Monday, September 07, 2009
Why Wasn't Van Jones Properly Vetted
A lot of finger pointing has been going on since Van Jones’ radical ideology was exposed. People ask how the Secret Service did not properly screen him in advance of his appointment. One might well ask why they give access to anyone in the Obama administration, including Obama himself.
But this betrays a misunderstanding of the Secret Service’s role. Federal law enforcement agencies are given specific tasks based on their enabling legislation. As far as national security is concerned, it is the Secret Service’s job to protect the President. Period. This was a task added to their original mandate, which was, and remains, to investigate counterfeiting and other financial crimes.
It is actually the FBI who is supposed to clear these high level people, and since 1992, when Bill Clinton obliterated that firewall, circumventing the vetting process with a procession of blatant security risk appointments, many of whom demonstrated their unfitness by subsequently violating U.S. laws, (like John Huang, for instance, very likely a communist Chinese agent from the get go) the FBI has been essentially toothless. Remember the book "Unlimited Access" by FBI agent Gary Aldrich?
For most non-appointment, Executive Office bureaucrats like I was, it is – or at least was – usually the Office of Personnel Management that conducts the investigations. These investigations were, and to my knowledge remain, pretty thorough.
Unless there has been some post 9-11 dramatic change of which I am unaware, the Secret Service only vets appointments. But they do check your SSN against all criminal databases and will deny access if they find something negative. They also investigate individuals who make threatening remarks about the President, especially if the President will be traveling to the area where the threat was issued.
The Secret Service’s job is to protect their master, and while they very likely notice that this President surrounds himself with blatant security risks, it is not their job to protect the country from communists, traitors, terrorists or anyone else the President appoints - unless it threatens him. They wouldn't touch an Obama appointment, no matter how odious. It’s above their pay grade. That extends to all of Obama's cronies.
They are also acutely aware of how their reactions play in Congress. They know the game and play it well and like most federal bureaucracies, would lick the boots of Congressional Democrat appropriators if they thought it would get them a bigger budget – national security be damned. However they don't have to.
Their usual tactic is to remind everyone, in a not-so-subtle unionesque "non-threatening" manner that if they don't get all the resources they need, they may not be able to, er..., "adequately" protect the President. They say this in budget hearings. I have heard them. And while they have a valid point, one really gets the feeling this is a pro-forma remark, intended to rationalize budgeting for everything up to and including the kitchen sink.
As an afterthought, I once attended a meeting where Secret Service agents bragged to us that they actually helped in thawing relations with the Soviets that lead to the end of the Cold War. "How?" I queried. "By sharing with their KGB counterparts their methods for protecting our President," they responded. Stunned into silence, I saw no point in observing that the ruthlessly efficient KGB, sword and shield of our sworn enemy for a century, had never lost a single protectee in their history, unless of course they had dispatched him themselves.
So if you are wondering how this guy got past our internal security firewalls, stop wondering. There are no firewalls. If there were, few if any, of Obama’s appointees could gain access to the White House at any time, let alone to work there every day. As with most of these issues, we can primarily blame the national-security-risk Democrat Party (who Ann Coulter aptly calls the (Treason Party”) in Washington and to a lesser extent, the pusillanimous Republicans who have let them systematically undermine our national security for the past 40 plus years.
And the Democrats want us to let Washington bureaucrats make life-or-death decisions regarding our healthcare? I would sooner volunteer to be shot by firing squad.