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Secret Service Considering Expanded White House Checkpoints After Breach

Image: Secret Service Considering Expanded White House Checkpoints After Breach
Members of the US Secret Service patrol the sidewalk while tourists gather in front of the White House, September 22, 2014. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 22 Sep 2014 08:29 AM

Tourists now may have to go through checkpoints blocks away from the White House before they can enter public areas after a man with a knife jumped the fence on Pennsylvania Avenue and got through an unlocked front portico door.

The Secret Service is considering setting up checkpoints a few blocks away from the president's home, law enforcement officials told The New York Times.

The Secret Service may also be considering creating more barriers around the White House's perimeter, reports The Washington Post.

The checkpoints won't likely include metal detectors and body scans such as those used at the nation's airports. Instead, it be limited to bag checks for explosives or other weapons.

Further, the screening will let Secret Service agents identify people who may pose problems, The Times reports. On Sunday, security was stepped up and more guards were on duty, but there were no checkpoints or additional barricades in place.

However, the measures would be subject to cooperation from several agencies, such as the National Parks Service, the U.S. Parks Police, the White House Historical Association, and the district police department, with some of the groups likely to object to restricting access to the White House or turning Pennsylvania Avenue into a military-controlled zone.

An internal review of Friday's incident is being conducted, with results to be turned over to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, said Secret Service Director Julia Pierson on Saturday.

One of the main questions being asked is why White House guards did not unmuzzle and release any of the large Belgian Malinois attack guard dogs that are kept on the property and trained to stop intruders.

In addition, the investigators will also ask why the door at the White House was not locked.

The man, Omar Gonzalez, 42, of Copperas Cove, Texas, was later determined to have been carrying a knife with a three-and-one-half-inch serrated blade. The breach occurred just minutes after President Barack Obama and his teenage daughters had left for a weekend trip to Camp David. First Lady Michelle Obama had left earlier for Camp David, and was not at the White House when Gonzalez got inside.

Relatives said Gonzalez, who was subdued by a Secret Service officer in the White House vestibule, had served as an Army sniper in Iraq.

Secret Service personnel had questioned Gonzalez recently, reports The Times, after noticing him loitering near the White House. He wasn't arrested or warned to stay away from the property, however.

Gonzalez has been charged in federal court with unlawfully entering a restricted government building with a deadly weapon and could face 10 years in prison.

One of Gonzalez' family members told The Post that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and had been homeless, living out of his car for over a year.

According to a Secret Service agent, Gonzalez told him he wanted to get word to Obama, who had left with his family 10 minutes before the breach for a weekend trip to Camp David, that the world's atmosphere was collapsing.

The Times reported that officers are to hold their fire if an intruder does not appear to be armed, but must instead either warn intruder to stop, tackle them, or release the attack dogs.

However, Gonzalez' knife was hidden and he did not appear to be otherwise armed.

An official told The Post that the security plans are "notional at this point."

There have been many people stopped after jumping the fence at the White House, but Gonzalez is the first to be able to run past the Secret Service and get inside the president's residence.

Adding security at the White House has proven problematic for the Secret Service over the years. While officials consider the White House a "hard target" for attacks, they still want the American people to consider it "the people's house," The Post reports.

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Tourists now may have to go through checkpoints blocks away from the White House before they can enter public areas after a man with a knife jumped the fence on Pennsylvania Avenue and got through an unlocked front portico door. The Secret Service is considering setting up...
secret, service, expanded, checkpoints, white, house
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2014-29-22
Monday, 22 Sep 2014 08:29 AM
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