WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 (UPI) — A congressional investigation found security lapses by the Secret Service were more prevalent than previously disclosed, showing the agency is “in crisis” and in need of a major overhaul.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report, set to be released Thursday, found 143 breaches or attempted breaches in the past 10 years at locations guarded by the Secret Service. At least a half-dozen were never publicly disclosed.
This includes a man who was able to walk up to President Obama at a Congressional Black Caucus event in 2014 and directly speak with him.
The bipartisan report concluded the past three Secret Service directors, including current head Joseph Clancy, have provided “false information” to the committee when questioned about incidents and operations. The service does not spend enough time on protective duties, instead focusing too much on investigative matters such as credit-card and computer fraud, the report found.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the oversight committee, said the report should come as a wake-up call to the Obama administration.
“The situation is getting worse not better,” he said. “The president is in jeopardy, and he better personally get involved in fixing this.”
Morale within the service is “critically low,” contributing to a staggering loss of personnel. The report noted the decline in personnel is also attributed to “systematic mismanagement” and an inefficient hiring process. In September 2014, there were 6,367 full-time employees. A year later, there was was 6,315, the lowest point in a decade.
“This bipartisan report warns Congress cannot make some of the biggest budget cuts in the history of the Secret Service and expect no repercussions to the agency’s staffing and its critical mission,” said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the panel’s ranking Democrat.
Among the new details in the report is an email exchange between two special agents discussing bringing cash for prostitutes and condoms on a 2012 trip to Colombia to prepare for a presidential visit. In separate incident, a security guard with a gun who had not been properly vetted rode in an elevator with President Obama during his September 2014 visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Other incidents include:
— Four young adults breached security at Vice President Joe Biden’s home in Delaware to go fishing in the backyard. The Secret Service didn’t know about the incident until neighbors called authorities.
— A Czech citizen with an expired visa entered the property of a former president, presumed to be President George H.W. Bush, and remained undetected for about an hour.
— An agent accessed a woman’s personal information without permission and traveled from New York to California to unsuccessfully ask her on a date.