Until this past year, I had an overall positive image of our US Secret Service agents. I generally viewed them in the same category as our Special Forces soldiers in that they were elite and the best of the best. But that started to change when I read personal accounts of the off-duty behavior of agents on Martha’s Vineyard last year. It was further degraded when reports came out documenting the hiring of prostitutes in both Columbia and El Salvador on separate presidential visits. Furthermore, the Salahis somehow managed to get into an exclusive 2009 White House party without an invitation.
Yet now another story has surfaced showing that a Secret Service agent left their handgun in the bathroom onboard Governor Romney’s private plane. This is simply unacceptable. Our agents aren’t supposed to make mistakes – because if they do the President’s life is in jeopardy.
I’ve read stories of US Air Marshals leaving guns or loaded magazines on planes that were later found by passengers or cleaning crews – but this is far worse. The American people need to know that our leaders are protected by the most qualified professionals in the world. Over the last few years, the reputation of the Secret Service has been severely damaged by unethical behavior and gross incompetence. Significant changes need to be made in the agency’s leadership, recruitment, and hiring process to ensure we have the best trained and highest quality people protecting our nation’s leaders.