The Washington Post has new details about just how bad things got at the Secret Service under the 18-month tenure of outgoing Director Julia Pierson.
Reporter Carol Leonnig paints a picture of an out-of-touch administrator with very little real-world experience as an agent in a post-9/11 world who regularly succumbed to hectoring requests from White House staffers to tone down the security footprint of the Secret Service for appearances sake:
In her 18 months in charge, Pierson also became the subject of derision among some lower-level agents for accommodating the White House staff’s wishes for less-cumbersome security over the warnings of her tactical teams.
Anonymous sources within the agency point to President Obama's US/Africa Leaders' Summit as another example of Pierson bending to the public relations will of White House staffers rather than putting the President's security as the primary objective for agents. After presenting the initial security plan for the multi-national summit in Washington DC, Pierson was irate at what she perceived to be a heavy-handed approach:
Supervisors who had mapped out the security plan said they were taken aback when Pierson, who worked during high school at Walt Disney World as a costumed character and park attendant, said: “We need to be more like Disney World. We need to be more friendly, inviting.”
And just this past week, Pierson acquiesced to local politicians in the District of Columbia at the expense of standard security protocols for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Pierson personally ordered that a downtown Washington street be left open near a hotel where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was staying. Secret Service teams have insisted on the closure for years because Netanyahu is considered one of the most sought-after international targets. But the director agreed to changes because of D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s concern that the street’s closure during an earlier visit caused severe gridlock, said a spokesman for Gray (D).
I respect Pierson’s service, but she hasn’t been on a protective mission in two decades,” an anonymous source told Loennig. “She doesn’t know anything about security planning in a post-9/11 world.”