It was tweeted this afternoon from the official Secret Service Twitter account and subsequently deleted by its author. But Twitter has no mercy … delete can only delete if no eyes ever saw it in the first place. Unfortunately for one Secret Service employee, eyes saw it.
I called the Secret Service Office of Public Affairs to ask for a comment. I asked the question and almost immediately after identifying myself, was transferred to the voice mail of spokesman Robert Novy. Luckily, Jake Tapper had already reached the office and received an official statement:
“An employee with access to the Secret Service’s Twitter account, who mistakenly believed they were on their personal account, posted an unapproved and inappropriate tweet,” Special Agent in Charge Edwin M. Donovan said in a statement to ABC News. “The tweet did not reflect the views of the U.S. Secret Service and it was immediately removed. We apologize for this mistake, and the user no longer has access to our official account. “
My first question was, ‘why is the Secret Service monitoring FOX News in the first place’? But then I realized that such agencies monitor news outlets all the time – if they didn’t, they wouldn’t know which person in Congress just said something stupid that might prompt a foreign entity, or perhaps terrorists, to get really pissed at us. And for other generally harmless reasons, too, of course. It’s their public affairs staff doing the monitoring. And besides, it’s Twitter. We all know, Twitter is a public sandbox – you get in and play, and anyone can see you, and play with you.
I will admit however, I was slightly irked when I saw this in Jake Tapper’s report:
“Asked why the employee was monitoring Fox News Channel, Donovan said, “Our public affairs employees monitor all the news channels throughout the day for stories that effect the Secret Service.”
Asked which story this employee was focused on, Donovan said “I don’t know.”
“I don’t know” is not exactly an encouraging answer. Not the end of the world … but hey, a real answer would have been nice. Am I surprised that a federal agency employee is bashing FOX News? No, of course not. I was surprised though, as was most everyone else, to see anyone at the Secret Service actually vocalizing that opinion in a tweet. Yes, in a tweet. (Somehow, the words “Secret Service” and “tweet” don’t really seem to go together).
There are so many more angles I could cover on this, but I’ll leave those to the rest of you in the peanut gallery to offer up.
I myself started following @SecretService recently, after an announcement that the official agency account had been established on Twitter and would soon begin tweeting public announcements in the upcoming weeks. Tweets finally began going out just last week. When I tweeted about this earlier, most were bothered by it, rightly so. But I received a few tweets like this one:
Well, allow me to answer that. I assumed that it was exactly what the Secret Service office says was the circumstance – that a user with access to the account accidentally tweeted from it, thinking he/she was logged into his/her personal Twitter account. Sure, yes, we all do it, whether it’s Twitter or something else. But not all of us work for the Secret Service.
Which brings me to my final point. The majority of employees with the Secret Service are top-notch individuals. I know several myself. You cannot find more stand-up folks. But if just one individual in this agency – whether an agent, an IT person, an admin person, or even a receptionist – cannot keep track of multiple Twitter accounts, then a larger problem exists here. I don’t think I need to elaborate a whole lot on why that’s a problem, do I?
Let’s also keep in mind that it only takes one silly mistake from a single employee cause a blemish on an entire agency. (By the way…did we ever really get to the bottom of the Salahi fiasco?)