Stunning security breaches that put the president at risk — six since 2013 — were disclosed for the first time Thursday as part of a large-scale bipartisan congressional investigation of the Secret Service, the Washington Post reported.
The lapses include: a man posing as a member of Congress who waltzed into a secure backstage area without proper screening and spoke with President Obama at an awards dinner last fall; then five days later, a woman who walked backstage unchecked at a gala dinner featuring Obama; and months later, a pair who got through a Secret Service checkpoint into the first layer of the White House grounds, the Post said.
A copy of the report obtained by the paper details the Secret Service as an "agency in crisis" that has failed to amend serious issues underscored publicly last year in a series of security disasters.
More from the Post:
More broadly, the report assessed the Secret Service as an agency that remains deeply troubled, despite recent attempts at reform. It concludes that the service has a “staffing crisis,” with fewer personnel today than in 2014, when an administration panel recommended adding 280 new staff members and Director Joseph P. Clancy took over vowing to enact the reforms. [...]
Morale is “critically low,” contributing to a drop in personnel through attrition. The report also blames the decline on “systemic mismanagement” and an inefficient hiring process that hampers recruitment of high-caliber staff.
“The agency’s recent public failures are not a series of isolated events, but the product of an insular culture that has historically been resistant to change,” according to the report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Post noted.
“The high attrition rate means that the personnel who remain are significantly overworked, and morale is at an all-time low,” the report added, according the paper, and that the Secret Service's new hiring system “overburdens USSS with low quality applicants.”
And if the problems aren't fixed? Obama and 2016 presidential candidates are exposed to greater danger, the report said.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the Oversight Committee, told the Post that the report should jumpstart a response from the Obama administration.
“The situation is getting worse not better,” he told the paper. “The president is in jeopardy, and he better personally get involved in fixing this.”
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), the panel’s ranking Democrat, told the Post that Congress shares blame for 2011 funding cuts that were the agency's biggest ever.
Read the entire article from the Washington Post here.
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