A provocative USA Today front-page story contends President Trump is “depleting” Secret Service funds because of his frequent travel.
That’s fake news, contends former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, arguing the story, “Secret Service depletes funds to pay agents because of Trump’s frequent travel, large family,” leaves the reader with the false impression Trump is bilking taxpayers.
The story quotes Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles saying that “more than 1,000 agents have already hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances that were meant to last the entire year.”
“The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law,” Alles said. “I can’t change that. I have no flexibility.”
Bongino, writing at ConservativeReview.com, said the reason the Secret Service is forced to work its agents on unsustainable overtime and travel schedules has little to do with the size of Trump’s family.
“The portfolio of protectees expanded dramatically after the September 11 attacks during the G.W. Bush administration, too,” he said. “It also has little to do with the travel schedule. Barack Obama kept a heavy travel schedule throughout most of his presidency. It has everything to do with the Secret Service’s unsustainable, and growing, portfolio of responsibilities outside the protection sphere.”
Bongino, who joined the Secret Service in 1999 and resigned in 2011, is the author of the New York Times bestseller “Life Inside the Bubble: Why a Top-Ranked Secret Service Agent Walked Away From It All.”
His upcoming book, “Protecting the President: An Inside Account of the Troubled Secret Service in an Era of Evolving Threats,” is scheduled for release Sept. 19 but is available for pre-order at the WND Superstore.
“The Secret Service currently employs approximately 6,800 special agents and uniformed division officers, a number more than enough to fully staff the Secret Service’s portfolio of protectees,” Bongino said. “The real problem is that a majority of the Secret Service’s special agent personnel, agents who could relieve the protection-detail special agents of some of the workload, are not assigned to protection details.”
Bongino, who wrote “Protecting the President: An Inside Account of the Troubled Secret Service in an Era of Evolving Threats” to address the ongoing crisis within the Secret Service, said the “dirty little secret here is that many of the agents the Secret Service could use in support of its core mission, protection, are sitting in field offices, spread around the world, assigned to the investigation of federal crimes, investigations that could be easily be handled by the alphabet soup of federal agencies taxpayers are already paying for (the FBI, IRS, etc.).”
Outlining how the Secret Service can become more effective, Bongino said the agency’s workforce “has an understandable attachment to its historical investigative mission.”
“In addition, candidly, many of the agents (me included, when I was a Secret Service agent) enjoy the investigative mission. Catching bad guys is rewarding work. But without a bold, and necessary, reorganization of the alphabet soup of federal investigative agencies, the only solution to the Secret Service manpower/overtime/pay-scale/morale/attrition crisis is to abandon the investigative mission.”
He spelled out his proposal for making the Secret Service a better protector of the president:
In an ideal world, with bold political leadership (something sorely lacking in Washington, D.C.), we would reorganize our federal law enforcement workforce into three divisions: a law enforcement agency, an intelligence agency, and a well-funded internal affairs agency with oversight of the other two.
In this ideal scenario, it would be entirely unnecessary to pay massive amounts of overtime to a small pool of people to protect the president, because the pool would be expanded to a cross-trained federal law-enforcement workforce of over 100,000 federal agents.
And, when agents become “burned out” from protection duty (a common phenomenon, in my experience as an agent, due to the relentless travel and stress), they could move seamlessly back to other duties currently covered by the siloed and isolated slate of federal agencies we have now.
Bongino believes the president is in real danger if the Secret Service doesn’t change course soon and evolve with the rapidly changing threat environment.
Highly motivated “bad guys” are already working on technologically advanced methodologies and are constantly striving to formulate the logistics of an attack on the White House, he said. Eventually, terrorist planners will find a way to acquire the technology, weapons, explosives and know-how to make an attempt on the life of the president. The only question, he said, is what are we going to do about it?