A man masquerading as a member of Congress walked into a secure backstage area without being properly screened and spoke with President Obama at an awards dinner last fall. Five days later, a woman walked backstage unchecked at a gala dinner where Obama was a featured guest. Months after that, two people strolled unnoticed past a Secret Service checkpoint into the first layer of the White House grounds.
President Barack Obama has chosen Joseph Clancy as the new head of the U.S. Secret Service, the White House said on Wednesday, after a series of high profile security lapses led to a shake-up in the troubled agency's leadership. Clancy, who personally helped guard the lives of three U.S. presidents, has been head of the agency on an interim basis for the past four months. Director Julia Pierson stepped down in October after an embarrassing Sept. 19 White House breach in which a man carrying a knife jumped the fence and ran into the executive mansion. Obama chose Clancy, a 27-year veteran of the Secret Service, despite the recommendation of an independent review panel in December that the next director be someone from outside the agency, which it said had become too insular.
Two weeks after the Secret Service forced out four of its top officials, lawmakers are questioning whether the agency should have ousted one more — its influential second-in-command. Members of Congress from both parties are concerned that by keeping in place Alvin “A.T.” Smith, the Secret Service stopped short of fully reforming upper management following a string of embarrassing security lapses, according to government officials familiar with the discussions. Smith, as a top official for nearly a decade and the deputy director since 2012, has managed the agency’s day-to-day operations and was a key architect of its budgets and policies. He has overseen the departments responsible for the missteps and is now helping to engineer the agency’s overhaul.
The Secret Service couldn't protect the White House, and so now it's being forced to clean its own house. The agency said Tuesday it was sweeping out four assistant directors, and a fifth had already announced his retirement. Acting Director Joseph Clancy gave the bosses of four divisions—protection, investigations, technology and public affairs—a month to clean out their desks. (They can retire, or request reassignment elsewhere in the Department of Homeland Security, which houses the Secret Service.) The Washington Post's Carol Leonnig, who has consistently broken news about the Secret Service's chaos, had the scoop.
An independent panel is recommending deep changes in the Secret Service, including heightened security around the White House, saying the elite protective agency is “an organization starved for leadership.’’ The panel, named in October by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson after a series of highly publicized security failures, recommended that the fence around the White House be immediately upgraded. It was reacting to the Sept. 19 incident in which a man scaled the fence and ran far into the executive mansion through an unlocked front door.
During most of my two-decade career as an agent, the Secret Service was small, elite, and part of the Department of the Treasury. We were generally well-led and avoided many of the political issues other government agencies seemed to experience all the time. That changed in the aftermath of 9/11, when the Secret Service was torn from Treasury and forced to become a part of the new, mammoth Department of Homeland Security. Most of the problems in today's Secret Service started with the move to DHS. Now a series of embarrassing revelations have called into question the Secret Service's competence. The mean-spirited, classless, bipartisan beat down by the congressional oversight committee of former Secret Service Director Julia Pierson is now mercifully concluded.
Julia Pierson called it quits Wednesday, stepping down as director of the U.S. Secret Service just 18 months after she took the job and one day after her dismal performance in front of Congress failed to appease lawmakers angry about the recent White House security breach. In announcing the news, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson promised an independent review of the failures that allowed Omar Gonzalez to hop the fence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and dash into the executive mansion, with a “review of broader issues concerning the Secret Service” a possibility as well.
In case you were worried that Laura Ingraham would be the only media personality to suggest that the recent White House security breach had something to do with the presence of a female Secret Service agent on call (or the presence of women in the Secret Service at all!), don’t be. On Wednesday’s edition of “Morning Joe,” host Joe Scarborough and regular contributor Donny Deutsch corroborated Ingraham’s “hot take,” suggesting that the Secret Service hired director Julia Pierson not for her qualifications but out of a need to “rebrand.” “A point that Mika [Brzezinski] delicately touched on, I’ll touch on a little less delicately,” Deutsch said.
Today on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” co-host Mika Brzezinski brought a touch of identity politics to the debate about Secret Service boss Julia Pierson. In a segment about the scandal relating to the protection of the White House and its inhabitants, Brzezinski, name partner Joe Scarborough and others inventoried Pierson’s difficulties and missteps, including the Sept. 19 White House intrusion and a number of other close calls — as well as Pierson’s panned performance yesterday at a congressional hearing on the whole mess.
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned her post Tuesday after a fence jumper gained access to the White House Sept. 19th and a subsequent congressional inquiry uncovered other security lapses. Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson announced the resignation in a statement. He also announced that the DHS would take over an internal inquiry of the Secret Service and that he would appointment of a new panel to review security at the White House. Calls for Pierson to leave her post grew after a poor performance during her testimony on Capitol Hill and another bombshell revelation that the an armed contractor was allowed to get into an elevator with the president during a recent trip to the Centers for Disease Control.
The US secret service allowed an armed man with a criminal record for assault to enter an elevator with president Barack Obama, it was disclosed on Tuesday, hours after officials admitted they missed three chances to deter an intruder who broke into the White House earlier this month. The Washington Post revealed that the man, a security contractor, was carrying a gun when he was in the elevator with Obama on a 16 September visit to the US Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Earlier on Tuesday, the director of the secret service, Julia Pierson, faced a barrage of questions about the White House intrusion at a congressional hearing.
When President Obama appointed her the new director of the Secret Service a year and a half ago, hopes were high that Julia Pierson could redeem the agency's tarnished reputation. “Julia is eminently qualified to lead the agency that not only safeguards Americans at major events and secures our financial system, but also protects our leaders and our first families, including my own,” Obama said in a statement in March 2013, when Pierson was sworn in as the first female director of the Secret Service in its nearly 150-year history. Now Pierson, 55, is coming under fire for botching the assignment Obama had called out: protecting the first family.
U.S. lawmakers scolded the head of the U.S. Secret Service on Tuesday over a security breach that allowed a knife-wielding intruder to run deep into the White House, and Director Julia Pierson promised them it would never happen again. Pierson acknowledged the agency charged with protecting the president had failed on Sept. 19 when it allowed a man to jump the fence at the home of the President of the United States, burst through the front door and run into the East Room, which is used for events and receptions. "This is unacceptable and I take full responsibility," she told a U.S. House of Representatives committee investigating the incident, promising a complete review of agency procedures.