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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Last year, the White House was breached twice.

In the movie Olympus Has Fallen, Gerard Butler faced off against Dylan McDermott and a band of Korean terrorists. In White House Down, Channing Tatum fought to save President Jamie Foxx from a band of mercenaries. In both movies, the bad guys found getting into the executive mansion no easy feat; it required ingenious planning and overwhelming force.

Who knew you could just hop the fence and jog through the front door?

That, we now know, is pretty much what alleged intruder Omar Gonzalez, an Iraq War vet suffering from PTSD, did on Sept. 19. The Secret Service initially claimed its agents stopped Gonzalez just inside the front door on the North Portico. Monday, it was revealed he actually made it deeper into the mansion than we were told, running through the main floor of the building — past a stairwell leading to the first family’s living quarters — before being tackled and subdued in the East Room.

The incident would be appalling enough had it happened in a vacuum. But it is only the latest in a series of lapses. There was the incident in 2009 when would-be reality show stars Michaele and Tareq Salahi essentially walked in off the street and crashed a state dinner. There was the 2012 scandal that revealed Secret Service agents partying with prostitutes during a presidential visit to Colombia.

In 2011, a man parked just south of the president’s house and fired a high-powered rifle, striking the building at least seven times. A report in Sunday’s Washington Post describes a Secret Service response filled with miscues, including a supervisor mistakenly ordering subordinates to stand down because the gunshots were only backfires from a vehicle. It took four days for the Secret Service to even realize the building had been hit. And it was only dumb luck the shooter was identified; he crashed his car seven blocks away.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but Barack Obama is the nation’s first African-American president. Since before he took office, he has been the target of attacks from the extreme right so vociferous, shrill and hate-filled as to seem truly unhinged. He is also the president who killed Osama bin Laden.

For these reasons and more, you’d think the Secret Service would be at a heightened level of alert when it comes to his safety. But these incidents suggest the exact opposite: a sloppy, lackadaisical agency unequal to its primary mission. And if it has this much difficulty defending the White House against publicity seekers and disaffected loners, what confidence can we have in its ability to defend against serious people mounting serious attacks?

You think terrorists are not taking note of this? You think would-be assassins are not heartened by these failures? And as long as we’re on the subject: If this is how the nation’s number-one protective detail guards the nation’s number-one target, what kind of security do you suppose other protective details provide less hardened targets?

Something to ponder, next time you’re walking barefoot through a TSA checkpoint.

The serial blundering of the Secret Service is intolerable and it raises two hard questions for which the American people should demand immediate answers and action: Why is this happening? How can we fix it?

Omar Gonzalez is a wakeup call. The time for answers and action is now — before something unthinkable happens, before we wind up looking back with regrets and might-have-beens.

In last year’s cinematic assaults on the president’s house, the villains had to be at the top of their game, had to execute with pinpoint precision, to even temporarily defeat the Secret Service.

Apparently Hollywood gave the agency more credit than it deserves.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via email at lpitts@miamiherald.com.

AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm

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57 responses to “Blundering Secret Service Needs To Step Up Its Game”

  1. Carole Bradshaw says:

    Obama’s just not to be taken seriously. It’s that simple, really.

    • Duckbudder says:

      I don’t care what party the POTUS is from, he/she needs to be protected. If you are too petty to see that I pity you Carole.

  2. Dominick Vila says:

    The lapses in security at the White House deserve immediate attention and remedy. The fact that a man wielding a knife was able to get into the White House, all the way to the East Room, managed to over power a Secret Service agent, and nobody pushed the button that shuts down the entire building while the intruder was running towards it, highlights a level of incompetence or a lackadaisical attitude that cannot and should not be ignored. It doesn’t matter if President Obama and his family left the White House for Camp David 4 minutes earlier, and it doesn’t matter who is President, it is evident that retraining is needed, the 100 Secret Service vacancies must be filled, and the entire security process must be reviewed and corrective action taken. What happened is unacceptable.

