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“Botched response?” House panel investigates Secret Service

“Botched response?” House panel investigates Secret Service

“We expect answers”

The Secret Service has problems—and today, director Joseph Clancy talked to Congress about his plans to turn things around.

The subject of today’s hearing centered around an incident that occurred earlier this month at the White House, where two likely-intoxicated Secret Service agents hit a security barrier after driving through an active bomb threat investigation.

Chaffetz showed surveillance footage provided by the Washington, D.C., police department. The time-lapse video showed a woman dropped off a package outside the White House on the night of March 4. She apparently claimed this was a bomb. The video, toward the end, also showed the two agents in question arriving on the scene and bumping into a security barrier.

But Chaffetz, before playing the video, said after agents were initially unable to apprehend the suspect, the package sat “unattended as traffic drove by for a long period of time.” He said it took 11 minutes for the agency to call the Metropolitan Police Department bomb squad. And for 17 minutes, he said, traffic continued to drive by and “several pedestrians walked within feet of the potential bomb.”

“I don’t understand how that happens,” Chaffetz said.

Chaffetz also said that an agent initially followed the suspect’s car but was “mistakenly called off the pursuit when the Secret Service identified the wrong car as the suspect’s.” It took 30 minutes after she fled for the Service to issue a “lookout” for the vehicle.

After an hour and 20 minutes, the scene was cleared. The “bomb” turned out to be a book. The suspect was apprehended three days later.

Here’s video of the incident:

I don’t understand how that happens either, but as we all know, that incident was just the tip of the iceberg of problems plaguing the agency.

Criticism flowed from both sides of the aisle, with Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings stressing that Congress has a “microscope” trained on the agency, and saying that Clancy and his higher-ups will be held accountable if investigations reveal misconduct. Republican committee member Buddy Carter (GA-1) grilled Clancy on training and background checks (because seriously, what make and model of Secret Service agent gets drunk and bumps his way through an active bomb situation?) Carter’s questions to Clancy involving allegations of expedited background checks went unanswered, with Clancy saying that he’d have to research the issue and report back to the committee.

I’m sure you can guess Carter’s reaction to this. It’s the same reaction I’m sure all of us would have if an agency director couldn’t answer questions about the training of his employees—why don’t you know?

Clancy hasn’t been in control of the agency long enough to reasonably be held accountable for the laundry list of problems the Congressional committee is looking at, but he’s going to have to do a better job answering the questions he should know the answer to if he hopes to keep his job.


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Did you ever hear of these kinds of continuous screw-ups before the current resident moved in?

A fish rots from the head down.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to JohnC. | March 24, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    What do you expect from a bunch of pretty boys?

    nordic_prince in reply to JohnC. | March 24, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    If Zero has politicized the SS like he’s politicized everything else and should anything happen, he’s only going to reap all the $h!+ that he’s sowed.

    Whether it be in this life or the next, it will all catch up with him. Divine justice.

I think much could be learned by finding out who is not there, any more. Then, look at who has come in.

Subotai Bahadur | March 24, 2015 at 4:54 pm

I’m curious, what botched response?

The drunken supervisors still are employed. The SS’s own tape of the incident it was announced a week ago, was “erased routinely”. You know that Boehner will not allow anyone in the Executive branch to be held responsible for anything.

Sounds like a totally successful response by the SS according to modern standards.

Carol Herman | March 24, 2015 at 6:27 pm

Yeah, riight. Clancy will “turn things around.” All that’s missing is a woman driver.

Henry Hawkins | March 24, 2015 at 7:09 pm

Until January 2017, I could care less how well the Secret Service performs.

    Ragspierre in reply to Henry Hawkins. | March 24, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    No, no, NO! Please, let NOTHING happen to this puke that will convert him into the martyred Barracula.

    We’d never see the back of that bullshit.

One of the very first responders to an explosive threat would have been canine and I’d be very surprised if there isn’t a canine presence at the gates 24/7. Initial threat detection was probably accomplished in seconds. A positive reaction from the dog would have played out an entirely different human response scenario. With a negative canine result tracking down the foolish woman who left the package doesn’t require a DEFCON response. The Secret Service may have slipped a bit in recent years, but at least give the dogs some credit.