The man who jumped the White House fence this month and sprinted through the front door made it much farther into the building than previously known, overpowering one Secret Service officer and running through much of the main floor, according to three people familiar with the incident.
An alarm box near the front entrance of the White House designed to alert guards to an intruder had been muted at what officers believed was a request of the usher’s office, said a Secret Service official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The officer posted inside the front door appeared to be delayed in learning that the intruder, Omar Gonzalez, was about to burst through. Officers are trained that, upon learning of an intruder on the grounds, often through the alarm boxes posted around the property, they must immediately lock the front door.
After barreling past the guard immediately inside the door, Gonzalez, who was carrying a knife, dashed past the stairway leading a half-flight up to the first family’s living quarters. He then ran into the 80-foot-long East Room, an ornate space often used for receptions or presidential addresses.
The Secret Service hasn’t been getting press notices for favorable reasons in the last year or so and this incident raises all kinds of questions. Obviously, the biggest question is, “Why weren’t we told this from the beginning?”
The public obviously doesn’t need to know the details of presidential security but it has a right to know when something goes horribly awry like this. It’s terrifying to think that any random loon can get into the White House.
Any random loon who isn’t Vice President, that is.