tv Carol Leonnig Zero Fail CSPAN August 25, 2022 6:59am-8:02am EDT
as well to please silence your phones. our panelist is carolynning of the washington post. we're thrilled to have her here today. and i wanted to read you a very brief, bio mislenic has worked at the washington post since 2000. and she previously reported at the philadelphia inquirer the charlotte observer and last but not least the bryn mawr haverford by college news. as a as a former college newspaper person myself. i wanted to pay tribute to that. but she won the 2015 pulitzer prize among many other accolades. for her work on misconduct inside the secret service, which will be discussing today.
and in addition to this book zero fail the rise and fall of the secret service will be discussing. today she is also written to other books a very stable genius donald j. trump's testing of america with her colleague philip rucker. and also i alone can fix it. donald j. trump's catastrophic final year about the pandemic that we've been living through for the past two years. so, please give her a warm tucson welcome. thank you. so, thank you so much for being here today your book captures the systemic management issues inside the secret service as well as the individual heroism of agents when lives are on the line and it's such a rich topic for discussion. and i wanted to start by asking.
you having been covering the secret service since 2012? did you? when did you think this would be such a rich topic of discussion for a book? oh, well first off i want to say i'm so delighted. i'm being questioned by a lawyer who used to be a journalist, i grew up in a family of lawyers, and i'm the only one that took this particularly at the time very on lucrative bath. it's turned out okay so far, but i i have a lot of respect for lawyers, and i'm so delighted dave's my interviewer and i very grateful to you for mentioning the bryn mawr have afford news because i wouldn't have been a journalist if the editor of that paper at the time hadn't sort of grabbed me by the scuff of the knack and enlisted me to write a story about something that i'll tell you more about later but really captivated me about journalism and what you can find when you start to dig and you
have time to answer the question on the table. this is a funny story and i'm not normally viewed as very funny in my delivery. hey answer my question right now. so the funny story is that i was writing. like all rate reporting threads and especially investigative reporting threads this lifelong nearly lifelong obsession with the secret service began really by accident. i have a register of voice. that's kind of like either. a big sister or a friendly friend and i am trustworthy but i especially am ben the beneficiary of sounding trustworthy. and so when there was this
insane and at the time considered the most humiliating episode in secret service history in 2012. dozen agents, we find out are being flown back on ceremoniously from cartagena in colombia and i always mispronounce cartagena even though it's the start of everything cartagena and my great investigative reporting partner david nakamura broke that story in 2012 and he he and his editor called me the next morning and said we got a lot of agents. we got a call. we got a lot of people we have to call we have to find out how this happened. what the heck these agents were flown back because they were caught with their guns and their security plans in their hotel rooms drunk off their -- and forgive me. my mom doesn't want me to use that word and with prostitutes during a time when they were supposed to be preparing and securing basically the entire city for president obama's
arrival. so what the heck happened i get a call from david and the his editor saying can you help us out because what it's going to involve is getting on the phone and convincing a lot of people that don't talk to the press to tell me what happened. um you all may be old enough to remember. i'm just going to take a guess. the shampoo commercial, you know, you called you tell two friends. you tell two more friends blah. so these agents basically said this woman's calling around. she seems to know what happened. and each of these two friends would essentially tell another two friends answer her questions, you know, listen to her. she sounds like she really wants to get to the bottom of it. the thing is agents. this is a really long answer. i'm so sorry. um, the thing is agents can lose their jobs for talking to the
press the secret service uses that whip in their employment contract to block agents from talking about things the service doesn't want to talk about talk about any flattering thing. you want to talk about talk about any lovely wonderful memory of a president. it's fine, but talk about the secret service in a way. that's unflattering. that's revelatory that comes back and embarrasses somebody and you can lose your job. so i was lucky that they spoke to me. in this happy accident more of them just told me unbelievable things that were so much worse than what had happened in gardena. so much worse and actually chilling because to a person every senior agent that i spoke to you know, who had had some years who had a little hide was convinced that the president was going to be killed on their watch. that it was going to happen. it was a matter of time because
