Tags: Exclusive Interviews | John Mica | white house | security | jumper

Rep. John Mica to NM: Drones Now Biggest Threat to WH Security

By    |   Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 07:29 PM

The greatest security threat to the White House is not people jumping the fence — it is drones, Rep. John Mica told Newsmax on Tuesday.

"The next threat are drones," the Florida Republican said. "You can buy all kinds of little drones, attach explosives or something harmful to them — chemicals — and fly them.

"We should be looking at the next threat, and it poses a very serious threat," Mica said.

Mica, who has been on Capitol Hill since 1993, was among many Republicans who grilled Secret Service Director Julia Pierson at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Tuesday about the many security breaches at the White House, including the Sept. 19 incident involving Army veteran Omar Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, 42, a homeless Iraqi war veteran, scaled the fence wielding a knife and got inside the White House before being subdued by an off-duty Secret Service agent.

Gonzalez had covered half the ground floor, passing by a flight of stairs leading to President Barack Obama's private living quarters, before he was stopped in the East Room.

"It's unacceptable," Pierson said in accepting full responsibility for the debacle. "I'll make sure that it does not happen again."

She disclosed that six fence-jumpings had occurred this year alone, including one just eight days before the one involving Gonzalez.

Pierson said that the unlocked front door to the White House that Gonzalez entered now locks automatically in a security breach. On Sept. 19, a Secret Service guard was trying to lock one of the doors manually when Gonzalez allegedly knocked the agent down.

The hearing came amid a report by The Washington Post over the weekend of a four-day delay in 2011 before the Secret Service realized that a man had fired a high-powered rifle at the White House.

The Post reported that some Secret Service officers believed immediately that shots had been fired into the mansion but they were "largely ignored" or afraid to challenge their bosses' conclusions that the shooting was not directed at the White House.

Republicans pelted Pierson with questions about how Gonzalez, who has since been charged with unlawful entry and other offenses, got so far into the White House — apparently overpowering a guard and penetrating several layers of Secret Service security — before he was tackled.

They also accused Pierson of not disclosing the full details of the breach immediately.

Mica even suggested in the hearing that Pierson adopt more electronic surveillance improvements to protect the president and his family — at one point, holding up the sign of the security company ADT and asking, "Have you heard of these guys?"

In his Newsmax interview, Mica reiterated the need for more "commonsense improvements that are long overdue" at the Secret Service. These include raising the fence beyond its current height of 7 feet, 6 inches — which was put in place in 1965 — and adding more technology.

"Obviously we have a problem," he said. "The White House fence has been jumped many times. There's certainly improvements that can be made. What you don't want to do is hire thousands of people to guard the White House and spend all kinds of money."

It's important, however, that the agency be concerned about safeguarding the White House against drone attacks, Mica said. He referenced when Frank Corder crashed a stolen Cessna 150 aircraft on the White House lawn on Sept. 12, 1994.

Corder, a former Army mechanic, was trying to hit the White House and died in the crash. President Bill Clinton and his family were not injured.

"There's all kinds of things you can do, and we should look at the latest technology," Mica said. "Personnel and technology can solve our problem.

"We don't have to spend a fortune. A thousand more agents may not make the difference, but maybe raising the fence 2 more feet might make it more difficult to get over. Some kind of barrier or detection equipment."

Mica, however, stopped short of calling for Pierson's resignation, noting that she had taken over the embattled agency in March 2013.

"It's an agency that's had problems. It's like a lot of federal bureaucracies," he told Newsmax. "They sometimes spin out of control, and you've got to get a hold of it."

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The greatest security threat to the White House is not people jumping the fence - it is drones, Rep. John Mica told Newsmax on Tuesday. The next threat are drones, the Florida Republican said. You can buy all kinds of little drones, attach explosives or something harmful...
John Mica, white house, security, jumper
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2014-29-30
Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 07:29 PM
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