In November 1864 the Washington police force created the first security detail to protect the President of the United States. The man who was supposed to protect the President at Ford's Theater on April 14th 1865 was three hours late for duty and had been drinking at the same tavern John Wilkes Booth had been. Needless to say, the president's security detail failed and Lincoln was shot in the head.
On November 22 1963, the Secret Service suffered catastrophic failure to the point many Kennedy Assassination researchers believe the Secret Service was involved in the conspiracy to murder JFK. Others believe it was their heavy drinking, carousing and arrogance. But drinking didn't cause Kennedy's Limo to be the lead car in the motorcade against protocol and not have a single agent riding on the car: Though maybe it accounts for the fact the Secret Service agent riding shotgun in the presidential limo made no move to protect the President during the nearly six seconds of shooting or the Secret Service driver of the limo who slowed down in the kill zone instead of stepping on the gas when they knew shots were being fired.
According to Abraham Bolden, the first African American Secret Service agent assigned to the White House, the Secret Service agents assigned to protect President Kennedy in conversation amongst themselves said they would not lift a finger to protect Kennedy if there was an assassination attempt. And indeed, on 11/22/63 that is exactly what they did.
Bolden claims many agents in JFK's personal security detail were Southern rednecks.
I bring this up because I wonder at the safety of our current President given the history of the Secret Service's culture of debauchery and history of failure.
Considering how many assassination attempts and plots have been hatched over the years, perhaps only four actual assassinated Presidents is success. But I get the feeling most attempts have failed due to the poor quality of the assassin rather than the excellence of the Secret Service.
The recent scandal in Colombia only highlights the dangers to the Commander-in-Chief. The pundits and other Serious People will have you believe this was an exception to the rule carried out by a few rogue agents. Pretty much what they told us about the torturers at Abu Ghraib. A few rogue soldiers. But this was a lie. What happened at Abu Ghraib was policy. Torture was American policy and not some crazy shit done by a few sexual deviants and drunken soldiers.
Fully a dozen Secret Service agents and perhaps a dozen other government employees were caught with their pants down. Was this a rogue occurrence or par for the course? We'll never know. The only time the Public is told anything is when folks get caught with their pants down. Then Serious People tend to cover things up, lie, obfuscate – tell us this was a one-off. A few bad apples.
But it's not a few rogue bad apples – it's the culture of power and arrogance. It's the hubris of empire. We got soldiers doing unspeakable things to innocent men, women and children. We have a political class co-opted by greed and stupidity. We have a corporate class drunk on money and entitlement. We have rigged markets, not free markets. We have a bread and circuses nightmare of talent shows and white trash Realty TV millionaires. We have an industrial prison system which lobbies for more laws to throw more people in jail. And we have consumers who trample each other to death to get Black Friday deals while two billion people on the planet live on less than two dollars a day.
For the last ten years at least the military has been recruiting right-wing nutjobs to kill Muslims with impunity and without remorse. Our police forces around the country have been militarized and propagandized to stun, shoot and beat first and ask questions later. We have an epidemic of bullying and just plain mean nastiness among the people who strive to fix blame on the decrepit society they find themselves in.
But the elites and Serious People have money to burn and a culture of arrogance and indifference toward their fellow human beings.
Is it any wonder the Secret Service, the Military, the CIA, the NSA and Americas's police forces are seriously debauched?
No. It's not. It's expected. Aren't they all just playing catch up to politicians, lobbyists and CEOs?
I don't know if the Secret Service is still filled with right-wing, racist bigots. It doesn't sound like the culture has changed too much since those heady days when they failed to protect a President's life. A president who stood up to the War Machine and the oil lobby. A man who dreamed of going to the moon, ending the Cold War and usher in an age of world peace.
Prosecuting the Abu Ghraib “rogues” did not end torture, rendition, secret prisons and American war crimes. Dumping a dozen Secret Service agents for drinking and whoring will not stop American arrogance and entitlement.
Abraham Bolden's boss at the Secret Service pulled him aside one day and told him he was a born a nigger and would never be anything but a nigger and to never forget it.
Does the Secret Service have the same culture it did in 1963? I don't know, but in the current climate of right-wing hate and hysteria toward Obama, if it does, I worry for the President.