Though I saw it all around
Never thought I could be affected
Thought that we'd be the last to go
It is so strange the way things turn

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Because it needs to be said

There seems to be a minor freakout in the press over a person making it into the Residence of the White House with a knife and armed ex-felon in an elevator with the President and "just what is the Secret Service doing."

Well, first off, the Secret Service isn't charged with keeping people away from the President. That's not their job. Their job is to secure the President bodily. Has the Present been attacked? No. Secret Service is doing their job.

Look at the video of the man entering the White House. As he gets to the portico, see that uniformed officer to the left? That's called a "shooter's stance." That he didn't fire is a testament to the level headedness of the Secret Service. Imagine the headline, "Man Shot Dead Trying to Enter the White House." Also note the man was tackled "at the reception desk". Does your house have a reception desk? Do you have people who will tackle someone just for stepping on your lawn? Do you even have "people"? Didn't think so.

As for the "armed" ex-convict in the elevator? He was private security. As an ex-con, how was he able to carry a weapon or get a job as security? Those are the lapses (of course, after he was "questioned" by the Secret Service and his history found out he was immediately discharged). As for the breathless, "ZOMG, what if he drew his weapon?" (faints on fainting couch here). I'm willing to bet real money if he had reached for a weapon (or looked like he was reaching) all kinds of badassery would have fallen on his head in that elevator. As it was the agents were "politely" asking him to turn off his cell phone because he was taking pictures of the President. The way these stories are sounding it's like what they want would have been for a few agents to manhandle and beat this guy silly because he wanted a picture of the President. It's not like the agents were whistling and looking at the floor counter and not paying attention to guy in the elevator with the President.

The job of the Secret Service is to protect the President bodily. They screen most people who may come in contact with the President on any of his trips. They don't take aim at people crowded around the fence just in case they may want to climb over. They don't keep people away from the President when they feel they don't have to. I don't want them to do these things. As competent security, they don't have to do these things.

The White House is our house. I'm already pissed about what it takes to go on a tour, and they're going to stop doing even that (with the new "visitors center" if I'm reading the cards right). The President is our President, he (or she) isn't royalty and shouldn't be quarantined from the public.

But then, I'm old. I remember when you could tour the White House by standing in line. I remember when Presidents shook the hands on almost anyone who could reach out to them. I don't want my President separated. Does that mean some risk? Yes. But he has some of the best people to protect him. They may not get everything "correct" in our eyes, but that doesn't mean they're not doing their job because what these people are asking isn't really their job. No security is airtight. Even if they managed to isolate the President that doesn't mean he would be totally safe.

Life isn't like the movies, people. Let's get a little perspective and maybe a little professional about these things, okay?

Oh, and about the added temporary fence "not helping anything", oh please. Some of it may be for show, but a secondary barrier is effective. It may not take much to over mount, but then you'll be identified before you could attempt to scale the primary fence. And just because you don't see the heightened awareness of the situation doesn't mean those eyes aren't there.

Security can never stop the determined professional. The best you can do is hinder the mildly curious.

2 comments:

Dr. Phil (Physics) said...

In Helsinki, the President's house opens right onto the sidewalk -- just a brass plaque on the wall and no courtyard. Mrs. Dr. Phil figured that would never work in the U.S. (grin)

Dr. Phil

Steve Buchheit said...

Not in this day and place. Yea, I remember when it would have been possible to shake a President's hand, now there's a buffer zone. And instead of thinking this is wrong, we begin wondering why other people aren't as "safe".