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Wed Oct 1, 2014, 01:40 PM

Systems & Secret Service

The recent attention given to the failures of the Secret Service is troubling, indeed; yet it has the potential to bring about positive changes before a national tragedy occurs. Even the current director was unable to make the case that things are improving, when she testified before a congressional committee yesterday. In fact, a leak to the media documented that she was not fully honest in her testimony regarding recent shortcomings.

It is -- obviously -- unacceptable to have this series of failures at any time. But it is especially troubling when these events take place at a time when the threats against the current president are at an all-time high. Although one can only speculate as to why events are unfolding exactly as they are, there are two general theories that tend to explain what we are witnessing. By no coincidence, the two have some degree of overlap.

The first of these is “systems.” The Secret Service was formed in the 1800s, as a branch of the Treasury Department, to focus on counterfeiting. It soon was tasked with providing protection to the President of the United States. Hence, it can accurately be described as a bureaucracy, which is important in two senses. First, a bureaucracy is simply a system that seeks to identify the most common solution to a given problem among a group of people -- in this case, those who would seek to create fake money, and those who seek to harm the president.

The second system’s dynamic is that, as a general rule, all bureaucracies seek to expand. In the context of government agencies, we see this at “budget time,” when the heads of agencies request more funding for current programming, as well as for new programs that they claim are necessary to meet new circumstances. Thus, the tensions between those holding the purse strings, and the agencies requesting more funds.(There is evidence, in this case, that the recent republican “shut down” of the federal government may be an important factor in recent events.)

Within the larger bureaucracy of the Secret Service, our attention should be focused primarily upon that section tasked with protecting President Obama and his family. Specifically, we should consider those employed at the level of guarding the White House and President Obama as he travels. In doing so, I would start with the idea that most, if not all, of those taking that job do so for good reasons. That job demands that, if called upon by circumstance, the individual will lay down his or her life to protect the president.

From that starting point, one can recognize that the job involves a potential for high levels of stress. The individual must maintain a high level of alertness. This, despite the fact that on the average day, no drastic incident takes place. Such jobs, by design, tend to take a toll upon the individual. Though not an excuse, it is the explanation of much of the bad behaviors that have taken place over the years, including the heavy drinking and associated misdeeds reported in recent years.

This does not imply that all of the agents are burned out, and hung over on the job. But it can be enough of a problem to make for some “weak links” in the security details, which compromises its effectiveness. And it could explain how a “lone nut” was able to enter to enter the White House.

The other school of thought focuses more on how a group of people who strongly oppose President Obama might seek to exploit the weak links in the system, either to intimidate or harm him. I suspect that every thinking American would recognize that recent events might embolden foreign enemies of the United States to attempt to harm President Obama. More, while it is uncomfortable to think about, there may be domestic interests -- beyond the lone wolf, Lee Harvey Oddball -- who could have similar intents.

Indeed, the amount of sheer hatred that is being aimed at President Obama helps to create a very dangerous climate. It goes way, way beyond the sport of politics. I recognize that politics isn’t a pillow fight, but far too much of the republican opposition -- mostly aimed towards the unhinged members of the Tea Party -- has saturated our nation with a clinically paranoid form of hatred. It appeals to racism and violence. It is purposeful, and it, too, is systematic.

As I’ve noted here in the past, I like to view “systems” by using the model of a mobile, such as those used to hang over an infant’s crib. In the context of the US, each government system makes one piece of a larger mobile; likewise, the US is a piece of the global mobile. Those of us residing in the US who are appalled by the fear and hatred all around us need to consider the option of a truly non-violent, peace movement. It won’t repair the Secret Service, of course, but it would add a much-needed piece to the US mobile. Our future hangs in the balance.

H2O Man

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Arrow 6 replies Author Time Post
Reply Systems & Secret Service (Original post)
H2O Man Oct 2014 OP
NYC_SKP Oct 2014 #1
brer cat Oct 2014 #2
H2O Man Oct 2014 #3
H2O Man Oct 2014 #4
kentuck Oct 2014 #5
H2O Man Oct 2014 #6

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Oct 1, 2014, 02:01 PM

1. "It appeals to racism and violence. It is purposeful, and it, too, is systematic."


