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Archive for the ‘Secret Service’ Category

A weekend reading review because even Pastors need a break from heavy reading.

Ronald Kessler. The First Family Detail.  Danvers, MA: Crown Forum, August 5th 2014. 272 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This book was insightful into the men and women who protect the president of the United States in a Federal government agency known as the Secret Service.  You usually see members of the Secret Service wearing suits and sunglasses standing next to the President.  This book was insightful of some of the things members of the Secret Service have observed about various US presidents.  It is written by a capable author name Ronald Kessler who has written books on the New York Times Best Seller list on the topic of the Secret Service and the FBI.  Kessler was also the journalist who first broke the news story of Secret Service scandal with hiring prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia.  Kessler is not someone out to attack the Secret Service but is someone that respect the agency and its men and women putting their lives on the line but he is also a helpful critical of the agency’s mismanagement.

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Note: I’m posting later than usual this Sunday, I had a busy week with ministry.  For the next few weeks on Sunday we will feature a review of books outside of theology, philosophy and apologetics.  Each review of a non-Christian book will also have a section titled, “What’s in it for the Christian?”

In the President's Secret ServicePurchase: Amazon

With all the news about the Secret Service this past year I thought I spend some time to read this book.  What an interesting read!  I thought the book was insightful into the men and women who protect the president of the United States and also insightful in terms of some of the things members of the Secret Service have observed about various US presidents.

Since the book does discusses the account of agents’ observation on the President of the United States, the author makes the point that while the president should have some privacy of their private lives nevertheless there are some conducts and character that the public should know about if it affects their ability and judgment as president.  The author feels that Secret Service agents as are public employees of the people ought to make certain concerns made known for the interest and well being of our nation.

It seems from the book that presidents who were Democrats tend to have a bad rap in their personal life and relations to others more than the presidents who were Republicans—we have stories of Jimmy Carter’s bad attitude towards Secret Service agents and Carter having the Secret Service become his servants to carry things until the Secret Service had to finally tell him that it’s not their job.  The book also record the account of Secret Service members observation of how Jimmy Carter loved carrying his own luggage when the media was around—but had the Secret Service carry it as the soon as they left, and sometimes Carter would even carry an empty big luggage bag just for show!  Secret Service agents were also struck with the hypocrisy of Jimmy Carter who talked much about how the White House was free from alcohol when they were not—and how ironically the Regan first family didn’t ban drinking in the White House actually drank less in the White House than the Carters.  Carter’s behavior is in contrast to Regan, George Bush senior and junior who were typically cozy to security.  The book also described how Hillary Clinton was not very nice to her Secret Service agents and how she’s never even talked at all to some of her personal details for years.  I thought it was strange to hear about Hillary’s odd habit of not wanting anyone to say hi to her when she’s walking and how she even scolded an agent who made the mistake of greeting her.  Then you also had Vice President Al Gore who scolded his son in front of agents that if he does not do well in school he could end up being like these guys (pointing to agents).

The book is more than a look at the idiosyncrasies of the President; the book also talk about the Secret Service as an agency in trouble.  What amazes me is that this book was written in 2009, before the recent media storm against the Secret Service.  I think the author accurately anticipated the problems of the Secret Service and he was right in sounding the alarm concerning the current state of the agency.  The book does not attack the typical agents but faults the problem with the leadership of the Secret Service.  According to the author the agency has taken on more duties after 9-11 but has often failed to ask for more realistic resources and funds from Congress but instead pride itself as an agency who is doing more with less.  However, this has affected the quality of services, training and agent that the Secret Service could provide.  The author talks about how good agents are experience burn outs with the long hours that are demanded of them and how talented agents are leaving for other Federal agencies.  The book also talks about the negligence that fewer agents have produced, such as dropping training standards.  It was sad to read in the book of how some agents are so busy guarding important dignitaries that they have not gone to the gun range in years—and how the leadership have not enforce physical fitness standards and even fail to test agents but instead have agents fill out their own paper work of what they think their run time is.  The low standards of the Secret Service has affected their weapons platform, with the Secret Service still using older MP5s to do things that other agencies are using M4s to fulfill, etc.  The book calls for new management, one that involves new leadership that’s fresh outside of the Secret Service in order to change the agency’s culture.  I think the author here has a case.

Just so I don’t misrepresent the book, the book records many stories of the men who serve nobly in the agency.  The book tells us stories of Secret Service agents who serve sacrificially in protecting our president and their first family.  The author definitely have a high respect for the agents and what they do, even as he faults presidents and the leadership of the agency.  I think this book is worth reading.

What’s in it for the Christian: An unspoken rule is that Secret Service agents are to be ready to give up their life to protect the president.  They are ready to take the bullet for him.  This should remind us of the truth that our Savior is also one willing to lay down His life to save us–and indeed He has done so.  Secret Service agents are great examples of sacrificial service and commitment to one’s duty–virtues that a Christian should emulate in their devotion towards God.

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