By Seth Johnson
A former Secret Service agent who served on the presidential protective detail has strong words for President Obama in the wake of reports that a White House staffer’s alleged role in the 2012 prostitution scandal during the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, was covered up.
“The president hasn’t told the truth about any of these scandals. He is resetting the bar for presidential dishonesty,” said Dan Bongino, a retired Secret Service agent who protected both Obama and President George W. Bush, and authored the New York Times bestseller about his time with the agency, “Life Inside the Bubble.”
“Isn’t this a joke,” Bongino said, reacting to the Washington Post story detailing how the 25-year-old staffer in question, Jonny Dach, was internally exonerated and subsequently transferred to a State Department office dealing with women’s issues.
“How do elected Democrats who aren’t willing to stand up against this White House save face on this ‘War on Women?’ Seriously, how do you stand up and say yes, there’s a ‘War on Women’ going on, but we’ve just promoted the guy who may have hired a prostitute to the Women’s Issues Group at State, while we fired Secret Service agents who were involved?”
What has Bongino so upset is the double standard applied to agents and military personnel versus White House staffers with the right pedigree. Dach’s father was a big donor to the president’s reelection campaign and a lobbyist for Walmart who helped Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign.
“This is no longer just about untoward activity. This is about government treating people who break the rules fairly, and not creating this knighted class of donor children who are not subject to the same rules as everybody else,” he said.
Bongino, who knew agents who were fired as a result of the incident, said the fallout has affected him and his family and permanently strained some relationships.
“I’ve lost contact with many, sadly. That entire incident shredded my family. It’s never been the same. I know their lives are over because I’ve had other people call me not related to the incident, saying they’ve called looking for work.”
While Bongino does believe the punishment and firings were justified, he believes it’s not clear that justice was not blind in this matter.
“They screwed up, they got caught, and they had to pay the piper. That’s not at issue here. The point of it is, the same set of standards weren’t applied to this kid. And that’s what is behind Americans’ growing frustration with government. It’s like we’re in the Guilded Age of the beknighted class.”
While the president likes to speak about America’s main problem being income inequality, Bongino believes it’s the unequal distribution of power that cost some people their careers while allowing others to skate free.
“It’s an inequality of power, because access and connections are only tools to leverage power. Politics would be meaningless if there was no power behind it. There is real power in the ability to buy influence. Power in that you’re not subjected to the same sets of restrictions as other people. Your business gets specific carve outs. Your kid doesn’t only get hired, but gets a promotion ahead of an equally qualified or a better person,” he said.
Bongino, like many Americans, has questions about why Dach was on the advance team in the first place and what his qualifications were, especially for a high-profile foreign trip like Cartagena.
“Being an advance team member in a foreign country at a big international conference is a big deal. He’s the staff member with all the presidential motorcade routes vetting all the drivers. It’s interesting how they play it down when it’s one of their guys, but whenever it’s one of the Secret Service guys the tar and feathers come out.”
As for what should happen at the Secret Service, Bongino believes the agency desperately needs an outsider as the next director.
“They have a lot of good managers there now, but when you’ve grown up in an agency and you’ve never had an outside director, there are some things you don’t see as problems. There are some known issues that the entire workforce is aware of that never change. When you ask management about it, they say we’ve always done it this way. They’ve never had an outsider like Robert Mueller or James Comey at FBI. The service desperately needs that,” he said.
When asked if the president’s decision to pass over anyone currently in leadership at the agency was a sign that he doesn’t have faith in them, Bongino said, “There are a lot of people at the top who have to go. The next director should have everyone commit to a new way of doing things at the agency and if you’re not on board, sign your resignation papers.”
Published by WND Books, Bongino’s “Life Inside the Bubble,” tells the story of his experiences inside the Washington, D.C., “Bubble” and helps the reader uncover why a government, filled with some of the most incredibly dedicated people he encountered while within it, continues to make tragic mistakes.
Bongino began his career in law enforcement with the NYPD in 1995. He joined the ranks of the Secret Service in 1999 as a special agent where he was assigned to investigate financial crimes. In 2006, Bongino entered into duty with the elite Presidential Protective Division in the administration of President George W. Bush. He remained on protective duty during the change in administration to President Barack Obama. He resigned from the Secret Service in 2011 to run for a Senate seat in Maryland.
Now he is speaking out and holding nothing back. Read “Life Inside the Bubble” and find out why Dan Bongino, who swore to take a bullet for the president, left it all behind to “take a bullet” for the American people.
Hear Bongino yourself: