I made my way up the stairs and out onto the walkway that leads to the West Wing driveway.

As I emerged from the White House, I saw the uniformed division agents in formation with rifles. They were shouting, “Get out now! Run! Run!”

Who was I to disobey an order?

I started moving quickly down the driveway with other the reporters. All of those Secret Service men and women remained firmly in place. One had a dog on the North Lawn. They weren’t going anywhere. Whatever was about to land on the White House was going to land on them too. Their only concern appeared to be that we get out as fast as possible.

We exited the White House and swiftly made our way about a block away, to the other side Lafayette Park. As we gathered there, news reports were coming in that a small airplane had been detected flying into restricted airspace close to the White House. Jets had quickly been dispatched to intercept it – the source, I presumed, of the sonic boom I had heard as they broke the sound barrier in the rush to engage their target.

The small plane, as it turned out, was mistakenly off course and did not intend any threat to the White House, and we soon returned to our desks.

Memories of the experience may fade, but two parts will always remain with me: The moment I thought I would lose my family forever, and the sight of those Secret Service officers, doing their duty, and awaiting their fate.

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37 Responses to The Secret Service I Know

  1. They do a job not everyone can do. They put their life on the line every day and should be applauded for that. The ones involved in the hooked mess gave up their careers for a night of partying. I feel for the spouses, its hard enough to watch them leave and know it can be the last time you see them. Now they have to be subjected to the embarrassment along with the loss of the paycheck.

  2. Thank you for a lovely dose of supportive patriotism for some hard working folks – they are getting trashed pretty badly right now but they are not all bad – like you said, most are ready to (and do) risk their lives for others all day long.

  3. Thank you, Keith. I knew a couple agents back in the 70ies and had friends who worked in the Carter White House (I was young, what can I say!). The agents were wonderful and dedicated and my friends thought the world of all the agents that they knew and saw working every day to protect the President, his family, and by extension every one else at the White House.

  4. God Bless the Secret Service and thank you for your service!

    As a side note, saw CBS is reporting that one of the 3 that were fired is considering filing a lawsuit over his firing–stay tuned!!!

    • I just read that Greg Stokes, a supervisor that was fired, was head of the Canine training unit. It’s on Hot Air. Guess it really is a dog eat dog world!

  5. We set by example. This WH has turned the highest office into a non-stop “talk-show-business” replete with sack races and excess beyond the pale. The evening that Desiree Rogers gave a nod to a Mr. & Mrs. Salahi, of questionable character and “no” invitation to a WH event was a the first sign of lax and questionable attitudes and priorities. Rogers is gone. The Salahis are no longer in the news, but the malaise lingers – Mr. & Mrs. Malaise Obama.

    • I agree that the lower-tiered employees follow the examples of their “bosses” and those examples rule how employees interpret/follow the rules. Bosses (and Mothers) must exhibit the best example, and hope for a 50% return.

  6. If the head of the SSOTUS keeps the job, I won’t be surprised. oBAMa doesn’t know how to fire anyone, BECAUSE, he has never held a job, or been a supervisor of anything but his EGO!

  7. It is true, the Secret Service does their job to the best of their ability. What will happen, will happen. It is doubtful, the director will be fired. Holder still sits pretty in his position, even after F & F. Those in charge of the Solyndra and other special interest debacles are still there. Only Van Jones fell under the onslaught; however, he is now back with a fury, organizing and inciting the “occupy” forces. The “political appointee” ambassadors that made such a mockery of their jobs were not fired. The head of GSA resigned on her own. Even “rev” Wright from Chicago is making a comeback.

    Seems to me, the best question would be : “What are they doing behind closed doors while distracting America by all this publicity about the secret service?” One thing that strikes my imagination is O saw the leader of Brazil take over their oil industry and promptly came back and tried to pass laws to give the government control over ours. Another is the latest information on Syria from Panetta. He made a deliberate point of saying “no boots on the ground and not unilateral”. This after he told Congress that the UN would dictate if we got involved in Syria. Another is the TSA now riding buses. Another is the people from DOJ that helped organize the protests against Zimmerman in Fla.That piece of information is swept so far underground, no one is looking for it.

