Secret service ‘cutting corners,’ endangering Obama: author
A socialite couple that gate-crashed a White House state dinner Tuesday night were able to do so because the Secret Service has been “cutting corners,” and in the process endagering the life of the president, says an investigative reporter.
Ronald Kessler, author of The President’s Secret Service, told CBS News Thursday morning that “the Secret Service has been cutting corners to a shocking degree ever since Homeland Security took it over in 2003.”
Kessler said that “there absolutely could have been an assassination” at the state dinner Tuesday evening, when President Barack Obama hosted Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“The Secret Service really needs a complete management shakeup,” Kessler said. “The agents themselves are very brave and dedicated — they’ll take a bullet for the president. But the management has been dangerously cutting corners. They need a new director from the outside.”
Kessler noted that “threats against President Obama are up as much as 400 percent compared to when Bush was in office. So this is just a disgrace.”
The Secret Service’s cutting of corners “ranges from letting people into events without magnetometer screening, to not even doing regular firearms re-qualifications, cutting the size of counter-assault teams … and bowing to pressure by the White House or campaign staff to let people in regardless of whether they’ve been screened,” he said.
CBS’ Maggie Rodriguez noted that the Secret Service says that Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the gate-crashing couple, did go through a metal detector. But Kessler argued that “they could have brought in other lethal weapons, such as anthrax, for example,” because the Secret Service did not run a background check on them as it should have.
Kessler is a known investigative reporter, in recent years working for some conservative news sources. During the 2008 campaign, Kessler incorrectly reported that Obama attended a sermon by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in which “the minister blamed the ‘white arrogance’ of America’s Caucasian majority for the world’s suffering.” It later turned out that Obama was in Miami when Wright gave his sermon.
The following video was broadcast on CBS’ The Early Show, November 16, 2009.