    • latebloomingrandma says:

      The Director said yesterday that there were over 500 vacancies, when asked by a Democratic congresswoman. As soon as it was a Republican’s turn, he immediately chastised his colleague for even inquiring if the sequester had anything to do with the problem
      If there is going to be a thorough investigation, then the understaffing of such an important agency needs discussed. That in itself may be the source of the extremely low morale. Secret Service agents are human beings, not robots and are subject to human error. How much overtime are they working? I know first hand how continuous pressure and long hours in a job having to do with peoples’ lives soon leads to poor judgment, often from sheer exhaustion.

      • sigrid28 says:

        I was surprised to see that members of Congress had interrupted their extended recess to campaign to retain their seats in the House and Senate long enough to attend the hearing yesterday. It did come at a time when they are grateful for a photo-shoot that shows them at work in Washington on national TV. I am sure the president’s enemies hope this hearing will be the end of it. After yesterday’s fireworks, many probably hope the agency can avoid the top-down shake-up needed in the agency and the replacement of personnel loyal to one president who failed to protect the next.

    • Billie says:

      I say who leaves the front door of their home unlocked anymore. Seems stupid to me. Especially the WH.

  3. sigrid28 says:

    Plan A: See that Barack Obama is not elected for a second term. Plan B: See that he does not live to serve out his second term. Even readers of this comment thread know that the numbers of irresponsible Republican and Tea Party partisans who want the president dead is legion.

    What we didn’t know was that he and his family, as well as members of his administration, go basically unprotected. I was particularly incensed to hear leadership of the Secret Service admit that Secret Service personnel feared censure by the administrative staff–or fear losing their jobs when so many vacancies in the the agency are open because of the sequester. The Secret Service personnel who fear more for their jobs than for the safety of the White House should never have been hired in the first place. Is the White House unable to hire loyal Secret Service and dealing with people hired during the Bush presidency who have seniority? What could go wrong?

    Self-fulfilling prophecy of this sort has been the Republican gambit throughout Obama’s presidency: Fail to adequately fund government or participate in it, and then cite governmental incompetence as a reason to dismantle our democracy piece by piece. I was surprised to see that members of Congress had interrupted their extended recess to campaign to retain their seats in the House and Senate long enough to attend the hearing yesterday. It did come at a time when they are grateful for a photo-shoot that shows them at work in Washington on national TV. I am sure the president’s enemies hope this hearing will be the end of it. After yesterday’s fireworks, many probably hope the agency can avoid the top-down shake-up needed in the agency and the replacement of personnel loyal to one president who failed to protect the next.

    • Walter Thompson says:

      “Republicans will be back in power, rewarding their wealthy donors and filling their pockets.” While draining everyone else’s pockets.

    • Allan Richardson says:

      Unfortunately in this situation, but correctly most of the time, Secret Service agents are recruited and promoted on the basis of Civil Service exams, not political connections. They are SWORN to protect the President and his family, and the Vice President and his family, as well as former Presidents and their families and widows, REGARDLESS of their personal political views. And in better times, the leadership of BOTH parties understand and endorse this. But since 2009, the leadership of ONE party does seem to be intent on removing Obama by any means necessary. Does this include acquiescence in an assassination plot? I hope and pray not, but this many failures in six years seems to point in that direction.

  4. joe schmo says:

    Blundering ‘President’ Needs To Step Up Its Game. It’s no wonder that the Secret Service is a disaster waiting for an accident to happen.

    “Not to put too fine a point on this, but Barack Obama is the nation’s
    first African-American president. Since before he took office, he has
    been the target of attacks from the extreme right so vociferous, shrill
    and hate-filled as to seem truly unhinged. He is also the president who
    killed Osama bin Laden.”

    The last two statements in this paragraph are immaturely written. I believe one of the perpetrators of WH invading was an African American. Most assassinations or assassination attempts were done by Liberals against Conservative Presidents…..Look it up:)

    What! Is Obama a God? He is no different than any other president of the United States. Color should not even be mentioned. Last time I checked we were ALL Americans no matter what the skin color. What makes him any more or less special than anyone else.

    • sigrid28 says:

      Our only way to discourage this drivel is to refuse to reply to it at all. It is the product of a troll paid to stir up controversy and nothing more. Only if we ignore this stuff altogether will it disappear leaving room for real discourse.

