The Public Screw-Ups of the Secret Service

The Secret Service protects the First Family.  At least that's the theory.

The Secret Service protects the First Family. At least that’s the theory.

The Secret Service, like most law enforcement agencies, has a motto. Theirs is “Worthy of Trust and Confidence” but a series of incidents, both troubling and potentially tragic has blown truck-sized holes into the nation’s trust and confidence the agency is up to the job of protecting the President.

The White House is starting to look as secure as a damn McDonald’s lobby.

ITEM: An armed man who jumped the White House fence this month made it far deeper into the mansion than previously disclosed, overpowering a Secret Service agent inside the North Portico entrance and running through the ceremonial East Room before he was tackled, according to a member of Congress familiar with the details of the incident.

The man, Omar J. Gonzalez, who had a knife, was stopped as he tried to enter the Green Room, a parlor used for receptions and teas, said the congressman, Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, the Republican chairman of a subcommittee looking into the security breach. Earlier, Secret Service officials indicated that Mr. Gonzalez, 42, had only made it steps inside the North Portico after running through the door.

According to a law enforcement official briefed on the current investigation, uniformed Secret Service officers at the White House failed to follow several of the agency’s protocols. Although the protocols call for an officer to be standing outside the North Portico door, there was no officer there as Mr. Gonzalez made his way up the steps. The officer who was stationed inside the door failed to lock it after an alarm was sounded that someone had jumped over the fence, the official said.

“At all times there is supposed to be someone at the outside and the inside of the door,” the official said. “The intruder was running so fast that he gets right past the woman who didn’t lock the door. She tries to catch him, and eventually she and another officer tackle the man to the ground, but by that time he was pretty far in.”

The US Secret Service provides security for Po...

“After we get through who’s picking up the booze and whores?” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ITEM: A security contractor with a gun and three prior convictions for assault and battery was allowed on an elevator with President Obama during a Sept. 16 trip to Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocols, according to three people familiar with the incident.

Obama was not told about the lapse in his security, these people said. The Secret Service director, Julia Pierson, asked a top agency manager to look into the matter but did not refer it to an investigative unit that was created to review violations of protocol and standards, according to two people familiar with the handling of the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The incident, which took place when Obama visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to discuss the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis, rattled Secret Service agents assigned to the president’s protective detail.

The private contractor first aroused the agents’ concerns when he acted oddly and did not comply with their orders to stop using a cellphone camera to record the president in the elevator, according to the people familiar with the incident.

When the elevator opened, Obama left with most of his Secret Service detail. Some agents stayed behind to question the man and then used a national database check that turned up his criminal history.

ITEM: New details emerged recently in the Washington Post that the secret service mishandled the investigation after a man shot at the White House while Obama’s youngest daughter, Sasha, was home. According to the Post, at least seven bullets hit the building: one pierced a window on the second floor, another hit a nearby window frame and several more pinged the roof.

The president and first lady were not in the mansion at the time, but Sasha, and Michelle’s mother, Marian Robinson, were. Malia was reportedly expected to return at any moment.

An agent stationed upstairs apparently responded to the shooting, but was ordered to stand down by a supervisor who said no shots were fired. Secret service agents only realized the mansion had been hit four days later, when a housekeeper found broken glass on the floor.

The gunman, troubled 21-year-old Oscar Ortega-Hernandez, was eventually arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

According to The Washington Post, “The response infuriated the president and the first lady, according to people with direct knowledge of their reaction. Michelle Obama has spoken publicly about fearing for her family’s safety since her husband became the nation’s first black president.”

“Her concerns are well founded — President Obama has faced three times as many threats as his predecessors, according to people briefed on the Secret Service’s threat assessment.”

It was one thing when upscale party crashers wormed their way into a 2009 state dinner at the White House and something else entirely when a phony sign language interpreter who was treated for schizophrenia slipped by the scrutiny of the Secret Service scrutiny to stand three feet away from President Obama during his remarks at Nelson Mandela’s eulogy. The recent cases of Secret Service agents removed from the president’s detail for drinking and cavorting with prostitutes is another black eye for the beleaguered agency.

