Security Breaches at the White House

By Jennifer Perez

The White House is said to be one of the safest places in the United States, yet recent events have challenged those assumptions.

President Obama’s first official state dinner in 2009 was crashed by a couple, Michaele Salahi and her husband, Tareq.

An official with the White House confirmed that neither of the Salahi’s had been invited to the dinner. A spokesman for the Secret Service claimed that a checkpoint did not follow the correct procedures therefore allowing them in; however, all guests were subjected to several security checks.

In 2011, shots were heard in the surrounding area of the White House and the National Mall; Secret Service officers witnessed a car speeding away from the location. The car was found abandoned blocks away; a semi-automatic gun was found in the seat.

The gun was traced to Oscar Ortega-Hernandez who was later found. Two of his shots hit the presidential residence. Shots had not been fired at the White House since 1994 when Clinton was in office, two shots penetrated the mansion while Clinton and his family slept upstairs.

The most recent breach of the white house occurred in September when a man identified as Omar Gonzalez jumped the fence of the White House and ran into the unlocked doors of the president’s home. He made it to the far end of the East room before he was detained by an agent.

After the Hernandez incident, cameras were added in 2012 around the White House with a full view of the perimeter. Due to Gonzalez jumping the fence, a waist high fence was placed on the sidewalk in front of the North Lawn running 400 feet around the perimeter.

The most recent event has sparked another set of questions towards the Secret Service’s ability to protect the White House, and the President. With current threats from the terrorist group ISIS, the Secret Service has not backed up the idea that the White House is impenetrable.

Despite all these breaches at the White House, many presidents feel safest there. In fact, none of the four presidents that have been assassinated were killed in the White House. Before times of war, crowds of people were allowed to visit. Now there is an elaborate screening process to be allowed in.


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