WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Secret Service said Saturday it has launched a comprehensive review of White House security procedures after an intruder armed with a knife scaled a fence, sprinted across the lawn and entered the presidential residence.
The White House – the president’s workplace and home – is generally regarded as one of the most secure and protected places on the planet.
All the more troubling, Secret Service officials said, that the fence jumper, identified as Omar Gonzalez, had entered the building unimpeded late Friday.
“Although last night the officers showed tremendous restraint and discipline in dealing with this subject, the location of Gonzalez’s arrest is not acceptable,” said the statement released by the Secret Service late Saturday, noting that he was restrained only after entering the White House North Portico doors.
An agency within the Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service is tasked with protecting America’s highest elected officials and visiting foreign officials, and securing events of national significance.
But the service in charge of security for America’s commander-in-chief has also been dogged with scandals and mishaps in recent years. The investigation was ordered by Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, whose office said that the review’s findings would be submitted to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson.
The Secret Service said the review began late Friday, with a physical assessment of the site and personnel interviews, and would encompass “all operational policies and security procedures during this process.”