The president's security is in the very best of hands

The Secret Service lied about how far the fence jumper, Omar Gonzalez, penetrated their security at the White House. Initial reports said the Iraq War vet got only as far as the front door. But Congressman Jason Chaffetz, whose subcommittee will be holding hearings today on the incident and the overall state of the Secret Service says the intruder ran through the first floor of the White House into the East Room after overpowering the one guard at the front door.

New York Times:

The hearing is set to focus on a series of security embarrassments over the last several years, including a breach that occurred when a couple crashed a state dinner in 2009, a 2011 incident when bullets struck the White House, scandals involving drinking and prostitution on overseas trips in 2012 and 2013, and 16 separate cases of people scaling the White House fence in the last five years. Ms. Pierson became director in 2013.

According to a law enforcement official briefed on the current investigation, uniformed Secret Service officers at the White House failed to follow several of the agency’s protocols. Although the protocols call for an officer to be standing outside the North Portico door, there was no officer there as Mr. Gonzalez made his way up the steps. The officer who was stationed inside the door failed to lock it after an alarm was sounded that someone had jumped over the fence, the official said.

“At all times there is supposed to be someone at the outside and the inside of the door,” the official said. “The intruder was running so fast that he gets right past the woman who didn’t lock the door. She tries to catch him, and eventually she and another officer tackle the man to the ground, but by that time he was pretty far in.”

OK, so I'm a sexist pig, but what in God's name is the Secret Service thinking by assigning the first line of defense of the president's life to one female? The fact that she was "overpowered" says that either she was taken by surprise - which is what the Secret Service is saying -  or she was simply unable to deal with the speed, the bulk, and the strength of a male intruder.

It's true that even a  smaller defender can overcome a considerable disadvantage in size and bulk of an attacker if they are well trained. Will anyone at that hearing ask the question that needs to be asked; was the female agent assigned to that prestigious post because of her sex or because she was as capable as a man in defending the life of the president?

It has been unheard of in recent decades for an intruder to force his way into the White House, even if only a few steps inside what is supposed to be one of the most secure buildings in the world. Officials in Washington were stunned that Mr. Gonzalez was able to pass by the staircase that leads to the White House family quarters and get as far as the East Room, the ballroom where the cellist Pablo Casals played for President John F. Kennedy and where President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden.

Mr. Chaffetz said that Mr. Gonzalez ran from the north front of the White House into the Entrance Hall and then into the 80-foot-long East Room, where he was finally stopped by Secret Service officers at a Green Room entrance near the south side of the mansion. The Obama family was not home at the time.

In addition, Mr. Chaffetz said a system designed to alert agents that a breach of security was in progress apparently did not work as intended, allowing Mr. Gonzalez to surprise the officer at the door. Mr. Chaffetz said that he was told the “crash box” had been silenced or muted at the request of White House ushers, who had complained the boxes were too noisy.

“It’s an astounding set of facts,” said Representative Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia, a Democratic member of the committee. “It just boggles the imagination and is deeply destabilizing in terms of public confidence in the Secret Service and how it is carrying out its mission.”

Getting back to the female agent being "surprised" at the intrusion, what was she doing immediately prior to the incident? Shouldn't a presidential bodyguard be alert at all times? Is that too much to ask?

Being "surprised" is no excuse. Muting the alarms is idiotic. Placing only one guard at such a vulnerable point is  dumbfounding. When the Secret Service was attached to the Treasury Department, they were a semi-independent agency. Now that they have been folded into DHS, it is likely that rules and regulations are interferring with their primary responsibilty of making sure we don't experience another Ford's Theater or Dallas.

Those hearings should be explosive today.

The Secret Service lied about how far the fence jumper, Omar Gonzalez, penetrated their security at the White House. Initial reports said the Iraq War vet got only as far as the front door. But Congressman Jason Chaffetz, whose subcommittee will be holding hearings today on the incident and the overall state of the Secret Service says the intruder ran through the first floor of the White House into the East Room after overpowering the one guard at the front door.

New York Times:

The hearing is set to focus on a series of security embarrassments over the last several years, including a breach that occurred when a couple crashed a state dinner in 2009, a 2011 incident when bullets struck the White House, scandals involving drinking and prostitution on overseas trips in 2012 and 2013, and 16 separate cases of people scaling the White House fence in the last five years. Ms. Pierson became director in 2013.

According to a law enforcement official briefed on the current investigation, uniformed Secret Service officers at the White House failed to follow several of the agency’s protocols. Although the protocols call for an officer to be standing outside the North Portico door, there was no officer there as Mr. Gonzalez made his way up the steps. The officer who was stationed inside the door failed to lock it after an alarm was sounded that someone had jumped over the fence, the official said.

“At all times there is supposed to be someone at the outside and the inside of the door,” the official said. “The intruder was running so fast that he gets right past the woman who didn’t lock the door. She tries to catch him, and eventually she and another officer tackle the man to the ground, but by that time he was pretty far in.”

OK, so I'm a sexist pig, but what in God's name is the Secret Service thinking by assigning the first line of defense of the president's life to one female? The fact that she was "overpowered" says that either she was taken by surprise - which is what the Secret Service is saying -  or she was simply unable to deal with the speed, the bulk, and the strength of a male intruder.

It's true that even a  smaller defender can overcome a considerable disadvantage in size and bulk of an attacker if they are well trained. Will anyone at that hearing ask the question that needs to be asked; was the female agent assigned to that prestigious post because of her sex or because she was as capable as a man in defending the life of the president?

It has been unheard of in recent decades for an intruder to force his way into the White House, even if only a few steps inside what is supposed to be one of the most secure buildings in the world. Officials in Washington were stunned that Mr. Gonzalez was able to pass by the staircase that leads to the White House family quarters and get as far as the East Room, the ballroom where the cellist Pablo Casals played for President John F. Kennedy and where President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden.

Mr. Chaffetz said that Mr. Gonzalez ran from the north front of the White House into the Entrance Hall and then into the 80-foot-long East Room, where he was finally stopped by Secret Service officers at a Green Room entrance near the south side of the mansion. The Obama family was not home at the time.

In addition, Mr. Chaffetz said a system designed to alert agents that a breach of security was in progress apparently did not work as intended, allowing Mr. Gonzalez to surprise the officer at the door. Mr. Chaffetz said that he was told the “crash box” had been silenced or muted at the request of White House ushers, who had complained the boxes were too noisy.

“It’s an astounding set of facts,” said Representative Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia, a Democratic member of the committee. “It just boggles the imagination and is deeply destabilizing in terms of public confidence in the Secret Service and how it is carrying out its mission.”

Getting back to the female agent being "surprised" at the intrusion, what was she doing immediately prior to the incident? Shouldn't a presidential bodyguard be alert at all times? Is that too much to ask?

Being "surprised" is no excuse. Muting the alarms is idiotic. Placing only one guard at such a vulnerable point is  dumbfounding. When the Secret Service was attached to the Treasury Department, they were a semi-independent agency. Now that they have been folded into DHS, it is likely that rules and regulations are interferring with their primary responsibilty of making sure we don't experience another Ford's Theater or Dallas.

Those hearings should be explosive today.