      • joe schmo says:

        LOL, I don’t sway easy and you can’t help but resist to derail my comments. Payed shrill…..LOL….yah right.

        At least you’re reading…. If you really want to know what is going on in the U.S. try reading some other media outlet outside the country. Then you will realize how many lies you have been told.. Ex….BBC, Pravda……etc….

    • JPHALL says:

      More right wing BS. Your right wing hatred of the fact that a Black was elected twice, by majorities, is why skin color becomes part of the issue.

      • Duckbudder says:

        Don’t feed the TROLL!

      • joe schmo says:

        Bullshit! Get off your racist pity pot. Skin color becomes an issue when you elevate anyone to a higher standard above everyone else and that is what the Left has done with Obama. He is no different than any one of us. After all we are all Americans. That seems to be a problem with you all nowadays. The fact is, you no longer want to be American.

        Grammatical error….majorities….No, it’s majority.

        • JPHALL says:

          Once again I say BS. If you right wing nut jobs accepted Obama as an American, you would have nothing to whine about. And I also say that if he was White you kooks would have a lot less to whine about.
          Subject: Re: New comment posted on Blundering Secret Service Needs To Step Up Its Game

  5. Allan Richardson says:

    Is the Secret Service really “blundering” or carrying out someone’s hidden agenda? I wish I did not have to raise this possibility, since it makes me ashamed of my country if true, but since this President’s entire time in office has been marked by lunatics publicly saying he is not our legitimate Chief Executive, was not born a citizen (contrary to the facts), was elected TWICE by massive but mysteriously undetected voter fraud, is a (pick one, and ONLY one) secret Muslim, socialist, communist, fascist, Nazi (a black Nazi? that one has Jesse Owens rolling in his grave!), deserves to be impeached or, failing that, removed from office by ANY means necessary, etc.etc….

    Is it possible that SOME members of the upper management of the Secret Service, who belong to the non-partisan Civil Service, have been so indoctrinated by all these hateful crazies (you too, joe schmo) that they may actually WISH that one of these attacks would succeed in killing him? As I said, if it is true, I am ashamed for that segment of my country’s population. But perhaps Congress should investigate the possibility, since Obama is hated worse by an extreme segment of the voters than the fictional Lyman Jordan in “Seven Days in May.” And THAT President was hated enough to make some of the Joint Chiefs of Staff plot a military coup!

    By the way, remember who killed Anwar Sadat? His own bodyguards!

    • rustacus21 says:

      I vote the the ‘hidden agenda’, as no other President has had to face the opposition NOR the sabotage as the very 1st Black President in the most RACIST America has been in over a century…

      • Joe T says:

        I don’t care if he is black, white, 1/2 Black and white, brown, yellow or a red man……………Barrack Hussein Obama is bias with his words and actions with ethnicity and Islamic beliefs;
        and it is documented on national news programs 24/7…..
        Pres Obama had a GOD given chance to be one of the great leaders of history, BUT HE HAS FAILED MISERABLY!

      • joe schmo says:

        Gee, I wonder why…..You don’t think he had a hand in that do you? What comes round goes round.

    • Billie says:

      Two agents were pulled off WH detail to guard a worker in the secret service office because she had a run in with her neighbor. Disagreement was about kids running through her yard on motorcycles or ATVs. I forget which. How stupid is that. People have spats with their neighbors all the time but, they don’t get the secret service to guard them.

  6. Joe T says:

    Psychiatrist Confirms: Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder
    As a clinical and forensic psychiatrist, Lyle Rossiter has treated over 1,500 patients and examined over 2,700 civil and criminal cases. Turning his hand to political psychopathology, the author of The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness, has diagnosed an alarming percentage of the population as suffering from the grotesque form of mental derangement known by some as moonbattery.

    • kenndeb says:

      I’ve been trying to tell thee liberals that they should seek help, but none of them seem to care. It could be they are not covered on obamacare, or the deductibles are too high. Of course, it probably is just denial. I do wish they would get the help they need for their ailment. Our country would be better for it.

