Long before a pair of gate-crashers penetrated a White House state dinner, the Secret Service had detailed for its internal use a lengthy list of security breaches dating to a Presidential Administration in the late 1970s — including significant failures in the agency’s protection of the President, the Washington Post just reported. A summary of a secret 2003 report obtained by the Post, along with descriptions of more recent incidents by federal homeland security officials, places the party crashing couple squarely in a rogues’ gallery of autograph hounds, publicity seekers, unstable personalities and others identified by the Secret Service as defeating its checkpoints at least 91 times since 1980. The list of security breaches exposes significant gaps that could be exploited by would-be assassins, the document states, and erode “one of the best tools for deterring future attempts” — the aura of invulnerability around the White House. In a similar vein, Diplomatic Security’s recent growth warrants strategic review. In a report completed on November 12, 2009, but released on December 7, 2009, the GAO addressed the current state of the Diplomatic Security Service. Diplomatic Security’s mission, to ensure a safe environment for the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, involves activities such as the protection of people, information, and property overseas, and dignitary protection and passport and visa fraud investigations domestically. These activities have grown since 1998 in reaction to a number of security incidents. Diplomatic Security funding and personnel have also increased considerably over the last 10 years. In 1998, Diplomatic Security’s budget was about $200 million; by fiscal year 2008, it had grown to approximately $1.8 billion, of which over $300 million was for security in Iraq. Security Magazine now has a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SECmagazine?v=info

What needs to change in protecting the President? Email your thoughts to zaludreport@bnpmedia.com