The Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Oversight Committee on Friday asked the Secretary of Homeland Security to launch a full investigation into the management, personnel and culture of the Secret Service, after a string of security lapses forced Director Julia Pierson to resign this week.
"[S]erious questions predated her tenure as director, and her resignation by no means resolves them," Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and top Democrat Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) wrote to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Former Director of the United States Secret Service Julia Pierson shakes hands with Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and ranking member Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), before her testimony on Tuesday. She resigned a day later. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON
At a hearing held this week, Cummings said he was worried that Secret Service employees didn't feel they could raise certain issues with their superiors. That, combined with a wave of security and conduct failures over the last few years, led members of both parties to say they can't trust Pierson's leadership.
Among other things, the agency acknowledged it took four days for it to realize that shots had been fired at the White House back in 2011. Last month, a fence-jumper made it into the White House, and was stopped by an off-duty uniformed officer of the Secret Service.
Pierson was forced to admit the front door of the White House was not locked.
Press reports also surfaced that the agency allowed President Barack Obama onto an elevator with another man who had a gun. On Friday, Bloomberg reported that a man who claimed to be a member of Congress was allowed into a backstage area where Obama was.
Issa and Cummings welcomed Johnson's decision to establish a panel of experts to make recommendations on how to improve the agency. But they said that panel needs to thoroughly examine the Secret Service.
"The panel should review not only recent security lapses, but the full range of management, personnel, training and cultural issues that contribute to the root causes of these security failures," they wrote.
They said an examination of how the agency communicates with Congress, the president and the public is also needed, and that the panel needs to release an unclassified version of its final report.
"By taking these fundamental steps, the Secret Service will begin to rebuild its credibility, which, as you know, is of paramount importance as a deterent against would-be attackers," they wrote.
Read their letter here: