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Secret Service Even More Clusterf**ked Than We Thought
Just in case you were waiting, the other shoe in the Secret Service Keystone Kops saga has dropped. This dumb scandal is starting to look like Imelda Marcos's closet. The White House did a big internal review, and some kind soul leaked a copy to the New York Times. In addition to all the crap we knew already about the guy who jumped the White House fence, sprinted across the lawn, made it through the front door, and was only tackled because an off-duty Secret Service agent was visiting, now we also learn that the incident involved some radio failures, agents goofing off on the job, and just plain lax security.
For starters, the intruder, Omar Gonzales, had an easier time getting over the fence because an ornamental spike at the top of the fence was missing where he climbed. And then there's this steely-eyed Secret Service dog handler. When the movie adaptation is made, he won't be played by Clint Eastwood, but by the chair he yelled at.
[Gonzales] could have been stopped by a Secret Service officer who was stationed on the North Lawn with an attack dog, the review said. But the officer did not realize that an intruder had made it over the fence because he was sitting in his van talking on his personal cellphone.
The officer did not have his radio earpiece in, and had left the second radio he was supposed to have in his locker. It was only after he saw another officer running toward Mr. Gonzalez that he was alerted to the security breach. At that point, the officer gave the dog the command to attack, but the dog had not had a chance to “lock onto” the intruder “and may not have seen” him at all, according to the review. Mr. Gonzalez continued into the White House.
Suggestion: If WalMart "associates" can't make personal calls during work, maybe Secret Service agents shouldn't, either. You're welcome.
Also, too, the report revealed that Gonzales was able to get into the North Portico of the White House after running through some bushes, completely defying Secret Service assumptions:
The summary said that the officers “were surprised that Gonzalez was able to get through the bushes” because “prior to that evening, the officers believed the bushes” were too thick to pass through.
Again, this is the sort of thing that could easily be avoided. Just have some nine-year-olds play on the White House grounds and see which shrubs they can get through. We're starting to think that the Secret Service hasn't taken even the most rudimentary security precautions outlined in the Evil Overlord's Checklist. Next we'll probably find out that the White House has any number of ventilation ducts large enough for an infiltrator to crawl through.
And then there's the radios that, even when turned on, didn't work properly or were unintelligible. Do not buy your equipment from the makers of fast food drive-though windows, guys.
Once inside the White House, more sad tragicomedy: Gonzales was confronted by a female Secret Service officer (cue your wingnuts crying "why are they letting ladies do a man's jerb???"):
“After attempting twice to physically take Gonzalez down but failing to do so because of the size disparity between the two, the officer then attempted to draw her baton but accidentally grabbed her flashlight instead,” the report said. “The officer threw down her flashlight, drew her firearm, and continued to give Gonzalez commands that he ignored.”
We're not bloodthirsty or anything, but for godssake, even Yr Pacifist Tree-Hugging Wonkette would be OK with the officer using her gun in that situation.
And don't even get us started on the Secret Service's failure to stop Gonzales after he'd already been reported by Virginia State Police who confiscated weapons from him back in July. Oh, and also a DC map with the White House circled. That really could have meant anything.
Get ready for this failure to protect the president to be touted as proof that since the Secret Service is incompetent, its budget should be cut. That'll teach 'em.
[ NYT ]