It's perfectly appropriate for Congress to investigate the Secret Service's Salahi security lapse, and the Service's public affairs staff is preparing for the eventuality. On Thursday, Rep. Bennie Thompson, (D-MS), the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, plans a public hearing. His witnesses: USSS Director Mark Sullivan and Mr. and Mrs. Sahali. Together.
"For more than two years, Chairman Thompson and the
Committee on Homeland Security has investigated and reviewed accusations of
mismanagement at the Secret Service including concerns of inadequate resources
at the agency, potential inaugural security vulnerabilities, insufficient
diversity and recruitment strategies to ensure the agency is ready for its
expanding mission, the appearance of discrimination, and morale issues plaguing
the Service's Uniform Division," a statement released by Thompson says.
"My confidence in the management of the Secret Service hangs in the balance," the congressman threatens.
There is value in forcing the director of the Sercret Service to publicly testify. It motivates him to conduct a full internal investigation. But why not call Chief Curtis Eldridge, the head of the Uniformed Division? Officers from his magnetometer division were responsible for the breach. And why not conduct a classified hearing first, given that security protocols at the White House tend to be sensitive. Sullivan has promised a full review by Wednesday, but he won't make it public -- he'll send it to the appropriate federal entities and congressional committees. That makes sense. The last thing the Service needs right now is a detailed, public examination of every security measure put in place to defend the White House. That would make the White House complex -- "18 Acres," as the Service calls it -- more vulnerable, and its occupants, the protectees included, more anxious.
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is a senior fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy.