tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN September 30, 2014 2:00pm-4:01pm EDT
would be to cover up exactly what happened inside the mansion? -- one explanation for that would be to cover up exactly what happened inside the mansion? >> i am confident in the ability .o prosecute this individual and the decision about, about the charges with with -- the decisions about which charges to file about this individual are made by prosecutors. i have confidence in the ability of those career prosecutors to bring those individuals to justice. >> is the president distracted or worried about his safety and the safety of those in the white house? >> i think i related to you that the president articulated his concerns 10 days ago. at the same time, he maintains full confidence in the men and women of the secret service to do important work which includes, as their top priority,
protecting the first family in the white house. he has full confidence in the professionals to do their job. april. >> josh, i want to ask you a question. is there concern within the white house that when the leaves, that there is a little bit more of a relaxed attitude, as when he goes to camp davis or somewhere else? >> i see what you're getting to, and i think this is a legitimate line of angry. -- line of inquiry. the fact that the first family was not at home, did that have by bearing on the response the secret service to the breach of the perimeter? this is among the things that
will be part of the review that in response toed the breach of the perimeter fence. i will reserve judgment here and refer to the experts you're taking a careful look at this. again, to the extent that the secret service can release the results of this report, there will obviously be parts they cannot release, but to the extent they are able to do so, they will investigate that. >> was the president told himself how the jumper successfully got in? president was briefed by officials at the white house. he received a detailed, in person briefing from the oval office.
is a subject about which the president expresses obvious concern. this is a topic he has spoken directly to the top officials of the secret service about. i read a statistic that there are about 10 jumpers a month. >> i don't think that is accurate. i would encourage you to go back and check. -- i am justng on saying that what i saw publicly is different than what you are conveying here. i would encourage you to check back with mr. donovan because i am confident he will be as forthright with you as he can. and i want to make sure the information you are presenting to your readers is accurate.
here is the thing. we are having the conversation because we care about the details relevant to the president's security. gate crawlers are different than individuals jumping the fence. i am sure mr. donovan can give you a more detailed explanation than i can. it is his responsibility. but there are individuals who arrived at the white house to attend meetings with the president of the united states. times a month there are individuals who arrived at the white house and don't attend meetings. that is different than jumping over the fence. [laughter] concern in this
white house the from the there is aoday that problem within the secret service about communication, that the secret service who are working the events and working the house feel they cannot communicate with people and are now telling them in whispered calls or what have you to members on the hill? -- i will sayis that the administration is strongly supportive of the efforts of members of the secret service to get to the bottom of what happened. broaderincludes a review of everything from security protocols to the technology deployed at the white house to even what kind of communications protocols exist between front-line officers and , secretior officers
service has indicated that they are going to conduct a pretty review. in this when they get to the conclusion of the review, i think you can expect that at least some of the that canf that review me made public will be. so you and members of the public can evaluate and make conclusions from the data drawn. did she offer her resignation? >> she did not. as to the question of what the secret service told the public, we want to pin it down .nd be very specific [indiscernible]
think that was an accurate full response do you? >> i would refer to the director of the secret service. she testified before congress today about this matter. >> the assailant got through the north portico doors, got through the white house into the east room and all the way to the south side of the white house. they made it all the way through the white house and was not apprehended at the north portico doors. i am just asking what seems like an obvious question. it is not accurate to say the gentleman was apprehended at the north portico doors. >> what is accurate is -- or what i am confident is accurate directorstimony of the of the secret service. she was under oath. she is committed to the ongoing investigation into what happened and what the response was to the
specific and seven. what you are highlighting here is the inherent tension of the situation between the need for locking down fax and ensuring and disseminating information to the public about incidents that is in the public interest. there is inherent tension in this us and that is part of the of people like you to figure out what is accurate, what isn't, what should be reported, what shouldn't. and this is why -- or at least theighlights why, even in context of the questions i got from the podium last week about this incident that i declined to talk about specific facts
related to the investigation. i have had conversations with senior officials to get to the bottom of what happened and then act as quickly as possible to disseminate accurate information on this matter that is the subject of public interest. wered i understand you referring our questions to the secret service, which is entirely appropriate. it does not take an investigation to know that the man got all the way through the white house and was knocked down and apprehended at the door on the south side of the building, not at the front door. you don't need an investigation, and the secret service put out a statement. as reporters, we have to take that statement. the statement was in fact misleading and inaccurate.
youyou at the time that were referring questions to the secret service, did you know how inaccurate and misleading that statement was. knew there was an ongoing investigation to determine what happened and that is why i was reluctant to comment on facts that are the subject of scrutiny enforcement- by law officials in an ongoing investigation. we have an investigation by the secret service itself, by the u.s. attorney into the conduct of mr. gonzales who allegedly jumped the fence, by the secret service into the response by the secret service to the breach of the perimeter fence. there is a whole confluence of conducting a thorough review of this matter, so it is not surprising that given those different viewpoints
and the chaotic nature of what allegedly occurred that there andt be some conflict pieces of information out there. and it is in the interest of this white house and my office to work closely with agencies and with secret service in this case to disseminate, as soon as possible, accurate information about what exactly occurred. and that explains my own hesitant to comment on facts that are still under investigation. >> two more things. when the president was briefed right after this happened during farweekend, did he know how into the white house the person got? >> he has had a couple of conversations about this. there have been conversations
between white house officials and the secret service. sitpresident had his own down last week. there have been conversations .hat have taken place >> did he know how serious this was? >> i am not in a position to detail the content of the .onversations >> is there ever an excuse to mislead the public for a security reason? if telling the truth would jeopardize security? is it ever ok to say something that is misleading or not true in fact telling the full truth would jeopardize security? >> you're asking a hypothetical question and a tricky one but i will try to give you my best
answer. i have worked at the white house for six years and i have never encountered a scenario in which i felt it was ok to mislead you or the public for any reason including security. there are situations where information is not disclosed because we need to protect the president, white house personnel or people operating around the years, it in my six have never encountered a situation where i felt it was appropriate to mislead anybody for any reason, including security. >> it sounds like the president may not have known how far the individual got into the white when he initially said he had full confidence in the .ecret service can you tell us if he had been briefed on at least that much
when he said i have full confidence in the secret service? >> he did receive a briefing in the immediate aftermath of the breach of perimeter and he received a couple of updates over the course of the weekend about what had transpired at the white house while he was on his way to camp david. hethe end of last week received a briefing from the director of the secret service. i am not in a position to detail the content of those briefings, but i can tell you that throughout the process, and it is still true today, that the president retained his full confidence in the men and women of the secret service. >> i understand you saying this the kind of situation you have not seen where information was not fully disseminated when it was available. you just said a minute ago you
had not seen a situation like this where information was not disseminated. >> now, john asked a hypothetical situation about whether it would be appropriate to say something that was not true to try to protect security interest. answer aitant to hypothetical impart for some of the reasons you are highlighting, so let me try to clarify what i was trying to say. i have not encountered a situation where i concluded it was appropriate to mislead anybody, journalists or members of the public, for any reason whatsoever, even security reasons. >> has anyone given an explanation for why this wasn't disseminated when it was known? >> i understand the context of your question a little more clearly now. i think with this situation
is that when you are dealing with the chaotic situation where many different people are trying to get to the bottom of what happened and lots of different people have a perspective on what occurred, literally and philosophically, conflicting facts can emerge. of actings the risk thekly to try to balance priorities, one, the need to be as transparent as possible with the public about what you know. the second is to ensure that information has been verified, thoroughly vetted, investigated, and the facts have been locked down before that information is distributed. and that is a difficult business. what i know is that the director of the secret service testified under oath before congress today
to communicate in her opening statement what the latest information about what she understood transpired here at the white house. >> what were the conflicting facts? >> joe, i would refer to the secret service, who may be able to provide some additional .nsight >> has the president talked to the individual who actually tackled the jumper in the white house? >> frankly, i don't know the answer to that. you have repeatedly referred to the secret service for answers. >> and i think this just explained why. >> and they have over time given us information that is does not contain all of the facts. for example, he was unarmed.
