The Washington Post is reporting this evening that the man who jumped the White House fence ten days ago penetrated even farther into the executive mansion than previously known.
The story was ugly enough when originally reported. Originally it was said that Omar Gonzales, an apparently unbalanced man with a knife, jumped the fence, made it across the north lawn, through an unlocked door, and into the White House entrance hall where he was quickly subdued.
Press accounts today say that in fact Gonzales made it through the entrance hall, down a cross hall, overpowered a Secret Service officer and into the East Room. He was apparently tackled just outside the Green Room.
For the better part of a week, the Secret Service has been telling reporters that the man was wrestled to the ground just inside the door. If the Post is right — those reports were grossly misleading.
The latest accounts also say that intrusion alarms were either turned off or turned down at the request of White House ushers.
When asked about today’s reports the Secret Service declined to comment because of the”ongoing investigation.”
To make matters worse (for them) Secret Service Director Julie Pierson is scheduled to testify Tuesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
We doubt she will be able to take cover behind the “ongoing investigation” dodge — and pointing fingers at others like ushers is a losing tactic too. The main focus at the hearing, rightly so, will be on the operational failure of the Secret Service — but Pierson should be held to account about her agency’s inept communications practices as well.
What in the world was the Secret Service thinking when putting out a misleading story? Perhaps they convinced themselves that putting out the full story would only inspire copy cats. But the facts were bound to get out. Apparently they have. And the Secret Service credibility is now shot.