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By Basil Wilson

It was quite shocking to hear in the Government Oversight Committee hearings that the Secret Service was incapable of thwarting an intruder who had scaled the White House fence and had gotten as far as the Green Room of the White House. For once Darrell Issa held a hearing that did not pivot around vulgar partisan propaganda. Representative Issa has used his chairmanship in the most deplorable manner and began his chairmanship making wild accusations about President Obama’s administration that were not backed up by any empirical data.

President Obama has had more threats on his life than any other President of the United States. That torrent of threats had a lot to do with his blackness but it does not help when elected members of the Congress and so-called media pundits engage day in and day out with character assassinations of the elected and presiding President of the United States. It creates a climate that brings out the worst in America and propels insane people to do crazy acts.

Something is rotten in the Secret Service. Heretofore, the United States Secret Service had the reputation of being an agency comprised of professionals who were extremely competent and immensely dedicated vis-à-vis protecting the President of the United States and his immediate family. But as some Representatives raised in the hearing, the Secret Service is plagued with a leadership problem and with serious issues of un-professionalism.

Julia Pearson was brought in to clear up the slackness that had been brought to the attention of the public. The President had no choice after she appeared and testified before the Oversight Committee to ask for her resignation. She was pilloried during the open hearing and I would imagine things would have gotten worse during the classified hearings that followed after the open hearing.

From her testimony, it is clear that there is a culture of cover-up at the Secret Service, not to mention outright bungling. The initial report on Omar Gonzales who had scaled the White House fence on September 19, 2014 was that the intruder armed with a knife had reached the White House front door. Based on whistle blowers who gave information to reporters of the Washington Post, it was revealed that Gonzales had penetrated the interior of the White House. He had outrun agents after jumping the seven foot fence who failed to enact protocols to protect occupants of the White House.

Mr. Gonzales was known to Secret Service agents as prior to the events of September 19, 2014, he had been apprehended months before in Virginia armed with a plethora of guns and ammunition. The handling of this case clearly delineates that the Justice System is incapable of effectively dealing with citizens who constitute a danger to the President and to the public.

Just as troubling is an incident that occurred on November 11, 2011. A number of shots were fired from a car on Constitutional Avenue at the White House. The shots broke the outer decorative window but did not penetrate the interior bullet proof glass. An agent on duty reported the shots yet there was an attempt by Secret Service supervisors to cover-up the incident.

A scenario was concocted that there were shots but the exchange entailed two motorists who had nothing to do with the White House. Four days later, a housekeeper at the White House discovered the broken glass and the bullets. The shooter had crashed his car further down the road and was arrested by the Park police. A court in Pennsylvania tried and sentenced the intruder to 25 years to life for shooting at the White House.

Previously, there have been glaring incidents involving inappropriate behaviors of Secret Service agents on presidential visits to Colombia, South America and in Thailand, Asia. It raises the question of the consumption of alcohol of agents on duty sworn to protect the life of the President of the United States. In both incidents there seemed to be a lack of supervision and a failure to discipline officers involved.

The educational requirements of the Secret Service are quite stringent. It requires potential employees to graduate in the top third of their class with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher learning. Yet some of the behavior that has come to the attention of the public is so coarse and unprofessional. It is unmanageable to think of a Secret Service agent inebriated and strung out in a brothel.

Whistle blowers had lost confidence in Ms. Julia Pearson’s leadership and were bombarding Congressmen and reporters regarding the troubles plaguing the Secret Service. Ms. Pearson has stepped down and a retired veteran of the Secret Service, Joseph Clancy, has been the interim leader.

The White House is often referred to as the people’s house. One wonders if in these times of suicidal bombers and terrorist networks that such an age of people gaining entrance to the White House has not passed. America’s involvement in the Middle East will last at least another generation. The rise of internal fanatical groups like the Sovereign Nation poses a serious threat to the President of the United States who symbolizes governmental authority in the United States. Obviously, in these perilous times, there is the need for greater vigilance. There is the need for a well-trained, well-led professional Secret Service. The Oversight Governmental Committee has done a great service to the nation. The hearings were conducted in a bi-partisan manner and will serve as a catalyst for the revamping of the Secret Service. The revamped Secret Service should slowly reflect the new demographics of American society.

Dr. Basil Wilson