12 hours later, they told us he was unarmed. does it concern you that you are to folks who are giving us information that is inaccurate? >> we are trying to give you information that is accurate as tan as possible. one priority is to get you information quickly. the other priority is to make sure that the information has been thoroughly vetted and verified and that the facts are locked down. there is inherent tension in those competing priorities. that tension is only amplified when you are dealing with the situation as chaotic as what transpired at the white house. what that does is highlights why it is so important for this
thorough investigation to be , and it is why i have been personally reluctant to delve into the facts of what occurred because it is up to law enforcement officials to thoroughly interview all the individuals they may have come across in the situation that have perspective or can provide insight into what occurred. in some cases it is eyewitness accounts. in some cases it is what was on the radio. confident that the secret service will, consistent with their priority to provide information to the public about this matter, release the facts that can be released, understanding, of course, that some information, because it relates directly to the safety and security of the white house and the president, will have to remain confidential. but there is interest in what
exactly transpired. you sought testimony under oath today and i think you will continue to see that moving forward up to and including when the secret service releases the details of the ongoing investigation. >> but we have not been getting fully accurate and clear information so far. >> that is something you will be easier to address once the investigation is concluded. it is the testimony of the director of the secret service has been getting updated on the investigation that is underway. is committed to being as transparent as possible about what she has learned. she has demonstrated her .ommitment to this
, you stood year ago at the podium and told us iraq he forces were confronting a coordinated network that was attacks.arry out it turns out the intelligence community had warned this white house about isil. >> what we talked about for some time was the nation's national security infrastructure that is charged with protecting our interests all around the globe. we have been concerned about extremist threats emanating from syria. presidentmething the talked about a year and a half
ago along with the king of jordan. both men talked about the threats to their country due to the destabilizing influences of extremist organizations. dire situations were created by the ongoing situations there and there was concern about extremists trying to capitalize on that chaotic environment. >> the president said on 60 minutes that i did not really get a heads up from the intelligence community. but he said it in a news conference a year and a half ago. which is it? the president was referring to was specifically a comment from director clapper
that has been repeated on a couple of occasions that it is very difficult to assess the will of the iraqi security their to fight for country. there is reason to believe that will falter a little bit excessive political circumstances inside the country , but what was also clear is that the united states had been ramping up our assistance, that there were helicopters and missiles transferred to the security forces, that i so has been designated by the state department as a foreign terrorist organization, that there were other steps that had been taken to try to confront posed by isil. what ultimately was true and what the president said in the context of his 60 minutes interview was that everybody underestimated the speed and capability issa would
demonstrate in overrunning iraqi security forces and taking over a large chunk of territory inside the nation of iraq. >> but a senior intelligence officials said they did issue these warnings. but the white house just didn't pay attention. not a big priority. it sounds a lot different, what the intelligence community is saying and what this white house is saying. >> the leader of the intelligence community today put out a message that directly the individual quoted in the new york times. what director clapper said is i am proud of the work the intelligence community has done to monitor, assess, and call attention to the community of isil. as he said previously, predicting the will to fight is
inherently difficult, and despite all we know about the and iraqies of isil security forces, there is no one who could have predicted the ease with which forces captured territory in iraq. that is consistent with what director clapper has been saying for some time and what the president said in his 60 minutes interview. responsible -- the person responsible for making sure the president has the intelligence he needs to take care of the nation security is confident the president got the information he needed. to what he pointed out is that there are no intelligence tools that could have evicted -- could have predicted the ability to defend against isil. we asked a couple of weeks ago about the president's daily
briefing and whether or not the president, as long as a year ago , was warned about the growing from isil. i in the interest of public this ,losure -- public disclosure why not share with the public what you did know a year ago? >> i don't think -- it certainly would not be my decision whether elements ofclassify one of the most closely held intelligence documents in the u.s. government. what i can say is that the president has on a number of how importantrved it is to communicate with the american public, with congress, and our partners in congress,
for the benefit of our national security to make sure we are protecting the american public, our interests around the globe, and the homeland. the president is committed to ,eing as forthright as possible given the obvious constraints, about the threats that we face, and i don't think that will the most declassifying closely held documents in the u.s. government. >> i want to switch to india. were there any agreements signed today? >> funny you should ask. there were a number of things that were discussed. we will have some specific information released by it -- via e-mail later today. i can give you some headlines. night.d have dinner last it was an opportunity for them
to get to know one another. it was the first time they had met in person. they shared their opinions on government and democracy. they discussed their vision for the u.s.-india strategic relationship going forward including the role of u.s. technology and government. a number of deliverables, and you will see some of the details about that in a joint statement we will release soon. >> anything important about military sales? >> the joint discussion includes a new partnership with india, a partnership on clean energy and tomate change, an agreement establish an indo u.s. bytiative that will be led
the u.s. department of finance and the department of treasury. inre is an interest extending security cooperation. i don't know if there were sales associated with that agreement. there was a dialogue about space that must've been interesting. there was a renewed commitment a dialogue about women empowerment. it was a wide-ranging conversation that showcases the debt and importance of this relationship. hear there is a lot of graft and corruption, red tape in the indian community. did president obama bring that up? >> i don't have any specific , butls of their discussion
i do know that they are trying to improve the business environment in india. they spoke a lot about investment, creating jobs, and certainly there is an interest that the president and the administration have an opening market. as you recall, three or four years ago, there was a lot of talk about trying to streamline the trade relationships between the united states and india. >> has there been any progress on that? >> there has. economicclearly an incentive for this administration to work closely toh the indian government gain access to huge markets. >> as you know, the indian prime minister has been denied a visa when he has come to the u.s.
previously. i wondered whether any of that dinner and whether president obama expressed any concerns or said anything about the civil rights record in the .ountry >> i can tell you the broadly speaking issues related to human rights and the importance of inclusive government were part of the discussion between the president and the prime minister today. the indian people elected their prime minister and he has publicly spoken about his desire to be the leader of all indians and to focus on inclusive governance and development for all. those are obviously aspirations stronglyd states supports and he is working closely with the indian people
to realize that vision, which is deeply ingrained in the interests of both the united states and india. for more details, you can check with my colleagues at the nfc on this matter. discusseds what they in the context of the other things they agreed upon. >> they went to the martin luther king memorial together. when the president traveled to india about four years ago, he had the opportunity to visit -- i am trying to plumb the depths of my memory right now to remember exactly where they went. they visited a home where gandhi had lived. of that visit, there was a discussion between the president and the previous about thester
relationship or at least intellectual relationship between gandhi and martin luther king, and that they pursued and were trying to bring about change in their countries, a similar commitment to nonviolence. it is a commitment that president obama said he greatly admires. >> when did you find out that the intruder had not been apprehended just inside the north portico? >> as i said, i had a couple of conversations with the white house about what happened with the secret service. when i have done in the context of these briefings is try to convey to all of you our confidence in the ability of the to conduct an investigation that will get to the bottom of what happened and to ensure that it will not
happen again. the president is looking forward to reviewing the report when it is completed. >> i can understand a decision once it was said this is what happened not to disclose it later, but what i am wondering is if the secret service is trying to sell it to the president and the white house that this is what happened. if that is the case, somebody should be fired. >> what the secret service did and why they decided to do it, i think you should check with them. directorrify that the of the secret service testified voluntarily under oath before members of congress on live television and was forthright about what transpired 10 days
ago. i think that reflects the commitment of the secret service, certainly the director of the secret service, to be forthright with the american .ublic published reports were based on information provided by the secret service to members of congress. itould invite anybody -- does not surprise anybody in in the white house that members of congress would leak information to interested reporters or use the information for questions compiled at the director. if they were trying to keep it a secret, they would not provide it to congress, which is what they did. they provided it to members of
the committee and revealed in open testimony today. >> speaker boehner over the weekend said a lot of things, but one of the things he said was that he agreed that the president had the authority to take the military action he is taking and then some. he also criticized the president for failing to offer a .esolution is he trying to undercut the authority everybody has agreed on? is that why the president says he has appreciated congressional support but not ask for authority from them? thet's true that he has authority he needs to order military operations that he has already ordered. that's related to the 2001
authorization to use military force passed by the united states congress. the president would certainly as thatlf indicated welcome she would welcome -- the has certainly himself indicated that he would welcome congress giving him the .uthority he needs it was a welcome indication of support for the president's strategy. if there are additional steps that members of congress want to take, we would welcome those as well. what a resolution asking for authority undercut the authority? >> the president has the authority he needs. one aspect of this struck me as highly ironic. the president has put forth a very specific proposal for
reforming the immigration system, a proposal that has by patterson -- bipartisan support , and speaker boehner is the individual refusing to allow it to come up for a vote. a closure of the inversions loophole the corporations in this country are taking forwa advantage of to avd paying their fair taxes. --ker boehner has refused speaker boehner has refused to bring a forward. to invest in wants the infrastructure in a way that would be fiscally responsible. traditionally, those investments have earned bipartisan support. but again, speaker boehner has blocked this new proposal from the president that would create jobs in the short term and be good for our economy.
