If the news of a knife-wielding man getting access to the White House last week didn’t disturb you enough, late Saturday evening The Washington Post published a terrifying expose of never previously reported failures of the Secret Service to protect the Obama family. The Obama family has been repeatedly put into what can only amount to shameful peril, at the hands of a Secret Service that can’t logically be this incompetent.
According to a Washington Post report written by Carol D. Leonnig that looks to have been tirelessly researched and backed up by multiple accounts, including “interviews with agents, investigators and other government officials with knowledge about the shooting”, Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez used a semiautomatic rifle to shoot “directly at the home of the president of the United States, and pulled the trigger.”
At least 7 bullets hit the upstairs residence of the White House. Bullets hit steps from the First Family’s living room, others hit a window frame, the roof. All while Sasha and the First Lady’s mom were in residence and as Malia was expected home at any moment.
The gunman parked his black Honda directly south of the White House, in the dark of a November night, in a closed lane of Constitution Avenue. He pointed his semiautomatic rifle out of the passenger window, aimed directly at the home of the president of the United States, and pulled the trigger.
A bullet smashed a window on the second floor, just steps from the first family’s formal living room. Another lodged in a window frame, and more pinged off the roof, sending bits of wood and concrete to the ground. At least seven bullets struck the upstairs residence of the White House, flying some 700 yards across the South Lawn.
President Obama and his wife were out of town on that evening of Nov. 11, 2011, but their younger daughter, Sasha, and Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, were inside, while older daughter Malia was expected back any moment from an outing with friends.
This is bad enough. But what makes this alarming is the fact that after these shots were fired into or at the residence of the White House, a Secret Service supervisor issued a stand down order, saying there were no shots fired.
This supervisor claimed the noises were the backfiring of a vehicle, even as agents were preparing to defend the White House. The supervisor issued a stand down order, per the Post: “No shots have been fired. Stand down.”
It took four days for the Secret Service to realize that shots had been fired at the White House. They only finally realized this because of the discoveries of a white House housekeeper (who should receive an award).
This is not the result of chaos in the line of fire. This is simply incomprehensible. The only way this level of incompetence makes sense is if someone or several someones in the Secret Service have an agenda to fail to protect the First Family.
I’m not big on conspiracy theories, but I am big on logic. There simply is no other reasonable explanation for this level of consistent incompetence that is immediately apparent. When behavior doesn’t make sense, the first question is what is to be gained by this behavior and the second is what is the most logical explanation.
Since agents were preparing to respond to the discharging of a gun at the White House that evening, it does not make sense that a supervisor would issue a stand down order. It does not make sense that they tried to put this off as a gang related shooting — that’s something Fox News would dream up. It does not make sense that they wouldn’t look for and find signs of damage on the building and in the interior.
Also of note, while PolitiFact rates as “false” the claim that President Obama faced more threats than any other president of modern times because they allegedly couldn’t find proof that it was true (this doesn’t make it false though, so this is an odd ruling), the Post researchers found otherwise.
Writing about the First Lady’s concern for the safety of her family, they confirmed, “Her concerns are well founded — President Obama has faced three times as many threats as his predecessors, according to people briefed on the Secret Service’s threat assessment.”
It doesn’t take someone from the Secret Service to tell us that this President faces more threats than any other recent president. The vitriol aimed at him by Republicans, their 6 year gun buying spree, their frothing insanity about his race and name, their beliefs that his birth certificate isn’t real and accusations by elected officials that he is going to intern them in labor camps (these are not just the fringers, but party leaders some of whom campaigned to be the GOP presidential nominee), and so much more hate — these things spell violence.
Thus the Secret Service should be more vigilant, not more complacent. As it stands, they have put the First Family in shameful peril repeatedly. They allowed the daughter of the President to be in a building that was being shot at and into, and they did nothing. They even denied that it happened.
Shameful and inexcusable Secret Service work — and in need of investigation.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.