The man who leaped the fence around the White House on Sept. 19 got much farther into the residence itself than the Secret Service first reported.
And the Secret Service’s response to him might have been delayed because an alarm box near the entrance he used had been disabled because White House staff in the usher’s office complained that it was too noisy, according to the Washington Post.
Far from being captured in a vestibule, Texas resident Omar Gonzalez overpowered a female Secret Service agent in a hallway and continued as far as the entrance to the building’s East Room before he was finally brought to ground, according to news reports.
Gonzalez was armed with a small knife at the time, but state troopers found firearms and ammunition in his vehicle after his White House arrest, according to an earlier Washington Post report.
He apparently wanted to warn the president that the “atmosphere is failing.”
The new information from inside the Secret Service comes as the agency’s director, Julia Pierson, is due to testify before a House subcommittee on national security Tuesday, and the Republican who chairs that committee is clearly ready to grill her.
The report about the alarm box being disabled was particularly troubling, said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.
“The agency needs a solution that goes deeper than more fences and more people,” Chaffetz said, the Post reported Tuesday. “It must examine what message is being sent to the men and women who protect the president when their leader sacrifices security to appease superficial concerns of White House ushers.”
A source the Post describes as a “longtime Secret Service insider” was appalled at the security breach.
“This was a catastrophic failure when the President was not there. What if the president was there?” the source told the Post. “It turns out that basic functions in place to avoid this were never initiated.”
The details about the latest White House Security breach follow a weekend Washington Post article that reported a November 2011 shooting incident at the White House was also worse than originally reported.
In that incident, at least seven bullets struck the third floor of the White House, but the Secret Service was apparently unaware the building had been hit for four days, according to the Post.
The gunman, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez has been convicted and sentenced to 25 years in a federal prison.
CORRECTION: This post originally misstated the White House floor that was struck by at least seven bullets in the 2011 incident. It was the building’s third story.
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