The United States Secret Service--the law enforcement agency responsible for protecting the president and the White House--had a critical role to play in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Various accounts, however, reveal that it was inexplicably slow to react to the crisis that day. Secret Service agents only appear to have acted with the kind of urgency we might reasonably expect more than 45 minutes after the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center and more than 30 minutes after the second plane crashed.
The Secret Service's slow response meant some high-level individuals the agency was responsible for protecting were allowed to remain at unsafe locations throughout much of the duration of the attacks, and so could have been killed or seriously injured if their locations had been targeted.
The Secret Service was also alarmingly slow to protect the White House--a building considered a likely target for terrorists--which meant the people there, including some key government officials, were left in danger throughout the attacks. It only ordered the evacuation of the White House about an hour after the attacks began.
In this article, as well as examining the Secret Service's apparent failure to adequately protect the White House on September 11, we will look at the experiences of three individuals--Vice President Dick Cheney, his wife, Lynne Cheney, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice--and consider how the Secret Service appears to have failed to sufficiently protect them.