Former Secret Service Agent Dishes On Clinton White House In Book
A former Secret Service agent is stirring controversy with his new memoir that leaks details about former President Bill Clinton. News outlets, from the Washington Examiner to Fox News and The Washington Post, are abuzz over the following remarks Dan Emmett made in his self-published memoir:
• He describes Clinton's staff, which was much younger than that of predecessor George H.W. Bush, as immature and defiant. They treated their White House gigs as "a grand cool adventure," he writes, and agents like himself as the "hired help."
• On a 1993 trip, Clinton insisted on walking the "Bridge of No Return" that separates North and South Korea, endangering his own life and the fragile peace between the two nations for "a pointless photo op."
• He also implies that Hillary Clinton is aloof. At one point, he notes in his book that one time Bill and Chelsea said "thank you" after exiting the presidential limousine, while Hilary was "silent."
The Secret Service understandably isn't thrilled with the book.
"We do stress to all our employees the importance of not sharing anecdotes about the personal, private moments of the protectees," Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told the Washington Examiner. "It causes concern because we don't want to erode the trust we have with our protectees."
Emmett, who has protected three presidents over 21 years, says that's a "standard comment that they give to the media any time," and may be issued again soon, when John F. Kennedy's Secret Service agent and Emmett's personal hero, Clint Hill, releases his own memoir next month. In fact, Emmett says that he deliberately held back salacious detail.
"I sent President Clinton the book," he said. "I hope he's not offended by it."
Emmett admits that he bashed Clinton's staff. "It's characteristic of a lot of Democratic presidents to bring in a lot of young people and give them a chance, their friends, or their friends' kids," Emmett says. "They're not on time. They don't make meetings. They can be defiant."
But he also says that Clinton's staff matured over time, as they learned the workings of the White House and the value of the Secret Service. He also emphasizes that those comments weren't at all about Clinton himself. "These were his young staffers," he said. "A lot of the time the president doesn't even know who they are."
When it comes to that photo of Clinton on the border of North Korea, Emmett says that he didn't intend his remark as a criticism of Clinton. "His golly gee whiz staff probably thought it would be a good photo op."
More significant is what this so-called "tell all" doesn't tell. Emmett excluded hundreds of juicy anecdotes, because Secret Service agents "afford the president two courtesies," he says, "we'll sacrifice our lives for him, and we don't talk about that stuff."
Emmett, who ran with the president in the mornings and guarded his bedroom door at night, probably could have dished a lot about the man who supposedly recruited state troopers to arrange sexual liaisons. "If you want those kinds of anecdotes," he says, "read Kessler's book," referring to Ronald Kessler's controversial expose about the Secret Service.
"If the Clintons read my book, they'll probably think, 'Why is anyone even making a big deal about this?' I didn't talk about Monica, or Whitewater, or Paula Jones."
Emmett, who was raised on "academics, God, and patriotism," may not have agreed with Clinton's politics. But that would never affect his commitment to guarding him, if need be with his life. It wasn't really about the man at all, he says, but about preserving the office he occupied.
"If the president gets killed, it's damaging to the country," Emmett says. "It has ramifications throughout the world."
Emmett also didn't disclose a lot of inside details because he worried it would endanger national security. There's been a lot of media scrutiny into the Secret Service in recent years, including two TV series, "Secrets of the Secret Service" and "Secret Service Secrets."
"They showed motorcade tactics and the schematics of the president's limousine, and what kinds of weapons the armor could withstand," he said. "It's just totally insane in my mind."
While these details may not be a problem, he says, "if you collect enough pieces, and put them together, you have a plan," he said. "And these assassins, these terrorists, they plan."
He wasn't going to take any chances with his own book, which he's sure al Qaeda has already read.
Emmett never wanted to leak a secret or make a partisan jab, because he would never want to entangle himself in what he calls "the mess of Washington." He may have worked for the government for his entire career, but "I never thought I was working for the government," he says. "I was working for America."
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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