The man who got inside the White House earlier this month after scaling a fence, Army veteran Omar Gonzalez, was actually steps away from entering the Green Room.
The Washington Post and The New York Times are reporting that the Sept. 21 breach was far more serious than previously disclosed and “it is unheard of in recent decades.”
Citing a congressional official, The New York Times reported on its website that the 42-year-old man even “overpowered a female Secret Service agent inside the North Portico entrance and ran through the East Room before he was tackled.”
The report comes hours before Julia Pierson, the director of the Secret Service, is scheduled to testify Tuesday before a bipartisan panel in Congress about the agency’s ability to protect the president and his family.
Over the weekend, another story published by The Washington Post regarding a 2011 breach is also bound to create trouble for Pierson.
The Post reported it took the Secret Service four days to finally realize that a shooting incident on the night of November 11, 2011 was aimed at and had hit White House property. Moreover, it says the realization came only thanks to an observant housekeeper, who noticed the damage caused by at least seven bullets on the residence’s second floor.
The Post said it based its report on interviews with agents and investigators, as well as hundreds of pages of documents, including audio recordings of the radio transmissions that night.
Eventually, the shooter, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, was captured and sent to jail after pleading guilty, but the Post says this is the first time the Secret Service’s confusion and missed clues have been exposed.
President Obama and his wife Michelle were not in the White House at the time — just their younger daughter Sasha and her grandmother Marian Robinson were.
According to The Washington Post story, President Obama has faced three times as many threats as his predecessors.
The 2011 shooting was remarkable, the Post says, because it uncovers an alarming string of security lapses and misjudgments.
The shots were fired just 15 yards away from two officers who were sitting in a car in charge of the White House security. Ortega-Hernandez, 21, had quietly parked his black Honda in a closed lane of Constitution Avenue, moved to the passenger seat and shot his semiautomatic rifle out of the window.
The Idaho man had arrived in the nation’s capital on November 9. Before leaving town he told acquaintances that President Obama was the Antichrist and "the devil" and that he needed to kill him.
He had 180 rounds of ammunition in his car, which he left abandoned after crashing it not far from the White House. The disturbed man was apprehended over a week later in an Indiana motel thanks to a tip from a desk clerk there.
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