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Tag: President Obama

Secret Service Security Blunders Are Intolerable And Demand Answers

By Miami Herald
Editorial Board

Last year, the White House was breached twice.

In the movie Olympus Has Fallen, Gerard Butler faced off against Dylan McDermott and a band of Korean terrorists. In White House Down, Channing Tatum fought to save President Jamie Foxx from a band of mercenaries. In both movies, the bad guys found getting into the executive mansion no easy feat; it required ingenious planning and overwhelming force.

Who knew you could just hop the fence and jog through the front door?

That, we now know, is pretty much what alleged intruder Omar Gonzalez, an Iraq War vet suffering from PTSD, did on Sept. 19. The Secret Service initially claimed its agents stopped Gonzalez just inside the front door on the North Portico. Monday, it was revealed he actually made it deeper into the mansion than we were told, running through the main floor of the building — past a stairwell leading to the first family’s living quarters — before being tackled and subdued in the East Room.

The incident would be appalling enough had it happened in a vacuum. But it is only the latest in a series of lapses. There was the incident in 2009 when would-be reality show stars Michaele and Tareq Salahi essentially walked in off the street and crashed a state dinner. There was the 2012 scandal that revealed Secret Service agents partying with prostitutes during a presidential visit to Colombia.

In 2011, a man parked just south of the president’s house and fired a high-powered rifle, striking the building at least seven times. A report in Sunday’s Washington Post describes a Secret Service response filled with miscues, including a supervisor mistakenly ordering subordinates to stand down because the gunshots were only backfires from a vehicle. It took four days for the Secret Service to even realize the building had been hit. And it was only dumb luck the shooter was identified; he crashed his car seven blocks away.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but Barack Obama is the nation’s first African-American president. Since before he took office, he has been the target of attacks from the extreme right so vociferous, shrill and hate-filled as to seem truly unhinged. He is also the president who killed Osama bin Laden.

For these reasons and more, you’d think the Secret Service would be at a heightened level of alert when it comes to his safety. But these incidents suggest the exact opposite: a sloppy, lackadaisical agency unequal to its primary mission. And if it has this much difficulty defending the White House against publicity seekers and disaffected loners, what confidence can we have in its ability to defend against serious people mounting serious attacks?

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Secret Service Director Takes Full Responsibility, Pledges Wholesale Changes

Julia Pierson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson accepted full responsibility for the recent White House intrusion and pledged to improve security at a House Oversight Committee hearing Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Pierson divulged that Omar J. Gonzalez, who was armed with a knife, made it deeper into the White House on Sept. 19 than previously thought.

Pierson said Gonzalez was able to make it so far because the White House had two open front doors that don’t automatically lock and a muted alarm system. Secret Service officers also decided to subdue the intruder instead of shoot him.

“Eight hundred million dollars a year…during your tenure…and that door was unlocked,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), referring to the Secret Service’s personnel budget.

“The door was unlocked at the time of Mr. Gonzalez’s entry, that’s correct,” Ms. Pierson said, adding that automatic locks have since been installed on the White House front doors.

“The fence failed, officers chased him, didn’t catch him, sniper was in position, no shots were fired, dogs were out there, weren’t released, countersurveillance, I’m understanding, is understaffed…nobody shot anything,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) said.

“It’s clear that our security plan was not properly executed,” Ms. Pierson said. “This is unacceptable and I take full responsibility. And I will make sure that it does not happen again.”

Elected officials said the meeting fueled concerns that the White House is vulnerable.

President Obama Was Angry with Secret Service for Handling of Shots Fired at White House

By Steve Neavling
tickethewire.com

Although President Obama recently expressed confidence in the Secret Service, his actions may speak louder.

Boston.com reports that Obama and his wife were incensed with the Secret Service’s handling of what turned out to be shots fired at the White House in 2011.

The news comes a little more than a week after a Texas man hopped the White House fence with a knife and made it all the way to the front door.

In the 2011 incident, the Secret Service thought the gun shots were sounds from a nearby construction site. Turns out, 7 bullets hit the mansion.

It was later discovered that the shots were fired from a car along Constitution Avenue.

Four days after the shooting, a housekeeper found smashed glass from one of the bullets.

Contentious Senate Hearings Expected When Obama Names Replacement for AG Holder

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Whoever is going to succeed Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is likely to face a contentious Senate, the Washington Post reports.

Some Republicans even called for a delay because of the potential of midterm elections swinging in favor of the GOP in November.

“Allowing Democratic senators, many of whom will likely have just been defeated at the polls, to confirm Holder’s successor would be an abuse of power that should not be countenanced,” Sen. Ted Cruz said.

Democrats urged Republicans to let Obama make his selection without the drama.

“This is going to be the first real test, whether it’s in the lame-duck or early in the new year, whether our Republican colleagues are going to continue to obstruct,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday in an interview. “Every president deserves to have his attorney general.”

Obama has yet to indicate when he will replace Holder.

Army Veteran Who Jumped White House Fence Previously Found with Weapons, Map to White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An Army veteran who climbed over a White House fence and made a mockery of security was twice interviewed by Secret Service agents earlier this summer in Virginia and Washington, the Associated Press reports.

Yet during those interviews, the Secret Service determined Omar J. Gonzalez was not a security threat.

The first encounter came during a traffic stop when police found a sawed off shotgun and a map of Washington with a circle around the White House, the AP wrote.

Agents contacted him again after being found near the White House with a small hatchet,

Despite those findings, the Secret Service did not find him a threat.

Other Stories of Interest

Retired Border Patrol Agent Warns of Imminent Threat of Illegal Immigration

Border Patrol Agent, Detainee Not Wearing Seatbelt When Car Veered Off Road

FBI Finds Car Belonging to Cleveland Woman Missing For Month

El Paso to Renew Agreement with CBP to Pay More Staffing Hours at Ports of Entry

Does America Need Homeland Security Department Following Low Moral, Turnover

Americans Who Fought Alongside ISIS Terrorists are Back on U.S. Soil

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has its eye on Americans who fought with ISIS terrorists and are now back on U.S. soil, the Daily Mail reports.

The news comes 10 days after a U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop acknowledged there were 40 “foreign fighter” jihadis on U.S. soil.

“The FBI is looking at them,” a senior Obama administration official said.

White House Press Secretary John Earnest declined to discuss specifics Monday, but he did say the U.S. is “working very closely with our international partners to try to mitigate this threat, to keep eyes on these individuals and to monitor their movements.”

Opinion from the Boston Globe: Secret Service Should Not Cordon Off White House After Jumper Incident

By Kathleen Kingsbury
Boston Globe

 Last Friday, a man with a knife was able to jump the White House fence on Pennsylvania Avenue and make his way into the president’s residence. The intruder allegedly had more than 800 rounds of ammunition in his car, a federal prosecutor said on Monday.

In response, the Secret Service is reportedly considering expanding the security perimeter around the White House — possibly even making tourists go through checkpoints when they’re several blocks away, according to the New York Times.

It’s terrifying to think that 42-year-old Omar Gonzalez, believed to be a war veteran suffering from PTSD, made it to through the White House’s unlocked front door unimpeded. But erecting a larger cordon around 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. — and restricting access to “the people’s house” — is an overreaction. The White House isn’t an ordinary private residence; it’s the president’s home only at the will of the electorate. The building and its grounds should be as open to the public as security allows. Regardless of which administration is in office, I always feel a little swell of patriotism every time I happen by it, when I’m walking or driving in Washington, D.C.

So perhaps a better plan would be to make sure the Secret Service does its job better. The episode raised serious questions about potential lapses by the agency, which is overseen by the Department of Homeland Security. The harsh criticism aimed at it over the weekend is appropriate; so is the announcement that Secret Service will conduct an internal review. That will give time for perspective: It’s still worth remembering that agents put their lives on the line to protect the president. And given Gonzalez’s apparent mental illness, their response to the episode may have involved some warranted restraint.

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Senior DOJ Lawyer Named to No. 3 Post, Highest-Ever for Openly Gay Official

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A senior Justice Department lawyer who has been a key proponent of President Obama’s initiatives has been named to the department’s No. 3 post, becoming the highest-ranking openly gay official to ever serve the department, the New York Times reports.

Stuart F. Delery is replacing Tony West, who announced his departure last week, and will handle civil rights and environmental cases, among other issues. Delery may be best known for his role in overturning the federal ban on same-sex marriage. “Stuart has helped to strengthen our nation’s security, to protect public health and safety, and to achieve justice in cases of financial fraud and recover billions of dollars for taxpayers,” Mr. Holder said in a statement.

“I can think of no more dedicated, more capable, or more passionate public servant to continue the duties, and uphold the high standards, that defined Tony West’s time in office.”