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"Zero Fail": Carol Leonnig's Unsettling New Book Reveals Deep Problems In The US Secret Service

Carol leonnig is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter with the Washington Post (photo (c) by Marvin Joseph)
Carol Leonnig is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter with the Washington Post (photo (c) by Marvin Joseph)

For more than 150 years, the U.S. Secret Service has protected Presidents and their families, other government officials, and visiting dignitaries. Originally housed in the Treasury Department, agents in field offices across the country also investigate financial crimes like counterfeiting.

In her best-selling new book, Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service, award-winning Washington Postreporter Carol Leonnig writes about the agency’s struggle to operate amid what she observes is a unique set of contradictions. With vivid detail and trenchant insight, Leonnig notes that those contradictions, coupled with years of flawed management and a longstanding frat-boy culture have led to problems-a-plenty at this once storied agency, which has recently been ranked as the most hated places to work in the federal government.

If the Secret Service isn’t functioning optimally, the ramifications for democracy and governmental stability are significant.

Penguin Random House Publishers

Carol Leonnig’s book is the product of interviews with nearly 200 current and former Secret Service agents and supervisors, lawmakers and government officials spanning eight presidential administrations, and it is informed by the invaluable insight Leonnig has gained since she first started covering the Service for the Post in 2012. Her account is often chilling, as she reports on an agency that has had more than a few close calls, and which is woefully in need of technological modernization and a fundamental cultural change.

Carol Leonnig joins us on our digital line from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

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