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Secret Service director grilled over White House security breaches

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Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

By Brittany Bade


MEGAN GUTHRIE/CRONKITE NEWS: In Washington today, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee met to evaluate the effectiveness of Secret Service protection at the White House. Cronkite News reporter Brittany Bade has the story.

BRITTANY BADE/CRONKITE NEWS: Two men in the last two weeks ran across Pennsylvania Avenue, jumped that fence into the White House. And those are just the latest in a string of security breaches over the last several years that led to today’s committee hearing where committee members grilled the director of the Secret Service.

Angry lawmakers are demanding answers.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ/UTAH: Don’t let somebody get close to the president. Don’t let somebody get close to his family. Don’t let them get in the White House. Ever.

BRITTANY BADE/CRONKITE NEWS: This month, a man made it far inside the White House with a knife. And now the director of the Secret Service is in the hot seat.

JULIA PIERSON/SECRET SERVICE DIRECTOR: It is obvious that mistakes were made.

BRITTANY BADE/CRONKITE NEWS: But these fence jumpers aren’t the committee’s only concern. Back in 2011 -

REP. DARRELL ISSA/CALIFORNIA: …a gunman who sprayed bullets across the White House.

BRITTANY BADE/CRONKITE NEWS: Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar, who sits on this committee but was not able to be here today, said in a statement these failures are due to “incompetence and negligence ” within the Secret Service culture.

Chief Pierson said today she plans to conduct a full investigation into the recent security breaches.

JULIA PIERSON/SECRET SERVICE DIRECTOR: I take full responsibility and I will make sure that it does not happen again.

BRITTANY BADE/CRONKITE NEWS: While the investigation is underway, Director Pierson said an unspecified type of “buffer zone” will be up here along Pennsylvania Avenue, further limiting the American people’s access to the White House.

From Pennsylvania Avenue, Brittany Bade, Cronkite News.