A secret congressional report has revealed that the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, is facing mounting threats to his life. The threats have gone up by 400 percent from the number of threats levied against former president, George W. Bush, according to the Yahoo! News Blog. It is event more worrisome that the Secret Service is strained by this drastic increase in the threats to President Obama just as the congressional report is questioning the ability of the Secret Service to continue to fulfil its duties.
The internal congressional report was reportedly leaked to the Boston Globe. It said deep budget cuts have also strained the Secret Service.
Some are speculating that the agency may need to relinquish all or part of its roles in protecting the country’s financial machinery in order to focus resources on the protection of the president and other high-profile leaders.
The report, issued in August by the Congressional Research Service, claimed that if “an evaluation of the service’s two missions” were to be done at this time, there’s a good possibility that “it might be determined that it is ineffective…to conduct its protection mission and investigate financial crimes.”
Additionally, an anonymously quoted government official said that many inside the halls of Congress and within the Secret Service itself are questioning whether or not the agency’s effectiveness wouldn’t be enhanced by transferring some of its responsibilities regarding the investigation of financial crimes over to the Treasury Department.
Talking Points Memo noted that Ronald Kessler, the author of a recently released book on the Secret Service’s protection of U.S. presidents, recently said that threats against President Obama are up 400 percent from the number of threats levied against former President George W. Bush, while the size of the agency’s staff has only increased by 5.3 percent.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says that the U.S. has seen a 35 percent rise in hate groups in recent years, and few doubt that the discontent stirred up over the election of an African-American president is fuelling the rise in threats. But, could the influx of modern technology also be to blame?
As the cost of computer technology has fallen (and accessibility to high-speed Internet service has spread), more and more people are spending more and more time online. Accordingly, these people are doing what people often do on the Internet: sending e-mails, communicating in chat rooms and on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, watching YouTube videos, etc. According to results of a recent study by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, these activities seem to be enhancing the scope of extremist groups’ reach:
With over 200 million users, online bigots have to date outpaced efforts to remove them. Some sites have thousands of friends, thus enabling the message of hate to spread virally…This user-generated material increases the viral spread of extremism online and aids in increasing the social acceptability of hate in mainstream discourse. By creating an environment where users are equal participants in the Web, all editorial functions are removed and expressions of hate can easily flow unchallenged.
In other words, extremists once confined to small sects can now congregate on the Internet anonymously and distribute propaganda to millions of people in mere seconds.
People with extreme views can also now communicate direct threats to individuals quicker and more easily than they have previously, thanks to the immediacy of e-mail and chat rooms.
The Secret Service, presently housed under the bureaucratic umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security, was initially established in 1865 to help combat the rise in counterfeiting that took place in that era. The protection of national leaders didn’t become a full-time responsibility until William McKinley was assassinated in 1901.
Congress passed a law in 1917 making any threat against the president a federal crime, and the responsibility of investigating such threats often falls upon the Secret Service. Along with protecting presidents, the agency’s role in policing financial shenanigans was expanded when the 20th century’s technological revolution led to a rise in electronic financial transactions.
It should be noted in all of this, however, that the Secret Service has issued a response in which the agency denied any decreased capacity to carry out its missions, saying that the Boston Globe’s report was “not accurate and lacks a good deal of information.”
Credit, PM NEWS