Friday, March 13, 2015

What is going on with the Secret Service? Seriously. What the HELL is going on?

If the Secret Service can’t even protect its own reputation, what chance does the President have?
By PIERS MORGAN FOR MAILONLINE

What is going on with the Secret Service? Seriously. What the HELL is going on?
Two agents - one of them Mark Connolly, the second-in-command on President Obama’s personal protective detail – are accused of getting drunk at a party, then running their car through security tape and into a barricade at an entrance to the White House.
Think about that for a moment.

At a time when the life of the President of the United States has never been in more danger from nefarious enemies around the world intent on killing him, one of his own chief bodyguards behaves like an out-of-control frat boy.

A more disgraceful breach of trust it would be hard to imagine.
Two agents - one of them Mark Connolly, the second-in-command on President Obama’s personal protective detail – are accused of getting drunk at a party, then running their car through security tape. Here the disgraced agent is at left on a trip to Ireland with the President in 2011                                                                                                                                  

Yet this is not a one-off incident.
It follows a series of scandals involving the Secret Service in recent years that have brought the reputation of this supposedly elite protective force into very serious disrepute.
Astonishingly, in the period from 2004 to early 2013, the Secret Service counted 824 cases where agents were cited for misconduct – according to an official Department of Homeland audit.

37 of these were for drug or alcohol related offenses, and in 26 of those cases suspensions of security clearance followed.
The litany of shame is long and shocking.

A dozen agents were exposed for taking prostitutes back to their hotel rooms in Colombia during an advance contingent visit in April, 2012, before a Presidential trip. Nine lost their jobs.

It then emerged that other agents had hired strippers and prostitutes prior to President Obama’s previous visit to El Salvador in 2011.
On yet another advance trip in March, 2014, three agents – part of the President’s counter-assault team - were sent home from the Netherlands for a heavy drinking session which led to one of them being found passed out in a hotel hallway.

From 2004 to early 2013, the Secret Service counted 824 cases where agents were cited for misconduct. 37 of these were for drug or alcohol related offenses, and in 26 of those cases suspensions of security clearance followed. In 2012 agents used prostitutes on an advance trip to Colombia. Here agents search the White House lawn in January 2015 after a unmanned aerial drone was found ON the lawn
In the same month, two counter-sniper agents were sent home from a Presidential trip to Florida after a late-night car accident involving alcohol.

But bad though these intoxicated escapades are, they pale by comparison to the major security breaches which have blighted the agency.

During a State dinner for the Indian Prime Minister in 2009, two reality TV stars Michaele and Tareq Salahi managed to gate-crash the event – passing through two security check points and even meeting President Obama.

In November, 2011, a man with a semi-automatic rifle parked in front of the White House and began firing at the building, with Sasha Obama inside and Malia Obama on her way home. A Secret Service supervisor, mistaking the shots for car backfire, ordered agents to stand down.

In May, 2013, a Secret Service supervisor left a bullet in a woman’s room at the Hay-Adams hotel overlooking the White House then tried to force his way back into the room to retrieve it. An investigation found that the supervisor and a colleague sent sexually suggestive emails to a woman subordinate.

Who can forget in 2013 when a fake sign language interpreter with bogus credentials stood signalling nonsense just feet away from Obama through the President's speech
Who can forget in 2013 when a fake sign language interpreter with bogus credentials stood signalling nonsense just feet away from Obama through the President's speech                                                                                                                                           

At Nelson Mandela’s funeral in December, 2013, a bogus sign language interpreter suffering from schizophrenia faked his credentials and ended up on stage three feet away from Obama throughout the President’s speech.

In September, 2014, a security contractor with an assault record, and armed with a gun, was allowed to get in an elevator with the President and even take video of him on his cellphone.
And later that month, a man armed with a knife jumped the White House fence and ran amok through the corridors.

After that last appalling episode a new boss was brought in to restore discipline to the Service.

Yet Joseph P. Clancy, the director of the Secret Service, has barely been in the job a few months and yet another incident has occurred.
It’s just not good enough.

Three years ago, I was in the bar of the Mandarin hotel in New York when I was introduced to an elderly man in his ‘80s.

He was silver-haired and walked slowly, but his handshake was iron firm.
His name was Clint Hill and he had been a Secret Service agent in Dallas when President John F Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

Not just any agent, but the one seen in all the infamous news footage running to the President’s car after the first shot is fired and leaping onto the back trying to put himself in front of Kennedy.

He was too late. A second bullet crashed into JFK’s head.
Hill, who was in fact First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s personal bodyguard in the Presidential detail, became emotional as we spoke.


Clint Hill seen here recentlyHill leaped on the back of JFK's motorcade to try and throw himself in front of more bullets

Today's Secret Service could learn a lot from Clint Hill, pictured left in recent years. He calls the day Kennedy was assassinated the worst day of his life. As seen right, he instinctively ran onto the President's car after the first shot was fired, climbed up and wanted to block any more shots to save the President
‘That must have been a terrible day for you,’ I said.
‘It was the worst day of my life.’
‘Do you feel guilty?’
‘The President died on my watch. Of course I feel guilty.’
‘How often do you think about it?’
‘Every day.’
‘Could you have saved him?’
‘If I had got there a second before, maybe.’
Tears rolled down his cheeks.
If I were Barack Obama, I would get every single one of his Secret Service agents to meet Clint Hill.
Then they might understand exactly what it means to guard the President of the United States. And how it feels when you fail.
Because right now, it seems they’d rather get drunk and cavort with hookers than worry about their President getting shot dead.



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