the agency was so bleakered so broken so dysfunctional so much using duct tape to keep it together in. when i knew i had a book. was when an agent called me and i don't mean a secret service agent but a book agent and she said you have a book. i don't know you but you have a book and her name was elise cheney cheney literary agency, and i'm forever indebted to her because she would not let go of me. i had no desire to write a book didn't know anything about writing books. i was 40 late 40s. i'll just say and i i always wanted to be journalists nothing else, but she would not let go and convinced me and i'm so glad that she was the you know, the tiger that she was. that's a great story and this book is such a service to us all to really get behind this image. of the secret service as just
these agents and suits who are very trim and fit and very lead protection unit and in fact not only is that not entirely true the whole origin of the secret service is not what i would have thought he told me more about that sure. it also was a miss not mystery. it was a new piece of information to me. i had not i'd written a lot about the department of defense the department of justice the department forgive me the environmental protection agency, but i really never studied this tiny little protection unit that that began in 1865 in the department of treasury. it's initial assignment, and it was called the secret service because were trying to be undercover and secretive about how they did their work abraham lincoln and his secretary of treasury had been talking for
weeks about the so damaging flood of forged currency that made up the entire or two-thirds of the economy at the time and this was really harmful to fledgling united states trying to get back. and recover after the civil war they had been talking about it at a meeting interestingly enough the day that lincoln. link hours later lincoln was shot and killed. they'd had a treasury meeting and a cabinet meeting to discuss. how can we control this flood of forgeries and fraudulent dollars bills? his secretary of treasury preceded with the idea after lincoln was killed and months later created this little unit of kind of rough and tumble dastardly agents almost like revenuers if you will for the bootleggers era and what they did was what they found people.
gangs like mobster gangs who had these fake plates and they broke up these plate making operations. they tried to arrest the guys engaged and then they burned the currency that was their big job. wow, so it sounds like there was no formal presidential protection agency for a long time in our history and why do you think that was the case? love this question. this must be from a lawyer. so. you know, i didn't know this so i learned it in the research for the book, but there was intense resistance to the idea of a presidential security team. and it was part and parcel of the founding of america, which is it's the people's house. you know, we talked about the capital as the people's house. but the first name for the white house was the people's house. there were no fences if you can believe it around the white house people had picnics on the
white house lawn and walked their dogs and and literally rode their horses across the front steps. so the idea of a palace guard was a nathama to american and to american presidents who wanted to feel as though they were at least projecting the image of a man of the people the people's representative and so security was considered just something from over with the royals in europe and not something we're going to do here. unfortunately three presidents would be killed before the country and the federal government really woke up and said, okay, we can't lose any more presidents this way. you know how lincoln was killed the third presidential assassination that triggered the formation of the secret service or rather. i should say the assignment of this role to the secret service
was mckinley. he was at a world fair 1901 and was shot at close range by a socialist communist who was infuriated by mckinley's administration the feeling that little people were overlooked and mckinley, you know died of his injuries weirdly many many weeks after the actual event, but that was the beginning of secret service protecting presidents. right and then you write about how we finally had a formal agency protecting the president. from the mckinley assassination up until the kennedy assassination. and what was this iteration of the secret service like this period between mckinley and kennedy exactly. yeah. well, i would say that it was pretty.