      • Joe T says:

        You are right kenndeb………..thanks.Joe T

        • kenndeb says:

          Welcome to the liberal propaganda central clearinghouse. Many of the posters here are rabid jackals, so there are very few truths being told, but there are a few conservatives willing to help educate those that are just reading the comments shaking their heads at the viciousness of the party of love and tolerance. We need to stick together and back each other up.

          • Joe T says:

            Here’s another good one for them Libs…..
            Pres Jimmy didn’t get re-elected because at the time he was the worst president in history. Now we have Oblunder in office that makes Jimmy Carter look good.don’t think?

          • kenndeb says:

            This is the worst regime we have EVER had in power. I never thought anyone that was as anti American as the Emperor is would ever be in our white house. I never thought I would ever see a communist as POTUS. As much as I disliked Bush, he was an American. I’m not too sure what we have now, but he sure is not an American.

          • joe schmo says:

            How nice:) I no longer feel like the lone ranger on this site. ‘That thing’ in the WH is not looking out for the welfare of this once great nation, but he is doing his darndest to get everyone on welfare….

            Read an article in Pravda today. It gives an outside perspective on what outsiders think of this country. They say we are losing it so our country is fabricating lies and grasping at straws to stay afloat before we go bankrupt. If Russia and China decide to eliminate the dollar as the currency of choice our worthless printing of money will only be worth the paper it is printed on. With no gold to back it up….our goose is just about cooked. Europe has no choice but to go with Russia because Russia owns the power grid that they use. Internationally, Obama gets an ‘F.’ We can surely thank you libs for getting us this disrespect. It’s not called ‘Leading from behind,’ more like leading from the bottom.
            What I read today justifies what I have been saying all along. I have to conclude by saying, we better get our shit together by 2016 or we are goners…

          • kenndeb says:

            I so agree. Our dollar is tanking. I read that Germany was wanting their gold back that was being held at the Fed. I don’t think it was there, or not all of it. I don’t think we can back up any of our money, yet we keep printing it. For the last 4 or 5 years, I’ve been trying to keep hard assets, instead of bank accounts. Gold, silver, guns and ammo, all good investments. I have a couple of good vendors if you are interested.

      • rustacus21 says:

        … & U need to read the Declaration, Constitution, the Bill of Rights & the Federalist Papers & then U may find U WON’T need to see that psychiatrist after all!!!

        • Joe T says:

          This comment by you rustacus21 confirms you are demonstrating racist traits….your own words sealed!
          Same bias traits as Obama and Holder confirmed!
          best regards, Joe T Phd

    • JPHALL says:

      More right wing BS.

      • Joe T says:

        JP…………………Veritas…………………stings!
        And…..you fully approve of Barrack Hussein Obama’s deleterious machinations for the last 6 years and his current actions? He’s a documented prevaricator!

        • JPHALL says:

          And you are full of BS. Go away troll.
          Subject: Re: New comment posted on Blundering Secret Service Needs To Step Up Its Game

          • Joe T says:

            SORRY…you feel that way…..I didn’t write the article a professional doctor did……….OBAMA’s biases are self evident by his words and actions reported on news programs daily, again documented,,,his biases are for Islamic ideology and his ethnic voters who voted for him….oh..I’m not a troll……best regards,
            Joe T Phd

          • JPHALL says:

            As usual you right wingers talk in generalities with no real proof. When you have to produce proof you resort to opinion pieces with no substance. Like I said, go away troll. Oh, by the way, when Obama said you could keep your doctor it was true according to tjhe ACA. It was the insurance companies that changed it.
            Subject: Re: New comment posted on Blundering Secret Service Needs To Step Up Its Game

          • Joe T says:

