Will Secret Service fire any agents over Salahis?

Hope you had a pleasant — and restful — Thanksgiving holiday. Hope Congress and the Obama administration did, too, since they start this week with an agenda chock-full of important tasks: Afghanistan, health care, climate change and Copenhagen, etc.

Of course, the story that has dominated official Washington over the last week is the intriguing tale of the social-climbing, gate-crashing, celebrity-seeking Salahis, who managed to get into a very exclusive state dinner last week without an invitation. It’s fun to focus on another American couple so obsessed with their fifteen minutes of fame.

But it goes without saying that there’s a deadly serious element to this story. The couple managed to get into the receiving line to shake hands with the president; if they had intended to kill Obama, he’d be dead already.

The Secret Service has tended to be a bit defensive about its ability to protect the nation’s first black president; last month, I posted an item about a government report on the unprecedented number of threats against Obama. Immediately, I received a phone call from a spokesman for the agency who said the report was wrong, that the number of threats against Obama was “within the same range” as other presidents.

The domestic threat is also growing, fueled in part by Obama’s election as the nation’s first black president, according to specialists who study homegrown radical movements.

Obama, who was given Secret Service protection 18 months before the election – the earliest ever for a presidential candidate – has been the target of more threats since his inauguration than his predecessors.

UPDATE: Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan says that while there was a rise in threats right after the inauguration, the number of threats against Obama is now “within the range” of the number of threats against the last two presidents
Whatever the number of threats, it’s clear the Secret Service isn’t doing a good enough job to protect against them, what with the Salahis walking right past security and into the White House. So here’s the question: how harshly will the Secret Service discipline the agents who messed up?

24 comments Add your comment

Turd Feguson

November 30th, 2009
7:37 am

Welcome back Cynthia!

The SS should determine who is responsble and then pass around pink slips as warranted.

Yes…terminate the responsible party(s).

Joey

November 30th, 2009
8:12 am

I do not believe this happened because of lax security. I cannot accept that anyone could just bluff their way into a WH function. Someone helped these two get in.

Was it someone within the Secret Service? Was it someone with power within the Administration’s inner circle? I hope we find all the people who helped make this happen.

Meanwhile, I would fly the happy couple down to Gitmo and question them for a month or so. Justification? Let’s use: We suspect that this was a test run for a future attack on the President.

kayaker 71

November 30th, 2009
8:18 am

Cynthia,

Why do you have to again, say the obvious. Yes, he is the nation’s first black president. And yes, because of this, he is more vulnerable than past white presidents have been. Why can’t he just.be… the president. This racial thing is wearing thin. I don’t think that most Americans care whether he is purple with green polka dots. They care about the economy and jobs. And in both of these important arenas, he is falling far short of what we expected from him.
As far as the gate crashers, someone’s head should roll. Someone dropped the ball and whether you are protecting a white or a black president, their job performance was far below par.

jconservative

November 30th, 2009
8:52 am

Cynthia – I prefer to talk about your Thanksgiving column.

Wonderful column, warm, touching story. I thought about you and your daughter quite often Thanksgiving day. You do have a lot to be thankful for and so does your daughters’ birth mother. And, more important, your daughter has a lot to be thankful for as she will often tell you over the coming years.

K’s decision to give birth and your decision to adopt is the example we all wish to see copied over the coming years. You have a nice platform from which to push this idea. I trust you will do so.
I have often told you that on certain issues that we would just “agree to disagree”. This time I hope we “agree to agree”.

TnGelding

November 30th, 2009
9:33 am

It’s hard to imagine how this happened. We’re spending way to much to protect him and uninvited guests are allowed to just walk in? I suspect as stated above there is more to the story. But if the SS was negligent, then the offending party(ies) have to be removed. It’s great that the threats are down to the “normal” range. I see this as an area to save about 50% of what is being spent. If he’d just stay in the Oval Office it would save hundreds of millions.

Common Sense

November 30th, 2009
9:33 am

Ms. Tucker:

A couple of things to keep in mind:

1) The “staff” should have had a person at that checkpoint to state whether someone got in or not. All the Secret Service does is make sure they are not a threat. I’m betting there was no staff person there. Should someone in the staff be disciplined or fired for that?

2) This couple went through the same security as every other guest that night and MORE security than the thousands of people the President shakes hands with every year outside the White House on rope lines, at public events, etc. So ……… nobody as you say “walked right past security”. Maybe you would like to retract that part of your post.

3) Up through the George W. Bush presidency, Ronald Reagan had “twice” the number of threats of any modern president. And since the Secret Service has stated that threats to Obama are about the same as George W. and Bill Clinton, that means Reagan had more threats than Obama. Were you as concerned about him?

4) Finally, the Secret Service will take appropriate disciplinary action if they feel it is warranted. You can trust me and take that to the bank – 27 years supervisor retired.

Jimmy62

November 30th, 2009
9:57 am

The Secret Service and other non-elected government organizations take their lead from their leadership- In this case Obama. And incompetent President results in an incompetent Secret Service. There’s not much mystery here, just a failure of leadership.

