Secret Service Failures

By Christopher Galvan

If you have ever read the campus police blotter, you know that our police department has had its fair share of obscure and unorthodox encounters with students and visitors alike. In fact, during my first year at Cal Poly Pomona I had the pleasure of watching a duo of kindhearted officers shuttle a family of ducks across the street back to the duck pond.

While at times it may seem trivial, their duty to our campus is systematically prudent; their relatively low-octane rhythm does not lead to lackadaisical policing.

The same cannot be said for the law enforcement strategies of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Secret Service.

In the past few weeks, Americans and the rest of the world have become privy to the vast amount of blunders ” some larger than others ” that have plagued the Secret Service for several years.

From a couple that crashed the White House ball in 2009, to a man shooting at and hitting the front of the White House in 2011, to agents allowing President Barack Obama to travel in an elevator with an armed ex-convict during a visit to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Sept. 16, the problems facing the Secret Service are much more than insignificant or isolated incidents.

There is a real, present danger to the President of the United States if the agency tasked with protecting him is not competent enough to do the job. When the case appears to be open and shut, as this one appears to be, there is a real problem facing not only President Obama, but also national security.

The most elite intelligence agency in the U.S. cannot provide protection to our president and his family, so both its command and structure needs to change. These lapses in security, priority, organization and presidential protection have chipped away at the agency’s reputation, and prompted congressional leaders to act.

A congressional hearing on Sept. 29 called on Julia Pierson, director of the Secret Service, to answer for her agency. Congressmen and women of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform gathered in remarkable numbers to listen to Pierson’s examination from both sides of the aisle. Her testimony was poorly received in both parties, and one New York Times columnist commented that Pierson was simply trying to “run out the clock”during the hearing while dodging questions and providing excuses.

Previously advocating for Congress to remain impartial until a collection of the facts was complete, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said, “The president is not well served”I think this lady has to go “Ms. Pierson.”

As Congress continued to call for her resignation, Pierson eventually obliged on Oct. 1, which was ultimately accepted by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Regarding Congress’ perception of Pierson, “The more we discover, the clearer it becomes that the Secret Service is beset by a culture of complacency and incompetence,” House Speaker John Boehner said.

So, what is to become of the Secret Service? For the time being, they are slated for multiple reviews and probes from congressional sub-committees, internal agency reviews and independent boards of review. Congressional committees are not enough nor are they impartial, and independent reviews will be necessary to uncover the extent of wrongdoing the agency will be accountable for.

“Yesterday, the committee called for an outside review by independent experts,” said Rep. Darell Issa, R-Calif. “Today, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson agreed that such a review is critical.”

And with that, the clock of a 148-year legacy of relatively untarnished service has been reset.

White House

Sungah Choi / The Poly Post

White House

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