In a rare decision to dump an underperforming subordinate, President Obama today fired Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, who presided over an agency that had allowed a deranged man to run amuck in the White House.
Interestingly, the unusual and unprecedentedly swift holding-to-account occurred when the matter concerned the president’s own personal safety. Nevertheless, it’s good to see him acting like a chief executive. And we are all, even his toughest critics, genuinely concerned about his safety and that of his family.
It appears the news that a felon with a firearm was permitted in an elevator with the president – and that Pierson didn’t tell the White House about it – was the final straw for her. It’s not clear if she would have been fired based on the fence jumper alone.
By quickly dispensing of Pierson, Obama also helped quell yet another furor erupting over shoddy management practices within his administration and nipped in the bud what would surely have been growing criticism, even from Democrats, for his failure to remove her.
The White House offered the customary “accepted her resignation” narrative one hears in Washington and the corporate world, but in reality it did little to hide that she was fired.
Said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest:
Over last several days, we’ve seen recent and accumulating reports raising questions about the performance of the agency, and the president concluded that new leadership of that agency was required.
Even this morning, the White House was proclaiming Obama’s confidence in Pierson. But Earnest made clear the elevator incident was part of the “accumulating” evidence of a problem that caused Obama to change his mind.
Earnest signaled unhappiness with the failure of the Secret Service to alert the White House.
I can tell you that the White House first learned of that incident yesterday afternoon shortly before it was reported by news organizations.
It would be accurate for you to assume that when incidents like that occur, that there would be a pretty open channel between the United States Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House.
The White House appointed the former head of the president’s Secret Service detail, Joseph Clancy, to serve as acting director while a replacement is found.
We all have experienced at work the feeling that our bosses rarely compliment us for a job well done, but that they get all on our back when we screw up. The Secret Service is the ultimate such job. When nothing happens to the president, nobody cares. Problem? Everyone cares. That’s the nature of this beast.
If you a preside over a presidential security detail that allows criminals with guns to stand next to the president and someone with a knife to make it deep into the White House, then you have to be relieved of your duties.