Thursday, October 02, 2014

Something sure gang agley with our Secret Service

Over the years, I’ve worked in plenty of chaotic, dysfunctional organizations – organizations where things slipped through the cracks, where warning signs were ignored, where morale was abysmal, where people on all levels were acting out, where folks on the lower rungs eventually gave up trying to tell those on the upper rungs that things were gang agley.

And you know what?

Most of these organizations are long gone.

But it doesn’t take someone who punched many a clock in an f’d up organization to recognize that there is something terribly wrong with the Secret Service.

There’s no doubt in my mind that members of this service have a difficult job to do. It’s tense – especially if you’re charged with protecting the President or the VP. It’s demanding – especially if you’re charged with protecting the President or the VP. And, I’m guessing, not spectacularly well-paid.

Oh, yes, and – especially if you’re charged with protecting the President or the VP – you’re expected to quite literally take a bullet if one comes their way, or the way of their wives and kids.

Secret Service agents – at least the ones that are on protection detail vs. those who track down bogus $20 bills – have a tough and dangerous job, one that I suspect is, plenty of the time, plenty boring.

A few years back, the big scandal was that some of the agents were consorting with prostitutes during a Presidential visit to Colombia.

Well, that’s starting to look like good clean fun.

What can we say about the fact that, a few years back, some a-hole fired shots at the White House, hitting a window in the family quarters when one of the Obama girls and her grandmother were there.  Bad enough that this a-hole got close enough to fire shots at the White House.  But to wait a few days to actually notice that the White House was shot at? And to have the person notice be a housekeeper who found broken glass and crumbling plaster?

The Secret Service initially chalked what might have been the sound of shots being fired to a car backfiring.

Now, I don’t know all that much about cars’ backfiring, but I think it pretty much went the way of the Beverly Hillbillies’ jalopy once the catalytic converter was introduced.

Fast forward a couple of years and some mentally imbalanced vet jumps the White House fence – bad enough – and then manages to make it all the way into the White House before someone tackled him and took him down.

I can get one guard being asleep at the wheel, but this jamoke managed to breach several supposed layers of security.

Then there’s the latest revelation that, somehow, an armed civilian managed to share an elevator car with the President on a recent trip to Atlanta. Fortunately, that civilian wasn’t in an anti-Obama and/or trigger happy mood.

Yowaa! What is up with the Secret Service?

Rarely do I agree with anything that comes out of the mouth of Congressman Darrel Issa, who seldom lets an opportunity to posture, rave, exaggerate, play fast and loose with the truth, and otherwise get his mush on the news go by. But, with Issa, “I’m extremely concerned.”

“Most organizations have acceptable losses, in other words they’re right 97 percent of the time. In the case of the Secret Service, they have to succeed 100 percent of the time,” Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said on NBC’s “Nightly News” on Monday. “I’m extremely concerned.” (Source: Politico)

But I’ll give the final Congressional word to local boy-o, Congressman Stephen Lynch, D-South Boston, another pol who I don’t always agree with. These Secret Service incidents definitely got Stevie’s Irish up. In his words, “This is beyond the pale.”

Yes, I know that the Secret Service have a tough job, and a thankless one, at that.

As with so many jobs, no one notices what you’re doing one way or the other until you screw up.

But I’ve been in enough dysfunctional organizations to recognize one when I see one.

Maybe they just need a fix to their processes. Maybe they need an infusion of tech. Maybe they need a management shake-up. Maybe they need a head or two to roll – which happened yesterday, when Secret Service Director Pierson resigned.

But something’s definitely gang agley with this outfit.

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