WashPost reveals pattern of White House security failures

Frank Horrigan would REALLY be ticked if he heard these stories...

Frank Horrigan would REALLY be ticked if he heard these stories…

The Washington Post has really been digging into the recent fence-climber incident at the White House, and previous incidents, and what it has been finding doesn’t make the Secret Service look all that great.

Yesterday, the paper revealed that in 2011, four shots were fired at the White House, and it was days before the Secret Service realized it had even happened:

Secret Service officers initially rushed to respond. One, stationed directly under the second-floor terrace where the bullets struck, drew her .357 handgun and prepared to crack open an emergency gun box. Snipers on the roof, standing just 20 feet from where one bullet struck, scanned the South Lawn through their rifle scopes for signs of an attack. With little camera surveillance on the White House perimeter, it was up to the Secret Service officers on duty to figure out what was going on.

Then came an order that surprised some of the officers. “No shots have been fired. . . . Stand down,” a supervisor called over his radio. He said the noise was the backfire from a nearby construction vehicle….

It took the Secret Service four days to realize that shots had hit the White House residence, a discovery that came about only because a housekeeper noticed broken glass and a chunk of cement on the floor….

Then today, the Post reports this disturbing story:

The man who jumped the White House fence this month and sprinted through the front door made it much farther into the building than previously known, overpowering one Secret Service officer and running through much of the main floor, according to three people familiar with the incident….

After barreling past the guard immediately inside the door, Gonzalez, who was carrying a knife, dashed past the stairway leading a half-flight up to the first family’s living quarters. He then ran into the 80-foot-long East Room, an ornate space often used for receptions or presidential addresses.

Gonzalez was tackled by a counter-assault agent at the far southern end of the East Room. The intruder reached the doorway to the Green Room, a parlor overlooking the South Lawn with artwork and antique furniture, according to three people familiar with the incident.

Secret Service officials had earlier said he was quickly detained at the main entry. Agency spokesman Edwin Donovan said the office is not commenting due to an ongoing investigation of the incident….

This is not Clint Eastwood’s Secret Service, folks…


11 thoughts on “WashPost reveals pattern of White House security failures

  1. Andrew G

    Wasn’t the fictional character in Eastwood’s Line of Fire part of the detail that was there when Kennedy rode in an open top limo, with no SS protection riding the running boards, along a heavily publicized route?

    Wasn’t fictional Eastwood stymied by a SS and WH bureaucracy, led by Chief of Staff Fred Thompson, who prevented him from properly investigating the John Malcovich character, leading to the lone shooter getting free, within feet, access to the President in a closed door event, and Malcovich holding Eastwood hostage over an elevator, after a shootout, in front of WH pool reporters, presumably on life TV at that point?

    All in the closing days of a Presidential reelection campaign, (late October)?

    Can you imagine the reaction if that actually happened in real life? The number of Congressional investigations, endless cable news talking heads (depending on the party, what MSNBC and Fox would do)?

    It’s an intriguing, interesting movie, but had In the Line of Fire happened in real life, whoa boy, the crap would hit the fan big time.

  2. Andrew G

    Sort of like had the fictional events of the Harrison Ford film, Air Force One happened – after a speech in Moscow, after US special forces took out a Russian terrorist nationalist, and then the captured leader’s special forces commandeer Air Force One thanks to a rogue SS agent, who hands over the keys, literally, to the top of the US government to Gary Oldman with a Russian accent?

    WH Chief of Staff, Air Force officers and flight crew, getting murdered?

    Whoa boy – fun action movie and all, but crap hitting the fan in real life had that actually happened.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      You seem to have a beef with Wolfgang Petersen. Personally, I like his work — with “In the Line of Fire” being my favorite.

      I love what he did with Eastwood. Remember the scene in which he pokes fun at his famous glare, in a staring match with Rene Russo? And of course, Malkovich made a great villain. Gary Oldman was pretty good, too — he’s gotten a lot of mileage out of that accent, reprising in it “Call of Duty: World At War.”

      You want to see a movie that goes over the edge in that direction? Check out “Olympus Has Fallen” (it’s now available for streaming on Netflix). It will cause you to wax nostalgic for Petersen’s relative subtlety.

      Speaking of which, y’all — our own Burl Burlingame has penned a hard-hitting review of the latest over-the-top action flick, “The Equalizer”…

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    I was in the East Room once, when President Clinton presided over a ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of NATO.

    Main thing I remember — after everyone else was seated, the president walked in slowly with Strom Thurmond holding onto his arm. He took Strom to his seat before taking his place on the podium.

    Clinton was always considerate toward Strom, exhibiting a Southern boy’s respect for his elders…

  4. Bryan Caskey

    “overpowering one Secret Service officer…”

    If you’re on the Secret Service and an intruder overpowers you, you should probably be fired. This is a classic “you had one job” situation.

  5. Andrew

    Oh, I’m cool with Wolfgang Peterson. I’ve watched and enjoyed line of fire and Air Force one more than I want to admit.

    But can you imagine those events happening in real life, especially Air Force one? Wow, the repricutions boggles the imagination.

    Oh, I was a kid when the original equalizer was on tv, but I saw those before I ever saw a James Bond film (and 80s bond was terrible). But the original equalizer was my image of what a suave agent should be.

  6. Mark Stewart

    This is really a staggeringly incompetent story.

    The last thing DC needs to do is close off more areas to the general public. The first thing to be done

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