that afterle ironic blocking the specific proposals the president put forward, the speaker of the house is now saying he will not act unless the president put something forward. suggestions from were received with some skepticism from the white house based on his response to previous presidential initiatives. >> there were two topics you mentioned. .ne was about ebola obama asked the prime minister to provide resources for the fight over there. the second is isis. can you tell us what they were talking about. >> i did skip the paragraph in my book for the sake of time. that apparently was a mistake because you're asking about it now. the president and prime minister
continue discussions in their bilateral meetings today that included areas of cooperation like defense, counterterrorism, trade, clean energy, climate and health. they also discussed broader global challenges including ebola and the threats posed by isis. the subject of some discussion in the oval office today. the primeow what minister's reaction was to the conversation. the president has received some updates at camp david from senior members of his team. i will not get into specifics. who love the senior staff is
the main liaison with secret service? >> there are number of people who have regular interactions with the secret service. from the chief of staff on down there are members of the withdent's team who meet the secret service as a routine matter of business. i also would be happy to take any questions about the royals. , he and thet president of india met for the first time to get to know each other. india metinister of for the first time to get to know each other. was there anything about the agreement?nuclear
[indiscernible] education -- >> i will try to take these one at a time. the president really did enjoy meeting with the prime minister of india. they had a cordial dinner and the president appreciated the depth of the conversation. the president did have the opportunity to speak to prime minister modi shortly after the election. i expect readouts detailing additional conversations between the prime minister and president obama. an update in terms of the status of the nuclear
agreement, but you can check with my colleagues at the security council. they may be able to give you an update on that. education, i am told they did have an opportunity to discuss efforts to reinvigorate the higher education dialogue that the president initiated on his recent trip to india. you will recall he met with students in india. he underscored the importance of the kind of people to people relationships that make the relationship between the united states and india so strong. the president would certainly welcome any opportunity to try to deepen those relationships, .ncluding through college president have plans to visit india? >> i do not have any additional travel plans at this time. thank you all for your time.
i don't know what the gifts were but i will check it out. i don't know. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] >> the house judiciary committee chair speaks at the heritage foundation today about obama's use of executive orders and other actions taken by the president. that, a discussion on how his use of executive orders compares to those of previous presidents. after serving 14 years as texas governor, the longest tenure in the lone star state's history, rick perry is retiring at the end of his term. wendy davis and greg abbott are running to replace governor
perry. they will debate tonight. you can see that live on c-span. that, a look at some of the campaign ads running in the race. >> a guy in a wheelchair can move faster than traffic on some roads in texas. i am greg abbott. i want to improve road and ensure that money raised for roads will be only spent on roads. no more taking funds -- money from the highway fund to pay for pet projects. elect me, and i will get texas moving. >> in the texas court room, greg abbott made the case against our children. he fought for $5 billion in cuts to education. now he is proposing giving standardized tests to four-year-olds. heard enough? davis will reduce the
number of standardized test our kids take across the board and build a futureo for all hard-working texans. you decide who will be best for texas. >> wendy davis is embroiled in scandal yet again. she used her influence to win lucrative taxpayer-funded contracts then voted on a bill to help her own law firm. she profited from a day job by voting and twisting arms in the senate. part of anal work is open fbi investigation. unethical behavior, unfit to be governor. wast texas surgeon performing while reportedly using cocaine. two patients died. others were paralyzed. did nothing to stop him. families sued. weeks after accepting a quarter million campaign contribution
from the hospital chairman, greg abbott got involved, using his office to go to court against the victims. another insider not working for you. >> again, the debate between wendy davis and greg abbott is tonight on c-span. primetime onhat in c-span two, i hearing on the secret service is security at the white house. again, that is on c-span2 tonight. you that, we will show hearing, beginning with opening statements.
