Politico Magazine published a column by Ronald Kessler, a former Washington Post reporter who wrote a book on the Secret Service, about the deficiencies of security around the President this week. The column follows a series of revelations of major security breaches around the President over the last several years, including most recently when a man hopped the White House fence, opened the door and was able to make his way deep into the White House before being subdued.
In the column, Kessler details these issues and concludes that, if the President is assassinated it will be his own fault.
“Agents tell me it’s a miracle an assassination has not already occurred,” he writes. “Sadly, given Obama’s colossal lack of management judgment, that calamity may be the only catalyst that will reform the Secret Service.”
Kessler blames this on “a management culture that requires covering up possible threats and deficiencies” within the Secret Service. He calls for the firing of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, a career employee who has worked for the Secret Service for 30 years. Seemingly, he uses the word “sadly” to avoid giving the impression that the assassination of President Obama would be a good thing.
Kessler’s distrust of Pierson was echoed this week by a bipartisan group in Congress. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), who told Pierson during a Congressional hearing that he had “very low confidence” in Pierson, adding “I wish to God you protected the White House like you’re protecting your reputation here today.”
But as Pierson is the product of decades in the Secret Service, it is far from clear that merely replacing Pierson would be sufficient to solve the agencies systemic problems. Which isn’t to say Obama shouldn’t try to improve things. In Politico, however, Kessler embraces the myth of the unlimited power of presidential leadership, capable of resolving and responsible for any issue — even his own death.
Politico has removed the line highlighted in this piece and updated their article with the following statement:
Editor’s note: Some readers have misinterpreted the original last line of Kessler’s article as somehow suggesting that the president should be held responsible in the event of his own assassination. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and we’re sorry if anyone interpreted Kessler’s meaning in any other way.