Secret Service Puts 3 Agents on Leave for State Dinner Lapse

December 4, 2009

(ChattahBox)—-The hearing called by the House Homeland Security Committee to investigate the White House gate-crashing incident, heard testimony from Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan on Thursday. And he acknowledged that human error by three uniformed agents was responsible for the security lapse, which resulted in two aspiring reality TV stars entering the White House uninvited. Sullivan told the panel that the three agents were placed on administrative leave and the investigation into the protocol breach is continuing.

“In our judgment, a mistake was made. In our line of work, we cannot afford even one mistake,” Sullivan told the congressional panel. “I fully acknowledge that the proper procedures were not followed,” he said. ” … This flaw has not changed our agency’s standard, which is to be right 100 percent of the time.”

The chairman of the panel, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) asked Sullivan for details on the mistakes made:

“Pure and simple, this was human error” in which normal security protocols were not followed. The breach was not caused by poor screening technology, said Sullivan. “What we find is if the protocols are followed, we would not run into this situation,” Sullivan added.

Thompson made clear that the purpose of the hearing was to ensure that our president was well protected:

“This hearing is not about crashing a party at the White House. Nor is it about wannabe celebrities,” said Thompson. “We’re not concerned about agency embarrassment. We’re all fortunate that this diplomatic celebration did not become a night of horror. … We must dissect every fact … and after we do these things, we need to give thanks that no lives were lost,” he said.

The ranking Republican on the panel, Rep. King from New York, asked Sullivan if a White House staff member stationed at security checkpoints would have prevented the gate-crashers from gaining admittance. Sullivan responded that, “It would have helped.”

The White House has now changed its policy and will station staff members from the social secretary’s office at Secret Service checkpoints for future events.

As expected, the gate-crashing couple Michaele and Tareq Salahi did not appear at the hearing and Rep. Thompson is preparing subpoenas for the couple and is considering contempt charges.

King accused the White House of “stonewalling” for not allowing the social secretary, Desiree Rogers to appear before the committee.

Earlier in the day, President Obama expressed his confidence in the Secret Service and the protection they provide for his family and staff. “I could not have more confidence in the Secret Service,” said Obama.

Source


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