Common Sense

November 30th, 2009
10:33 am

To Jimmy62:

You couldn’t be more wrong. The Secret Service prides itself in protecting all individuals under its mandate and it has nothing to do with who is in office or their “lead”. Some presidents (due to their desire for mobility) can make things difficult, but the Service will still provide the appropriate protection. Party or political persuasion does not enter into it. That’s why a new Director or Head of the Presidential Detail is not appointed with a change of administration. The Service even protects despotic heads of state (i.e., Castro) when the visit the U.N.

This is nothing more than the case of one agent or Uniformed Division officer making an incorrect decision inconsistent with establised written procedures. It is easily corrected.

Real

November 30th, 2009
10:52 am

“…important tasks: Afghanistan, health care, climate change and Copenhagen…”

Seems, similar to the health care “the sky is falling” PresBO position, that climate change is also a scam by PreBO and the UN where apparently significant policy decisions have been made on possibly bogus data. It seems clear that the data has been massaged to remove readings that do not fit in with the overall premise of Global Warming.

ctucker

November 30th, 2009
10:57 am

To jconservative:
Thanks so much for your very kind words about my Thanksgiving piece

Common Sense

November 30th, 2009
11:03 am

Ms. Tucker:

I have to run out for a few hours but when I return I would love to see your reply to my 9:33, especially point #2. I would hope you as a journalist are after the truth.

Chris Broe

November 30th, 2009
11:03 am

There’s only one way to get past the security at the white house at night: a small helium balloon. The cover of darkness, the sheer audacity, and the silence of a balloon make it nearly impossible to detect.

If this had been the fourth of july, and if there had been fireworks, then we could have been looking at a tragedy. Imagine what Fox would have done with a fiery accident like that? Oh, the Hume-Hannity!

Road Scholar

November 30th, 2009
11:22 am

Did these two have an invitation to show to get in? Didn’t a list of attendees exist and wasn’t it available to the SS? Couldn’t they check the list and their ID’s to confirm everyone’s attendance? The SS screwed up.

Logan from Loganville

November 30th, 2009
11:40 am

REAL–Health care and climate change being hyped–If you would stoop so low as to get facts I would suggest T.Reid’s book Healing America,for an objective survey of health care aroungd the world.To find out why our health care costs so much read “Money Driven Medicine” by Maggie Mahar. Climate change,for every scientist that does not believe in it,20 do. Try reading Scientific American magazine and other scienific publications,not political pundits.

Real

November 30th, 2009
12:08 pm

Logan at 11:40 — glad to get the facts. Can you point me to well recognized and accepted peer-reviewed journals on these two topics??

Barnacle Bill Bavasi

November 30th, 2009
1:48 pm

When I first saw this report on TV, I thought it was a joke. I thought how in the heck did Ann Coulter crash a state dinner? I swear the wife was her.

Barnacle Bill Bavasi

November 30th, 2009
1:50 pm

I understand blogging lingo and all, but IMHO, the use of SS here is disturbing.

Common Sense/Block

November 30th, 2009
2:01 pm

To Road Scholar:

Yes, there is always a “list” and there is almost without exception (including occasionally at White House Dinners) a last minute “invitee” or “addition” that doesn’t make said list. It just happens.

That said, the Secret Service will take a hit not for a “security breach” but for an “administrative breach”. As I said before, the staff should have had someone there to make that decision. They speak on behalf of the President as to who gets in. It’s the President’s house.

Ann

November 30th, 2009
3:29 pm

I don’t care what color the President is or was. A breach of security occurredd and heads should roll starting from the top. “The buck stops here” is a true saying and should be strickly followed. I think this episode is fodder for terrorists.

El Jefe

December 1st, 2009
12:10 am

The real question is who in the current administration weaved them through security.

Who has that much clout in the White House.

I feel confident the professionals in the Secret Service did their job to the best of their ability. Someone in the White House ignored protocol, ignored Presidential security guidelines and allowed two “friends” to crash the State Dinner.

Of course, one of the most dangerous men in America was an invited guest, Andy Stern of SEIU.

David Granger

December 1st, 2009
11:49 am

If the Secret Service was lax in its responsibilities, then yes…the agents in question SHOULD be fired. And if the White House social committee elected NOT to send someone with a valid guest list, then THEY should be fired.
And the Salahis should be prosecuted (apparently, this is NOT the first time they’ve pulled something like this, so it’s a recurring pattern for them) and should serve prison time.

Does anybody else believe that…if Michaele Salahi had been fat and looked like Janet Reno…they’d NEVER have been allowed in?

Tomas Croft

January 3rd, 2010
8:21 pm

There were no Secret Service agents involved in this incident. The Uniformed Division Police Force within the Secret Service was involved in this incident. According to several other news agencies the officers involved have been suspended.

hrw

January 4th, 2010
9:58 am

President Obama is the President of these United States of America. We all should give him the decent and high respect like we have the rest of the Presidents who have served us! People, words and action toward him is not acceptable and should stop. Some may or may not like him but it their own choice. None of us is perfect in any way, neither is the President; but he, is trying to make a difference in all of our lives. Those who continue to disrespect, cut him down, belittle him have indeed shown all of us where your minds are. President Obama’s family and he deserves his rights as a human being as he serve this great country.

Cindi

January 4th, 2010
10:17 am

They did not respect George Bush, so why he be treated any different?