The Secret Service's Open Secrets

DDIt was clear she had been a dedicated agent and administrator, but Secret Service Director Julia Pierson was in over her head. She spent her years in the Service as a field agent in Jacksonville and Orlando, Florida, and except for four years from 1988 to 1992, she was never directly involved in Presidential Protections or White House duty except for oversight.

From her resumé:

In 1996, Ms. Pierson entered the agency’s supervisory ranks with her selection as Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Protective Operations. Later that year, she was transferred to the Tampa Field Office where she served as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge and was responsible for directing Secret Service investigative and protective activities in western Florida. Ms. Pierson established an Electronic Crimes Task Force to investigate cyber crimes in the Tampa Bay area.

In 2005, Ms. Pierson returned to the Office of Protective Operations as Deputy Assistant Director. In this position, Ms. Pierson oversaw the agency’s Presidential Protective Division, Vice Presidential Protective Division, Special Services Division, as well as budgetary operations for 1,200 employees.

Since June 2006, she has held the position of Assistant Director of the Office of Human Resources and Training. As Assistant Director, she was responsible for all human resource programs and training for the Secret Service, including policy development and management of the agency’s Personnel Division, Security Clearance Division, Workforce Planning, Work-Life Programs, and the James J. Rowley Training Center.

Good jobs. But do any of them sound like the kind of hands-on innovation and knowledge of drills required of the world’s most important Master Chief or Sergeant Major, responsible for the daily details and lightning responses, piersonafter long, numbing periods of maudlin ennui, to thwart potential threats against a President from an ever-growing list of crazies?

Did her resumé really prepare her for a laser focus on carrying out the policies and standard of the performance, training and conduct of the Secret Service’s Presidential Protection Division?

One Congress member at Tuesday’s House hearing pointed out that protection detail agents had received no training in 2013 and only one class the year before. Pierson acknowledged different segments of the Service can’t communicate because they use different radio frequencies. But most telling was an inspector general’s report that indicated the rank and file had little trust (less than 50%!) in the bosses, a vital tell that signaled the problems that kept reoccurring and the reasons why they are not fixed.

The breach of the White House and the other recent failures in protection and agent misconduct begin with the loss of personal and professional integrity, apparently widespread among the Protection Division, according to an earlier Inspector General report. That 2012 report reviewed agents soliciting sex workers in Cartagena, Columbia ahead of a Presidential visit, and noted such incidents were numerous. Continue reading The Secret Service’s Open Secrets

Presidential Petitions

DDRep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) wants to impeach the president for unhappiness. “A question I get a lot, ‘If everybody is so unhappy with the president, why don’t you impeach him?’” Farenthold said at a town hall meeting Saturday, as seen in a YouTube video. He went on: “I’ll give you a real frank answer about that. If we were to impeach the president tomorrow, we would probably get the votes in the House of Representatives to do it.”

According to Politico, Farenthold’s odds-making on a hypothetical impeachment of a President whose high crime seems to be the misery of his opponents came after a woman presented Farenthaold with a folder that she says contains proof that Obama’s birth certificate was faked.

Farenthold does not stand alone on impeachment. A White House petition calling for impeachment gathered 49,890 signatures (from all 50 states!), enough for an official response; it demands the President submit himself to impeachment and lists a bill of particulars!

I’m not sure a constitutional mechanism exists for Presidents to submit themselves to impeachment. That indeed would break a longstanding precedent and take the nation into uncharted waters, maybe even precipitate a constitutional crisis—actually demonstrating the indifference and ineptness that the President’s foes are fond of citing. They listed several examples in the petition:

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

We request that Barack Obama be impeached for the following reasons.

1. He proclaimed war in libya without getting congress approval first. Article I, Section 8- Only congress can approve to start war.

2. Obamacare is unconstitutional. Forcing US citizens to get health insurance whether they want it or not.

3. Obama disrespects our Constitution calling it flawed and trying to change it even after taking this oath:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

4. Appointing agency “czars” without Senate approval.

The White House has also received a petition in Chinese characters (without translation) that has 169 signatures. It addresses human rights. But back to the demand for President Obama’s self-offered impeachment, here’s the White House plain language response. No bureaucratic platitudes or empty promises, no commitment to investigate the matter further, or to appoint a special fact finder, or hold a conference on the matter, it nevertheless applauds democracy and gives a pat on the back to the administration:

The Short Answer is No, but Keep Reading

By The White House

Believe it are not, petitions like the one you signed are one of the reasons we think We the People is such a valuable tool. There are few resources that do more to help us engage directly with people about the issues that matter to them — especially people who disagree with us.

So let us use this opportunity to set the record straight:

President Obama didn’t declare a war in Libya — and the limited military mission he did order was in keeping with decades of historic precedent.

The Supreme Court has ruled on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — and they upheld the law.

The President has deep respect and appreciation for the Constitution — he studied it in law school, he taught students about its principles as a professor, and as a lawmaker and now as President, he’s carried out its precepts.

