Ever since the first Black president was elected in the United States, there have been fears about those sinister forces at work that could put a damper on the historical feat and harm the president’s security. The recent scandal linking Secret Service agents to prostitutes in Colombia has only intensified questions about whether all is being done to keep the president safe.
While President Obama's election is a sign of progress the country has made on the race relations front, there are still elements who would relish spoiling the celebration. Following the 2008 election, I distinctly remember speaking with older relatives who were alive during some of the nation’s most harrowing moments. The skepticism they harbor is anchored by the gut-wrenching memories of assassins who cut short the lives of luminaries such as Martin Luther King and President John F. Kennedy. They know all too well how a momentary lapse, or even the smallest misstep, can open the door for those who would do harm.
During a time when the Trayvon Martin case has brought new attention to the dangers that average Black citizens walking the streets face, it appears that not even the commander in chief’s safety is certain in today’s uneasy climate.
Congressman Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, has echoed many of the concerns of his constituents. During a recent interview with CNN, he said, “People have said to me, if they would try to kill President Reagan, I know they would do some harm to this president.”
He added, “The Secret Service is an organization which I put on the level of the Navy Seals, and I don’t want anyone to think that they can pierce the armor of the Secret Service."
The administration has tactfully refrained from making premature comments about the ongoing investigation. White House spokesman Jay Carney affirmed the president’s supports for the protective agency, saying, “The president does have faith in the Secret Service, and high regard for the agency and the job that they do protecting him, his family, protecting his predecessors.”
Still, a conclusive investigation about what went wrong is of the utmost importance. What if the alleged interaction between the prostitutes and the agents compromised confidential information about the administration or the president’s whereabouts? This is a heated election season, and the stakes are at their highest. The security of the president, especially an African-American one, needs to be a national priority.
Members of Congress will have a chance to question Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about the Secret Service next week in an attempt to get to the bottom of this infraction. But I’m not sure that the probe will be able to erase the shadow of doubt about the president’s security.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)