Secret Service Director
Dame Judy Dench Julia Pierson is coming under fire for the inadequate security measures that allowed a guy to hop the fence and enter the White House before being nonfatally apprehended:
WASHINGTON — Lawmakers from both parties on Tuesday assailed Julia Pierson, the director of the Secret Service, about security breaches at the White House, including an intruder who earlier this month breached multiple security measures and evaded capture as he ran around the first floor of the mansion.I ask you to all join with me right now in sending a very very very clear message to these lawmakers:
Ms. Pierson said in opening statements before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that she takes full responsibility for the breaches and she pledged that “what happened is unacceptable and it will never happen again.” But her promise of a comprehensive review of the incidents appeared to do little to satisfy members of the committee.
Representative Stephen Lynch, Democrat from Massachusetts, lashed into Ms. Pierson, saying that he does not believe the Secret Service takes seriously their duty to protect the president. He said he has “very low confidence” in her leadership.
The saga of Omar Gonzalez is a fairly minor one in retrospect, and proof that both Americans and their lawmakers need to calm the fuck down. First off, let's look at the NYT "timeline" of the incidents:
Hey, don't you remember another "recent incident" involving White House security? Oddly enough, the NY Times doesn't seem to think this one quite makes the grade.... Instead, officials are so anxious to highlight Tareq Salahi being a Vince Vaughn inspired "wedding crasher" at a White House reception, which on balance wasn't much of a slag about the Secret Service's vetting capabilities as much as a slag about the vetting process entirely. These people aren't out to cause harm to President Monkey, they're out to attend the swanky parties. The Times also seemed to leave this guy off the roster, probably in the interests of "racial insensitivity". Hey come to think of it, don't Thamsanqa Jantjie and Miriam Carey have something in common?
As Ben Franklin would have put it, a lot of essential liberties along Pennsylvania Avenue have been sacrified for what somehow became not a temporary security but a permanent security apparatus. Delusional black mothers driving past checkpoints getting gunned down may make security sense but not so much in the broader picture. That heads of state need protection in some form is obvious, but perhaps not as obvious as it would first appear. The Queen of England is the head of state of a major first world power who lives in an iconic building that lots of people want to visit. Her guards, like the Secret Service, are legendary in their own right (with distinctive costumes). Also like the Secret Service, they've had some well publicized screwups. Yet I've been to Buck House, and in fact got a full tour of the building (well, "full tour" being the tourist tour, but still). The White House used to be available for this purpose, and technically still is if you feel like getting a Congressman's recommendation, but it's not easy. In New York a few years ago I chanced upon a man who actually got to visit the White House: he thought it was insanely ridiculous that a fellow visitor thought he'd be allowed to carry his knife with him inside the facility. My first response is "why do you think that's crazy"? Ever-wider security "perimeters" are forming around the White House, while those enforcing the perimeter are increasingly less capable at actually doing their jobs anyways. Inexplicably, this calls for a bigger and tighter security fence that can be even less effectively guarded.
If this is going to be the end result of all this security, isn't it time to ask whether or not it's even necessary? Can the 40-car motorcade be scaled back? Can a pathetic embarassment of a President who's convinced America's stature in the world needs to be reduced not admit that under such a circumstance his own stature, and the stature of the security detail around his office needs to be scaled back alongside? Okay, if your plan is for President Monkey to develop a human brain, your plan has an obvious flaw. But how about getting "bipartisan" support on both sides of the aisle to smarten up and not keep insisting that every possible dime is spent to prevent a situation that arises the more and more dimes you throw at it?