NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Political Correctness in Obama's Secret Service Detail

October 6, 2014

When Omar Gonzalez scaled the White House fence and burst through the front door of the president's residence, the female Secret Service officer guarding the entry was unable to tackle him. Diana Furchtgott-Roth, director of Economics 21, states the problem plainly: "[W]hen it comes to matters of security, President Obama and the public deserve the best. That means political correctness -- appointing less-qualified women for the sake of diversity -- should take a back seat to ability."

Indeed, physical ability standards within the secret service are not gender-neutral, despite the fact that agents of both sexes guard the president. Since 1971, women have served with the agency. Furchtgott-Roth explains how standards diverge based upon gender:

  • The Applicant Physical Abilities Test (APAT) is a physical fitness test that is gender-neutral, consisting of push-ups, sit-ups, and a short and long distance run. It is the first fitness screening mechanism for agents.
  • However, the Secret Service Physical Fitness Evaluation is required every quarter, and women and men are held to entirely different standards.
  • To be scored as "good," men between ages 30 to 39 are required to do between 41 and 49 push-ups in a single minute. They must do eight or nine chin-ups, 39 to 42 sit-ups and a 1.5-mile run in under 12 minutes and 20 seconds.
  • Women, on the other hand, can receive a score of "good" simply by doing 25 to 29 push-ups, three chin-ups and 29 to 34 sit-ups. They have more than 15 minutes to do the 1.5-mile run.

Furchtgott-Roth gives an example: A woman completing the 1.5-mile run in 13:42 would be scored as "excellent." But a man completing the run in that amount of time? He would be rated as "poor."

The disparity is not unique to the Secret Service (the Army and Marine Corps have similar gender-based standards, as do police departments). All of these jobs are critical, and "[w]hen it comes to apprehending criminals, strength matters." By imposing lower standards for women in order to increase a female presence among these forces, the government has produced a security detail that is less capable of doing its job. As it stands now, President Obama's and others' lives are at risk because of the government's focus on political correctness, not fitness and safety.

Source: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, "Political Correctness Endangers President Obama's Life," Economics 21, October 2, 2014. 


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