Fired Secret Service director's strategy for the agency: "We need to be more like Disney World"

Whole lotta lefty hacks out there today grumbling that the axe fell quickly for Julia Pierson only because she’s a woman. Supposedly, there’s a “glass cliff” phenomenon at work in which women executives are brought in to clean up a man’s mess and then, if they haven’t done it in some impossibly limited timeframe, they’re unfairly purged. Three problems with that. One: Per Ian Tuttle, Pierson wasn’t the first choice for the job last year. A man, former agent David O’Connor, was. Setting up Pierson for sexist reasons to take the fall for a hopeless salvage operation must have been the White House’s Plan B, I guess.

Two: Pierson wasn’t some outsider airlifted into the Secret Service and expected to somehow learn the ropes and turn the agency around in 18 months. She’s been a VIP there for years. She was chief of staff to the previous director, who oversaw the prostitution scandal in Colombia and the 2011 fiasco in which the agency covered up the fact that shots were fired at the White House. She was head of the agency when Omar Gonzalez made his mad dash into the East Room through multiple layers of security last month. The point of the bombshells that have been dropping in WaPo and other media outlets the past week is that the entire management culture inside the USSS has rotted to the point where agents are overworked, reckless, and afraid to tell their superiors about mishaps for fear of being punished. (Said one former agent to WaPo, “replacing the director will not be effective unless the entire upper management is replaced.”) Well, Pierson’s been part of the upper echelon of that culture since Obama took office. The fact that the White House didn’t find out about the security scare at the CDC until yesterday means she was either woefully ill informed about what was happening inside her agency or actively engaged in hiding threats to the president from the president himself. Rather than whine about a “glass cliff,” why not complain that he should have looked beyond the rot for his next director?

Three: She was, allegedly, prone to saying and doing stuff like this.

In her 18 months in charge, Pierson also became the subject of derision among some lower-level agents for accommodating the White House staff’s wishes for less-cumbersome security over the warnings of her tactical teams.

In the spring, Pierson was irate at what she considered the excessive security measures her team had planned for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which Obama hosted this summer, demanding that it dismantle extra layers of fencing and reopen closed streets, according to two agency supervisors. Supervisors who had mapped out the security plan said they were taken aback when Pierson, who worked during high school at Walt Disney World as a costumed character and park attendant, said: “We need to be more like Disney World. We need to be more friendly, inviting.”

[T]his week, Pierson personally ordered that a downtown Washington street be left open near a hotel where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was staying. Secret Service teams have insisted on the closure for years because Netanyahu is considered one of the most sought-after international targets. But the director agreed to changes because of D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s concern that the street’s closure during an earlier visit caused severe gridlock, said a spokesman for Gray (D).

Imagine if jihadis had sprung a trap on Bibi Netanyahu in downtown D.C. made possible by the fact that Pierson had told underlings she wanted the agency to be more “inviting.” WaPo doesn’t say so, but I wonder if that’s also why the alarm boxes inside the White House, which reportedly annoyed the ushers there, were muted. Come to think of it, I wonder if that’s why agents opted not to fire at Gonzalez while he was barreling towards and ultimately through the White House. A Disneyfied security detail wouldn’t reach for its guns lightly, I’d imagine, even if there’s an intruder headed straight for the stairway that would take him up to the president’s private quarters.

Via RCP, here’s Chris Matthews wondering if Obama’s habit of choosing longstanding deputies at federal agencies to fill vacancies at the top isn’t a sign of “laziness,” the sort of criticism that would have had him babbling about racial “dog whistles” had it come from a right-winger. Say this much for O, at least: After choosing poor leaders like Shinseki and Sebelius to lead his administration, he didn’t make any exceptions for the agency in charge of his own security. He’s egalitarian when it comes to incompetence.