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ATF Agent Wounded, Suspect Dead in Shootout in Athens, Ga.

By Rhonda Cook
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal agent was in critical but stable condition Tuesday night and a suspect was dead after a shooting during an undercover law enforcement operation in Athens. A second suspect has been charged in the case.

State and federal officials told reporters an Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent was in the intensive care unit at an area hospital recovering from his wounds.

They identified the dead man as 20-year-old Javonta Darden. The other suspect, 21-year-old Steven McKinley, was arrested.

To read full story click here.

Resignation of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson Won’t Fix Troubled Agency

By Boston Globe
Editorial Board

For the federal agency tasked with protecting the president, it’s embarrassing enough that a man could scale the White House fence and make it well into the executive mansion before being apprehended. But the Secret Service’s defensive response to the incident, including withholding key information about the breach, is a sign of deeper trouble within the agency. The announcement Wednesday that Secret Service Director Julia Pierson had resigned her post and that the Department of Homeland Security will conduct an investigation of the service shows that problems within the agency are being taken seriously. But the review shouldn’t just result in further layers of security around the White House. What’s needed is a reexamination of an internal culture that permitted serious security breaches and a failure of communication with the members of Congress who are supposed to oversee the agency.

On Sept. 19, Omar Gonzalez, a war veteran who is believed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, hopped the fence and ran through the unlocked front door into the first floor of the White House. It wasn’t until Gonzalez was in the East Room, well within the building, that an off-duty Secret Service officer was able to tackle him. But that was not the version of events made available to members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform before their Sept. 30 hearing with Pierson. According to a press release, Gonzalez was apprehended “after entering the White House North Portico doors.” Neither the White House nor the service clarified that statement. The service also said that Gonzalez was unarmed; in fact, he had a knife. According to Representative Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, who sits on the panel, the committee was unaware of both of those details before they were reported in The Washington Post.

That incident came on the heels of another security failure, in which an armed private security contractor with three prior assault and battery convictions was allowed to ride in an elevator with President Obama during his Sept. 16 visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Allowing someone with a criminal record, let alone someone who is armed, within arm’s reach of the president is a direct breach of Secret Service protocol. But according to the Post, Obama was not briefed on the incident.

To read more click here.

FBI Busts Seller of Intrusive Cell Phone App That Spies on Users

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Want to spy on someone and have immediate access to their calls, texts and photos?

There’s an app for that – and the FBI has tracked down the maker.

The Daily Mail reports that the FBI shut down a website selling the “spyware” app and arrested a Pakistani national in Los Angeles for selling the technology.

The $59.99 app enabled people to intercept call in real time, while also giving them full access to the phone and its data.

The company says it sold more than 100,000 apps.

Andrew McCabe, assistant director of the Washington Field Office said: ‘This application allegedly equips potential stalkers and criminals with a means to invade an individual’s confidential communications.

‘They do this not by breaking into their homes or offices, but by physically installing spyware on unwitting victims’ phones and illegally tracking an individual’s every move.’

Secret Service Director Julia A. Pierson Resigns Amid Pressure

Director Julia Pierson

By MATT HANSEN
Los Angeles Times

 WASHINGTON — Battered by a mounting series of security lapses, the head of the Secret Service resigned Wednesday, a day after enduring fierce criticism from lawmakers for failing to fix what they called systemic problems in the agency.

The agency’s director, Julia A. Pierson, herself brought in as a reformer amid embarrassments including a prostitution scandal in 2012, will be replaced by retired agent Joseph Clancy.

Pierson’s tenure began to unravel when an intruder with a knife scaled a fence and ran into the White House on Sept. 19, followed by days of revelations that undermined the initial Secret Service account of what happened. A torrent of news reports also uncovered the agency’s fumbled response to a 2011 shooting attack on the White House and an elevator ride last month that President Obama shared with a security contractor who was armed, which Secret Service agents were unaware of at the time.

To read the full story click here. 

 

Lengel: Terrorists Have Probably Given the Secret Service More Credit Than it Deserves

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

I think the American public in general has been blown away by recent news of the lapses in Secret Service security involving the President.

I have to think, had terrorists any clue that it was so easy to breach security and get into the White House, they would have tried something long ago.

Thank goodness that the perception of a secure White House has trumped the reality. How any one could make it so far into the White House is mind boggling. 

Of the many times I passed the White House, I never once thought it would be easy to get in.  It looked so daunting. So secure. Apparently, not so.

 I’ve known a lot of outstanding Secret Service agents over the years, and I have to believe there’s a collective feeling of shame for the agency.  

Should Secret Service Director Julia Pierson have been fired?

Well, under the circumstances there seemed to be no other choice.  

Director Julia Pierson

There had to be an expression of outrage that came from the Hill as well as the White House, not to mention the public.

So, yes, the coach had to be fired when the team performed so poorly. In this case, it’s not a game.  

Now, we have to bring some of the top security experts in the world to evaluate the weak points in the presidential security details, both on the road and at the White House. It wouldn’t hurt to bring someone from Israel, a nation obsessed with security.

 We in America need so be obsessed about this issue. 

 

 

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?

To read more click here.

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.

2 Mexican Nationals Indicted in Fatal Shooting of Off-Duty Border Patrol Agent

Javier Vega Jr.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two Mexican nationals were indicted on charges of capital murder and attempted murder in the shooting death of an off-duty Border Patrol agent, the Valley Morning Star reports.

Indicted were Gustavo Tijerina-Sandoval, 30, and Ismael Hernandez-Vallejo, 40, who are accused of being involved in the Aug. 3 shooting of Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega Jr.

They also were indicted in connection with the nonfatal shooting of Javier Vega Sr., whose son was killed.

Both men face the possibility of the death penalty.

The Vegas were shot while on vacation and fishing with family in the Rio Hondo area. Vega Jr. fired back, authorities said, but did not strike anyone.