I don’t have too much to add to Carol D. Leonnig’s jaw-dropping account of how the recent White House fence-jumper “made it much farther into the building than previously known, overpowering one Secret Service officer and running through much of the main floor.” The breakdowns in procedure are jaw-dropping even after Leonnig’s story over the weekend about a botched Secret Service handling of a 2011 shooting incident at the White House. They also come on the heels of multiple incidents of Secret Service members behaving badly overseas.
Clearly, these lapses have caused some whistleblowers to start talking, as Leonnig notes in her story:
The more detailed account of this month’s security breach comes from people who provided information about the incident to The Post and whistleblowers who contacted Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of a House Oversight subcommittee on national security.
Kevin Drum wonders whether these whistleblowers have other axes to grind, but I think we’re at the point where the one area where Democrats and Republicans will bridge the partisan divide is in grilling the head of the Secret Service later today:
The head of the U.S. Secret Service is expected to face blistering questions from lawmakers on Tuesday about the latest White House security breach and a string of scandals that have tarnished the image of the agency charged with protecting the president.
Republicans and Democrats alike said they want Secret Service Director Julia Pierson to explain during her appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee how she plans to change the agency’s culture and procedures.
That should make for some entertaining television, no doubt, but the hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts will be watching all of this with the recognition that the Secret Service has merely joined the long list of public institutions that have seen their public trust dissipate in recent decades, leading to an overall decline of trust in government. Indeed, outside of the military, I’m not sure there is another institution of the federal government that commands even a bare majority of support from the American people in 2014. The police used to rate reasonably well, but now, not so much. Same with the Supreme Court. It’s gotten so bad that, by comparison, the U.S. Postal Service is bragging that they look good by comparison. This problem isn’t unique to the United States, but it’s more concentrated in Washington.
To describe this distribution of public trust as “unhealthy for the United States” would be an understatement. And so I’ll predict with 85 percent certainty that someone at that hearing Tuesday will ask why the Secret Service’s protective function can’t be replaced by some elite unit of the US armed forces.