Today the Director of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson, testified at the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee. I watched most of the hearing and like almost every other so-called phony scandal, the blunders by the SS seem to boil down to a culture problem. Which is weird since the president is supposed to be so worldly and culturally gifted that he finds it boring to talk to average people and even asks for scholars and artists to attend his dinners abroad.
The Director, like every other person from this admin to testify, dodged and weaved most of the questions. After several attempts by different Reps., she still would not answer why she claims to be down 500 or 550 employees, but only requested budget for 61 new hires.
Here are a few facts we learned about the lawn runner, Omar Gonzales:
In July 2014, he was questioned by the SS when he was found to have 11 guns and 800 rounds of ammo in his car, as well as a map with a line pointing to the WH. He has PTSD and allowed them to review his medical records.
In August, he was spotted at the fence line with a hatchet in his belt and a couple of SS agents recognized him from the run-in in July. Nothing was reported.
And of course he made it much further into the WH on Sept. 19th than we were lead to believe by the initial SS report that has now been debunked.
After the lawn running incident, the SS put up a bike fence in front of the WH fence to create a buffer zone and with the words “Police Line. Do Not Cross” (see image below). Naturally the Twitter universe went into a full mockfest as was deserved. See here where someone even said that the sign needed a hashtag so we know it’s an official government communication. And here where Clayton Morris from FoxNews observed:
Clayton Morris ✔@ClaytonMorris Follow
The new fence at the White House is simply embarrassing. Love that it’s held together by plastic twisty ties. 7:47 AM – 23 Sep 2014
Mr. Issa asked the SS Director how much would it cost to lock the door at the WH; she didn’t respond but did say there were two doors. Basically a glass storm door and then the historic wood door.
When Mr. Gowdy asked her why a good old fashioned police sweep wasn’t done the night of a shooting back in 2011 and why they didn’t find the bullets including one lodged in the 3rd floor balcony window, she replied, “The initial shooting situation occurred at 9:30 at night, it is difficult to see at night.” The agents were told to stand down that night because they thought it was just a car backfiring. Agents that knew better were afraid to report their stories to their superiors that contradicted the official position for some reason.
Ms. Pierson testified that they had caught and arrested 16 of 16 jumpers in the last five years. Mr. Issa wanted to know why it wasn’t 17 of 17 with this latest incident and if it wasn’t for human error and failed procedures. Mr. Issa then asked Ms. Pierson why she ordered bike racks on Pennsylvania Ave. taking up the People’s space in addition to the proposal to create a bigger buffer zone along the street and over to Lafayette Park. Here is her unbelievable response:
Ms. Pierson: The placing of the bike racks is to provide a buffer zone to the fence to allow us time to do this analysis to make sure our personnel and procedures are going to be effective with the time constraints that the individuals have, to be able to be able to an effective tactical response to runners and fence jumpers.
Issa’s reponse: I get it that you’re not up to snuff to the level you’d like to be. And until you’re sure you are, you want to have that extra time. I sort of get it but to be honest, it’s a little bit disconcerting.
Yes my fellow Americans, she still needs time and space to protect the president. I don’t mean to be glib or make fun of a very serious situation, but it’s hard not to knock the shear lack of experience in the WH from the president on down when we hear them explain themselves and their actions, or lack thereof. At least she took responsibility which is more than can be said from the man at the top of this heap.
I hope she is able to get the proper security in place to guard the president and his family ASAP, as in yesterday. He must be protected. And take down that embarrassing 4′ fence enforced with tie wraps. If not, Mr. Obama is going to need a bigger bus to throw this person under to join so many others.* And maybe a moat with alligators.
*Perhaps her and DWS will become BFFs.