By San Jose Mercury News
Given the apparently bottomless divide separating Republicans and Democrats in Washington these days, anything the two parties agree on must be painfully obvious. One such truth, apparently, is that the U.S. Secret Service is a mess and needs an immediate and drastic culture change.
This is the overarching conclusion of a scathing report issued Thursday by the bipartisan congressional probe of the inner workings of the Secret Service.
The arm of government charged with protecting the president, the people who want to be president and other top officials was described by House investigators as an “agency in crisis.” That’s an understatement.
Secret Service was once considered an elite protective force, but it has suffered a number of black eyes in the last few years, including humiliating security lapses and the exposure of scandalous and wildly inappropriate behavior by agents on duty.
If all of this “crisis” talk rings a bell, it’s understandable.
In 2014 Joseph P. Clancy was sent in to direct the agency and to facilitate the needed culture shift. Clancy made promises, but the report indicates House investigators could not see much progress toward reform.
In fact, the report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform detailed security breaches since 2013 that hadn’t been previously disclosed.
For example, at an awards dinner last fall, a man pretending to be a member of Congress walked into a secure backstage area without being properly screened and spoke with President Barack Obama. Five days later, a woman walked backstage unchecked at a gala dinner where Obama was a featured guest. And the list goes on.
Previous reports, and this one, say one of the major problems with is that the Secret Service is understaffed. Clancy vowed to address that, yet the agency has 52 fewer employees than it did in September 2014, now at its lowest point in a decade.
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