Tags: Secret Service | Cummings | Pierson

Elijah Cummings: Diplomats Not Safe Under Secret Service

By    |   Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 09:36 AM

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee member Rep. Elijah Cummings said he did not come away from Tuesday's hearing with Secret Service Director Julia Pierson feeling that diplomats the agents were supposed to protect were safe.

"I have a duty, and other members of Congress have a duty, to make sure that diplomats are safe. I just did not come away (from the hearing) feeling that that was the case. As a matter of fact, one of my colleagues said to me, 'This sounds like the Keystone Cops,' " the Maryland Democrat told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday.

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Pierson appeared before the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday to answer questions about lapses in security by the Secret Service. In September, Iraq war veteran Omar Gonzalez, wielding a knife, jumped the fence and was able to enter the White House, going deep into the East Room before being apprehended.

It was also revealed that in 2011 a White House housekeeper found broken glass that led to the discovery that bullets had been fired days before at President Barack Obama's residence.

And, on Tuesday it was reported that Obama was in an elevator with an armed private security contractor while visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta last month.

Cummings said he was "not impressed" by Pierson's testimony on Tuesday, admitting "it was very difficult for me to sleep last night."

"I went in hoping to hear news that our president was being properly protected and maybe we were missing something. But, when I left, I was just extremely upset," he said.

The culture at the Secret Service had created problems in protocol, training, and morale, Cummings explained, adding that it was a "major problem" when Secret Service agents weren't comfortable bringing their problems to their supervisors.

"You have Secret Service agents who are more comfortable becoming whistleblowers and telling Congress the problems with the Secret Service, and revealing to Congress incidents that happened," he said. "Whistleblowers feel more comfortable talking to the Congress than to her, her upper people."

Cummings said the culture had led to agents "distrusting of each other," and that Pierson was also "losing trust," since initial reports about Gonzalez were not correct.

"Whenever you give me a report that says that somebody came into the White House, and you don't mention a weapon in your first report. And, then you don't even talk about the fact that he ran throughout the White House and not revealing that, I think that's a major problem. It leads to distrust," he said.

Due to the problems, Cummings said he no longer felt comfortable with Pierson as director of the Secret Service, though the White House on Tuesday maintained they were not going to make any changes with her position in the department.

"I have come to the conclusion that my confidence and my trust in this director, Miss Pierson, has eroded. And, I do not feel comfortable with her in that position," Cummings said.

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House Oversight and Government Reform Committee member Rep. Elijah Cummings said he did not come away from Tuesday's hearing with Secret Service Director Julia Pierson feeling that diplomats the agents were supposed to protect were safe.
Secret Service, Cummings, Pierson
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2014-36-01
Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 09:36 AM
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