After Omar Gonzalez, a troubled veteran of Iraq, successfully scaled White House fences Friday and gained entry into the mansion with a knife in hand, the first question most asked was, "How did it happen?"
This is the White House, after all. How could the center of American executive power be so simply breached? There was no elaborate plan (as far as we know) on Gonzalez's part. He just climbed the fence. These incidents happen sporadically—remember the bullet fired into a White House window in 2011?—but serve as dramatic reminders that the White House is indeed a target.
On Monday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest addressed those concerns. The White House, although it is the seat of the president's power, is also a very popular tourist destination, he said. People, daily, take photos on the sidewalks in front, and tours are conducted regularly. Earnest would not say if this tourist access would be restricted. The Secret Service, he said, is reviewing security protocols. The front door, Earnest explained, has been kept open because a great many people go in and out of it each day.
"After Friday night's incident," Earnest said of the door, "that will be secured." Earnest also said the president was "obviously concerned," but is confident in the Secret Service investigation into the breach.
"The Secret Service has beefed-up controls around the fence line of the White House complex," Earnest assured. This includes "stepped-up training for officers who are standing on the front lines of the White House" and "additional surveillance resources," he said.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
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