All-Star panel: How was WH security breached?

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," September 30, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


REP. DARRELL ISSA, R - CA: An intruder walked in the front door of the White House, and that is unacceptable.

JULIA PIERSON, SECRET SERVICE DIRECTOR: We all are outraged within the Secret Service of how this incident came to pass. And that is why I have asked for a full review. It's obvious. It is obvious that mistakes were made. It's self-evident that mistakes were made.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, R - UT: After the fence jumping incident the Secret Service was very quick to put out a statement that honored the officers and agents for their, quote, "tremendous restraint. " Tremendous restraint is not what we're looking for. Tremendous restraint is not the goal and the objective. It sends a very mixed message. The message should be overwhelming force.


BAIER: The hearing today about the Secret Service, that was about the fence jumper who made it into the White House. Late today, just before the show started, another incident confirmed, one that happened in Atlanta when the president visited the CDC. A contracted security guard armed with a gun in the elevator taking pictures and video of the president as he got in the elevator with him. According to reports the man had three felony convictions, and that is a breach of protocol.

Let's bring in our panel, and syndicated columnist George Will, Juan Williams, columnist with The Hill, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. George, they're saying that it wasn't a threat to the president. We haven't officially heard from the Secret Service. But these items are stacking up.

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It's an official crisis because we've heard the three magic words, "mistakes were made," a very sort of predictable response.

Look, there's obviously something wrong with the culture of the Secret Service agents. We've seen it in Columbia with the misbehavior of agents overseas and all the rest. And I have a theory, and it is that this results in part because the Secret Service is the most uncontrolled bureaucracy in this town because no one wants to say enough security, because the axiom by which the Secret Service operates is you can't have too much safety, which of course is preposterous. That's why Washington today looks like an armed camp with all kinds of weird security measures disrupting pedestrian as well as vehicular traffic.

It's axiomatic that when there's no penalty for failure, failures proliferate. In Washington, the failure is rewarded. Watch the minuet taking place here. The Secret Service says the problem is we don't have, A, enough money, and, B, enough power to restrict movement around Washington.  So they will sort of aggrandize themselves in this regard.

BAIER: Juan, when you hear this story about the elevator it's really quite something. This is within arm's length of the president.

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, it's worse than that. I was thinking as you were describing it to the audience that, yes, he was clearly breaking protocol. It was more than a violation of protocol. The man not only had these three felony convictions, he had a gun. He had a gun, and the Secret Service apparently was not aware that he had a gun.

BAIER: Or they didn't background check him either.

WILLIAMS: Right. They were supposed to check everybody who has proximity to the President of the United States. They didn't check this guy. So when they discovered his odd behavior according to the story, then they decided to take a look at him, discovered that he had the gun, and that's when the alarms went off. It's too late at that point if he was a genuine threat.

I want to come back to something George was saying, which is already their response to the fence jumper has been now to institute more searches of people walking by the White House. And to me, again, the penalty is being imposed on the American people, not on the Secret Service, not on the Secret Service in terms of saying -- you know, I'm not all for as Jason Chaffetz, the Congressman from Utah said, we want harshness and lethal force. I don't necessarily know that they needed to shoot that guy. But the levels of security that broke down, including the lapse of not sending dogs after the guy?

BAIER: There's five levels.

WILLIAMS: And the door being unlocked and the buzzer being off? I mean, talk about keystone cops. I'm not being unnecessarily critical. I'm not like Mike holding up the security sign.

BAIER: Charles, this -- Jason Chaffetz, congressman from Utah, asked the Secret Service director that whether she had briefed the president, and she said one time in 2014. This incident on the elevator at the CDC happened three days before the fence jumper who makes it into the East Room of the White House.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: This is an agency that is lax, not doing its job, and is absolutely out of control. I think Juan is completely right. It's not easy to say...

WILLIAMS: I know, I know. It's OK.

KRAUTHAMMER: It's hard to get it out. But the first thing to think of the Secret Service when there's a breach, when they have a failure, which is a guy who ran across the White House lawn a few months ago is to diminish civil liberties of tourists walking outside the gates. The problem is not outside the gates. It is inside the gates. And the failures the multiple ones that occurred, all happened inside the gate. And that's where you have to take action.

I think it starts with the culture in Washington where no one is accountable for anything. You say the word "I am accountable, I am responsible," and nothing happens to you. Anybody who says in a hearing "I take the full responsibility" ought to be required by law to resign within the hour. That's what it means that I take responsibility.

The defense minister in Britain when the Falkland Islands were taken over by Argentina resigned within days even though there was nothing he did that had allowed it. There was no neglect or any -- he said I'm in charge, I'm the secretary of defense, I'm gone. That kind of responsibility, ministerial responsibility as it's called in Britain, doesn't exist here. But time after time, with the V.A. scandal, with the rollout of ObamaCare, with what happened in Benghazi, people say "I am accountable" and nothing happens to them. If you're accountable, if you say the words, you're gone.

BAIER: I've covered the White House for three-and-a-half years. And there are people in the Secret Service who are very good at their jobs and they protect the first family. This is a string of incidents, though, George, that is stacking up bipartisan outrage up on Capitol Hill.

WILL: Yes, and the phrase "mistakes were made" is a way of beginning to lay gas all over the idea of accountability. It's another Washington dialectic is that an agency's imperiousness increases as its competence decreases. Let me tell you a Secret Service story. A week before he's inaugurated in January of 2009, Barack Obama comes to my house for dinner.  Mr. Krauthammer was there. He was a perfect gentleman. The same cannot be said for the Secret Service, my neighbors across the street, a nice young family with a boy, I guess Max was about 10 years old at the time, came out on their front lawn to watch the president. A Secret Service agent crossed the street and ordered them off their lawn and into their house and he said there will be no arguing about this. Now there's something badly wrong in the United States when an American family is ordered off their lawn for no reason other than the person could do so.

BAIER: They should have ordered the fence jumper off the lawn.

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