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    Too Tired to Protect the President? Secret Service Asleep on the Job

    © AFP 2019 / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI
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    A formal warning about overworking employees is said to be on its way to the United States Secret Service by a federal watchdog group, which recently found two agents asleep at their posts.

    The Washington Post reported Thursday that the inspector general is expected to issue an alert to Service management about the findings at some point this week.

    The formal warning by the group indicates the problem is so severe that it must be addressed immediately by senior management.

    The audit was launched in relation to an incident in September 2014, when a man managed to jump the White House fence.  Finally, this August, the Department of Homeland Security stopped by to check on things, and that is when they reportedly found the sleeping agents.

    Secret Service leaders, however, are strongly opposing the IG’s conclusion about the Service demanding too much from its employees. 

    They told the Post that one of the sleeping men had taken cold medicine which made him drowsy, and that the other one appeared to have a very full schedule, but had slept while flying back on a military plane from Kenya following Obama’s Africa visit.

    The agents themselves seem to disagree, however, with many complaining about being forced to work on their days off due to staffing shortages.

    In January, a quadrocopter drone manned by a drunk off-duty government worker landed on the lawn of the White House, causing a two-hour lockdown until the case of the mystery drone was resolved.  The non-hostile invasion caused the Secret Service to step up their game, and for several weeks their drones took over the sky to test strategies for fending off possible hostile drone intrusions.

    In May, another man was arrested after flying his drone in a park.  His small black and red drone — that was not much larger than a brick — was seized and the area was swept by police until it was deemed safe.  The man was turned over to the US Park Police as the White House went into lockdown for about an hour.

    In June, the White House was locked down once again as another drone was spotted nearby.

    Less than two weeks ago, still another drone crashed near the White House.

    Agents now have hand-held air missiles, and are working on counter-measures that would zap electronic components inside of drones with electromagnetic waves — but even these are likely to be ineffective while the agents are taking naps.

    Repeated security breaches have led to increased scrutiny of the agency and their ability to protect government officials.  In December, an independent panel suggested that the agency hire 85 more agents and 200 more officers.

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    Tags:
    Barack Obama, Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security, White House, Washington, DC
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