unrutinized let's say it that way it was essentially different patrols who want to three at a time who would be with the president when he traveled or when he was in public or in what is now so frequently called the rope line, you know, they keep a rope between people in the president the president. shakespeople's hands as they walk by this kind of formalized way of meeting the president and letting him touch the hands of voters and stay engaged with them it was a little bit unprofessional but still a form of security armed guards with the president and with his family especially around the time of eisenhower and the war there were they're forgive me. before eisenhower there around
world war two there was a much larger interest in at least having one security guard along with the president's family. usually the first lady. and of course then president kennedy takes office. he's very resistant to having a detail around him full time. can you tell me more about how those created challenges for the secret service protecting him? kennedy put an incredible strain on the secret service and i begin the book describing what that was like for the agents who were traveling with him during his campaign before dallas months before dallas. they were exhausted and he was a jet setting high flying. let me touch every voter i can kind of president which was so different and such a culture shock for the secret service
after his predecessor who often stayed in the white house didn't travel terribly much and wasn't that interested in standing at a rope line and shaking hands all day long. definitely wanted to be engaged but kennedy was a whole different animal he fed off as an extrovert fed off the people's energy and wanted to be with them. any famously said to his detail they call it a whip a very senior supervisor on the president's detail floyd boring. he said i wouldn't get elected dog catcher if i listen to you people and did what you wanted. he's like i need to be with the people. i'm paraphrasing that last part but the dog catcher quote is accurate. he feasted on being with people and he would. fully almost like a runaway he would flee his protectors to get out in front of them and get
closer to a scrum or a throng of people and throw himself into it and it was infuriating to the secret service. so they're tired from the hours that he's traveling and being with people their hopscotching each other from city to city trying to keep up not catching enough sleep. they're exhausted by that travel that he's doing easily triple with the his predecessor had done and then they're kind of ticked off because he won't listen to the doctor essentially. then of course we all know now and and they knew better than than anyone. kennedy was also foiling his protectors because he was trying to be with women who were not his wife. and trying to be with them on a daily basis so that evasion that he was engaged in was also painful for them. and i know this isn't really your question, but i just feel like it's important to say this.
the agents and i interviewed almost all of them. sadly many of them have died since my interview. interviews with them and since the book was published, but i interviewed almost every single agent on kennedy's detail. prior at the time of the assassination ones that we're still alive and they were so passionate about their duty to country. their patriotism was so invested in protecting the president and they were not judging as morality in large measures some of them were but many of them. were infuriated because it was their job to protect what was happening on the other side of that hotel room door and they couldn't screen these women that were coming in regularly at all hours of the night and and leaving it all hours of the night and they were infuriated
because you were putting a barrier between them and their ability to serve their country and do their duty. that is what i felt and learned from them most poignantly. ride, and of course, we all know the tragic event that this recklessness led to on november 22nd. 1963 and i loved in your book how you really walked through? the assassination through the perspective of the secret service agents how do you think having interviewed them and having talked to them? do you think there were ways in which the secret service failed to protect president kennedy adequately? i do sadly. i mean even though i think that their sense of duty and mission was so keen and palpable. there were ways as individuals they failed, but i think the
larger answer to the question is there were ways in which the agency failed them? didn't give them the tools. to do the job in a way that would would save the president on that day. one is the director of the secret service jim rowley who weirdly used to live like a block from my where i live now went to the church at the corner of my block. you know. sorry, i was about to go that direction. i'm going to stop myself. the way the agency failed the secret service is the director had been begging begging kennedy and the administration to give him more money to hire more agents because he knew how exhausted and beat up they all were he asked for an additional i think 36 agents to try to keep their heads above water and i mean these guys and i interviewed a lot of their wives
too. they were literally coming home from an assignment, you know on a nine city tour dropping their bags at their wife's. front doorstep and i say wife's because the wife would get their clothes wash them put them back out on the doorstep and they would come back from headquarters and go out that night. so they really they were really doing triple duty. rowley could not get the administration the kennedy administration to agree to give him those extra agents. there was a lack of routinized training none of them really knew. in a routine way, what should they do if someone shot at or came at at the president with a knife other than they're good law enforcement training. they didn't have a lot of rootinized training in the seconds that count when a gun shot goes off and the president is standing at a podium or near his car that training wasn't there neither was there ever a consideration?
which you know shocks me after i looked at some of the internal records of the months and weeks before the assassination there. there was not an effort to try to protect the president from gunfire from a line of sight if you all line of sight is a big deal for the secret service. they try to make sure that they block with buses or walls or you know, they've built walls to to block a line of sight from the rifle. of a gun forgive me. little about god end of a gun and the president's head. and so you know lee harvey oswald had a clean shot. another hundred people could have had a clean shot that day because the secret service was not working very hard to focus on that.