It’s taken as an article of faith The Secret Service is always on point when it comes to protecting the president, his family and the White House. The image of the agents in the sunglasses, dark suits and earpieces is a constant when the president steps out in public and works the rope line.

Yet, it’s easy to wonder what would have happened if the recent unwelcome guests to breach the gates of the White House had sported the latest in suicide vest designer wear. Things could have turned out to been a double feature of White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen.

"Hey, Joe?  How ready are you to step in for the Black dude?"

“Hey, Joe? How ready are you to step in for the Black dude?”

Regardless of who the president is it is an issue of national importance when their safety is imperiled and particularly when it is carelessness, sloppiness, inefficiency or incompetence that puts him in harm’s way. I don’t care if it is Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush41, Clinton, Bush43, Obama or whomever is next to sit in the Oval Office. I may despise the next man or woman to become president, but I don’t want to see one killed either and certainly not because the Secret Service fell down on the job.

Nobody ever accused Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz who chairs a House sub-committee which questioned Pierson, of being a fan of Obama, but even he said, “I have deep concerns that the president is not as safe as we want and need him to be.”

I’m sure Michelle Obama would agree.

Director Pierson resigned Wednesday and that’s too bad. Obama should have fired her ass for trying to get his killed.

Miriam Carey Is Dead, But Who Is Responsible?

Was Carey responsible for what happened to her?

Was Carey responsible for what happened to her?

The strange case of Miriam Casey, the Stamford, CT dental technician who placed her 18-month child in the back of her black Infiniti coupe and drove 256 miles to Washington D.C. where she tried to run a checkpoint at the White House has baffled the nation.   When confronted, Carey put the car in reverse, stomped the accelerator and fled the scene after knocking an uniformed Secret Service officer over the hood.

Video captured Carey zooming around the mall from the White House to the U.S. Capitol where she was killed by an undisclosed number of gunshots fired by the police.  The 34-year old was unarmed and carried no weapons in her vehicle.

As the details of who Miriam Carey was slowly spooled out any thoughts she might have been a terrorist were immediately dismissed once it became clear she was extremely troubled.

Carey had received a diagnosis of postpartum depression with psychosis, her sister Amy Carey-Jones said in a Friday interview on “Anderson Cooper 360°,” and had been treated with counseling and medication, but was reducing her use of medication under a doctor’s supervision. Carey-Jones said her sister “didn’t appear to be unstable.”

“We will never know what Miriam was thinking in those last hours before she died,” her sister told Cooper. “We can only speculate, and our real concern is why and were things done properly. Was there some other way that she could have been helped so that it didn’t end tragically?”

Valarie Carey and Amy Carey-Jones want to know why their sister is dead.

Valarie Carey and Amy Carey-Jones want to know why their sister is dead.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said the investigation has uncovered “a picture of a mentally disturbed woman.” Carey had been treated for schizophrenia, he said, but two of her sisters disputed his characterization.

McCaul said her condition may have been exacerbated by a recent head injury and that her boyfriend had called police to say she believed her apartment was bugged and Obama was behind it. Carey’s sisters, however, said in their CNN interview that they had never heard her say anything of that nature. Valarie Carey called the boyfriend’s account “very questionable.”

Carey was likely not responsible for her actions and she needed help not a bullet.  But whose fault is it she didn’t get that help?   It is saddening a woman is dead and her child is motherless.    But  Carey tried to ram her car through a checkpoint of one of the most secure buildings on the planet.   Failing that, she backed up,  sends a Secret Service agent flying over the hood of her car and fled around the Capitol in a high-speed chase that ended with her death.

At what point are the authorities allowed to assume, “This person is dangerous. Obviously does not plan to be taken into custody and has no regard for anyone’s life including her own.” ” Yes, strip spikes might have been helpful. Shooting out her tires might have been helpful too, but what if she had 500 pounds of Semtex in her trunk that could go off it the car flipped?

I’m not a cop, but I know a few and they tell me, cops aren’t trained to wound or disable a suspect. A wounded or disabled suspect can still kill. Dead ones can’t.

Nobody knew Carey was mentally ill, but nobody knew how dangerous she might be either. With the shooting spree at the Navy Yards having occurred just a few weeks ago, if the cops and Secret Service were edgy, maybe they had good reason to be.   Do I think cops are at times too willing to pull their piece and blow someone away? Hell yeah, I do as the recent case of Jonathan Ferrell shows. Some cops are too eager to use lethal force when they should not.

