Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Morning Read: The Service's Dirty Secret

Somebody in official Washington has decided that the man who jumped the fence and made it into the White House with a knife was the last straw for the US Secret Service, because the Washington Post has a big ol' story on how an attack on the White House three years ago was completely botched by the people tasked with protecting the President.

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 long, 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.

Secret Service officers initially rushed to respond. One, stationed directly under the second-floor terrace where the bullets struck, drew her .357 handgun and prepared to crack open an emergency gun box. Snipers on the roof, standing just 20 feet from where one bullet struck, scanned the South Lawn through their rifle scopes for signs of an attack. With little camera surveillance on the White House perimeter, it was up to the Secret Service officers on duty to figure out what was going on.

Then came an order that surprised some of the officers. “No shots have been fired. . . . Stand down,” a supervisor called over his radio. He said the noise was the backfire from a nearby construction vehicle.

You've got to be kidding me.  Given the sheer number of threats made against this president, for obvious reasons, an attack on the White House was dismissed as construction equipment backfiring?

That command was the first of a string of security lapses, never previously reported, as the Secret Service failed to identify and properly investigate a serious attack on the White House. While the shooting and eventual arrest of the gunman, Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez, received attention at the time, neither the bungled internal response nor the potential danger to the Obama daughters has been publicly known. This is the first full account of the Secret Service’s confusion and the missed clues in the incident — and the anger the president and first lady expressed as a result.

By the end of that Friday night, the agency had confirmed a shooting had occurred but wrongly insisted the gunfire was never aimed at the White House. Instead, Secret Service supervisors theorized, gang members in separate cars got in a gunfight near the White House’s front lawn — an unlikely scenario in a relatively quiet, touristy part of the nation’s capital.

It took the Secret Service five days to realize that shots had hit the White House residence, a discovery that came about only because a housekeeper noticed broken glass and a chunk of cement on the floor.

And the worst part is that the gunman would have gotten away completely if he had not have wreck his car seven blocks away from the White House.


How the President has remained safe so far I'll never know.  But zero credit goes to the USSS.  They are buffoons.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails