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Tag: President Obama

President Obama Chooses New Head of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division

Vanita Gupta

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A top lawyer for the ACLU is President Obama’s choice to head the civil rights division of the Justice Department, a position that has been without a permanent leaders for more than a year, the Washington Post reports.

Vanita Gupta, 39,will become the acting head of the division Wednesday.

A longtime civil rights lawyer, Gupta brings a lot of experience with her. She is the deputy legal director for the ACLU.

The Post reports that Obama plans to nominate Gupta to be the permanent assistant attorney general for civil rights.

It’s an important position that oversees voting and civil rights investigations.

Born in the Philadelphia area to immigrant parents, Gupta has been lauded for her civil rights work, especially on prison reform, the Post wrote.

Column: Americans Have Little Reason to Trust Secret Service After Recent Blunders

secret service photo

By Glenn Harlan Reynolds
USA Today Column

There’s a connection between the Secret Service’s Colombian hooker scandal and Americans’ increased worry about Ebola. Both have to do with trust.

Until recently, if you’d asked Americans to pick government institutions characterized by efficiency and professionalism, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Secret Service would likely have been at the top of the list. In both cases, recent evidence now suggests otherwise. And that’s especially destructive because both agencies depend on trust to do their jobs.

In the case of the Secret Service, the story comes in two parts — first, the 2012 scandal involving Secret Service agents boozing and carousing with prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, ahead of a visit by President Obama, and second, the apparent coverup that gave favored treatment to a White House worker who was the son of an Obama donor.

Prostitution is legal in parts of Colombia, but Secret Service agents aren’t supposed to be getting drunk and cavorting with hookers while on official business, as that poses an obvious risk to security. When the scandal broke, nearly two dozen Secret Service agents and members of the military on the advance team were fired or punished. Butone person got a pass — a White House advance team employee who had a woman, who advertises herself as a hooker, overnight in his room. According to investigators, they got pressure from the White House to delay the report until after the 2012 election, and to “withhold and alter certain information in the report of investigation because it was potentially embarrassing to the administration.”

To read more click here.

White House Aides Accused of Trying to Cover Up Secret Service Prostitution Scandal

secret service photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Obama administration has repeatedly denied that anyone from his administration was involved with the Secret Service’s 2012 prostitution scandal in Columbia.

But the Washington Post reports that new information suggests one of the presidential advance-team members was involved but never thorough investigated.

In fact, the White House continued to say no one from the administration was involved, despite evidence that includes hotel records and firsthand accounts.

The lead investigator said he was pressured to withhold evidence.

“We were directed at the time . . . to delay the report of the investigation until after the 2012 election,” David Nieland, the lead investigator on the Colombia case for the DHS inspector general’s office, told Senate staffers, according to three people with knowledge of his statement.

According to Nieland, his supervisors told him “to withhold and alter certain information in the report of investigation because it was potentially embarrassing to the administration.”

 

Next Secret Service Director Will Face Herculean Task to Raise Morale, Improve Protection

Secret Service photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Whoever takes over the embattled Secret Service will face an insurmountable task.

They must handle plunging morale, a tarnished reputation, budget holes and plenty of blunders that led to the resignation of Director Julia Pierson, the Wall Street Journal reports.

How disgruntled are employees? A 2013 survey found that Secret Service agents had the lowest employee job satisfaction in a decade.

And now there are elected officials who want to change how the Secret Service operates.

“Long term, we must consider restructuring the Secret Service’s mission,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who has emerged as one of the agency’s most vocal critics in recent days.

From 2010 to 2014, the number of people who protect the president and others fell from 3,800 to 3,533.

Now Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is considering appointing an outsider to operate the Secret Service.

The problems are numerous, said Jon Adler, the president of Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, a group whose members include Secret Service agents.

“You don’t have the current training, you have an overworked, tired overextended workforce and it’s going to factor into response time,” he said. “If the agency is properly funded, properly staffed and properly trained, those things in conjunction with the right protocols, then the system works,” he added.

Resignation of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson Won’t Fix Troubled Agency

By Boston Globe
Editorial Board

For the federal agency tasked with protecting the president, it’s embarrassing enough that a man could scale the White House fence and make it well into the executive mansion before being apprehended. But the Secret Service’s defensive response to the incident, including withholding key information about the breach, is a sign of deeper trouble within the agency. The announcement Wednesday that Secret Service Director Julia Pierson had resigned her post and that the Department of Homeland Security will conduct an investigation of the service shows that problems within the agency are being taken seriously. But the review shouldn’t just result in further layers of security around the White House. What’s needed is a reexamination of an internal culture that permitted serious security breaches and a failure of communication with the members of Congress who are supposed to oversee the agency.

