Secret Service’s White House Fiasco: “One After Another Unit Failed”


As an intruder sprinted for the White House door Friday, a Secret Service officer ran to get in his way but the intruder barreled past the officer and kept going, says the Washington Post. Omar Jose Gonzalez reached the White House door. A guard was supposed to be posted directly in front, but no one was blocking the door. Those details help explain how the Secret Service's plan for guarding the White House, which envisioned five different rings of protection between the public sidewalk and the president's front door, failed so completely. A plainclothes surveillance team was on duty that night outside the fence, meant to spot jumpers and give early warning before they made it over.

When that team didn't notice Gonzalez, there was an officer in a guard booth on the North Lawn. When that officer couldn't stop him, there was supposed to be an attack dog, a SWAT team and a guard at the front door all at the ready. The attack dog wasn't released. “One after another unit failed,” said a former high-ranking Secret Service official. “This guy has now crossed 70-some yards of restricted area. If he has [an explosive] device on him and he gets in, he controls the White House. He could have anything on him.” Inside, Gonzalez was subdued by a plainclothes agent whose job is to patrol a place that intruders are never supposed to reach: the interior of the executive mansion.

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