Though there is an ever-increasing amount of new information coming out about the White House fence-jumper who made it much further in to the building than initial reports suggested, one constant remains: my Negro nerves are depleting at a rapid pace. Not long after Secret Service Director Julia Pierson was grilled on Capitol Hill over how 42-year-old Omar Gonzalez (pictured) managed to make it past the front doors, overpower a guard, and then run across the East Room before ultimately being tackled at the doorway to the Green Room comes word that the person responsible for that was off-duty. According to the Washington Post, the agent who tackled Gonzalez was not assigned to the post where he stopped Gonzalez.
How confident does that make you feel about protecting President Obama and the First Family?
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Post writer Carol D. Leonnig explains that “according to people familiar with the incident…[the off-duty guard] could easily have been outside or on his way home.”
So, in essence, a major security breach was thwarted by dumb luck.
The source went on to add, “There’s no telling how long this guy could have run around if the detail guy hadn’t happened to be there.”
Pierson said many things during the hearing on the security failures under her watch, but did not disclose any of this.
What Pierson did acknowledge was that there have been 16 fence jumpers in the last five years — including six this year alone. Pierson went on to note that the front door to the White House now locks automatically. Well, that’s helpful, though one wonders why is that only happening now? As Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) quipped during Tuesday’s hearing, “How much would it cost to lock the front door of the White House?”
There are not many times I agree with Darrell Issa, but here we’re on an accord.
Pierson did acknowledge fault, saying, “I take full responsibility and I will make sure it does not happen again.” I imagine this would include concerns that sometimes agents do not feel comfortable coming to her with security concerns. There may be more to that problem than simply Pierson’s leadership, but this most-recent breach should prompt a quick resolution, even though to be fair, some of these security problems (i.e. the front door not automatically locking) were around long before Pierson took the reigns of power.
Nevertheless, Issa is right in asserting on NBC’s Nightly News on Monday, “Most organizations have acceptable losses, in other words they’re right 97 percent of the time. In the case of the Secret Service, they have to succeed 100 percent of the time. I’m extremely concerned.”
For a person who has centered much of his political career lately on demonizing the Obama administration, it’s interesting to hear him speak of Obama in such a human way. How long that lasts remains to be seen, but in the meantime, some other questions need to be settled.
Apparently, the K-9 unit — a team of Belgian Malinois dogs trained to attack intruders — were said to not have deployed on the intruder due to concerns the dogs would instead attack officers as opposed to Gonzalez.
What’s the point of these Cujos if they won’t know who to attack?
And how is it possible that the concerns of the hospitality staff — who were reportedly annoyed over a “crash box” going off so much that the White House ushers muted it — came at the expense of security concerns?
These are questions that come years after a 2011 incident in which it took agents four days to learn that gunshots had hit the White House. This level of incompetence is “amazing and unacceptable” as Issa described. This information is especially inviting to people who would love to do serious harm to President Obama.
Normally, I’d dismiss this sort of talk, but Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) was correct in arguing on Tuesday’s edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe that the recent events are damaging to the Secret Service. “I worry about leadership, I worry about protocol, and I worry about training,” Chaffetz explained. “This projection of weakness, I’m afraid, is going to invite more attacks,” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said, and he added that the agency needs to have a “come to Jesus moment.”
The sooner the better.
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Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem, and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him @youngsinick.
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