According to The Associated Press, relatively new US Secret Service director Julie Pierson will very soon have to explain how a man armed with a small knife managed to climb over a White House fence, sprint across the north lawn and dash deep into the executive mansion before finally being subdued.
Pierson is certain to face tough questions about why members of Congress briefed by the agency apparently weren't told of the full extent of the breach when she appears before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Pierson will face lawmakers Tuesday (September 30) for the first public accounting of the details surrounding an embarrassing and worrisome security breach at the White House earlier this month that, according to a congressman, was worse than the Secret Service has publicly acknowledged.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said Monday night that whistleblowers told his committee that the intruder ran through the White House, into the East Room and near the doors to the Green Room before being apprehended. They also reported to lawmakers that accused intruder Omar J. González made it past a female guard stationed inside the White House, Chaffetz said.
"I'm worried that over the last several years, security has gotten worse--not better," Chaffetz said.
In the hours after the September 19 fence-jumper incident, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told the AP that González had been apprehended just inside the North Portico doors of the White House. The Service also said that night the Army veteran had been unarmed--an assertion that was revealed to be false the next day, when officials acknowledged González had a knife with him when he was apprehended.
The US Secret Service declined to comment on the latest details to trickle out of the investigation of the embarrassing security breach.
It remains unclear what DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson was told about the breech.
Senate Judiciary Committee staffers were were briefed about the investigation by the Obama Administration were never told just how far into the White House González actually reached.
COMMENT: Citing unnamed sources, THE WASHINGTON POST reported that González ran past a guard at the front door, past a staircase leading up to the Obamas living quarters and into the East Room, which is about halfway across the first floor of the building. Gonzalez was eventually "tackled" by a counter-assault agent, the POST said.
Getting so far into the building would have required González to dash through the main entrance hall, turn a corner, then run through the center hallway halfway across the first floor of the building, which spans 168 feet in total, according to the White House Historical Association.
Since the incident, the White House has treaded carefully. Although White House spokesman Josh Earnest acknowledged the president was "obviously concerned" about the intrusion, he expressed confidence in the Secret Service as recently as Monday.
It would be untenable for any president, not just Obama, to pointedly criticize the men and women who put themselves at risk to protect his life and family. That inherent conflict of interest means Congress, not the executive branch, is the most effective oversight authority for the Secret Service, its agents and officers.
We will update our readers at such time as Secret Service director Julie Pierson briefs lawmakers.