Layers of Security: a story about safety and bureaucracy

The United States Secret Service is among the most sophisticated security agencies in the world. 

It protects the White House with many layers of extraordinarily serious security measures. (Regular readers here will be forgiven for being reminded of the TSA’s layers.)

Countersnipers take the rooftops. Highly trained agents from the “Prowler” unit work a plainclothes detail outside the fence, using behavior detection techniques to spot and confront suspicious people before they reach the White House perimeter. Special Agents assigned to the Counter Assault Team (CAT) respond to security threats wherever they happen, and are always ready to “lay down an unbelievable amount of suppressive fire.”

Officers on the Uniformed Division’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) provide the SWAT-equivalent on the White House grounds, armed to the teeth to confront intruders with serious stopping power. Attack dogs, uniformed officers, plainclothes special agents: the Secret Service is damn serious business.

Last week, though, an intruder jumped the White House fence, sprinted across the lawn, and managed to enter the North Portico before being stopped. He actually made it inside the president’s house. Imagine if a suicide bomber had done such a thing.

Perhaps some of the $8 billion spent on the TSA every year for security theater could be diverted to actual security — you know, like instead of confiscating Terroristy Toothpaste and peanut butter from innocent passengers at airports maybe our security overlords could concern themselves with actual threats, such as preventing intruders from getting into the White House.

In any case, in the wake of that incident, the Secret Service has announced the commencement of a new security measure to protect the White House:

They’re going to start locking the front door.