reform committee protects these rights. our solemn responsibility is to hold government accountable to taxpayers. it is our responsibility to work with citizen walked -- watchdogs tobring genuine reform federal responsibility. today represents one of the most important arts of the mission. with $1.5 billion spent from the secret service, nearly a billion of that spent on rejection of the first family, the second family and presidential , the united states secret service was always considered to be the elite law enforcement agency made up of men and women who were highly entrusted.ighly
the country has placed great faith and trust in the secret service. the agents in the uniform division, their officers and the secret service agents have a monumental task. that of protect they knew the nations presidents past, present, and future. so honorably and not without considerable personal sacrifice. they ensure the safety of the first and second family, yes, and the safety of foreign dignitaries throughout washington and at times around the world. they ensure the safety of every man and woman who enters the and the company buildings. but a history of miss behaviors and securely -- miss behaviors and security failures have that record.shed on september 19, omar gonzalez
jumped the fence, ran across the lawn and in through the front door of the white house. armed with a three inch serrated knife, went through the front door, past the residence, and into the east room of the white house. ladies and gentlemen, that is the part of my statement that , that aned last night early false report was turned upside down when it was learned that in fact he had penetrated much further into the white house. officers only subdued him after he was well inside the white house. an intruder walked through the front door of the white house, and that was unacceptable. there weree tells us , series of security failures
praiseincident worthy of worthy restraint. the white house is supposed to be one of america's most secure facilities, and in fact one of the world's most secure facilities, so how on earth did it happen? this failure has once again of the american people in the secret service, a trust we clearly depend on to protect the president. after allowing a paparazzi craze reality tv star to crash a state dinner. prosecutors.g after excessive drinking and an agent falling asleep outside his
the netherlands, and after a miss handling of the 11-11-11 event, a gunman who sprayed bullets across a white house and reportedly caused over $100,000 in damage that was not properly reported in real-time or understood in real time, it thenderstandable that agency appears to be in decline. in light of the recent break-in, we have to ask whether the culture of the secret service and possible declining morale have an impact on operations, and those are some of our questions today. the appointment of director pearson brought new hope that the agency would reframe its eventsmage, but recent have so troubled us that in fact we have called the director here to face him tough questions.
could mr. gonzales scale the fence? we understand that. it happens often that people try to scale the fence. but how is it that agents did not immediately apprehend him? able to sprint 70 yards, almost the entire length of a football field, without being intercepted by guards inside the fence? why didn't security guards stopped him in his tracks? what about the sniper rifles? why was there no guard stationed at the front door of the white house? and yes, how much would it cost to lock the front door. the secret service must show us how there is a clear path back to public trust. the purpose of these hearings today is to gain many of the to questions plaguing the secret service.
today we will hear from experts on the agency's protocol both foreign and domestic. most importantly, we will hear from the secret service director herself on her plans to improve the agency's performance. americans face real danger as we serve interests abroad, stationed those [indiscernible] great peril.of we are engaged with a battle speak, andl as we that is not limited to foreign soil. americans know that the next attempt to take the white house may not be from a crazed, solo, knife wielding veteran with ptsd. it could well be a planned attack from a terrorist organization. the fact is, the system broke down on september 19. the state dinner
was crashed into thousand nine. as it did when ortega hernandez successfully shot the white house on november 11, 2011, as when agents paid for prostitutes and compromised security, as it did in the netherlands in 2014. we cannot further allow this. saidore importantly, as i to the director before today's hearing, the secret service relies on two important skills or fax. capability toheir protect the president must be at the highest level because they cannot succeed 99% because 1% failure is not an option. on a good-faith belief by most people that they should not even try, that this
is the hardest target on earth. to make sure that this hardest target is true again both in reality and in the minds of anyone who might take on the secret service to get to the president and the first family. with that, i recognize the ranking member. >> thank you very much. we begin today's hearing with an obvious promise. no individual should be allowed to feel the fence of the white events of the white house, sprint across the front lawn and burst into the residence of the first family with a weapon. no one. our goal today is also clear, to determine how this happened and make sure it never happens again . this is our watch. this recent incident unfortunately causes many people to ask whether there is a much
broader problem with the secret service. omar gonzalez made his way into the east room, much further than the secret service previously disclosed. another report we can post about a shooting incident in 2011 raises even more questions about the competency and culture of this elite agency. what concerns me most about this report is that agents said they , agents in this agency said they were hesitant raise concerns with their supervisors. ladies and gentlemen, something is awfully wrong with that picture. the secret service is supposed to be the most elite, protective force in the world.