So true and, at the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I can't help but wonder what effect from expansion and consolidation with other agencies post-9/11 have had on the efficacy of this agency.

It seems that the more narrow the mission, the better job they might have of doing it well and the more control those closest to the POTUS would have in keeping house.

As it stands, being a part of a network of three letter agencies including HSA, ICE, CIA, et al creates opportunities for, to put it mildly, mischief.

Maybe it's time to return the Secret Service to a state of greater autonomy, as it was before the Patriot Act.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 1, 2014, 02:13 PM

2. I agree SKP.

I would also note that being part of the three-letter agencies leads to turf wars and power struggles, neither of which is needed by the Secret Service. They should indeed have greater autonomy.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 1, 2014, 03:09 PM

3. I agree completely.

It needs to be separate to Homeland Security. At the same time, I think the Department of Justice should be doing the independent review of SS's recent failures.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Oct 1, 2014, 05:57 PM

4. I suspect that

most DUers are familiar, at least somewhat, of the history between the creation of an atmosphere of hatred and some of the tragic assassinations in the 1960s. Recognizing the relationship between those who stir the pot of hatred and fear, and of those murders, does not in and of itself mean that a person believes in conspiracy theories. If indeed there are "lone nuts" out there, it would seem likely that being exposed to frequent rants aimed at a specific target could have an influence upon their sick thinking.

The most famous instance, I suspect, would be the "wanted for treason" ad that was published in a Dallas, Texas newspaper when President Kennedy was scheduled to visit. A similar theme would be found in a cartoon published in the Nation of Islam's newspaper, that appeared to call for the beheading of Malcolm X

Not all of that era's appeals to what Robert Kennedy called "the darker impulses of human nature" were found in pieces aimed at the angriest people in society. Indeed, three months before JFK was killed, author Victor Lasky's book, "JFK: The Man and the Myth" was published. It was, to the best of my knowledge, the first time that an author connected to the intelligence community published a book attacking a sitting US President -- claiming that Kennedy was a socialist, intent upon forcing a dangerous system of government (and business) upon an unsuspecting public.

After Dallas, the book was "pulled" for two years, because the publishers believed it might be considered connected, in some way, to the assassination. If nothing else, I think, it's fair to say that the book's analysis of JFK was the type of decaying shit that could fertilize the paranoid fantasies of the rabid right wing.

Still, in my life-time, the quantity and quality of hateful, paranoid lies spread in the media, and on the internet, about President Obama reaches an all-time low. While I am a firm believer in Amendment 1 -- and in no way am suggesting the government should dictate what can or cannot be printed -- I strongly urge people to contact the sponsors of those media that promote such vicious crap.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Oct 1, 2014, 06:07 PM

5. Scary...

to think of the possibilities.

But it seems the time is ripe to reform the "system"?

The President could help while this process is taking place. His travels and itinerary should be carefully planned with better security.

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Response to kentuck (Reply #5)

Thu Oct 2, 2014, 10:15 AM

6. Definitely.

It sounds like the new acting director is of the high quality that the position demands. But systems are curious things, and tend to resist "change." Again, if we use the model of a mobile, we see that if one piece moves, all the others have to adjust, in order to maintain balance. Hence, any new "piece" -- especially one at the top -- that seeks to institute change will be met with resistance -- all the other pieces attempt to remain entrenched, to hold the new piece in place.

Everyone who has attempted, on any level, to institute change in a given system has heard, "But we've ALWAYS done it this way." And, from their perspective, that seems true. But the Secret Service clearly cannot continue with business as usual.

If, God forbid, there was an organized attempt to harm this president (or any future one), they would not need to destroy the entire group tasked with protecting him/her. All they need to do is to exploit the weakest link. And it is obvious that there are weak links at several levels. Perhaps the most troubling, in the context of systems, was the purposeful failure to report the screw-up that allowed the freak with the hand gun to be so close to President Obama in the elevator. The incident alone is obviously unacceptable. That supervision would seek to cover it up is just so wrong. And that went right to the top person, including when she faced congressional oversight this week.

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