How Many Times Have We Come Close To Another Dallas?

I used to think that movies like "White House Down" were silly and impossible; Hollywood with an overactive imagination, I figured. Certainly there were security measures in place to ensure that our government - particularly its executive branch - was well protected.

I figured wrong. The recent revelations of the screw-ups at the Secret Service - let's stop calling them mishaps as if someone spilled a glass of milk or something - are deeply disturbing. The level of incompetence at this agency borders on criminal. When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas by Lee Harvey Oswald, the Warren Commission's report found serious problems within the Secret Service. More than fifty years later, the agency once more is in the hot seat.

How many times has President Barack Obama's life been in jeopardy? Hundreds? Thousands? We know now that a man with a knife rode in an elevator with him. A knife! In an elevator!! With the leader of the free world!!!

How can this be allowed to happen? Knowing the level of threat this particular president faces on a daily basis, you'd think the agency tasked with safeguarding him and his family would do everything imaginable to prevent another Dallas from happening. You'd think that and you'd be wrong. If you're Obama, you could be dead wrong.

I'm starting to believe that we have been very fortunate we haven't had a successful assassination of this president. If a man can scale a fence, run across the White House lawn and gain access to supposedly the most secure building in America without so much as a clue, imagine if a person or group of people actually put a little thought behind it and had a real plan of attack.  To those who think something like that could never happen, I would remind you that on September 10, 2001, the idea of terrorists commandeering planes and flying them into buildings was about as remote a possibility as you could imagine. We all know what happened the very next day.

This isn't about mere carelessness, though even that cannot be excused. This is about an abject failure at the highest level. Julia Pierson's decision to resign as director of the Secret Service is but the first in a long list of actions that must be taken to root out the problems within this agency. From the Salahis incident to the prostitute scandal, interim director Joseph Clancy has his work cut out for him.

If these problems aren't corrected soon, the next time a madman takes it upon himself to attempt to kill this president, he may well end up succeeding.

And that wouldn't just be an unspeakable national tragedy, it would be an unpardonable sin.


Prof. Walter Jameson said…


Since it is not central to the thesis of your essay I will not devote a lot of time to this. However, you are a writer; and as such, understand the meaning of words better than many others. Is it truly accurate to say, "When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas by Lee Harvey Oswald," or would it be better written thusly: When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas *allegedly* by Lee Harvey Oswald? Is it not a matter of faith that the issue has been decided? After all, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), 1976 - 1978, basically concluded that the 26 volumes of evidence compiled by the Warren Commission did precious little to support their (the Warren Commission's) very own conclusion. In other words, there is enough to suggest that there was, and is, doubt, reasonable doubt, as to the conclusion proffered by the Warren Commission. Perhaps the conclusion is right; perhaps it is incomplete; perhaps it is flat-out wrong. I maintain that it is grossly incomplete. Maybe, in the fullness of time, we will be witness to something a bit more dispositive on this issue. But the critical question is will anybody care?

For the intellectually curious, a really good - and accurate - account of the actions of most of the key people on that dark day in Dallas can be found in the pages of The New Republic (21 Dec. 1963, pp. 14-20), in an article by Jack Minnis and Staughton Lynd. It's a damn good read, folks.

As to your essay, you could not be more correct. It was abject failure and neglect in 1963; it is abject failure and neglect now. The critical question is does anyone in this sclerotic entity we call the federal government truly care? Actions always speak louder than words.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.