And let’s be clear, many of those who have been called “czars” have in fact been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as prescribed by federal law, and others hold policy jobs that have existed in Administrations stretching back decades.

So the short answer is that we won’t be calling for the President’s impeachment — and given the fact that you made your appeal to the White House itself, we doubt you were holding your breath waiting for our support.

Here’s the important thing, though. Even though this request isn’t going to happen, we want you to walk away from this process with knowledge that we’re doing our best to listen — even to our harshest critics.

The key is that we can disagree without being disagreeable. That’s the kind of public dialogue Americans deserve.

President Obama has said time and time again that neither party has a monopoly on good ideas. And he’s repeatedly asked that all Americans — those who agree with him, as well as those who don’t — do their part to get involved with their democracy.

That’s why the White House has created a host of new tools and channels to help concerned citizens hear from us, and more importantly, to help President Obama hear directly from you. And the fact you signed this petition means you’ve already found at least one of them.

The White House has also received are six interconnected petitions to stop white genocide. My favorite (but I have not signed!) is the sixth: Continue reading Presidential Petitions

Stormy Monday, 4/29/13

By the time you read this, the sequestration-related air traffic controller furlough should be over, after Congress stoically incurred friction burns rushing through emergency legislation coincidentally allowing its members to withdraw expeditiously from DC for a well-deserved nine-day recess. Added egalitarian dividend: you, Mr. or Ms. JQ Public, will once again be able to get ripped off, inconvenienced, insulted and treated like a criminal at an airport near you. With luck, you’ll be able to depart before H7N9, China’s new and improved strain of life-threatening bird flu, arrives. Ah, normalcy.

If you survive all that, you can treat yourself to a Twinkie come July, when the sugary snack rises from the dead with a little help from non-union labor.

After determining that Paul Kevin Curtis was guilty of nothing more than being a fair-to-middling Elvis impersonator, authorities have now arrested James Everett Dutschke in connection with the ricin-contaminated letters sent to Judge Sadie Holland, Senator Roger Wicker and President Obama on April 8.

Dutschke, who has unsuccessfully run for political office twice – once as a Republican and once as a Democrat – also faces multiple counts of child molestation, but was out on bond, at least until his Saturday arrest. The FBI’s handling of the ricin case has drawn a lot of criticism. Have they finally got the right guy? Continue reading Stormy Monday, 4/29/13

An Epidemic of Untreatable Illogic

One of my favorite diseases—and I say favorite because it has a great moral associated with its diagnosis—is an old, discredited but useful look at how the views of power filtered down to popular medicine, a disease named drapetomonia. Ever hear of it? It was one of the first illnesses to have a very clear ethnic identity—it only affected blacks. It was also one of the first specific mental health diagnoses. Declared an epidemic among its target population, shortly after being discovered by a Georgian physician in 1851, its treatment protocols involved harsh whippings and restraints in chains.

Today, it is one of the few discredited diseases reemerging as one of the false equivalencies that increasingly characterize American views of politics–and global warming, evolution, education, economic growth, race, and religion. I see a new strain of the disease emerging, and clearly we have no cure, or even treatment or care for it.

My old favorite, drapetomonia, was a response to a social condition, slavery, and was diagnosed as the condition that made slaves run away. Flee toward freedom. Hide in the woods, outside of civil authority, living in a place of fear. The new equivalency has jumped the old ethnic bounds. But it sees itself as flying toward freedom. Leaving behind civil authority—and also living in a place of fear. The new strain is tied to the older drapetomonia by its implied inability to accept reality, but it is characterized by far greater frequencies of delusions. The old and the new, the up and the down have been with us since the beginning. As the poet W. H. Auden said, “the situation of our time surrounds us like a baffling crime.” But this new strain forgets why the old strain was discredited, lost its potency and went bust: it described a wrong reality; it was a projection of its own delusions.

So, too, today, in the new, unnamed strain is the double circle of logic whose answers assume the truth of its assertions. My favorite example this week was a radio interview with Virginia’s Attorney General, whose radio host pointed out that the President did not win the red states where a photo ID law was in place or early voting was drastically restricted, and the wins and loses of those states alone were sufficient to point to clear evidence of a pattern of widespread Democratic fraud being rampant throughout the country. Well, Barack Obama didn’t win those same red states last time either, in 2008, before restrictions of early voting or photo ID laws were enacted. And he won all of the states he won before, without a single reputable complaint of fraud, except in the mouths of talk show hosts and elected officials whose delusions are a double circle. Continue reading An Epidemic of Untreatable Illogic

My White House Petition: Create Clean Energy Jobs in Coal Mining Ccommunities

The Obama administration created a new petition tool at the White House website. I don’t know whether it will have much impact but it looks interesting enough that I’ll . . . → Read More: My White House Petition: Create Clean Energy Jobs in Coal Mining Communities