Thursday, February 28, 2008

Why Do Secret Service Agents Become Secret Service Agents?

About 35 years ago I had the chance to speak with a criminal justice student who was bar tending at a local yacht club, and received an answer that to this day still surprises me.

He was a cool enough guy to hang out with and had just started work at the club a few weeks earlier. When his shift would end, he'd normally just sit out on the patio waiting for some of us to arrive after having put our sailboats up for the day. A few us had gotten to know him a bit after working hours, while sitting around the club on some warm summer evenings drinking beer. One afternoon while he was pouring us a few beers I asked him "Mark, why is it that you want to become a Secret Service Agent? To protect your country?" His answer surprised not only myself, but the other three people who were sitting at the bar at the time.

He said and I quote "Are you kidding, for $16 grand a year I get to stand next to the President!" At which point another member of our group said "that's true, but you may also end up taking a bullet for him someday. Have you thought about that?" After that the conversation moved on to a more conventional topic.

I refer to this situation simply because I am very curious as to what the average mindset of those who go into US Intelligence is. And while I believe that there are certainly some who have the purist of intentions in mind, many of these candidates appear to be more interested in controlling others and finding an efficient and cost effective way in which to make their vocations their avocations.

Let's face it, you're still a kid and you get to boss everybody around. What's that saying? "Power corrupts and ultimate power corrupts ultimately?" No one knows that better than an out of control US Intel agent and their victims.
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