Members of the Congress are set to grill Secret Service Director Julia Pierson in an inquiry as a report surfaced that an intruder armed with a knife got further into the White House than previously reported.
Pierson is scheduled to appear on Tuesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, Bloomberg reported, more than a week after Iraq war veteran Omar Gonzalez jumped through the fence and entered the presidential mansion’s North Portico doors unhampered by security.
The Washington Post revealed that Gonzalez, 42, made it much deeper into the White House than what was previously reported–he was able to reach as far as the East Room, the White House’s largest room usually used as a venue for official gatherings and the president’s addresses. He then raced to the Green Room–the southern part of the building–and the Rose Garden, where he was arrested by a counter-assault agent.
A Secret Service official told The Post (who spoke on the condition of anonymity) that the alarm at the front entrance of the White House that was supposed to alert security to an intruder was turned off at a request of the usher’s office.
According to the authorities’ initial report, Gonzalez was immediately apprehended right after he entered the building. He was carrying a 3.5-inch knife.
Lawmakers have raised questions over the failure of the Secret Service to carry out standard operating procedures, particularly on how a man was able to evade officers and agents stationed around the premises of the presidential residence.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of a House Oversight subcommittee on national security, said he will ask Pierson on how an alarm designed to alert security to intruders could be put on mute.
Intrusion in the White House, regarded as the most secured place in the world, is a common occurrence but most individuals are easily apprehended by the Secret Service officers at the lawn.