Dan Bongino is best known to American conservatives today as a former congressional candidate, talk-show host and fiery commentator.
But the position he says he will always be proudest of is that of special agent, United States Secret Service.
And the man who once guarded the commander in chief has a terrifying warning in his new book “Protecting The President”: Donald Trump is in jeopardy unless there is reform.
“The president of the United States is in genuine danger if the Secret Service doesn’t change course soon and evolve with the rapidly changing threat environment,” Bongino writes. “The threats to the White House and the president are swiftly evolving in this new era of weaponized drones, micro-sized video surveillance technology, vehicle attacks on civilians, small arms tactical assaults, and technologically advanced and difficult-to-detect explosives. And if the decision makers in the Secret Introduction Service refuse to evolve with this series of threats, then, tragically, we may suffer the first loss of a president since John F. Kennedy.”
Bongino describes the agency as suffering an “existential” crisis and reeling from recent scandals. And the former agent has provided a sober, detailed look at how one of America’s elite law enforcement agencies has sabotaged itself.
Bongino identifies the reason for the collapse of the Secret Service as “mission creep,” as the agency has lost sight of its primary mission of protecting the president following its incorporation into the Department of Homeland Security.
The former agent says morale in the agency has been “devastated” because of the increasing number of events designated National Special Security Events, with seemingly “every national summit or sports event” dumping security costs on the taxpayer by demanding – and getting – Secret Service protection.
This is in addition to the Secret Service’s other main duty of investigating counterfeiting and fraud.
The problem is compounded by “unresponsive management,” as overworked agents are constantly on the road and being assigned to endless protection missions after little sleep. Agents are also offered a far less desirable compensation structure than other federal law enforcement agencies. Not surprisingly, many agents want to transfer out of the force as quickly as possible.
The consequences of these trends, warns Bongino, are serious.
“The Secret Service cannot effectively protect the president in the future with its current portfolio of problems,” the agent writes. “Mission creep has saddled the Secret Service with an expanded plate of responsibilities that it no longer has the manpower, budget, or training to effectively handle. Poor management decisions, made with the best interests of upper-level Secret Service management but the worst interests of the working agents in the field in mind, have also ravaged the workforce and destroyed both special agent morale, and faith in the leadership.
“When combined with a special agent pay scale that incentivizes Secret Service agents to seek employment elsewhere within the federal law enforcement alphabet soup of agencies, it’s no surprise that failures have begun to pile up within the Secret Service.”
Bongino is not the only agent warning of catastrophe ahead.
“[I]n the last few decades, the United States Secret Service has forgotten where it began and what it is,” writes former Secret Service Agent Jason Wells in the forward. “An agency that once defined itself by protecting people without negotiating how it will do it now does so with a wink-and-a-nod understanding that the criteria of protection is open to interpretation and adjustment. Someone in the agency came in one day and started replacing right and wrong with black and white, and incorrectly thought that the two meant the same thing.”
Those chiefly familiar with Bongino’s reputation as a fiery conservative commentator may be surprised by his comprehensive and highly analytical dissection of the issues surrounding the collapse of one of America’s most elite institutions. Reviews have been overwhelmingly positive at Amazon.com, with most giving the book five stars.
- Like Paul Revere’s warning that the British were coming, this book is a clear warning to the American people and U.S. Secret Service leadership of the ever-increasing danger to the president and designated protectees if the agency fails to change. Dan addresses the many issues that confront the agency; from failing to address evolving security challenges, plummeting agent morale, to the well-intentioned but poorly executed affirmative action hiring and promotion process. The author also details what the U.S. Secret Service is doing well at, and provides a behind-the-scenes look at the amazing capabilities of the agency and the agents that work there. Because “the why matters”, Bongino doesn’t just offer criticism, he also provides an explanation of why the issue is important to the security of our president, and well-thought-out proposals to remedy the problems. This book is a great read for anyone seeking insight into the challenges faced by those that protect our president, I highly recommend it!
- If everything you know about the Secret Service you learned from Hollywood and the MSM, then you don’t know much. You can fix that in one afternoon with this book and be in a better position to interpret the news. Be prepared to finish more worried than you started though, because the job is a lot more than jumping in front of the president when a lone shooter takes a pot shot. Bongino outlines the institutional obstacles the agency is facing in fulfilling its mission, and urges the government to address those issues before it’s too late.
- Dan is on top of his game in this his 3rd book. It’s a very eye-opening look at a part of the federal government that is quite fascinating to me. Some of the problems he presents will really make you stop and wonder what the heck is going on, and also wonder how safe our president really is. I’ve read every book Dan has written, and this one was my favorite. I would recommend this book to anyone, and the topics within are ones that all of us as Americans should be aware of and call for action on.
The stakes could not be higher, as threats against President Trump and his family have become disturbingly common, even from elected officials. Missouri state senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal posted and then deleted a comment on Facebook that hoped for the president’s assassination in August. A state lawmaker in Maine made a physical threat against President Trump in July. Celebrities such as Jim Carrey and Kathy Griffin have also seemingly promoted violence against the president.
But as “Protecting The President” shows, the agency is in real danger of failing its core mission unless outsiders are brought in to shake it up.
“Sometimes, inexperience with mistakes can be an advantage, and in the case of the Secret Service, it’s time to try something new as the mistakes pile up,” Bongino writes. “America cannot afford to lose another president, and fixing the Secret Service is the only way to ensure that we don’t.”