The story of White House fence-jumper Omar J. Gonzalez continues to grow more… involved, as the original reports that he was completely unarmed were amended to reveal that he had a knife, and then… well, I’ll let Reuters tell the tale:
The man who scaled the fence and ran into the White House on Friday night had more than 800 rounds of ammunition in his car and had been arrested in July with a sniper rifle and a map marking the executive mansion, a federal prosecutor said on Monday.
Omar Gonzalez, 42, was also stopped, but not arrested in August walking by the White House with a hatchet, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in Washington.
That’s not going to help the Secret Service with its damage-control efforts to explain how this guy was able to get so close to the White House. Naturally, the proposed reaction includes a bit of over-reaction, per the New York Times:
The Secret Service is considering screening tourists and other visitors at checkpoints before they enter the public areas in front of the White House in response to the episode Friday in which a man with a knife managed to get through the front door of the president’s home after jumping over the fence on Pennsylvania Avenue, according to law enforcement officials.
As part of the screening, the Secret Service would establish several checkpoints a few blocks from the White House, the officials said. The screening would likely be limited to bag checks and not include measures taken at airports by the Transportation Security Administration, which include metal detectors and body scans.
Why not just send out the guys Obama used to barricade the war memorials during Shutdown Theater to establish a perimeter? Those fences went up in the blink of an eye.
Ron Fournier at National Journal notes that Gonzalez has been “all but erased from the stories” about the break-in, and suggests a possible reason why: he’s an uncomfortable reminder of the V.A. scandal. Gonzalez is “a decorated Iraq war veteran from Texas,” writes Fournier, “a sniper who was badly wounded by a homemade bomb. He suffers posttraumatic-stress disorder, his family says. For two years, Gonzales has been homeless and living alone in the wild and in campgrounds. What happened to him? What happens to men and women like him when they return home from war?”
The media has been trying to help put the V.A. disaster into President Obama’s rear-view mirror, making such questions unhelpful. Also potentially unhelpful: the Washington Post reports that Gonzalez told the Secret Service he “was concerned that the ‘atmosphere was collapsing,’ and that he needed to get the world to the President, so he could tell the citizens.” Atmosphere collapsing? Where do you suppose he have gotten an idea like that?