I don’t understand what’s going on with the Secret Service. For as far back as I can remember, they were one of the most respected agencies in federal law enforcement. Not perfect, mind you, but they had a generally excellent reputation, and I’m sure many extraordinary agents are still on the job. But for the past few years, it’s been one bad story after another for the Secret Service – from advance teams tarrying with ladies of the evening in Columbia, to Friday’s bizarre fence-jumping incident, reported by Politico:
The Secret Service is coming under intense scrutiny after a man who hopped the White House fence made it all the way through the front door before being apprehended.
President Barack Obama and his daughters had just departed the White House on Friday evening when an intruder scaled the north fence, darted across the lawn and into the presidential residence, where agents nabbed him. The security breach triggered a rare evacuation of much of the White House, with Secret Service officers drawing their guns as they rushed staffers and journalists out a side door.
Holy crap. I mean… holy crap. I’ll leave it to Rep. Jason Chaffetz to articulate a more thorough, but still thoroughly gob-smacked, response:
For the Secret Service, the incident was a devastating episode that prompted fresh questions about the storied agency and its ability to protect the president. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who chairs the House subpanel on national security oversight, called it “totally unacceptable” but said the incident was just one of a string of security failings on the Secret Service’s watch.
“Unfortunately, they are failing to do their job,” Chaffetz said. “These are good men and women, but the Secret Service leadership has a lot of questions to answer.”
“Was the door open?” he added incredulously.
Not much is known about the fence-jumper at this point, or what might have possessed him to do such a thing:
The Secret Service identified the suspect as Omar J. Gonzalez, a 42-year-old man from Copperas Cove, Texas. He was charged with unlawful entry into the White House complex and transported to a nearby hospital complaining of chest pain. Attempts to reach Gonzalez or his relatives by phone were unsuccessful.
Fence-jumping has happened before, but it’s bizarre and unsettling to see one get this close to the White House, especially in a time of heightened concerns about terrorism. Ronald Kessler, who broke the Columbian-hookers story, told the UK Daily Mail that if Gonzalez had been carrying a payload of chemical, biological, or radiological weapons, and the intrusion had been timed to occur when the President was within his range, “we would have had a dead president as well as a dead First Family.”
Kessler added, “Because of corner cutting and an ingrained cultural attitude by management of ‘we make do with less,’ the Secret Service is not protecting the White House with adequate agents and uniformed officers and is not keeping up to date with the latest devices for detecting intruders and weapons of mass destruction.” Well, maybe we ought to trim down the President and First Lady’s titanic entourages and use more of the budget on security, then.
This incident is serious enough that I hesitate to make fun of it, but I would be remiss in failing to note the merriment over this White House finally meeting a fence-jumper it disapproves of. Twitchy has a good collection of high-octane snark along those lines:
To be fair, the guy who made it over the fence at the White House should be able to live there now….with his family. #Undocumented
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) September 20, 2014