Originally published on October 2, 2014, at NationofChange.org
After providing slippery testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson has resigned amidst multiple scandals and incompetency surrounding her agency. Failing to adequately provide protection for the president and the First Family, Pierson openly lied to congressional members regarding her failure to disclose all security breaches to President Obama.
On September 19, Iraq war veteran Omar Gonzalez leapt over the fence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and broke into the White House. Equipped with a three-inch serrated knife, Gonzalez was finally arrested by two off-duty agents after breaching five levels of security. According to an anonymous Secret Service official, the security alarm near the front entrance had been disabled because White House staff had found it annoying.
During a visit to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention three days earlier, President Obama entered an elevator accompanied by an armed private contractor with three convictions for assault and battery. Refusing orders to stop recording the president with his cell phone camera, the contractor was interrogated by Secret Service agents after Obama exited the elevator. The contractor was fired on the spot when agents ran his name through a database and discovered his criminal background. Secret Service agents were completely unaware the contractor had been armed until he turned over his gun.
While testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Pierson failed to evade questions concerning her agency’s mishandling of numerous security breaches in recent years. Unable to provide satisfactory answers regarding the White House shooting of 2011, the CDC elevator incident, and the recent White House breach, Pierson visibly angered congressmen attempting to review her agency’s incompetence. During the meeting, Rep. Jason Chaffetz asked her, “What percentage of the time do you inform the President that his personal security has in any way, shape, or form been breached?”
“Percentage of the time? A hundred percent of the time we would advise the President,” Pierson lied.
“In calendar year 2014, how many times has that happened?” asked Chaffetz.
“I have not briefed him…except for one occasion for the September 19 incident,” she answered, referring to the White House breach. Pierson had neglected to inform the president about the CDC incident with the armed private contractor three days prior.
On March 27, 2013, Pierson became the first female Director of the U.S. Secret Service after agents had been caught purchasing prostitutes in Colombia the previous year. Days before President Obama’s arrival to the international summit in Cartagena, multiple Secret Service and DEA agents brought prostitutes back to their hotel rooms and engaged in sexual misconduct. In the morning, the Secret Service agents refused to pay the full amount owed to the prostitutes. Following a Justice Department investigation, eight of the Secret Service agents lost their jobs.
In May 2013, Secret Service supervisor Ignacio Zamora left a bullet in a woman’s hotel room and attempted to force his way back into the room to retrieve it. An investigation into the incident revealed Zamora and a colleague, Timothy Barraclough, had sent sexually suggestive emails to a female subordinate. Zamora lost his job while Barraclough was reassigned within the detail.
In March, three members of the Secret Service’s Counter Assault Team were placed on paid administrative leave after one of them was found passed out drunk in a hallway by hotel staff in Amsterdam. Considered the last line of defense in case of an attack against the president, the three agents violated agency rules by drinking alcohol during the ten hours leading up to their assignment.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed the first black Secret Service agent to the Presidential Protective Division. During an interview with ABC News, former Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden admitted his white colleagues repeatedly drank on the job.
“I told the chief of the Secret Service this, that if anything happens, that if an emergency situation happens with President Kennedy, that their reflexes are gonna be in such a condition that they won’t be able to respond,” stated Bolden. “And Dallas, Texas, proved that I was right.”