Protecting president provided perspective

Dan Bongino, former Secret Service member of President Obama’s Personal Protection Detail was in Northwest Florida this past weekend to speak. Bongino, 41, is a former New York City police officer, a federal agent who worked financial crimes for the Secret Service and then became assigned to the Personal Protection Detail for presidents Bush and Reagan.  He left after 12 years with the Secret Service, running for both U.S. Senate and Congress in Maryland and coming very close to an upset in the congressional race. Bongino is a frequent radio talk show guest and sometime host who is often consulted by major news networks for his unique law enforcement perspective and is currently the author of two best-selling books.  His first book, “Life Inside the Bubble: Why a Top-Ranked Secret Service Agent Walked Away from It All,” was a New York Times best-seller.  His latest book, “The Fight: A Secret Service Agent’s Inside Account of Security Failings and the Political Machine” is one of the fastest selling law enforcement book on Amazon.

Bongino’s bachelor and master’s degrees in psychology and neuropsycholgy made him an ideal selectee when it came to analyzing individuals making personal threats on the president. He completed his MBA from Penn State while he was working on President Obama’s Secret Service detail.” I remember taking a final in Trinidad and I was sick as a dog – it was probably the most challenging thing workload-wise I’ve ever done in my life: balancing work, school and being a dad,” Bongino said.

Bongino’s book is a page-turner that calls out the alphabet soup of law enforcement agencies along with intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISR) entities for their protectionism stance, promoting duplication and waste as the country runs out of time and money to rectify them – despite a growing terrorism threat and the rise of attacks by geopolitical enemies. “All of this contributes to the federal leviathan, a federal government so large and obtrusive that it creates more harm than good at times,” he writes.

“The Fight” offers a unique cornucopia of guidance and perspective for those contemplating a political candidacy, citing specific examples of practices corrupting our political process and damaging the public trust.

It advocates for harsher punishments for public servants who violate that trust. “I can attest to the power of handcuffs ….but the loss of freedom is the only thing that will change this type of ruling-class behavior.”  He encourages readers to “Get Big” and to continue the fight to preserve America and our liberties.

Navarre Press spoke to Bongino Saturday. He is an imposing figure in stature. Secret Service agents assigned to protection details are taught to “Get Big,” according to his latest book. Bongino is already big at a power-lifting 6 feet 1 inch, so his “big” must have been truly hulkish combined with a very thick IIIA bullet-proof vest which can stop anything from a rifle bullet or shotgun slug, his Sig Sauer firearm and communications equipment.

He spoke naturally, extemporaneously and articulately to an excited audience Saturday night, some who had traveled from as far away as Virginia to hear him speak about growing up extremely poor in Queens, N.Y., dreaming about Raisin Bran at night because he was hungry. For a man who has been within a hair’s length of three presidents, protecting them around the world during diplomatic travels to places such as Panama, Columbia, Turkey, Russia, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Italy and Afghanistan, Bongino is humble, affable and approachable. This is the man who with one radio call, scrambled a fighter jet to clear the closed airspace over Martha’s Vineyard when a private pilot failed to respond to numerous directions to steer clear of the area where President Obama was vacationing.

One wonders if it weren’t an advantageous kismet that Bongino’s

political quests for U.S. Senate (2012) and Congress (2014) were unsuccessful because his fierce independence, vision and outspokenness most likely would not have been appreciated within those confines. In both of his books, Bongino gives credit where it’s due. He lauds the members of the Secret Service for their dedication and willingness to sacrifice themselves for the president while identifying the primary importance of his family whose “love fuels his fire”.

Q: Why did you want to join the Secret Service when you were already a New York City policeman?

A: The mission is pretty pure, an unquestioned moral compass pointing in the right direction.  You die protecting the president.  I think the men and women are good people with good hearts. No reasonable person can say these personnel aren’t doing the right thing – what a job, sacrificing yourself first.

Q: What qualifications do you think most enabled you to be selected as a federal agent?

A: I never did the most pull-ups, push-ups. The academic portion though, I finished No. 2 out of 48 and finished right at the top of MBA school.  I was always hungry and disciplined and it made me an attractive prospect for the PPD which is a very militaristic lifestyle.  The men and women I worked with had a rigorous, hard-working regimented lifestyle.

Q: What academic background and training would you recommend for those high-school and college-students who one day aspire to be a Secret Service agent and maybe event protect the president?

A: Don’t go into criminal justice – I was also a recruiter. There’s a misconception that it’s necessary for federal law enforcement (FBI, DEA and Secret Service) but there are too many people you are competing with. Plus you must have a clean background to qualify for the Top Secret SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information) security clearance.

The best academic areas of interest for you if you are looking to be a federal agent are: engineering, accounting, a difficult-to-find foreign language (Mandarin, Arabic, Farsi, and Russian) and law.  MBAs who have a specialty in finance can read print outs, quarterly and annual reports of publicly traded companies, cash- flow statements, assets, liabilities and derivatives – this is very important in the financial- crimes arena.

Q: What was the most exciting part of being a Secret Service agent on the Personal Protection Detail for the president?

A: Definitely the travel. You get to represent the White House – especially in countries which have a history of despotism and tyranny. Sometimes they deal with you rather than the staff. One official told me, “Listen, you guys have the guns. He who has the guns has the power.”

Q: What was the downside or the most disappointing part?

A: The  bureaucracy. You would think that something like protection of the president with the mission being so pure, it would be kept to a minimum. The Secret Service has problems with unnecessary red tape, hidden agendas, and it’s tough to get around. There is a good old girls and good old boys network and it’s a cabal and difficult to break up. I think they’re headed in the right direction but there are still a lot of improvements needed. There are no second chances in the Secret Service. If you don’t get your man the first time; if you blow it, the president is dead and the country is in turmoil. This isn’t true with other federal agencies such as the DEA, FBI or the ATF.

Q: What brought you to settle in Florida?

A: My family, it comes first. They’ve allowed me to run for office and it’s their turn now.

Q: You’ve been in the Secret Service, run for U.S. Senate and Congress, are the author of two best-selling books, what are your future plans now?

A: To change the world in whatever small way I can. I don’t have an answer because every day, things change.  I thought running for office might bring about a better tomorrow. Now I’m finding I’ve attracted quite an audience with my writing and social media and thousands of people are listening. I am absolutely committed to fighting for principles which I do daily at Renegade Republican at 11 a.m. via podcast at conservativereview.com, or find me on ITunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Losing the country and it’s happening in front of our very eyes. As the Communists used to say, they like to recruit “useful idiots” to help them and there are folks from the far-left activist wing being accomplices to the loss of their own liberties, believing that the government is going to answer all their prayers.

Q: What do you feel are the most important challenges for our country right now?

A: It’s important that we understand we should be “trading up” in the quality of our politicians at every opportunity. Making golden calves out of politicians – people are sinners just like you and I. Don’t ever forget that.

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