    This administration does not allow any bad press on anything about it unless it is being used to misdirect America’s attention.

  8. I don’t really know anything (I’m a simple gun clinging conservative), but I do think Obama has had another bad week…is this Bad Obama Week two, three or four? I am having a hard time keeping up with his gaffes. Please vote for ABO 2012, please.

  9. Memo to President Obama,

    Not looking good for you Bro, better fire some people and then maybe your approval rating will go up. But I doubt it sir, you’ve spent your capital on issues the American public did not approve of.

  10. Thanks for sharing your personal story, Keith. The SS are indeed the unsung heroes. The poor guys are probably so overworked with the Obama family detail that the agents in Columbia probably had a temporary lapse of sanity. The demands put upon them by the Royal family must be hellish! And, with the constant party atmosphere at the palace, I can almost understand their outlandish behavior. Presidential decorum went out the window with the Obamas!

  11. Hmmmm, first GSA abuses, now this, but what of Fast and Furious? Why has the press and Congress stopped that? Another alternate energy cpmany that received stimulus closed and not much heard about that. Solyndra not up for discussion any more. But ——- let’s drag the secret service through the mud — over and over and over. Better yet, let’s have LA bring out photos to shame the military. Then say it is unfair when this admin did worse to Bush.

  12. It’s a shame that a few will tarnish so many brave men and women who protect
    and serve. I remember God I am old it was Reagan or Ford attempt that one
    agent as they were shoving Reagan into the limo after the shooting standing by the open door arms in the air legs spread apart making himself the target as they got away. Now that takes guts as I think without superior training and
    nerves of iron your first instinct would be to duck. Can’t let these few ruin the brave ones and I think perhaps the Obama administration’s rather frat party
    atmosphere is in part to blame. Also he and his wife use these people as
    travel agents and babysitters for vacations. Not what some of them signed up
    for I would imagine.

    • I was patted down once in a rope line for Bush the elder in a hotel very nice. I am old nearly forgot that it was Sat night before the election on
      Tues. Colorado Springs RedLion Inn was fun still have flag and hat:)

  13. There can be a few bad apples in every barrel. I had to deal with a few SS one time. They were great men. I have nothing but admiration for them.

  14. I have had the privilege to work with some of the men and women of the USSS, and the US Marshals Service, no better group of men and women in these two organizations. I have also gotten to work with some of the other alphabet soup agencies, and while one is touted as being the “nation’s premiere law enforcement agency” (I won’t mention its initials, but they have a building named after their first director in DC) I found most of them to be arrogant and just plain rude. The guys from ATF always struck me as cowboys, and I say that as someone who got a reprimand for arresting an escaped felon while off duty and out of his normal jurisdiction.

    The men and women of the USSS, especially those assigned directly to POTUS and family get to see them at their best and worst. I have an old acquaintance (now retired) who worked on the Bush 41 detail, and after a few beers would talk about how respectful and kind George Sr. was to the SS staff. These men and women would see POTUS and the first family first thing in the morning, sans makeup and other finery, and knew some of the most intimate details of the first family’s life. Did POTUS wear boxers or tighty whities? Did FLOTUS go braless while in the living quarters? How many times a night did the President get up to use the bathroom? Every detail of the family was known, and most of these men and women will take to their grave the details that they witnessed.

    When you work any high profile protection detail, you are required to sign confidentiality paperwork. To violate it could lead to prosecution, or at least a civil suit. It is something that anyone who has done a protection detail takes seriously. The agents caught up in the Columbia scandal were idiots. As I used to tell rookies, the badge will get you a lot of women, but it only takes one woman to get that badge (that’s a clean version). These agents have learned that lesson the hard (no pun intended) way.

