- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 13, 2014

A review by the Department of Homeland Security found failures in training, communications and decision-making by the Secret Service that allowed a White House fence jumper to enter the Executive Mansion.

The man, Omar Gonzalez, made it all the way to the East Room before he was tackled during the incident on Sept. 19.

The internal investigation by DHS found that, among other problems, an incorrect setting on the Secret Service radio system had allowed leaders to override all normal communications and alert officers that there was an intruder on White House grounds.

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Michael T. McCaul, Texas Republican, said he wants an independent review to follow Homeland Security’s own investigation.

“Several high-profile incidents have caused Americans to question the leadership and management of the U.S. Secret Service,” Mr. McCaul said. “The men and women of the Secret Service deserve an organization that is efficient and effective, and the American people deserve confidence that the Service can effectively perform its vital missions.”

Meanwhile, the top Democrat on the committee, Mississippi Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, expressed concern about continuing problems at the agency.

“While some of these problems can be attributed to a lack of resources, others are systemic and indicative of Secret Service culture,” he said. “Some of these problems have begun to be addressed, however, it is imperative that DHS follows through on these findings and institutes real reforms.”

The leader of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson, resigned over the failures in security, and Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson appointed a review group to find out what allowed the man to gain unfettered access to what is supposed to be one of the most secure sites in the U.S.

The report said that officers were relying too much on the canine unit and the “erroneous belief that the bushes were an impassable barrier.”

Meanwhile, the canine officer on duty at the time of the incident was instead talking on his personal cellphone and had taken out his radio earpiece.

Upon seeing other officers running along the White House grounds, the canine officer did respond but lost track of the intruder and “was surprised that Gonzalez was able to enter and pass through [the bushes],” the report said.


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