Politics & Government

Obama administration forms panel to review Secret Service lapses

The Obama administration announced Friday the members of a new panel charged with examining White House security following a recent series of lapses that led to the resignation of the Secret Service director.

The panelists are: Tom Perrelli, former associate attorney general; Mark Filip, former deputy attorney general; Danielle Gray, former Cabinet secretary and assistant to the president; and Joseph Hagin, former White House deputy chief of staff for operations.

“I have full confidence that these distinguished individuals will conduct a fair, thorough and unbiased assessment,” Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said in a statement.

The panel will assess security of the White House compound, submit names of potential new directors of the Secret Service and recommend whether there should be a review of broader issues concerning the Secret Service. The report is due Dec. 15.

Top lawmakers on the House Oversight and Government Reform committee had asked for a independent review of the Secret Service that looks beyond the Sept. 19 security breach in which a man hopped the fence and made it into the White House.

In a letter to Johnson, committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., say a recent committee hearing “raised bipartisan concerns regarding a series of dangerous security breaches that highlighted significant flaws within the Secret Service’s culture.”

The two said committee members expressed worries about a number of “dangerous security breaches over the past several years,” as well as reports of “protocol failures, technology lapses, training reductions, and internal cultural issues that may discourage agents from reporting security concerns to their superiors.”

In their letter, they ask that the panel review not only recent security lapses, “but the full range of management, personnel, training, and cultural issues that contribute to the root causes of these security failures.” It should also look the process by which the Secret Service communicates with Congress, the press, the public and the President “to ensure that information the agency provides is accurate and timely.”

The committee heard through news reports that agency protocols failed during Obama’s recent trip to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta when Obama apparently shared an elevator with a security contractor who was carrying a gun and had three criminal convictions for assault and battery on his record.

Johnson previously announced that Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas would assume control and direction of the ongoing inquiry by the U.S. Secret Service of the fence-jumping incident at the White House on Sept. 19. Mayorkas will complete that review and submit findings to me by Nov. 1, 2014.

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