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Before the Fence-Jumper and the Prostitution Scandal, the Secret Service Botched Something Else. It Could Have Cost Sasha Obama Her Life

“When the president came back . . . then the s**t really hit the fan."

FILE - In this April 15, 2013 file photo, a uniformed Secret Service officer pulls tape across the road to close Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House in Washington, in response to the explosions at the Boston Marathon. The Secret Service is boosting security outside the White House following an embarrassing security breach in which an intruder with a knife scaled the White House fence, dashed across the lawn and made it all the way inside before agents managed to stop him. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File

What's wrong with the Secret Service?

A week ago, a man made it across the lawn and inside the White House with a knife before he was finally stopped, and while the Secret Service says it's taking steps to beef up security, Glenn Beck's assessment of the situation appears to be on point: "This president is in trouble."

Now there's new disturbing evidence that the Secret Service is failing in its mission: A man who fired shots at the White House nearly got away scot-free.

In this April 15, 2013 file photo, a uniformed Secret Service officer pulls tape across the road to close Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House in Washington, in response to the explosions at the Boston Marathon.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

The Washington Post reported late Saturday on the shooting, which occurred on Nov. 11, 2011, and could have cost President Barack Obama's daughters, Sasha and Malia, or his wife's mother, Marian Robinson, their lives:

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 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.

[...]

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.

The Post's damning report notes that while the president and his wife were not home when the shooting took place, Obama's mother-in-law and one of his daughters, Sasha, were inside the White House when bullets hit it, and Malia was in the area as well.

Yet despite the danger, the Secret Service took four days to figure out that bullets had hit the White House, and the gunman might have escaped had he not crashed his car after the shooting.

The Post unearthed new evidence in extensive interviews that the Secret Service, in “casual Friday” mode with the president out of town, failed abjectly in its mission to protect the president and his family, and as news of the shooting — and the Secret Service's cluelessness about it — spread, people got angry.

“When the president came back . . . then the s**t really hit the fan,” one former aide told the Post.

Yet less than one year later, a dozen Secret Service agents were relieved of their duties after getting involved with prostitutes in Colombia, and this year, the knife-wielding man got inside the White House.

Being president is a dangerous job, now more than ever: The Post reported that people familiar with the Secret Service's threat assessments said Obama has faced triple the number of threats as his predecessors.

Read the Post's full report here.

Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

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