On Sept. 19, Omar Gonzalez, a war veteran who is believed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, hopped the fence and ran through the unlocked front door into the first floor of the White House. It wasn’t until Gonzalez was in the East Room, well within the building, that an off-duty Secret Service officer was able to tackle him. But that was not the version of events made available to members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform before their Sept. 30 hearing with Pierson. According to a press release, Gonzalez was apprehended “after entering the White House North Portico doors.” Neither the White House nor the service clarified that statement. The service also said that Gonzalez was unarmed; in fact, he had a knife. According to Representative Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, who sits on the panel, the committee was unaware of both of those details before they were reported in The Washington Post.

That incident came on the heels of another security failure, in which an armed private security contractor with three prior assault and battery convictions was allowed to ride in an elevator with President Obama during his Sept. 16 visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Allowing someone with a criminal record, let alone someone who is armed, within arm’s reach of the president is a direct breach of Secret Service protocol. But according to the Post, Obama was not briefed on the incident.

To read more click here.

Secret Service Security Blunders Are Intolerable And Demand Answers

By Miami Herald
Editorial Board

Last year, the White House was breached twice.

In the movie Olympus Has Fallen, Gerard Butler faced off against Dylan McDermott and a band of Korean terrorists. In White House Down, Channing Tatum fought to save President Jamie Foxx from a band of mercenaries. In both movies, the bad guys found getting into the executive mansion no easy feat; it required ingenious planning and overwhelming force.

Who knew you could just hop the fence and jog through the front door?

That, we now know, is pretty much what alleged intruder Omar Gonzalez, an Iraq War vet suffering from PTSD, did on Sept. 19. The Secret Service initially claimed its agents stopped Gonzalez just inside the front door on the North Portico. Monday, it was revealed he actually made it deeper into the mansion than we were told, running through the main floor of the building — past a stairwell leading to the first family’s living quarters — before being tackled and subdued in the East Room.

The incident would be appalling enough had it happened in a vacuum. But it is only the latest in a series of lapses. There was the incident in 2009 when would-be reality show stars Michaele and Tareq Salahi essentially walked in off the street and crashed a state dinner. There was the 2012 scandal that revealed Secret Service agents partying with prostitutes during a presidential visit to Colombia.

In 2011, a man parked just south of the president’s house and fired a high-powered rifle, striking the building at least seven times. A report in Sunday’s Washington Post describes a Secret Service response filled with miscues, including a supervisor mistakenly ordering subordinates to stand down because the gunshots were only backfires from a vehicle. It took four days for the Secret Service to even realize the building had been hit. And it was only dumb luck the shooter was identified; he crashed his car seven blocks away.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but Barack Obama is the nation’s first African-American president. Since before he took office, he has been the target of attacks from the extreme right so vociferous, shrill and hate-filled as to seem truly unhinged. He is also the president who killed Osama bin Laden.

For these reasons and more, you’d think the Secret Service would be at a heightened level of alert when it comes to his safety. But these incidents suggest the exact opposite: a sloppy, lackadaisical agency unequal to its primary mission. And if it has this much difficulty defending the White House against publicity seekers and disaffected loners, what confidence can we have in its ability to defend against serious people mounting serious attacks?

To read more click here.

Secret Service Director Takes Full Responsibility, Pledges Wholesale Changes

Julia Pierson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson accepted full responsibility for the recent White House intrusion and pledged to improve security at a House Oversight Committee hearing Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Pierson divulged that Omar J. Gonzalez, who was armed with a knife, made it deeper into the White House on Sept. 19 than previously thought.

Pierson said Gonzalez was able to make it so far because the White House had two open front doors that don’t automatically lock and a muted alarm system. Secret Service officers also decided to subdue the intruder instead of shoot him.

“Eight hundred million dollars a year…during your tenure…and that door was unlocked,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), referring to the Secret Service’s personnel budget.

“The door was unlocked at the time of Mr. Gonzalez’s entry, that’s correct,” Ms. Pierson said, adding that automatic locks have since been installed on the White House front doors.

“The fence failed, officers chased him, didn’t catch him, sniper was in position, no shots were fired, dogs were out there, weren’t released, countersurveillance, I’m understanding, is understaffed…nobody shot anything,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) said.

“It’s clear that our security plan was not properly executed,” Ms. Pierson said. “This is unacceptable and I take full responsibility. And I will make sure that it does not happen again.”

Elected officials said the meeting fueled concerns that the White House is vulnerable.

President Obama Was Angry with Secret Service for Handling of Shots Fired at White House

By Steve Neavling
tickethewire.com

Although President Obama recently expressed confidence in the Secret Service, his actions may speak louder.

Boston.com reports that Obama and his wife were incensed with the Secret Service’s handling of what turned out to be shots fired at the White House in 2011.

The news comes a little more than a week after a Texas man hopped the White House fence with a knife and made it all the way to the front door.

In the 2011 incident, the Secret Service thought the gun shots were sounds from a nearby construction site. Turns out, 7 bullets hit the mansion.

It was later discovered that the shots were fired from a car along Constitution Avenue.

Four days after the shooting, a housekeeper found smashed glass from one of the bullets.