  15. Thanks for the great article Keith. Lost in the hoopla about the 11 that screwed up will be the thousands that did their jobs with honor, dignity and the utmost professionalism. The safety of our President and other leaders, regardless of whether I agree or disagree with them, is extremely important.

  16. The American exceptionalism is an integral part of the American character that shows spontaneously the courage and unselfishness of the American people, just like not too long ago the injured pilot’s first words were to apologize after accidentally crashing his Navy F-18 fighter jet into residential building in Virginia Beach. For those experiences vividly narrated by Mr. Koffler, as well as for my own recollection from history books and my personal visits to places like the American Cemetery in Romagne, France, as well as other similar places overseas and in the US soil, I cannot help wondering what is going on with these so called “leaders” we have today, even worst; how is it even possible that we have at all these type of people as “leaders”?.

  17. There is some sort of moral rot going on in this organization, especially when seasoned supervisors are taking part in these dangerous and despicable acts. The leader bears ultimate responsibility; the USSS Director should resign and if he won’t, be fired.

  18. That instance might have been my parents. They flew over restricted air space in DC about that time, but they insist it wasn’t their fault. They were vectored that direction by ATC and didn’t know any better than to overfly the pentagon and then the White House. After receiving a correction call mid-vector, the ATC person realized that they were clearly (by voice) “some hicks from the sticks” and meant no harm. Although, my mother noted that this was one of the only times she had feared for her life while flying a Cessna. She said that when they looked out and saw where they were flying they expected rockets to come up out of the ground at any second.

    • Nora Hill – that could very well be the case. It has happened before. Washington DC is like a mirage – its not what it seems. We even have a voice recording of President Johnson telling senior government officials to tell a US Aircraft Carrier to recall its fighter jets and that he wanted the US Liberty sunk to the bottom of the ocean by none other than our “ally” Israel. We even have a plot with multiple shooters kill a POTUS in Dallas Texas and the entire scheme covered up. We even have Building 7 collapse at a free fall rate on 9/11/2001 and it was covered up. We even have claims of a Boeing 757 hitting the Pentagon on 9/11/2001 but the engines for 757 aircraft could not be found at the site.

  19. From the moral indignation and the tone, I’m guessing you’ve never served in the military or gone on a deployment. How about I take my personal standards and apply them to a line of work and a way of life I know nothing about – being a backseat-driving liberal reporter?

    Sure, report all you want on people doing things that maybe they’re not supposed to. Let the chips fall where they may. But let’s look through every single bad thing you ever did, too. Every little shame, every little misstep and embarrassing tidbit. You’re okay with that, right? I mean, you serve the public as an impartial reporter of facts that we all need to know, right? That gives us the right to know everything about you and your character and your personal little issues so we can stand here and wag our fingers and judge you.

  20. The Secret Service is an elite security and policing agency. But it’s gone through some very hard times with executives that treated them like hired lackeys.I happen to know a young couple who were both agents working in the White House. They loved the Bush family and always felt they were honored for their service. They did not get that kind of comrades treatment when the new administration came in. Many were changed out at the president’s request. Many of them left because of their own concerns. It’s not widely known, but the president has the last say as to whom can be present and that means he can even allow known terrorists in proximity. How would you like to be the man or woman who has pledged to take a bullet that has to deal with a terrorist who might take a shot at any time? I would not want responsibility for this man in the White House as an agent.

  21. What I have found to be quite shocking is that the Secret Service was created to combat counterfeit paper money that Lincoln with the stroke of the pen had created to help finance the War Between The States. The Constitution says that only gold & silver be used and that a Constitutional Amendment would have had to be passed to change the money system to include paper money. So now we have an agency that was created to combat counterfeit paper money but to preserve illegal Unconstitutional paper money. So the Secret Service was technically an illegal agency from the start. The role of protecting the President came much later.