Secret Service's Real Problem: It Endangers the President
Lax rules, shortcuts are rampant
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2012 1:57 PM CDT
Barack Obama is surrounded by Secret Service agents during a rally in Rodney Square February 3, 2008 in Wilmington, Delaware.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Ronald Kessler, the former Washington Post reporter who originally broke the Secret Service sex scandal story to the Post, has news for you: Prostitution is far from the agency's biggest problem. Much worse is its "lax management culture that condones cutting corners, directly endangering the life of the president," Kessler writes in the Post. He offers a variety of examples, many gleaned from his book, In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect:

  • If an event is about to start and a long line is still waiting to be screened, campaign staffers as well as Bush and Obama White House staffers have been known to instruct the Secret Service to just let them in—a request backed by Secret Service managers.
  • Screening is suspended at one out of five major presidential and vice presidential events, a current agent says.
  • Agents are frequently allowed to fill out their own scores for firearms requalification and fitness tests, with managers not requiring they actually pass. Agents tell Kessler that one member of President Obama's detail often fails his handgun tests, and another is out of shape and unable to open the doors when exiting the president's limo. Management's solution: Tell limo drivers to park in such a way that the doors are easier for her to open.
  • President Obama, too, is at fault, Kessler declares: His repeated declarations of confidence in the Secret Service are "as reckless as President John F. Kennedy’s refusal to let agents ride on the rear running board of his limousine in Dallas"—had JFK allowed that, his life would have been saved.
"The Secret Service has been derelict in its duty to the American people and its own brave agents," Kessler writes. "It should not take another tragedy to bring about reform." Click for more disturbing examples from his column