Sunday, September 21, 2014

US: Update--Security Vulnerabilities at The White House

According to The Associated Pressthe man accused of getting inside the White House after scaling a fence is a veteran who was awarded a medal for his service in Iraq and retired due to disability, the Army said Sunday (September 21).

The military does not provide details about a soldier's disability due to privacy considerations. Authorities have identified the intruder from Friday night's shocking incident as Omar J. González, 42, of Copperas Cove, TX, and the Army said he had served from 1997 to 2003, when he was discharged, and then again from 2005 to December 2012, when he retired.

The Secret Service tightened security outside the White House after the embarrassing breach in which the intruder carrying a knife climbed the fence, ran across the lawn and entered the building before agents stopped him. Fortunately, The First Family was away from the White House at the time.

Increased surveillance and more officer patrols are among the measures that Secret Service Director Julia Pierson has ordered. She has also began an investigation into what went wrong.View gallery
A member of the House Homeland Security Committee said Sunday that it was astonishing, at a time of concerns about terrorist attacks, that "someone could actually get into the White House without being stopped."
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said the intrusion was "absolutely inexcusable." He expected congressional hearings into the incident at one of the world's most heavily secured buildings. "This demands a full investigation, an investigation as to what happened, why it happened and what's being done to make sure it never happens again," King told "Fox News on Sunday.
A criminal complaint issued late Friday (September 19) revealed González had a small folding knife with a 3 ½-inch serrated blade with him at the time of his arrest.View gallery
At a hearing on Saturday afternoon in DC Superior Court, the assistant public defender representing Mr. González said the intruder had no convictions or arrest warrants and had tested negative Saturday for drug use, according to The Washington Post.
"This is someone who has provided service to his country and shown commitment in his life," said the lawyer, Margarita O'Donnell, as she attempted unsuccessfully to get González released.
González was expected to appear in federal court Monday (September 22) to face charges of unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon.
COMMENT: According to a criminal complaint, González told Secret Service agents after his arrest that he was "concerned that the atmosphere was collapsing" and needed to contact the president "so he could get word out to the people."
The US Army said González enlisted in July 1997 and was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, at Fort Hood, TX. At the time, he listed his home as Puerto Rico. González enlisted a second time in July 2005, and served until late 2012 when he was eligible to retire.
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During this period, he was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, and the 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Ford Hood. González served in Iraq from October 2006 until January 2008.
Obama and his daughters had just left the White House by helicopter Friday evening when the intruder hopped the fence.
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The intruder ran toward the presidential residence unimpeded, ignoring orders from officers to stop, until being tackled just inside the doors of the North Portico — the grand, columned entrance overlooking Pennsylvania Ave.
With questions mounting, President Barack Obama attempted to dispense with questions about whether the Secret Service is still up to the task of protecting the President and his family.
The Secret Service said its Office of Professional Responsibility was carrying out the review.
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The breach triggered a rare evacuation of much of the White House. Secret Service agents drew their weapons as they hurried White House staffers and journalists out of the West Wing through a side door.
Less than 24 hours after González's arrest, a second intruder was arrested after he drove up to a White House vehicular gate and refused to leave, prompting bomb techs in full gear to search vehicles as agents shut down adjacent streets.
There were no indications the two incidents were connected. But they only intensified the scrutiny of the Secret Service, which is struggling to rehabilitate its image following a series of allegations of misconduct by agents in recent years, including agents assigned to President Obama's protective detail.

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