In the midst of the tumult over the White House intruder who managed to get deep into the Executive Mansion while armed with a three inch knife, emerges the fact that earlier this month a three time convicted armed security contractor got onto an elevator in Atlanta with President Barack Obama while he was visiting the Centers for Disease Control. This latest revelation came on the heels of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson’s assumption of “full responsibility” for the mishap involving the knife wielding White House intruder, according to ABC News on Tuesday.
The elevator incident, which took place on September 16, most amicably adds injurious salt to the gashing wound from the embarrassing White House intruder incident. The contractor was taking video pictures of the President and refused to stop despite orders to that effect from his supervisor. Upon being fired, the contractor immediately surrendered his gun. Had it not been for the fact that the contractor relinquished the gun, the Secret Service never would have known that the man was carrying a gun.
The enduring and bothersome implication of this revelation is the fact that not only did a knife wielding intruder get deep into the White House before being apprehended, but also the fact that another subject managed to get into a very confined space with the President in a public elevator while carrying a gun. The fact that the Secret Service did not have a clue that the contractor had a gun until he was fired is very disturbing as well. To say that Director Pierson and her embattled agency are going to be subjected to meticulous scrutiny and criticism is an understatement.
The United States Secret Service was founded in July 1865, just four months after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. The original purpose of the Secret Service was to suppress the flow of counterfeit currency. The Service did not begin protecting Presidents until 1894, when it was entrusted with the protection of President Grover Cleveland.
Since the founding of the Secret Service, three Presidents have been assassinated: James Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy. There also have been four attempted assassinations against Presidents since the inception of the Secret Service: Gerald Ford in 1975 (2 attempts by women), Ronald Reagan in 1981, and Bill Clinton in 1994 ( a pilot crashed a plane into the White House).
It is explicitly obvious that the Presidency is a dangerous job and that the President and his/her family need to be protected wherever they may be. Also intrinsically apparent is the fact that America itself is not truly safe and secure unless its Commander-in-Chief and his/her family are also safe. A boat is only as safe as its captain is secure. The Secret Service is going to have to hike an uphill battle for awhile before both the President and the country reach that level of safety and security once again.