you ask the question. so well dave about their own responsibility and the only personal responsibility. i'll lay at the feet of some of those agents was that in order to sort of let off steam at the end of the night and this was a harder drinking time in our american history. they all went out in fort worth the night before the assassination and the trip to dallas to a funny coffee slash strip strip kind of club like a beatnik club where the waitresses were underwear. they the bar tenders illegally served, you know straight liquor, you know. and put it into juice cups, and these guys were there drinking until to four and five o'clock in the morning and as earl warren the head of the warren commission said in the hearings after the assassination looking into the causes, you know, i'm sorry direct rowley you cannot tell me that a man who's been up
till two four five in the morning whether he was drunk or not is his able to react to protect the president the next morning and and that just is a fact and just true. right, very very unfortunate. i also know very little about guns. so to join hop onto that train as well the end of a gun. someone's gonna like go care all. no, we all understood. i i also have to ask because unfortunately the 1960s were very tragic decade with multiple assassinations of president of a president and some non-presidents as well. and you describe in the book how the assassination of robert kennedy changed the secret services mission in another way. how did that assassination? change their mission such a devastating time and such of like trial by error, you know.
trial by fire like just such an awful time in the sense of okay. these are presidential candidates running for office. robert kennedy's brother forgive me john f. kennedy's brother is one of them. the secret service knows at this juncture before bobby. kennedy is killed and and shot fatally shot in los angeles. they know that the people who want to kill presidents are looking often for fame and they believe that the way to get fame. is to kill somebody famous or to have such an incredible being engaged in such a incredible violent event that it is enormous and it will make them famous. so when sirhan sirhan shoots robert f kennedy lyndon johnson is alerted instantly. two o'clock, i think in the morning because in los angeles,
it's it's like nine nine or ten o'clock when the shooting happens and he's alerted and he immediately calls director rally and says i want you to put security details on every single presidential candidate tonight. dispatch them do whatever you need to do. send them and an agent i'm sorry to whine two stories into one, but an agent people have asked me many times. have you been to tucson before? and the answer is yes, but kindly like blow through for work. this is the first time i've gotten the chance to really enjoy it and really spend some, you know quality time experiencing the place but i one of the agents that i interviewed here retired agent. just an amazing icon a reagan detail leader for many years. he was the first agent who was called that night by director rowley. he was relatively young he was
deeply trusted by the director as somebody with good instincts and he said okay pack a bag pack a lot. don't know how long you're going to be gone. don't know where you're going. don't know when you're coming home, but you're going to go see. this candidate in tony kalarama neighborhood of washington dc and good luck. and he bobby d was the agent's name by the way, bobby d. as his wife reminded me many times in our interviews at her house. didn't come home for nine months. again did drop off his laundry. but did not actually sleep in his own bed and forever after prominent candidates for president would always get secret service protection.
well after that we should talk about a major success of the secret service and 1981 and other turning point the agency came. when they fulfilled their zero fail mission president reagan. shot outside the dc hotel, but survived due to their heroism. you tell me more about how that event unfolded. um ronald reagan have been president for all of about i want to say six weeks. jerry parr was the leader of his presidential detail, but actually hadn't. really spent any time with reagan shoulder to shoulder they often say that you're on the right hand shoulder of the president when you're the detail leader, but he hadn't been doing that. he'd been assigning that assignment to the deputy detail
leader and he decided on this one particular morning in march that he needed to spend some time with the boss. he needed to get to know him and not just do the paperwork in the office and and get out on the road with him. it was not considered a very high profile event, you know, the president was speaking to a labor union at a local hotel. that was you know, less than a mile from the white house and one that i pass all the time on my way to work. presidents had been going there many many times in there in each of their 10 years and it was a standard routine visit. it was rainy foggyish and jerry parr. decided not to ask reagan to wear his bulletproof vest which they often made the president not made anywhere but asked him to wear on especially on foreign trips and sometimes on trips out of town, but it was kind of
muggy icky muggies. not the right word. it was humid. and so he decided not to bring that up. a man who you all know. secretly wormed his way into an area of news photographers cameraman, really? cbs abc and it was an area that had not been screened normally the secret service sort of pats down and or checks everybody that's going to get within a hundred feet a hundred yards of the president and there was a failure to do that because there was this presumption. ah, it's a local job. we'd done this a million times the cameramen are over there. so what? as the president emerges from an underground driveway essentially like a walkway. walking towards the beast the
