By Former Secret Service Officer Gary Byrne
On Inauguration Day, the extensive premises of Washington, D.C., will be secured and re-secured. Hordes of protesters and professional activists will descend on the capital. Terrorists, wannabes inspired by the Islamic State, madmen and cop-haters will literally set their sights. But the Secret Service will stand ready to protect President Obama, President-elect Trump and both of their families from harm.
There will be constant foot, bike and vehicle patrols. There will be metal detection, K-9 bomb sniffing, X-ray and coordination between the military and at least fifty agencies from across the nation. There will be counter-sniper, counter-recon, counter-assault, SWAT, communications monitoring, radiological and explosive ordnance detection. Every single manhole and window will be screened and patrolled.
As some would have you believe, the only thing impairing the Secret Service are the unparalleled challenges presented by Trump. It’s true that his children, grandchildren and many residences create significant challenges. Still, every new president brings unique tests. The agency will always adapt. But it’s at a crossroads for another reason.
The Secret Service’s greatest challenge is not external. It doesn’t come from assassination threats and social unrest. It’s internal, and unless addressed soon, it will become a true danger to Trump, his family, the government and the American people.
The Secret Service that I served, and still love, has two major problems: A systemic ethics problem that makes the protection of its own image a priority, and the employment of far too many administrators and not enough doers.
The 151-year-old institution has been disgraced by scandals involving drones, prostitutes and drunken agents (one of whom, the second-in-charge of Obama’s personal detail, plowed his government car into a barrier at the White House after a late-night rager).
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