Secret Service Blunders Eased White House Intruder’s Way, Review Says

Secret Service Blunders Eased White House Intruder’s Way, Review Says

A Secret Service officer outside the White House last month. An intruder ran through bushes near the North Portico that officers wrongly thought were too thick for anyone to pass through. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)
A Secret Service officer outside the White House last month. An intruder ran through bushes near the North Portico that officers wrongly thought were too thick for anyone to pass through. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

WASHINGTON (New York Times) — An intruder was able to climb a fence and enter the White House in September because of a succession of “performance, organizational, technical” and other failures by the Secret Service, according to a damning review of the incident by the Department of Homeland Security.

The review found that the Secret Service’s alarm systems and radios failed to function properly, and that many of the responding officers did not see the intruder as he climbed over the fence, delaying their response.

Omar Gonzalez, the man charged in the incident, 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.

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