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Remember that guy who jumped the White House fence the Friday before last? And the Secret Service only stopped him after he made it to the front door? Yeah, it was much worse than reported.
The man who jumped the White House fence this month and sprinted through the front door made it much farther into the building than previously known, overpowering one Secret Service officer and running through much of the main floor, according to three people familiar with the incident…
After barrelling past the guard immediately inside the door, Gonzalez, who was carrying a knife, dashed past the stairway leading a half-flight up to the first family’s living quarters. He then ran into the 80-foot-long East Room, an ornate space often used for receptions or presidential addresses.
Gonzalez was tackled by a counter-assault agent at the far southern end of the East Room. The intruder reached the doorway to the Green Room, a parlor overlooking the South Lawn with artwork and antique furniture, according to three people familiar with the incident.
I assume we’ll later learn that, before being tackled, Gonzalez completed a New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle, set his Fantasy Football lineups for the week, and bested the White House sous chef in a rousing game of Yahtzee.
In the detailed Washington Post story, the security breach was a failure at every level. Plainclothes officers outside the fence never noticed a guy scaling the imposing barrier. An officer at a North Lawn guard booth wasn’t fast enough to catch Gonzalez. An attack dog was present but, for some reason, never released.
Most shockingly, an alarm box used to warn of intruders had been muted. Sources claim that the White House usher staff had complained the alarms were too noisy. With no alarm sounded, the front door guard had no idea Gonzalez was on his way, allowing him to run right by her.
The fact that a lone, mentally disturbed individual could penetrate so deeply into the President’s home should rattle all Americans. If Omar Gonzales can carry a knife all the way to the Green Room, what could a group of sane, organized, highly trained fighters accomplish?
The White House’s best protection has been the illusion of invulnerability: The idea that if someone jumps that fence, they’ll be dead before their body touches the ground. Now that this psychological deterrent is lost, I wonder who else will test the security. How far will the next intruder get?