Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dinner in honor of Ron Kessler by Christina Wilke, The Hill

Author Ron Kessler on the 'trouble' with the Secret Service

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December 8, 2009, 10:32 am by Christina Wilkie
Best-selling author Ron Kessler spoke about his new book, "In the President's Secret Service," at a dinner Monday at Teatro Goldoni hosted by publicist Janet Donovan, "Georgetown Dish" publisher Beth Solomon, and Hogan & Hartson lawyer Christine Warnke.

The guest list reflected a broad spectrum of D.C. media personalities, ranging from Fox News Channel's homeland security correspondent, Catherine Herridge, to social chronicler Pamela Sorensen of Pamela's Punch.

Kessler's in-depth look at the executive protection agency was released early this fall and rose to the top of the non-fiction bestseller lists; but little could have prepared him for "Crashergate."

Ever since the White House state dinner security breach on Nov. 24, Kessler (pictured here with his wife, Pam Kessler) has appeared nearly non-stop on cable TV talk shows, sharing his observations on how the culture and management of the Secret Service might have contributed to the security breakdown.

Kessler told ITK he doesn't think individual agents are to blame for the Salahi breach; rather, it's a Service-wide culture that glorifies restraint, frugality and stoicism, even if sometimes it comes at the expense of a  mission. "The trouble is that the agents are admirable, but the management is derelict," he explained.

Can the battered Secret Service be restored to its former glory? Kessler believes it can, but only through a major shake-up at the highest levels. One person Kessler thinks might be able to set the U.S.S.S. back on track is the  director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert Mueller, who is set to retire from his post in two years. "They need an outsider," said Kessler. "Someone with fresh blood to inject into the operation."