The Secret Service has experienced a series of unfortunate setbacks recently, including an incident this month in which a man with a knife was able to jump the White House fence and enter the building before he was apprehended.
Carol Leonnig, however, reported over the weekend on an even more serious incident that the public previously knew nothing about.
The gunman parked his black Honda directly south of the White House, in the dark of a November night, in a closed lane of Constitution Avenue. He pointed his semiautomatic rifle out of the passenger window, aimed directly at the home of the president of the United States, and pulled the trigger.
A bullet smashed a window on the second floor, just steps from the first family's formal living room. Another lodged in a window frame, and more pinged off the roof, sending bits of wood and concrete to the ground. At least seven bullets struck the upstairs residence of the White House, flying some 700 yards across the South Lawn.
President Obama and his wife were out of town on that evening of Nov. 11, 2011, but their younger daughter, Sasha, and Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Robinson, were inside, while older daughter Malia was expected back any moment from an outing with friends.
In this case, Secret Service officers, including one near the terrace where bullets hit the White House, rushed to action, but a supervisor halted the response, blaming the sound on a vehicle backfire.
Hours later, the Secret Service changed its assessment, but still got the incident wrong -- officials decided there had been shots, but the White House wasn't the intended target.
It wasn't until a housekeeper noticed "broken glass and a chunk of cement on the floor" that the Secret Service realized that a shooter had hit the White House residence. It was four days after the incident.
The gunman, Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez, was eventually caught and arrested, but even this was largely the result of luck.