Failures cited in White House probe

Published: Friday 14th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Lack of training, poor staffing decisions and communication problems helped an armed intruder climb over a security fence and run into the White House earlier this year, according to a US Homeland Security Department review.

Investigators found that the first alerts about Omar Gonzalez making it over the White House fence on September 19 were brief, at times “unclear and muffled”, and never reached key posts inside the White House because emergency communications receivers were muted.

At one point, Gonzalez raced through heavy brush inside the White House grounds to elude pursuing agents.

“Officers were surprised that Gonzalez was able to get through the bushes; prior to that evening, officers believed the bushes too thick to be passable,” the report said.

A nine-page summary of the department’s review said Secret Service officers did not see Gonzalez climb a fence because their view of the grounds was blocked by a construction project.

Other officers saw Gonzalez start to climb the barrier, ordering him to stop, but could not reach him before the US Army veteran – carrying a small knife – made it on to the White House lawn and started running towards the building.

He was eventually subdued deep inside the White House after running into the building through an unlocked door.

Deputy homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas led the internal review of the incident.

The White House breach and details of previously unknown presidential security problems ultimately led to the resignation of Julia Pierson, who was the Secret Service director.

Published: Friday 14th November 2014 by The News Editor

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