Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dinner in honor of Ron Kessler by Nikki Schwab, Yeas & Nays


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Secret Service cutting corners, spilling secrets

By: Nikki Schwab and Tara Palmeri
Washington Examiner
12/09/09 6:00 PM EST

Journalist Ronald Kessler said he wasn't surprised when it was discovered that two wannabe socialites had slipped through the Secret Service to attend last month's state dinner.
"I had been expecting a major calamity for a long time," said the author of "In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect."
While researching the project, Kessler was able to get agents to talk about what he viewed as "corner cutting" at the agency, starting when it became part of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003, and got them to reveal a handful of anecdotes about the current president.
For one, President Obama is no quitter.
"He's continued to smoke on a regular basis," Kessler revealed to Yeas & Nays and a handful of other Washington journalists gathered at K Street restaurant Teatro Goldoni on Monday night. The president has said he's "95 percent" cured of his smoking habit.
Also, the now-president secretly met with his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., smack in the middle of the controversy surrounding the preacher's inflammatory rhetoric. Agents purposely drove Obama to the meeting in a minivan instead of his regular Suburban so they would go unnoticed, Kessler's book notes.
But for Kessler, the Washington correspondent for, the juiciest and scariest stuff still comes down to security. In one instance, Kessler said, the Secret Service didn't use magnetometers on the full crowd for an appearance by Vice President Biden.
His take-away: "I can't imagine anything more shocking," he said. "It's like letting passengers into an airplane without metal detection."