Tags: George HW Bush | broken alarm | Secret Service | Joseph Clancy

Secret Service Took a Year to Fix Elder Bush's Home Alarm System

Image: Secret Service Took a Year to Fix Elder Bush's Home Alarm System
(Michael loccisano/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 23 Apr 2015 09:15 AM

The Houston home of former President George H.W. Bush did not have a working alarm system for over a year after Secret Service officials rejected a request five years ago to replace it, a new Department of Homeland Security inspector general's report reveals.

Back in 2010, an agency expert warned that the home's 20-year-old alarm system was aging and would likely fail, reports The Washington Post, which reviewed the report scheduled to come out on Thursday. The system finally quit working altogether in September 2013 and was not replaced until either November or December 2014.

Instead, the report says, the Secret Service added another agent to the Bush home, and while there were no security breaches, some inside the Secret Service said they did not think an extra agent was enough to take the place of an operating alarm system.

Neither does Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

"To not replace a failing system for more than a year is wholly and totally unacceptable," Chaffetz said.

In a joint statement, he and his Democratic committee counterpart Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland said the latest report "adds to the growing list of significant concerns Congress has had with the management of the Secret Service."

The Secret Service told the inspector general for the report that the extra agent "provided an acceptable level of security."

The report recommends a review of needed upgrades and a centralized system to track maintenance requests, which the Secret Service says it already launched before the report was released.

And on Wednesday, Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said the agency "has already taken steps to fully address" the inspector general's recommendations and is examining security systems for the White House, former presidents' residences, and the homes of other top officials.

A senior Homeland Security (DHS) official, speaking anonymously, said Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy has discovered several problems with the agency's technology since he was named to the job last October, and has, along with DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, made upgrading security at officials' homes a "top priority."

Bush's home security was not the only system on the fritz. In January, The Post reported that video surveillance and alarm systems protecting Vice President Joe Biden's home in Delaware were not working properly and the Secret Service had shut them off for several months last year, finally repairing them in November. 

Secret Service officials are also saying that alarm systems at the elder President Bush's compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, need substantial repairs and are close to failing.

The Maine home for years has been a destination for the whole Bush family, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, and his older brother, former President George W. Bush.

The report on the alarms comes as Clancy is working to overcome a series of blunders committed by the Secret Service in recent years.

In 2009, the Secret Service was under fire after two reality-TV personalities sneaked into a state dinner at the White House. In 2011, there was a questionable investigation into a shooting near the White House, and in 2012, the agency was rocked by a prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia.

Problems continued in 2014 with a public drunkenness episode in the Netherlands during a presidential visit, and the Secret Service faced even more questions after a mentally disturbed Iraq War veteran scaled a fence and advanced deep inside the White House.

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The Houston home of former President George H.W. Bush did not have a working alarm system for over a year after Secret Service officials rejected a request five years ago to replace it, a new Department of Homeland Security inspector general's report reveals.
George HW Bush, broken alarm, Secret Service, Joseph Clancy
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2015-15-23
Thursday, 23 Apr 2015 09:15 AM
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