            SORRY..this a professional article written by a graduate doctor, a clinical and forensic psychiatrist, and not in general terms, but specific terms,,,did you not understand it? Furthermore.The Liberal Mind is the first in-depth examination of the major political madness of our time: The radical left’s efforts to regulate the people from cradle to grave. To rescue us from our troubled lives, the liberal agenda recommends denial of personal responsibility, encourages self-pity and other-pity, fosters government dependency, promotes sexual indulgence, rationalizes violence, excuses financial obligation, justifies theft, ignores rudeness, prescribes complaining and blaming, denigrates marriage and the family, legalizes all abortion, defies religious and social tradition, declares inequality unjust, and rebels against the duties of citizenship. Through multiple entitlements to unearned goods, services and social status, the liberal politician promises to ensure everyone’s material welfare, provide for everyone’s healthcare, protect everyone’s self-esteem, correct everyone’s social and political disadvantage, educate every citizen, and eliminate all class distinctions. Radical liberalism thus assaults the foundations of civilized freedom. Given its irrational goals, coercive methods and historical failures, and given its perverse effects on character development, there can be no question of the radical agenda’s madness. Only an irrational agenda would advocate a systematic destruction of the foundations on which ordered liberty depends. Only an irrational man would want the state to run his life for him rather than create secure conditions in which he can run his own life. Only an irrational agenda would deliberately undermine the citizen’s growth to competence by having the state adopt him. Only irrational thinking would trade individual liberty for government coercion, sacrificing the pride of self-reliance for welfare dependency. Only a madman would look at a community of free people cooperating by choice and see a society of victims exploited by villains. [From The Liberal Mind; The Psychological Causes of Political Madness by Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr., MD]…………
            Liberalism is a form of Madness!.

          • rustacus21 says:

            … graduate ‘STUDENT’, which doesn’t at all make him a ‘PROFESSIONAL’ by any stretch – only in as much as he’s a HACK RACIST, w/an ax to grind against ALL non-White people no doubt…

          • Joe T says:

            FEATURED STORIESNEWS
            RAND PAUL: OBAMA ACTING LIKE “THIRD WORLD AUTOCRAT” WHO DOES “WHATEVER THE HELL HE WANTS”

            F. PETER BROWN, OCTOBER 1, 2014

          • Duckbudder says:

            When you feed them, they always come back.

        • rustacus21 says:

          … learned a new word today, huh? Now go read that web spot I posted (about ‘W’) above & get back w/US when done, then U can do U’r homework on how Jefferson read all the Enlightenment thinkers thruout history in order to SINGLEMINDEDLY craft OUR LIBERAL/PROGRESSIVE DECLARATION. If U read enuff, fast enuff, U may be able to find a conservative reference ‘WORD OR 2’ that Jefferson used in putting that LIBERAL/PROGRESSIVE DECLARATION together… but I doubt it!!! In fact, Jefferson was so intellectually gifted, he used the Muslim Quaran to help (READ THIS!!! http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2007/01/jeffersons_quran.html) w/the DETAILS of the DECLARATION!!! I know it’s alot, but U wasted YEARS on that conservative trash, now U have so much work to do to get U’r MIND modernized!!!

          • Joe T says:

            The difference between being sociopathic and being a psychopath is a fine (RED) line……one HATES i.e.(people) the other one HATES (people) enough to harm or kill…….what shoe fits, pursuant to behavioral traits!

        • Billie says:

          More radical right wing BS

          • Joe T says:

            February 17, 2008, reprint

            Psychiatrist Confirms: Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder

            As a clinical and forensic psychiatrist, Lyle Rossiter has treated over 1,500 patients and examined over 2,700 civil and criminal cases. Turning his hand to political psychopathology, the author of The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness, has diagnosed an alarming percentage of the population as suffering from the grotesque form of mental derangement known by some as moonbattery.

          • Joe T says:

            All of your comments regarding Liberalism’s deleterious effects on society is correct, furthermore…..

            Read a Doctor’s comments…………printed and distributed…..It’s Madness in their ideas!

