Secret Service Follies

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson testified today before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the security breach that allowed an intruder to enter the White House. The episode was a fiasco on multiple levels, and Ms. Pierson endured a sustained grilling that was somewhat bipartisan. One fact that has emerged is that the intruder, Omar Gonzalez, got much deeper into the White House than the Secret Service originally reported. This map, from the Washington Post, shows where he was finally apprehended. Click to enlarge:

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Moreover, the agent who finally tackled Gonzalez was off duty and was leaving the White House. If he hadn’t happened to be there, on his way out, there is no telling what would have happened.

Much could be said about today’s hearing, but I want to focus on just one element, that is, the Democrats’ reflexive desire to blame everything that goes wrong on the sequester. Eleanor Holmes Norton played the sequester card today:

Norton’s suggestion that this incident had anything to do with the Secret Service being “understaffed” is ludicrous. When Gonzales climbed the fence and ran across the lawn, the place was swarming with agents and dogs, but nothing worked as intended. The dogs weren’t released for fear they would attack the agents who were chasing Gonzalez, something that apparently had not previously occurred to the Service’s guard detail. An alarm should have sounded to warn the agent at the front door to lock it, but it reportedly had been turned down or off at the request of White House ushers. The agent at the front door–I believe it was a woman–was “overpowered,” and apparently couldn’t slow Gonzalez down enough for his pursuers to catch up.

After Pierson went along with Norton’s suggestion that the sequester had caused the Service to be understaffed, Congressman Ron DeSantis followed up. He asked, How many Secret Service agents came along with you to the hearing today? Twelve, she answered. Which would seem to be more than ample staffing, even by government bureaucracy standards.

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