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Opinion: Secret Service Agents Could Learn a Lot from ‘Independence Day’ Movie

By David Horsey
The Baltimore Sun
Secret Service agents should go to the movies more often. At least since the 1996 sci-fi film, “Independence Day,” in which an alien spaceship the size of Los Angeles incinerates the White House, attacks on the lovely old executive mansion have been a recurring cinematic theme.

Last year, two movies with remarkably similar plots featured lone men saving the president and what was left of his official home. In “White House Down,” the hero is a Washington, D.C. cop with aspirations to be a Secret Service agent who fights off a band of domestic terrorists. In “Olympus Has Fallen,” the hero is a desk-bound Secret Service agent who battles a horde of nasty North Koreans. In both films, the villains employ an arsenal of weapons and elaborate tactics to gain entrance to the White House.

Who knew that all they really needed to do was jump the fence and walk through the unlocked front door?

Last week, the director of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson, turned in her resignation following revelations of several security breaches at the White House and on presidential outings. She quit just a day after being grilled by the always-cinematic Darrell Issa and a supporting cast on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The California Republican and committee chair manwanted to know how Omar Gonzalez, a troubled Army veteran with a knife, got past rings of security and into the Green Room on the first floor of the White House before he was tackled by Secret Service agents.

“An intruder walked in the front door of the White House,” Mr. Issa said prior to hazing Ms. Pierson. “That is amazing — and unacceptable.”

Another committee Republican, Utah’s Jason Chaffetz, wanted to know why agents did not simply shoot the guy while he was still outside the mansion. The congressman was frustrated by Ms. Pierson’s clinical answers to questions about when agents are authorized to use force. He insisted that the rule should be clear to both agents and would-be invaders: “You make a run and a dash at the White House, we’re going to take you down.”

Both Messrs. Issa and Chaffetz criticized the agency for lauding the “tremendous restraint” exhibited by the agents who chased the intruder. Clearly, they would prefer Secret Service agents to be more like Channing Tatum and Gerard Butler, the bold, trigger-squeezing action stars of the White House attack movies.

Maybe the response would have been different had the First Family been in residence at the time of the intrusion. Still, the manner in which Mr. Gonzalez was taken down is not as troubling as the ease with which he got as far as he did.

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