ACCORDING TO A forthcoming book by the journalist Chris Whipple, an advance copy of which was obtained by The Independent, Joe Biden is distrustful of his own Secret Service security detail for at least two reasons, one comical and one a bit less so. The comical one is that he simply does not believe his dog, Major, is as naughty as has been reported. Major supposedly bit an agent in the private residence section of the White House last March. But Biden does not think all the details add up:
Mr Biden expressed his concerns to a friend while he was giving a tour of the White House family quarters. The president reportedly pointed to the alleged location of the biting — on the second floor of the executive mansion — and told the friend: “Look, the Secret Service are never up here. It didn’t happen”.
He added that Mr Biden thought “somebody was lying … about the way the incident had gone down”.
Major is also supposed to have bitten someone else a month or so later, so this is not exactly airtight proof of Secret Service perfidy. But there is also the other thing, which is a bit more serious than a dog bite. It seems that the Secret Service suspiciously destroying text messages its agents sent on January 5 and 6, 2021, has also made the president a little leery about the sympathies of the people tasked with protecting him. According to Whipple, “the president no longer spoke freely” in front of Secret Service agents.
For a man like Joe Biden, not speaking freely seems like an act that would take extraordinary willpower, so this is indeed a harsh assessment. But it’s not an unjustified one, considering that Secret Service agents have done things like write salacious (and factually dubious) books about the Clintons and basically repeatedly almost got Barack Obama and his family in serious danger due to bizarre security lapses. (Do you remember the guy that shot the White House with a semiautomatic rifle and no one noticed for a few days until a housekeeper found broken glass?)
Then there is just the general demographic makeup of the Secret Service, which is reflected in the reported fealty of the Trump detail to the former president: They are, as you might expect from a bunch of white former cop types, MAGA guys.
This is, it seems to me, a problem for Joe Biden that should go beyond not speaking freely in front of them. And it’s a problem that might be familiar to other Democratic Party elected officials in much lower offices. Joe Biden has the same cop problem that many big city mayors face: They are his political enemies and reject his legitimacy. Ask Bill de Blasio what happens when you can’t trust your cops! (Well, don’t ask him, he didn’t do anything about it.)
This is the sort of obvious outcome of making an entire federal branch into the Cop Branch of the government, which is more or less what happened when the Department of Homeland Security was created and consumed agencies in charge of things like presidential protection and border control. And now it turns out that the cop agency has an organized far-right extremist infiltration problem, which should surprise no one who knows anything about the history of cops and organized far-right extremists.
Like a big city mayor dealing with an unaccountable police force, the Biden administration seems a bit scared to actually exercise its political authority to clean house in these agencies, even if it manages to force out a few administrators. But, you know, it does seems like it will eventually become a problem if the cop agency charged with protecting the president is just allowed to be a stronghold of far right sympathies. That sort of thing typically doesn’t end well.
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