The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee has proposed the creation of an independent panel to conduct a full review of the U.S. Secret Service, after a series of events showed the organization is failing to adequately protect the president, and is abusing its authorities.
Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) introduced legislation that would establish the panel and require it to investigate several key incidents that have taken place over the last few years, and report back to Congress with recommendations after 18 months.
A U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division officer stands between the temporary barricade and the fence line of the White House in Washington, DC. The barricade was put in place after a fence-jumper made it into the White House before being taken down by an off-duty employee. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
"Several high-profile incidents have caused Americans to question the leadership and management of the U.S. Secret Service," McCaul said Thursday. "The men and women of the Secret Service deserve an organization that is efficient and effective, and the American people deserve confidence that the Service can effectively perform its vital missions."
The Department of Homeland Security set up a panel in October to examine how an intruder gained access to the White House in September, and was stopped only by an off-duty official. But McCaul's bill would review several other incidents.
Those include the involvement of nine Secret Service employees with a prostitute in Colombia, and a drunk Special Agent in Amsterdam before a presidential visit.
It will also examine reports that in 2011, shots were fired into the White House, but the Secret Service ignored initial reports of gunfire and assumed it was a car backfiring. "The Service failed to fully investigate the incident in a timely manner or to disclose it," the bill states.
In another case, a surveillance team was taken away from their mission in order to help a Secret Service employee at home after a neighborhood dispute.
"Any issues that distract from the protective mission of the United States Secret Service are a threat to the national security of the United States," the bill reads.
McCaul's bill would set up an eight-member panel to examine these failures and make recommendations on how to avoid them in the future. Six would be chosen by congressional leaders, and two would be chosen by the president.
The panel would be housed in Congress, and would have the authority to subpoena witnesses as they investigate. Read a summary of McCaul's bill here: