The recent revelations surrounding the Secret Service have been as stunning as they are frightening. As much as Americans like to think of the Secret Service as the elite professionals when it comes to protecting the nation’s leaders, a series of controversies have taken a toll on the agency’s reputation.
With that in mind, the Washington Post ran an opinion piece yesterday on recent developments from Dan Emmett, whose c.v. seems quite impressive: he’s served in the Secret Service Presidential Protective Division, the CIA National Clandestine Service, and the Marines.
But Emmett’s prescription for what ails the Secret Service was unexpected: “While Congress has not declared war on ISIS and al-Qaeda, U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq – as well as the threats of radical Islamist groups against Americans and our country – make it clear we are indeed at war. In wartime, we must call on our military forces to assist the Secret Service in protecting the president and White House against attack.” He added that “combat troops” could have prevented the recent fence-jumper from entering the White House itself.
But even more striking, Emmett wants to see Julia Pierson, the current Secret Service director, ousted and has someone specific in mind to replace her.
Pierson should be replaced and the next director should come from outside the Secret Service, with the deputy director remaining an agent. In this role, a true leader, not a bureaucrat, is needed. Someone like Florida congressman and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Allen West would be perfect for the role. West has successfully demonstrated that he possesses the leadership skills of a combat officer as well as managerial and diplomatic skills of a congressman, exactly the traits needed in the next director. Highly competent and beholden to no one in the Secret Service, he would be a superb director.
There was no indication that this was intended as humor. Indeed, a Fox News host quickly endorsed the idea this morning.
I’m not sure why the Washington Post published this, presumably on purpose, but it’s an unusually horrible idea.
To be sure, there’s literally no chance that White House officials would consider West for any official role in any part of the executive branch. Given his rhetoric, I’m not even sure he’d be welcome as a tourist.
That said, let’s not forget that Allen West, a former one-term congressman, can generously be described as one of the nation’s more frightening crackpots. It’d take a while to pull together a Greatest Hits collection of the Republican’s most unhinged moments, because there are just too many to choose from – including his instence last week that the U.S. military start disobeying wartime orders from the Commander in Chief, whom he considers an “Islamist” determined to help Islamic State terrorists create a Middle Eastern caliphate.
Anyone who looks at this guy and thinks of the phrases “diplomatic skills” and “highly competent,” might be confusing him with someone else with the name Allen West.
As for the notion that the military should be in charge of protecting the president and the White House, I imagine there are security experts who can speak to this with far more authority than I can, but from a layperson’s perspective, it seems like an awkward combination of skill sets. The military is exceptionally good at defeating an enemy on a battlefield, but soldiers are not trained to protect civilians on American soil.
Emmett’s piece added that during World War II, “Combat forces were brought in to protect the White House and other government buildings from German and Japanese attack. Troops armed with M1 Garand rifles and Thompson submachine guns were posted at the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon and the White House. Anti-aircraft emplacements were set up around the White House as well.”
I can appreciate why ISIS militants might seem scary, but there’s no reason to draw a parallel between counter-terrorism missions and WWII.