name for the presidential limo. shots ring out and john hinckley is all of about 15 feet from the president. so he has the ability to kill him. what is wonderful about this episode if you can say anything is wonderful about something. so traumatic. gunfire on a dc street aimed at a president is that everybody on the president's detail immediately reacts? instantly with their root and eyes training that they didn't have when kennedy was shot. the routinized training is called attack on the principal and they drilled in this day in day out attack on the principal is i hear something. i see something it sounds like a bad psa and this is my job when that happens. the gunfire goes off. hinckley is able to get off six shots in. less than two seconds not all of
them very well aimed but still. jerry parr hears. it doesn't look up doesn't turn to his right. does it turn to his left? he just starts shoving the president towards the open black door of the limousine and they are three yards away from it. so it's not easy to shove ronald reagan that far but that's what he does and he almost according to president reagan in his description of it later. he almost breaks reagan's reagan assumes that his is rib has been broken because that's how hard he shoved him into the wheel. well, essentially, you know the peace in between the two. it's not the wheel. well, i'm not really good at cars either. that transmission the transmission hump. reagan's chess goes down on that. he's convinced his rib, or ribs are broken. another amazing agent timmy who
everybody considers sort of this hulking football player, but basically like a real rookie a youngster. he hears the shot also doesn't look left doesn't look right knows where the gunfires coming from points toward points his chest toward it and throws out his hands as as fast as he can and as wide as he can and that ultimately, those two men save reagan's life now a bullet does get through and it ricoches into is this boring by the way, have you guys all know this? okay, sometimes i really figure you guys know all this you can tell me about the cars and the guns later so so and by the way, most of this i learned with the same chill by reading the fbi's 302s which are the fbi agents interviewing the agents in real time. what happened? what did you do? of course, there's great camera
footage of it as well and my wonderful colleague and competitor del wilbur wrote a book exclusively believe about this moment in time and i recommend it to you rawhide down rawhide being reagan's code name in the secret service. uh, but the the primary documents of are breathtaking because they're all all the agents are basically going. well my attack on the principal training told me do this. that's what i did. so mmm they get him in the car. oh, the bullet is ricocheting on the passenger rear passenger door and it goes slices in the side through a part of reagan's long and nobody knows that's happened. jerry part doesn't know that's happened behind him ray shattuck deputy agent shoves. i still can't believe that he didn't break his legs shoves pars legs backwards into the car so they can shut the door and
drew unru. who's the driver also an agent. knows he's got a gun it and get out of there. they have to flee. they don't know what's gonna happening and in his head he's praying. please don't let me run over timmy. because tim he's fallen and they don't know where timmy is so he figures i've got to go, but i may have to run over timmy to get the president out of here. luckily, he doesn't and timmy survives and became a a police chief in a great town outside, chicago so, i'm sorry. that's so long an answer. i remember reading how initially they didn't think they necessarily had to go to the hospital. but then it turned in fact they had to make a detour. totally more about that. i'll try to be brief for this time. so so jerry parr has also in his attack on the principal training
has had basic like war combat military hospital, you know. sorry, it's something else. it's it's like a mash training. it's a mass training like if i have to do a trach i could do it if i have to do, you know an amputation i could do it that so he notices that reagan who's complaining you broke my rib, dude, he notices that the froth coming out of reagan's mouth and there's just a trickle of it is pink. it's not bloody. it's pink. it's oxygenated and from his training. he's saying wait a second. that's a symptom or at least that's a clue that his long. is damaged in some way something is happening and he feels all around him and reagan's like get off me and he's like, he's feeling up and down his body trying to find blood and nothing so he says to drew reroute
reroute stagecoach to george washington university. and if he had not done that reagan would have died. he didn't have a lot of time. for a surgeon to see him and determine that he had a perforation in his lung that up that a exp potentially exploding bullet was lodged there and later. we you know, i didn't i wasn't watching this as a reporter. i was a little young for this moment, but people watching this in real time had no idea the american public and most of the people in the white house had no idea that the president had to have more than half of his blood replaced. that's how much he lost in the emergency room while they were trying to get the bullet and find it. so another way jerry parr saved democracy as well as the life of an important politician.
incredible story of heroism of course and another another very very tragic day for our country. it's september 11th the secret service also showed incredible heroism. but there were some key vulnerabilities including for vice president cheney. he told me more about that. yeah, so as you know, i tried to write this book. the way my agent proposed it to me. i wanted to write about the current secret service, right, but she was like this this agency has had such an arc. from rebuilding itself in the wake of a national tragedy proving itself. when reagan's life was was saved and many other times gerald ford and others. and then it begins a slow slide
a slow gradual demise in the wake of 9/11. which is is so tragic because every other federal agency got a ton of money and a ton of help and got all the star wars toys and tools to rebuild for a new century and new national security threats the secret service didn't that day obviously. is is incredibly poignant and a pivot point for our country in so many ways but for the secret service. it revealed how little they had imagined. the ways foreign terrorists would like to behead our government. destabilize our country and and basically knock off the head of that country by killing the president now, we all know that the plane that crashed and
shanksville was intended either for the white house or the capital based on interviews that the fbi is conducted. they believe it was it was very very likely like a toss-up, but very very likely to have been the white house. that day there was a failure to communicate as well as a failure of imagination a failure to communicate in the white house. -- cheney of forgive me the president as you know was in florida at an education event. just trying to you know, press the flesh and remind voters how much he cared about education reform and holding schools accountable. the i won't go into some of the mistakes the secret service made that day regarding president bush, but with regard to vice president cheney who would have been the president if bush had been killed that day cheney was in his office for a meeting. he didn't usually go to his oval office meeting, but that day he
did he was meeting with a close ally who also was a top budget official in the omb and he was watching the television when the second jet. hit the second tower. the secret service the person in charge of making sure to liaison with the faa about any threats to the white house because keep in mind the white house had been attacked by air twice before not by a huge commercial jet but it had been attacked twice before twice planes had either almost crashed there or crashed into the lawn, so it's not like that impossible to envision that a plane could be used as a weapon. the agent in charge of liaisoning with the faa gets a very urgent message with the second plane hitting the second tower and that is at about 9:03 am that morning and it is we are
still missing two jets not communicating with us and heading towards you. they're 20 minutes out 20 30 minutes out. for some reason that of this agent whose liaisoning with the faa? sends a courier up to the tower of the old executive office building which is where the secret service has its emergency operations center. this runner goes up there to communicate that message so that on a very classified screen that i'm no one's supposed to know about and we won't talk about very much more on this screen where the white house is tracking planes coming close. they only have this much of the picture the faa has this picture so they run up to look and see how close how many minutes out how many seconds out but nobody communicates. to that the headquarters of the secret service.
hey, we got two incoming planes because you have a protectee a vice president at the white house where the planes are coming too and it is literally a minute before the incoming plane that ends up crashing into the pentagon. buzz is the white house before the detail leader breaks into chaney's office and says we got to go grabs his belt and literally hoists him out the doorway down the stairwell into the underground bunker another failure of imagination. that day was nobody thought we're gonna have to rush the vice president to the underground bunker in seconds to prepare for a plane incoming to hit the white house. and the agents who are with him do not have this classified s key to instantly get him inside the protected bunker and they have to wait in the underground
tunnel, which is protected but not the same kind of protection. to get him inside again, ridiculously long answer i am going to have to work on my decision. this is all. fascinating i can see everyone in the crowd is on the edge of their seat and really appreciate it. of course. and i'm gonna ask one more question before we turn it over to the audience for questions. so start thinking now about your questions. president bush of course leaves office is replaced by president obama. and as you've said there was not the same level of funding being provided to the services other agencies post 9/11 and the same time. president obama as the first black president enormous threats unprecedented threats how did
that stretch the agency even further? i'm so glad you asked because you know in a way it's a bit of a perfect storm after 9/11. all sorts of big behemoth agencies are stood up from from scratch transportation security administration, you know all the sudden tens of millions of dollars. a hundreds of thousands of recruits and employees all added to this huge department of homeland security and what congress and what the president are the most worried about? is the last thing that just happened and it's how do we stop playing from being used as weapons of mass destruction? how do we make the skies safe? again? it's really the only thing they're worried about and secondarily. how do we keep terrorists from
getting into the country? hence customs and border patrol, you know incredible operation that is amped up to cure our ports secure our borders some people would argue terrorists aren't coming in through tijuana, but we spent you know jillions of dollars to secure those borders again in the wake of 9/11. that was the primary reason. secret service is not on the president's radar at this time. and i mean president bush before obama takes over. it's true for president obama as well. but this is a weakening of this agency. why all the money is going to the big sister agencies that are supposed to keep us safe. the only problem is they're forgetting the president is is target number one for isis target number one still for mass shooters who want to be famous? and so the secret service just gets comparatively shrunk
littler and littler and littler trying to keep up its mission is expanding. the larger number of people to protect and it's just eating away at its ability to do the job the perfect storm the other thread of that the other incoming front. is that president obama represents an existential threat to a portion of americans who believe a black president is a danger to them and and just and disgusting to them and the threats against president obama. quadruple compared to the previous president now i have to counter i'm not counteract to put some context there. internet threats the use of the internet as a way to threaten and make threats is on the rise. so it's possible that the increase is partially attributable to that, but i have read some of these the chatter
that the secret service collected and investigated and it is like spine tinglingly terrifying it's talking about how we can hang michelle obama where we could hang her how this could be done ways in which you know president obama could be drawn in quartered. i mean, there's some pretty visceral threat material here. it's not a guy in a bar mouthing off about a black president, although that happened, too. so it is a very worrisome time for the obamas the director at the time mark sullivan who's been criticized pretty badly for not being more forceful. just like just like director rowley is begging for additional money, but when he doesn't get it, he kind of stops begging and the services is depleted. well, thank you so much for telling us more about that and now we'd like to let the audience ask a few questions. we have some microphones up here
and we look forward to hearing from you. the end of a rifle is often referred to as a muzzle. really? you just touched on. protecting obama and some of the things that have happened to him. do you know is the secret service at all concerned about a gay transportation secretary? and do they have a responsibility there? was one other guy i was worried about but you'll know. um i don't know what the threat matrix is for pete buttigieg, but i would imagine because of his prominence and also, you know his very public position. i would imagine that it's higher
than normal for a cabinet secretary, but i don't know a well enough to speak intelligently about the the threat matrix and what that would trigger for him. many cabinet secretaries have protection provided for them by their own agency. for example, the epa administrator at his own secret security administrator. forgive me security detail. it provided within is a is agency and her agency at times. that's true as well for the state department. hillary clinton was protected by the diplomatic security corps. it happened that she was also because she was the first lady and given lifetime protection had secret service protection at night at her home. so don't know the answer on pete. i will tell you that it's interesting the people you don't expect to have a threat matrix while i was here yesterday. i reported a story about deputy
national security advisor who the secret service is now investigating what appears to be a strange man who came on to his lawn and may have tried to break into his home days and/or hours after this deputy national security advisor became the public face for sanctions against russia in the white house briefing room. if you may remember david axelrod obama's senior advisor, he got a secret service detail after a man. began shooting in the lobby of the holocaust museum and when they the man died he was killed the shooter was killed but when they went through his pockets, they found all these drawings and and the address and phone number for david axelrod and commentary about his jewishness. so the secret service began
protecting him after that long answer. carol could you talk about today what's happening with the secret service now relative to biden and i know of course you're very well versed on the last years with trump, but perhaps some context on the trump time and exactly where we're at now. um, i hope that someone hears what i'm about to say beyond this room. i'm very disappointed that after. basically diagramming what's wrong and broken with the secret service and how under-served the agents are. by the federal government in the federal and the white house in providing them with funding. that the biden administration has done almost nothing to rectify that now the biden administration has a lot of problems on its plate and i acknowledge that but one of the agents who came to me and risked
their careers to say. a president's going to get killed. it's a matter of time. do something what of them i i am only channeling their very passionate fear. passionate fear. and nothing that is really other than the margins has been fixed and there. is there any initiative in congress to do anything about that nothing? when did the secret service protection for life start with the presidency and a second question related to that is is that when the former president pleased to saudi arabia because he does not want to face any of the various lawsuits. he has going against him what
measures if any can be done to remove his secret service or does he have it for life? i think i understood your first question and the answer. we talked a little bit about before but it's it's the secret service began protecting presidents are a little bit after 1901 and mckinley's assassination just embarrassed that you know, we can't keep letting presidents die because a voter comes up to them with a gun. as for the former president, it's really hard to lose your lifetime promise of protection. it is written into the statute and a president can try to decline it but the us government does not have the option to decline protecting. former presidents and former first ladies. it is a guarantee if you were in prison.
