By: Aaron Klein
A former Secret Service agent who served in the security details of both Presidents Bush and Obama warned on Saturday that President Donald Trump “is not secure in the White House right now as it stands.”
Dan Bongino, who was also an instructor at the training academy of the Secret Service, was commenting on Friday night’s reported breach of the White House complex, at least the seventh such incident in recent years.
Bongino stated: “If one guy with a backpack and Omar Gonzales with a bad knee could get near the residence of the White House, can you tell me with a straight face that a forty-man tactical assault team with heavy weapons wouldn’t take that place down?”
Bongino was referring to a 2014 incident in which Gonzales penetrated the north portico doors of the White House, reportedly brandishing a three-and-a-half-inch folding knife in a back pocket.
“This is inexcusable,” Bongino said of the latest incident. “How many of these are we, as the citizenry, going to tolerate, whether under Barack Obama or now President Trump, before there is enough citizen outrage that the Secret Service actually does something?”
Bongino is the author of the bestselling 2013 book Life Inside the Bubble: Why a Top-Ranked Secret Service Agent Walked Away from It All. He also previously ran as a Republican for Congress and the Senate.
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He was speaking in an interview set to air Sunday on this reporter’s talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio,” broadcast on New York’s AM 970 The Answer and NewsTalk 990 AM in Philadelphia.
“The secret service is not ready right now to defend the White House,” he charged. “They’re not. I know that may make people uncomfortable. And frankly, Aaron, I am really getting tired of some of the talking heads on cable news who have never done one minute in the shoes a secret service agent.”
“They have no idea what the security plan of the White House actually looks like on the ground. They’re all sitting here brushing it under the rug, going, ‘Oh no.’ ‘They were prepared.’ ‘This was a manageable incident.’ ‘This was how it was supposed to work.’ You really believe this is how it was supposed to work?”
Regarding Friday night’s breach, Bongino warned, “Do you think that what happened today is not being beamed into every terrorists’ head, going, ‘Look at this fellows.’ I am sounding the alarm hoping and praying with fingers crossed that somebody wakes up and finally does what needs to be done.”
Bongino offered some security upgrade suggestions: “They need to fix the fence. Reinforce the manpower on the north and the south grounds. Add special weapons teams. Get the best technology in there right now. Clearly the technology sensors and cameras are not working as planned. Get them in there yesterday. There’s no other solution.”
Bongino outlined what he says are three major problems facing the Secret Service and the White House security plan.
Problem number one, according to Bongino, involves staffing:
They have had a brain drain of catastrophic portions in the Secret Service. They lost some of the best agents. If this wasn’t a public radio show that people could hear, I could tell you the names of ten or twenty top-notch, tier one guys who left the president’s detail just in the last 5 years who I still communicate with… They have had an even worse brain drain in the uniformed division side. They are responsible for the perimeter of the White House.
…You can’t run a security agency without security officers who know what they’re doing. You just can’t.
Problem number two, Bongino contended, is a lack of political will to address the purported security flaws:
The management of the Secret Service right now is grossly unprepared for the evolving threats. Grossly. They say they are but they have no political will because a lot of them are out there – not all – but a lot are looking for their next consulting job. They are just praying that nothing happens on their next watch. They don’t want to be the ones to go on Capitol Hill to say this whole security plan around the White House needs to be fixed.
And problem number three involves the actual security plan, he says:
They are way too concerned right now, the management, with the optics of White House security. That we can’t make this look like an armed camp. The prior staff didn’t like that. There other entities around the White House that want to preserve the historic look of it. But do you want a secure White House grounds or do you want it to look pretty?
CNN reported on Friday night’s breach:
A man carrying a backpack was arrested Friday night after breaching security at the White House complex and was discovered by a Secret Service officer by the south entrance to the executive residence, officials said.
The incident happened just before midnight while President Donald Trump was at the White House.
The suspect, who had a California driver’s license, told Secret Service officers that he was there to see the president.