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.
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.