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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Is the Secret Service worthless?

The Secret Service has been officially in charge of protecting the president since 1902. How well they've done that job boils down to 2 questions:

1) How well have they defended attacks?

2) How well have they predicted and prevented attacks?

Since 1902, there has been only 1 assassination (JFK) and 1 wounding (Reagan). There were 2 near misses on Ford, 1 on FDR, and 1 on Truman. That makes 6 total.

There were other attempts, but I'm only counting the ones where someone with a gun was within shooting distance of the president and tried to shoot. I'm not counting Teddy Roosevelt because he was an ex-president when he was shot and ex-presidents were not given protection until later.

So, let's take each of those 6 cases and see how well the Secret Service did.

The Secret Service really screwed up for JFK. They were hungover from partying the night before. Preventing a sniper attack is tricky, but preventing such things is their job. I give them 0 out of 5.

As for Reagan, they failed to prevent him and 3 others from getting shot, although they did succeed in disarming the assassin. One even acted as a human shield. I give them 2 out of 5.

For Ford, they stopped one attempt before a shot could be fired. However, since the assassin failed to chamber her pistol properly, she would have most likely failed anyway. The other one fired and was stopped by a bystander. I give them 1 out of 10 stars total.

For FDR, it was a bystander that saved the day. 0 out of 5.

For Truman, one Secret Service guy shot and disabled an attacker. The other was killed by a policeman. I give them 3 out of 5.

So, the total score is 6 out of 30. In school, that means F, or "crocodile" if you are in California.

What about predicting attacks?

The Secret Service interviewed one of Ford's assailants and judged her to be no threat.


I don't know how many people they interview each year, but given the volume of threats, it's probably in the dozens if not hundreds.

The more important question is, of the people mentioned who actually tried to kill a president, how many were interviewed?

Just 1.

So why do they bother with interviews? I suspect it's the usual sham work that is the norm in government. I also would not be surprised if the least intelligent Secret Service agents are the ones assigned to do interviews.

Here's idea. Let's stop pretending these guys are James Bond clones and adopt better technology, like the Popemobile. 

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