Before I can second-guess the split-second decisions made by the cops in Washington D.C. because of what we know about Miriam Carey now, we should pause a moment and consider what they feared could happen if they didn’t stop her then.

“She didn’t contribute anything [to the incident],” said Eric Sanders, attorney for the Carey family on The Today Show. “She had absolutely every right to be in the nation’s capital.”

Yes, she did, but why was she there and why did she try to get past a White House barricade?

If the argument goes, “Carey wasn’t responsible for her actions” how was she responsible enough to hold a job, own a condo, drive a car, bear children and live independently?     I don’t think Carey can be held “responsible” for what happened, but until it’s determined what she was in Washington for, even if you want to characterize law enforcement’s actions as excessive, a strong argument can be made they were also unavoidable.

Here are some other questions that need answering.

1.  Carey’s family and friends say she wasn’t political, but her ex-boyfriend says Carey believed she was being stalked by President Obama.   What prompted her to drive nearly 300 miles from her home?

2.   The FBI searched Carey’s home and found discharge papers that listed risperidone, a medication to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and paperwork listing escitalopram, an antidepressant commonly prescribed under the brand name Lexapro, but none of the medications were found in the home contrary to earlier reports.  Why the discrepancy?

2.  Carey’s mother said her daughter suffered from postpartum depression, but her sisters say was getting better, was being taken off her medicines and did not hear voices or seem delusional.  Was Carey really getting better as her sisters claim she was or was her sickness more severe than they believed?

4.  The New York Times reported Carey’s car crashed into a barrier and when she got out of the vehicle she was shot and that was when authorities realized 1-year-old Erica was in the backseat, unhurt.   How many times was Carey shot?  Was she given the chance to surrender or the Capitol police just pull out their guns and start blasting away.

Eventually fault will be lie with someone here, but even if it’s not all on Miriam Carey, some of it is.

miriam carey_car

The wreckage and the body are gone, but the questions linger.

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An Evil Prayer for the President.

This is a threat, not a prayer.

As long as there have been presidents there have been good people who have prayed for his safety and for the president to be blessed with wisdom as he attempts to lead the country.

Then there ‘s this: PRAY FOR OBAMA  PSALM 109:8 Well, ain’t that sweet?    It is—right up until you read Psalm 109, verse 8.

Let his days be few; and let another take his place.

That’s a little less than benevolent.  But verse 109 cuts to the chase:  Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.

There’s two ways of looking at this.  If you read just verse 108, you might be able to make the case, well these are just people who are counting the days until Obama is out of office (thought that line about “let his days be few” could be misinterpreted).

But there’s nothing ambivalent about the suggestion Malia and Sasha grow up Barackless and Michelle start wearing black.

It can be said that the t-shirts (and bumper stickers, hats and teddy bears with Psalm 108 stuck on them) are not hate speech and do not reflect a direct threat against the president.   However, when that is contrasted by reports that threats against Obama have risen 400 percent and the Secret Service is stretched too thin, it is legitimate to worry whether or not some fanatic might not think it’s God will for him to try and kill the president.

Whenever someone like  Major Nidal Hassan screws up and goes nuts, every Islamic cleric in the United States rushes to the microphone to reassure the nation that this is one loner who has misinterpreted the Koran and Islam is not a violent religion.   Where are all the good Christian conservatives when someone is peddling violence, sedition and hatred toward the President of the United States?   Why aren’t they called to account for the idiots who deliberately misinterpret the Bible to make a buck?

It only takes one motivated nut with a gun to stick a rifle out of the window of a school book depository, or the bathroom a dilapidated boarding house or park a Ryder truck loaded with explosives next to a federal building to kill and change the course of history.   It’s not beyond belief and certainly not beyond possibility that someone might think killing President Obama to be the will of God.

There is an hardcore, extremist and dangerous strain within the conservative body politic that sees the president as not merely a politician to be defeated, but the Antichrist who must be destroyed.

I’ve always said I don’t have any problem with God.  It’s some of his Believers that scare me.