Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Secrets of the Secret Service, a book review

Secrets of the Secret Service
By Gary J. Byrne
Book Review By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, January 30, 2018

If the title had not already been used, this book could have been titled, “The Secret Service!  The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!”

If history repeats itself and for anyone over the age of 30, we all know that it does, then we could very well expect that a future president will be assassinated or injured by an attack on the president, or a member of the president’s family and/or inner circle or a dignitary being protected by the Secret Service.  The same rule that applies to combating terrorism attempts applies to protecting our president and those around him – those in the various protection details MUST be right 100% of the time; an attacker only once!

Gary Byrne, retired member of The Secret Service has written a very compelling read regarding the Secret Service.  It is NOT just about the service’s secrets, it is about its history both good, bad and outright ugly but mostly the bad and more specifically why it was and remains BAD!  I found the book hard to put down even though I have lived long enough to remember quite a few of the details in the book and knew how they turned out.  It could be equivalent to reading Titantic.  Everyone knows how it ends but few know how it got to the point where the ship was in jeopardy and why so many lost their lives when none of it should have happened in the first place.

Byrne not only identifies where the problems exist and have existed for decades, at the end of the book he outlines his recommendations to improve the service, make it far more efficient, hopefully create a service that actually does protect those they are sworn to protect all while making it far more economical do all of these things and more.  While I personally agree with his recommendations for a “fix”, being a retired military person, I can’t help but feel the people they are expected to protect and the country would be better served if the protection detail(s) were formed out of the best of the best the MILITARY has to offer.  Instead of trying to make a civilian organization operate more like a highly trained military unit, why not take a highly trained military unit and make them appear to the public as though they were civilians by having them wear something other than their military uniforms. 

As Byrne so aptly points out, there are three very different issues to be considered, the problems of the “rank and file”, the problems of mid level manage to upper management and proper financial accountability of taxpayer funds being spent.

I read the book with both interest and personal disgust.  It proves that things are never quite as they first appear.  But in this case, appearances will NOT protect our president of today or of tomorrow if changes are not forthcoming and forthcoming fast before America loses another of its leaders to a mentally deranged assassin.  In this case, “time is a wasting!”  Will Congress ever take any action on Byrne’s recommendations?  That would first depend on whether members of Congress actually read it.  If they do it would be a difficult argument to make as to why THEY WOULDN’T TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION.  If I were Byrne, I would send each active member of Congress and the White House a signed copy of the book if he hasn’t already and ask that they read and study it at least the last chapter where the recommendations appear.  Sadly, you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make it drink and that describes our Congress in a nutshell.

For those readers looking for the inner dealings with various First Families including Presidents, (or in other words the dirt) the book is very interesting.  For anyone that has either lived through the history covered in the book or have “heard” of infractions of some of our presidents, the book has enough meat in it to hold your interest.  A lot of your expectations and/or assumptions will be verified by the book.

Who should read this book?  EVERY AMERICAN!  AND THAT INCLUDES EVERY ELECTED OFFICIAL.  (This is not a partisan issue – it is an issue that if not immediately addressed could adversely affect the safety of elected officials from all political parties.)  Would I but the book as a gift? Not sure.  It is an easy to read book on a complex issue that I fear a lot of people would have no interest in reading about but should, so the answer is probably not.  Would I read it again?  I would definitely read portions of it again but not  cover to cover.

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