By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
Only one figure really matters in the first-ever annual report issued by the Secret Service. "Achieved a 100 percent success rate in safe arrivals and departures for all protectees," it says on Page 22. More bluntly: Nobody in its protection was hurt or worse. But the fiscal 2008 annual report, fashioned after those of other agencies, reveals much more, especially how the 2008 presidential election taxed the nation's premier protection and financial policing service.
More than ever before, says a spokesman, the service was on the road protecting presidential candidates and its regular clients—all former presidents, like former President Bush, and their families. The key reason: Because of threats, Barack Obama got protection more than a year before a typical candidate would, and his foe, Hillary Clinton, already had protection as a former first lady. All told, Obama had 517 days of protection compared with his eventual challenger, Sen. John McCain, who received just 157 days. That extra work, plus a higher than normal rate of overseas travel by Bushies, led to a $100 million bump in the agency's budget of $1.4 billion last year. Other details: Nearly 1 million pieces of mail to the White House were screened; 2.8 million people were checked for weapons going into campaign events; visiting dignitaries required protection at 2,100 stops in the United States; and more than 17,000 names of those attending the Democratic and Republican party conventions and presidential debates were subjected to a background check.
Illustration by Ed Wexler for USN&WR
Want your Whispers first? Check out U.S. News Weekly.
View recent political cartoons.
Read more Washington Whispers.