Wednesday, June 16, 2021

No. 425: An Important New Book about the United States Secret Service

Carol Leonnig is a top investigative reporter at The Washington Post. She holds three Pulitzer prizes. Her new book, published May 18, 2021, is entitled Zero Fail and subtitled The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service. When I first saw the 532-page book, I was intimidated. However, I got over that feeling. When I started reading the book, I was hooked, and read the entire book.

The book is divided into five major parts: (1) The Tragedy that Birthed a New Secret Service, Kennedy to Nixon, 1963-1974; (2) Meeting the Test, Ford to Clinton, 1974-1999; (3) Terror and Politics, The Bush Years, 2000-2007; (4) The Wheels Come Off, The Obama Years, 2008-2015; (5) Sliding Backward, The Trump Years, 2016-2020. The book also includes a Prologue and an Epilogue. The final section of the Epilogue summarizes the book. It reads:
Today the [Secret] Service remains spread dangerously thin. In addition to protecting a president and vice president and their families, and key senior leaders, the Service also protects hundreds of foreign leaders who visit the United States every year, investigates a broad range of financial crimes, assesses and investigates violent threats whether they are made in bars, in written letters, or on Twitter, researches the traits of school shooters to help communities prevent future attacks, helps local police track down missing and exploited children, and much more. [One Trump Administration] official told me they and their fellow senior national security advisers revere the commitment of so many of the Secret Service's soldiers on the front line, but they remain haunted that the agency hasn't been given the money, staff, or tools to do all its jobs. This neglect creates an opening for a serious attack on our democracy. "Someone in the near future needs to sit down and figure out: What is their mission? Because they can't do the mission they have now," the person said. "These people are patriots. We're letting them down and we're leaving the country at risk." It should haunt us all.
The book is superb. I think it is essential reading for anyone concerned about the survival of our democracy.