I am really bothered by the recent reports surrounding the Secret Service.
I have always thought of Secret Service agents as “Supermen.” Dark and mysterious in their aviators and ear buds…too cool for school but in a good way…dedicating their lives to stepping in front of a bullet. Anyone who is willing to lay down their life for their fellow man has my utmost respect. They exemplified all of the qualities that we see in ourselves as a country: strong, brave, selfless and honorable. Somehow I felt safer knowing they were there.
Now that image has been tarnished…the institution’s vulnerabilities laid bare for all to see. Somehow I feel less safe…much like the way I felt on 9/11.
Does the name Clint Hill mean anything to you?
On November 22, 1963 Clint Hill was part of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s Secret Service detail on the day JFK was assassinated. When Hill heard the first shot he rushed for the convertible carrying the president and his wife. Hill is the agent that we see in the famous Zapruder leaping onto the back of the president’s convertible as it accelerates away from Dealey Plaza. We see the terrified First Lady reach out to Hill as he crawls across the trunk of the speeding car toward her. Hill reaches the couple, forces the First Lady onto the floor and then covers both of them with his own body to shield them from further harm. Hill said he could tell immediately that the president was dead. Now 81 years of age, Hill still feels remorse. You see Hill still believes that had he been a little quicker to react he might have been able to block the fatal shot with his body.
Drunken parties and hotel rooms full of hookers were the first signs of chinks in the armor. Then we learned of shots fired on the White House only to be discovered by accident days later. Now we are told that contractors with guns ride along with the president in elevators. And most concerning of all…a man is able to hop the White House security fence, sprint across the vast lawn, enter the White House through the unlocked front door and make his way into the recesses of the mansion before he is apprehended by an OFF DUTY officer.
These transgressions send a terrible message; not only to the country but to our enemies as well. It says that we are distracted and vulnerable. If you can breach the most secure home in the world…you can breach anything.
They need to fix this! Accepting the resignation of Director Julia Pierson is a good start. But that is not enough. There needs to be a cultural sea change within the institution; a general house cleaning of all those who do not share Clint Hill’s vision of the Service.
The image and the professional standing of the Secret Service must be restored to its' "Superman" stature. Not only for the safety of the First Family, but for the sake of the country.