Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Incompetence or Lax? (updated 10/05/14)

Following the stories of the recent Secret Service mishaps (screw-ups) leaves me shaking my head.

When I was in the Army for the last two years I worked in a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, SCIFF in shorthand.  At the time I held a Top Secret / SBI (Special Background Investigation).  Everyone that worked in the SCIFF held a Secret or above clearance and in fairness you never really knew what others were working on.  You knew your job and you did it.  Getting in and out of the SCIFF was a process.  You had to show ID regardless of how many times you walked in and out or how long you had been working in the facility.  Nothing was walked in or out without being subjected to a search.  During my time in the Military I entered secured facilities at Ft. Bragg (NC), Ft. Hood (TX), Clark AFB (PI),  Schofield Barracks (HI), Ft. Lewis (WA), Ft. Richardson (AK) and Ft. Wainwright (AK).  It was always the same.  Security, security and security.  I always believed that if the US Army was that deadly serious about security then the folks around the POTUS must have been even more strict.  Guess I assumed to much. 

It's difficult to imagine that the most important detail guarding a human asset in America is either so incompetent or lax that they have let incident after incident occur.  I am of the opinion that everyone makes mistakes (mostly I feel that way because I know I do . . ).  But the truth is once is a mistake.  Maybe even twice but once you get into three or four, it's no longer a mistake.  The agency is either incompetent or lax. 

Just the number of incidents makes me wonder if we should change the acronym for the Secret Service from USSS to SNAFU (Situation Normal All Fowled Up). 

Nov '09: Uninvited guest are allowed into a State Dinner and shake hands and take photos with Pres. Obama and VP Biden. 

Nov '11: Shots are fired outside the White House and one round enters a third floor window.  The broken window is not discovered for several days and is found by a housekeeper. 

April '12: While in Columbia an officer hires a local "working girl" and after refusing to pay her the 800.00 she required for her services an argument broke out in the hallway. 

Sept '14: While visiting the CDC a contracted security guard was allowed to ride on an elevator with the POTUS.  The contracted officer took advantage of the situation and took photos of the POTUS.  It was later discovered that he also had a concealed weapon in his possession at the time. 

July'14: Omar Gonzalez was stopped by the Virginia State Police.  In his possession they found a map of Washington D.C. with the White House and other monuments circled.  He also had an illegal shotgun (read sawed off) and ammunition.  The Secret Service were notified and questioned Mr. Gonzalez. 

Aug '14: Mr. Gonzalez was found outside the perimeter of the White House walking with a hatchet.  He was questioned but not detained. 

Sept '14: Mr. Gonzalez is spotted outside the White House by two officers who had interviewed him in the earlier incidents.  At some point those officers cease watching Mr. Gonzalez and he jumps the fence outside and is able to overpower one Secret Service Officer and makes his way into the White House before being stopped by an off duty Secret Service Agent who just happens to be walking by the room and finds him. 

Seriously.  One, two, three, four, five, six . . . just how many strikes do these guys get.  I really do wonder if they are just that incompetent of if the real issue is that they have become lax. 

Sad that the Commander in Chief is not guarded more securely.  Sad and scary to be honest.  The only good news is that on this issue both parties are united that something must be done.  I do wonder how long it will be before the excuses fly and accusations are made.  I also wonder if at some point the Secret Service will be accused of being racist and not taking the responsibility of guarding the POTUS as serious as they should because he is black.  Hope that doesn't occur but . . . you never now. 

BOOYA!  UPDATE . . . there it is!  “It is something that is widespread in black circles,” U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo., who is black, told the New York Times. “I’ve been hearing this for some time: ‘Well, the Secret Service, they’re trying to expose the president.’ You hear a lot of that from African-Americans in particular.” (see story here).   Yep, now the USSS is racist.  Awesome. 

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