A Department of Homeland Security review of the Secret Service’s handling of a White House fence jumper in September reveals ‘a comedy of errors’ by the agency charged with protecting the president of the United States, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee said.
‘The Department of Homeland Security’s review of the mid-September security breach at the White House reads as a comedy of errors by the U.S. Secret Service and confirms that fundamental reform is needed to improve both the security of the White House grounds and staff training,’ House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said Thursday. ‘This report makes clear that everything that could have gone wrong that evening did.’
On Sept. 19, a man identified as Omar Gonzalez scaled the White House exterior fence and ran across the north front lawn. The report, first reported Thursday by The New York Times, said the the intruder could have been apprehended by a Secret Service officer who was stationed on the White House North Lawn with an attack dog. However, the officer didn’t see the fence jumper because he was sitting in his van and talking on his cell phone.
Among the other errors: Some officers couldn’t see the fence jumper because of construction on the White House grounds; officers wrongly assumed that thick bushes on the grounds would impede intruders; and officers incorrectly assumed that the White House door was locked.
‘Inadequate training, poor communication, and lax physical security at the White House led to this breach,’ Goodlatte said. ‘The Department’s review underscores the need for a thorough review of the agency’s protective mission and makes next week’s House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on the Secret Service even more critical.’