A Department of Homeland Security review of the Secret Service found a string of “performance, organizational, technical” and other failures that allowed a knife-wielding intruder to scale the White House fence in September and run deep into the building, according to NBC News’ Pete Williams.
One Secret Service officer on the White House’s North Lawn, accompanied by a dog and stationed in a van, did not have his earpiece in at the time of the intrusion and left his standby radio in a locker, a person familiar with the report told Williams. What’s more, the officer was talking on a cell phone at the time.
A Homeland Security official called the report “harsh,” adding that it is “intended to help fix the problems that this incident made very apparent.” A law enforcement official said no one has been placed on administrative leave in the wake of the report, according to NBC News’ Alicia Jennings.
Omar Gonzalez, an Army veteran, was charged late last month with “unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds, while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon.” He was later hit with additional charges, including two counts of assaulting an officer and one count of carrying a large-capacity magazine.
“The entire Secret Service workforce is dedicated to ensuring that we provide the highest level of protection to the people and facilities we protect. We must take this opportunity to make any necessary changes and improvements related to carrying out our protective mission to regain the trust of the American people,” Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told NBC News’ Kristen Welker.
The Secret Service’s botched response to the security lapse, coupled with a report by The Washington Post that said the agency was not aware for days that bullets hit the White House in 2011, led to the resignation of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson last month. Interim Director Joseph Clancy received a copy of the internal review, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement, according to Williams.
The New York Times first reported on the internal review Thursday.