Thanks to a PolitiGal1 reader for bringing the first item below to my attention. In it Scott Cortmeister comments on a story that has flown largely under the MSM radar. It is the story of how the Secret Service, while charged with protecting Barack Obama at a 17K plus person rally in Dallas, ordered metal detectors shut down and the search for weapons on incoming guests halted. The story he is talking about can be found in the Feb 21, 2008 edition of The Star-Telegram, here.
(BTW, where was JFK shot again?)
The second and third items are stories which have surfaced recently and have been reported in the New York Times in the past 8 days. I find the "security lapse" more than a little alarming, and I find what appears to be a Secret Service environment hostile to minorities (to both officers and the figures they're protecting) more than a little troubling (this is the 21st century right?), but I'll let you draw your own conclusions after having watched and read.
STORY 1: The Secret Service, Assassinating Jesse Jackson, and Race- Can Anything But Hilarity Ensue?
E-Mail Shows Racial Jokes by Secret Service Supervisors
Originally Published in The New York Times on May 10, 2008
WASHINGTON — Secret Service supervisors shared crude sexual jokes and engaged in racially derogatory banter about blacks, and passed around an anecdote about a possible assassination of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, according to internal e-mail disclosed in a federal court filing on Friday by lawyers for black Secret Service agents.
The filing includes 10 e-mail messages that were among documents the agency recently turned over to lawyers for the black agents as part of an increasingly bitter discrimination lawsuit. The messages were written mainly from 2003 through 2005, and were sent to and from e-mail accounts of at least 20 Secret Service supervisors.
The messages offer a glimpse into the darker recesses of an agency known for protecting presidents and other dignitaries but whose culture is regarded as one of the most insular in federal law enforcement.
The disclosure of the messages follows an incident last month in which a noose was found in a room used by a black instructor at a Secret Service training facility in Beltsville, Md. Agency officials said that episode was under internal investigation.
Eric Zahren, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said he would not comment directly on the e-mail but said the agency deplored racially insensitive jokes.
“We are deeply disappointed by any communication or action on the part of our employees that exhibits racial or other insensitivity,” Mr. Zahren said.
Mr. Zahren said the messages were the result of a search of 20 million electronic documents over 16 years. He said that an internal inquiry had been opened and that the inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Secret Service, had been alerted.
In some of the court documents, the senders of the e-mail messages are identified only by the jobs they currently occupy and the rank they held when the messages were sent. For example, an Oct. 9, 2003, message referring to a “Harlem Spelling Bee,” ridiculing black slang, was sent by Thomas Grupski, then assistant director for protective operations, who, according to the filing, now heads the Office of Government Liaison and Public Affairs.
A March 3, 2003, message describing Mr. Jackson as the “Righteous Reverend” was passed among several Secret Service supervisors. The message, about a missile striking an airplane in which Mr. Jackson and his wife were traveling, concludes, it “certainly wouldn’t be a great loss and it probably wouldn’t be an accident either.”
Another message contains what one Secret Service official said was a joke referring to interracial sex. The joke circulated in February and March 2003. It was sent, according to the lawsuit, by Donald White, who heads the Presidential Protective Detail, to Kurt Douglass, an agent in charge of the Secret Service office in Cincinnati.
The legal skirmishing in the discrimination suit has heated up in recent months, with Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson rebuking the Secret Service for failing to produce documents and for destroying relevant records and e-mail.
Judge Robinson had ordered the agency to turn over the documents by late March, but the e-mail disclosed in the court filing on Friday was not turned over to lawyers for the agents until late April.
E. Desmond Hogan, a lawyer for the black agents, said the agents were “shocked but not surprised by the late production of significant evidence of racism at high levels in the Secret Service.”
“The government’s delay,” Mr. Hogan said, “follows a pattern of the Secret Service stonewalling plaintiffs and ignoring court orders, depriving African-American agents of the fundamental evidence of race discrimination that is key to their claims.”
The lawsuit, which has dragged on through years of litigation, was filed in 2000 by 10 black agents who charged that they were unfairly denied promotions. The agency employs about 3,200 agents, about 10 percent of whom are black.
STORY 2: A Pattern?
Obama Secret Service Agent Tied to Sex Joke
Originally published in The New York Times on May 15, 2008
By DAVID JOHNSTON
WASHINGTON — A Secret Service supervisor who until recently was a leader of Senator Barack Obama’s security detail sent several colleagues an e-mail message in 2005 that included a crude sexual joke about blacks and American Indians, according to documents disclosed last week as part of a lawsuit by black Secret Service agents.
The supervisory agent, Victor Erevia, sent the Jan. 26, 2005, e-mail message to five other Secret Service supervisors with what he described as a “joke,” one that referred to “popular myths of sexuality” and ridiculed several racial and religious groups. It appears that Mr. Erevia was not the author of the joke, but shared the message after it had been sent to him.
Eric Zahren, a Secret Service spokesman, said on Wednesday that while the agency did not condone offensive material, the e-mail message was “apparently an attempt at humor” and should be viewed in that context.
At the time of the message, Mr. Erevia was an assistant agent in charge of the agency’s office in Atlanta. Later, he was assigned as one of three “detail leaders” to protect Mr. Obama during his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Mr. Erevia has since been promoted to head the agency’s technical security division.
Douglas DeLeaver, president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, said the e-mail message was unfortunate, but not aimed at individuals. “Were they insensitive? Yes,” Mr. DeLeaver said. “But should you ruin someone’s career for something that happened five years ago. I don’t think so.”
The message was among e-mail traffic turned over to lawyers for 10 black agents who have a long-running discrimination lawsuit against the Secret Service. The agents contend that they were unfairly denied promotion to the agency’s managerial ranks. But the agency said blacks represented 16 percent of its senior executive ranks.
Mr. Zahren, the agency spokesman, said the disclosure of e-mail traffic was a “deliberate attempt to embarrass the agency” during “an unprecedented presidential campaign.”
Another racially derogatory e-mail message disclosed in the lawsuit last week was received by David O’Connor, now a senior Secret Service supervisor in overall charge of presidential protective details.
The July 23, 2003, message was sent to Mr. O’Connor by his brother, Timothy O’Connor, a former Secret Service agent. The message complained about the Rev. Al Sharpton, favoritism toward blacks, political correctness and affirmative action.
In a reply, Mr. O’Connor asked if he could share the message with another Secret Service supervisor, who is now retired, because he was “worthy of trust and confidence.” The phrase has a special meaning within the agency because it is the motto of the Secret Service.
A lawyer for Mr. O’Connor, Thomas C. Wright, said there was no evidence that his client had forwarded the racially derogatory message to anyone.Sphere: Related Content