            The Liberal Mind is the first in-depth examination of the major political madness of our time: The radical left’s efforts to regulate the people from cradle to grave. To rescue us from our troubled lives, the liberal agenda recommends denial of personal responsibility, encourages self-pity and other-pity, fosters government dependency, promotes sexual indulgence, rationalizes violence, excuses financial obligation, justifies theft, ignores rudeness, prescribes complaining and blaming, denigrates marriage and the family, legalizes all abortion, defies religious and social tradition, declares inequality unjust, and rebels against the duties of citizenship. Through multiple entitlements to unearned goods, services and social status, the liberal politician promises to ensure everyone’s material welfare, provide for everyone’s healthcare, protect everyone’s self-esteem, correct everyone’s social and political disadvantage, educate every citizen, and eliminate all class distinctions. Radical liberalism thus assaults the foundations of civilized freedom. Given its irrational goals, coercive methods and historical failures, and given its perverse effects on character development, there can be no question of the radical agenda’s madness. Only an irrational agenda would advocate a systematic destruction of the foundations on which ordered liberty depends. Only an irrational man would want the state to run his life for him rather than create secure conditions in which he can run his own life. Only an irrational agenda would deliberately undermine the citizen’s growth to competence by having the state adopt him. Only irrational thinking would trade individual liberty for government coercion, sacrificing the pride of self-reliance for welfare dependency. Only a madman would look at a community of free people cooperating by choice and see a society of victims exploited by villains. [From The Liberal Mind; The Psychological Causes of Political Madness by Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr., MD]

  7. Joe T says:

    Furthermore.The Liberal Mind is the first in-depth examination of the major political madness of our time: The radical left’s efforts to regulate the people from cradle to grave. To rescue us from our troubled lives, the liberal agenda recommends denial of personal responsibility, encourages self-pity and other-pity, fosters government dependency, promotes sexual indulgence, rationalizes violence, excuses financial obligation, justifies theft, ignores rudeness, prescribes complaining and blaming, denigrates marriage and the family, legalizes all abortion, defies religious and social tradition, declares inequality unjust, and rebels against the duties of citizenship. Through multiple entitlements to unearned goods, services and social status, the liberal politician promises to ensure everyone’s material welfare, provide for everyone’s healthcare, protect everyone’s self-esteem, correct everyone’s social and political disadvantage, educate every citizen, and eliminate all class distinctions. Radical liberalism thus assaults the foundations of civilized freedom. Given its irrational goals, coercive methods and historical failures, and given its perverse effects on character development, there can be no question of the radical agenda’s madness. Only an irrational agenda would advocate a systematic destruction of the foundations on which ordered liberty depends. Only an irrational man would want the state to run his life for him rather than create secure conditions in which he can run his own life. Only an irrational agenda would deliberately undermine the citizen’s growth to competence by having the state adopt him. Only irrational thinking would trade individual liberty for government coercion, sacrificing the pride of self-reliance for welfare dependency. Only a madman would look at a community of free people cooperating by choice and see a society of victims exploited by villains. [From The Liberal Mind; The Psychological Causes of Political Madness by Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr., MD]………….

    • JPHALL says:

      What a bunch of right wing BS.

    • rustacus21 says:

      News flash genius, U should start w/Socrates, from about 2300 years ago, but more importantly, take some time to read thru the LIBERAL/PROGRESSIVE Enlightenment authors – David Hume, Rousseau & Diderot in particular & U’ll understand how far behind U & the rest of U’r primate conservative brethren are, in understanding Civil Society, Democracy & how the law & order that U’r conservative hero ‘W’ BUSTED while in office, setup the breakdown of civilization we’re now witnessing! U don’t know anything about the Enlightenment! It was used to formulate the “LIBERAL/PROGRESSIVE” Constitution U don’t understand, or U would know that U’r ‘HERO’ – “W” trashed our nation (READ THIS!!! – http://www.hermes-press.com/sss1.htm) w/that conservative obscenity called neocon-isms, to where people like those running security at the WH are lazy-minded to the degree that it’s ok the President be disrespected by their lax outlook on his & his family’s safety, in THIS – the most RACIST American ERA since the Civil War, while people like U don’t even understand the PHILOSOPHIES which have built our DEMOCRACY!!! What I take U to mean is, that our Democracy is conservative, right? Then GIVE US ALL THE PHILOSOPHICAL & HISTORICAL PROOF OF IT HERE & NOW!!! Don’t slam Liberal/Progressivism – talk to US about the philosophy & virtues of CONSERVATISM – if U can find ANY!!!

      • Joe T says:

        You just verified the chaotic thought process of stolid liberalism by your rancorous palaver to the nth degree!
        Veritas….best regards, Joe T

  8. Whatmeworry says:

    This is just another over blown gotcha. No one was hurt, injured or even scared. This is a witch hunt besides “what difference does it make”

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