there would be another provision for how that happened. predicting i just know that that question has come up before. carol it's really a riveting book you spoke a bit about the patriotism that these agents feel in the sense of duty to country then later in the book you talk about how many of them voted for trump and i'm wondering if you can talk a little bit about how any democratic president can feel safe. with that sort of mentality i'm really glad you asked the question because the kicker for my book is essentially you know me. me learning in the wake of january 6 because i was reporting on january 6th. i had to come out a book leave because of of january 6th and and keep reporting for the post which i'm glad for that duty and that mission i'm not complaining.
but what i learned is that secret service agents were were rooting in some instances for the insurrectionists to attack fellow police officers. you know, how can you be blue and root for someone to take a flagpole into the chest of someone blue? i don't mean party. i mean, i mean police officers. that's that really frightened me about our society and about that mission that patriotism i'd seen so many times. but you know the secret service like all law enforcement agencies liens conservative. that's okay. the fbi leans conservative the i'm sure the tucson police department leans conservative in their personal lives, but the secret service the fbi all of these agencies also had always had a duty to check your politics at the door to leave that outside put it in the locker.
and as an i think it's illustrative of the rest of the country as as our country has become more and more divided. the secret service became as did the fbi as did other law enforcement agents seized become. more open about their political viewpoints more angry more vituperative and increasingly uncomfortable checking their politics at the door. which should worry us all i want democratic. liberal-leaning cops to check their politics at the door. it's about blind justice. it's about the mission. but that that changed and donald trump. again, i give them credit for his genius. he convinced many many americans and many secret service agents that he was. their defender their their
protector their savior. thank you so much for being here carol. i have a question. i read in the paper today that we are spending millions of dollars protecting michael. pompeo where does that money come from? and why is he so important? why isn't there be there people who are actually in charge now being protected? you know this raises a really important question. i'll try to be quick because i saw two minute warning over there. rather infamously donald trump extended protection for his children adult children for six months after he left office and for three top aids is national security advisor his chief of staff and i'm blanking on the third. i wrote the story, but i can't remember what i wrote and pompeo is not in that group.
but he's getting protection now from this the state department and i have to believe that the biden state department again, not political just happens to be the next president has found a very justifiable and reasonable reason to protect him that threats against him rise to that level that he needs that security you ask the question. where's the money come from comes out of the state department's budget and ultimately comes out of our our pocketbooks and i can't help but think that it also diminishes our ability to provide the kind of protection the secret service wants to provide. stuff like you answer this very much one last question. well, i am very glad to be up at this stage. i had quite the urge to deliver some coffee to deliver some grand commentary on this event on this year's speech because i try and i try to remain invested
in a lot of these types of things. i i want iron maintain a strong interest to to the audience into the speaker but here so here's my question anyway, right on the right off the bat. so what are some of the key what so what are some of the key duties in involving social media and for the for thy protective services? i hope i understand your question, right you mean monitoring social media? yes, correct. so the secret service has a huge huge extra responsibility and duty because social media is where people make threats social media is where stuart rhodes forgive me. the proud boys and the oath keepers at times communicated their plans for january 6 so you can get some good clues as reporters do from monitoring this about what bad guys are up to and what they're threatening. it's important and it's a good question. thank you. you're welcome. and do you think and who do you think that the power boys were
probably the most noteworthy example of the groups that we're trying to of insurrectionist groups. was there a specific group that you find the most noteworthy could possibly could have possibly been involved. i'm could have possibly started from before the from before the insurrection itself. there are three main groups, although we don't know i'm not i'm not a prosecutor fbi agent they may have tons of evidence that i haven't seen oath keepers proud boys and three percenters. oh, thank very great to know very much. thank you very much. thank you. love the speed.