'Harsh' Report Finds Guard on Cell Phone During White House Breach

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A new report on the Sept. 19 breach of the White House by a man who jumped over the fence says among the failures was the action of a uniformed Secret Service officer on the North Lawn who wasn't listening to his two-way radio.

According to the report from the Department of Homeland Security, the officer — who was in charge of a dog — was not listening to the Secret Service channels because his earpiece was not in, and a standby radio was left in his locker. The officer was in a van, talking on a cellphone on speaker.

When that office saw another colleague running toward the fencer jumper, later identified as Omar Gonzalez, he commanded the dog to attack but it was too late.

The report also notes that Gonzalez cleared the fence where a "trident," or ornamental spike on top of the fence, was missing.

"This is a harsh report," said one Homeland Security official, "but it is intended to help fix the problems that this incident made very apparent."

The report says a DHS investigation uncovered a series of "performance, organizational, technical" and other failures.

A copy of the findings was given to the new acting Secret Service director, Joseph Clancy, "so that Acting Director Clancy could immediately begin to take any additional security measures that the findings warranted in order to better ensure the White House complex is secure. Acting Director Clancy has already begun to take such measures," said a statement from Homeland Security.

"Based on these initial findings the Secret Service has implemented, or is in the process of implementing, a series of training, staffing, communication, tactical and intelligence gathering enhancements," said Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan.

House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said the report's findings were "not acceptable for the detail responsible for protecting the president's life."

He said he plans to hold hearings to work on fixing the problem and plans to make further recommendations to Congress.

"This is a premiere federal law enforcement agency that has really gone array," McCaul told NBC News Thursday evening. "Whether failures to protect white house, the president at white house, failures in terms of conduct and misconduct. Would like to see it cleaned up and it go back to the organization we all admired."


— Pete Williams and Hasani Gittens

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