Secret Service Agents
Jude Wanniski
July 20, 1998

 

Memo To:Justice Antonin Scalia
From: Jude Wanniski
Re:  Secret Service Agents

Iím no expert in Constitutional matters, but it does bother me that the Secret Service agents are being required to testify before a federal grand jury about what they have observed in the process of protecting the President. Obviously, if they had observed the President breaking the law, we assume they immediately would have called the cops, so to speak. Ipso facto, they are being asked to tell what they know about the visible action around the President. From their testimony, Ken Starr obviously hopes to construct a web of circumstantial evidence that will leave not the slightest doubt that the President has committed felonious deeds.

Now I submit the President is in a uniques position. He  is our only President, and the people of the country have gone to great trouble to select him for the highest office in the land. This means it is in the national interest that the President be watched as closely as possible in order to protect him from damage. The Secret Service does not act on behalf of the President, but on behalf of the people. I could easily imagine that if I were President of the United States, I would -- if I could -- disengage from the smothering attention of the Secret Service. If I did sneak out of the White House to take a stroll, as Abe Lincoln did back then, the polity would become very upset with me. We do not want our Presidents killed by assasins.

This being the case, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth that Chief Justice Rehnquist decided that the agents had to feed the request of the Special Prosecutor for contributions to his web of circumstantial evidence.  It does not impress me in the slightest that former Presidents Ford and Carter said they didnít think anything of it, that they would happily permit their Secret Service agents the liberty of yapping to grand juries about what they saw and when they saw it. They obviously did not think about the consequences of this precedent to future Presidents Ford and Carter, but more or less patted themselves on the back in a way meant to suggest there were no naked ladies in the Oval Office on their watch. Know what I mean?

My conservative friends, especially those who are always advocating a strict interpretation of the Constitution, appear to be so eager to hear what the agents say about what they saw and when they saqw it that they are either cheering the Rehnquist decision or staying mum. I stayed mum, until today, because I really, really believed this idea would be pitched out by the Supreme Court. It saddens me that weíve come to this juncture. My assumption is that the Secret Service will say this or that and there will be some result, helping or harming the President. Iím now rooting for him. But thatís not why Iím writing you this memo, and posting it on my website for others to read. I just want to get this off my chest, knowing you would take me seriously, as you always have. I donít think we can require the President to be watched like a hawk, and then require his watchers to squeal on him to the cops.