Is America Really In Safe Hands When Obama Himself Isn't?

The Secret Service has some questions to answer. President Barack Obama last month came within a few feet of an armed man whose rap sheet has three criminal convictions for assault and battery.

Barack Obama

The incident, first reported by The Washington Examiner and The Washington Post, cites unnamed sources and states that during Obama's Sept. 16 visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, he shared an elevator with a private contractor who was carrying a gun with him and has a sizeable history of assaults.

The breach would not have become public knowledge had the said ex-con complied with the Secret Service agents' request of not filming the president while in the elevator. Once Obama exited the scene, the agents ran a security check on the man and were astonished by their findings.

Barack Obama

More embarrassment awaited the agents when the contractor, upon getting fired by his boss for his noncompliance, handed over his gun to his boss. Until then, the team dedicated to keep the president safe was completely oblivious of the man's concealed weapon, as they hadn’t bothered to run their usual screen tests on him.

The Secret Service's negligence regarding Obama's security is nothing new. In a separate incident last month, a knife-carrying man scaled the White House walls and made it to the East Room before agents managed to stop him.

Barack Obama

Back in March, three agents – who had been sent to the Netherlands ahead of the president's visit – were found drunk after a night of hard partying and send back home. The infamous Colombian prostitution scandal of 2012 in which 12 agents were found involved also comes to mind.

Such frequent occurrences have given birth to conspiracy theories online, which sound outlandish at best, but not completely unfounded.

For now, the Secret Service has some explaining to do. It needs to justify its massive $1.80 billion budget, which is up $200 million from last year but hasn't really done anything to decrease the frequency of its blunders.