by beforeays went they discovered that the white house had been shot seven times. then in 2012, there was the political protectionth issues, it damaged the agency's credibility. onlyecret service must not carry out its duties with the highest degree of excellence and effectiveness, it also must whichin a reputation matches that performance. as the chairman said, much of what deters people from trying pierce the protective veil of the secret service is the reputation. and in this the one of excellence and effectiveness. was appointed as the director of the secret theice last year to restore
agency's standing. she has had a distinguished 30 year career with the agency. and she immediately ordered an internal review and agreed to testify. with respect to the most recent incident, i have questions for the director that i know why share by many people across the country. havehe secret service specific protocols for handling this type of perimeter breach? inso, where they followed this case and if they were, do they need to be changed in light of what happened? if they were not followed, why? and how can we have confidence that it will be followed in the future? i also want to understand what happened prior to the incident. gonzalez was arrested in virginia two months earlier on july 19.
mr. chairman, i would like to enter into the records an inventory sheet provided to us by the virginia state police. it lists the contents, which included an arsenal of 11 firearms, including sniper rifles and a sawed off shotgun. it also -- without objection the entire report be placed in the record. it also included the content of the car, which included a small arsenal of 11 firearms, including sniper rifles and a sawed-off shotgun. it also included a map of washington, d.c., with a line drawn to the white house. according to the virginia state police, the bureau of alcohol and tobacco firearms and
explosives concluded there was no information in gonzalez's history that prohibited him from owning the firearms, yet, he was severely mentally ill in the military psychiatrist reportedly traded him for posttraumatic stress disorder and paranoid schizophrenia. mr. chairman, i hate to even imagine what could have happened if gonzalez had been carrying a gun instead of a knife when he burst inside the white house. that possibility is extremely unsettling. today our workspaces to -- faces two challenges. first, the secret service has not yet completed the internal view. i understand the director will provide us with a status update but the final results are not yet in. second, some of the information is classified so we cannot yet discuss it in public. the very last thing we want to do is give people like gonzalez a roadmap for how to attack the president or other officials
protected by the secret service. this does not mean the committee cannot obtain the information. the director sent a letter friday not only offering to testify today in the public setting but also to provide all of us with a classified briefing. the chairman has agreed to hold the classified session in a separate room directly after this hearing concludes. let me close on making the final point. this is not a democratic issue. this is not a republican issue, this is an american issue. this is also an issue of national security. the vast majority of men and women who served in the secret service are dedicated, experienced public servants who are willing to lay down their lives for their country. on behalf of a grateful congress and a grateful nation, i think
-- thank everyone of them. they have an extremely difficult job. like others in difficult positions, they are required to make instant life and death decisions in extremely stressful situations. last year, for example, the capitol police shot and killed an unarmed woman with a one-year-old girl in the back seat of her car. some praised their quick responses, others criticized but they acted based upon their first-hand experience the capital one another deranged individual burst through the doors and killed two capitol police officers. the secret service has a high profile job, but it is critically important and requires accountability. mr. chairman, i look forward to the testimony. i thank you for bringing us back to the hearing, and i look
forward to the questions i have already raised and others being answered. with that, i yield back. >> thank you, mr. cummings. i now recognize the gentleman from utah. the subcommittee chairman on national security for his opening statement. >> i thank the chairman and chairman cummings. he is right. it is an american issue. i do not want it to be the political football. we are self-critical. the beauty of the nation is we do hold ourselves accountable. i do appreciate you holding this hearing. we have wonderful men and women who serve this nation. they walk away from families and spouses. they do not know what the day will bring them and they do so in a very honorable way, and we thank them for their service and dedication. but i have serious concerns about the current leadership, training and heard a
-- protocol. since the current director has taken on the role, it is important to note she was chief of staff in 2008. so the past several years is not good enough to simply excuse as something she was trying to clean up before because she was chief of staff in 2008. i am concerned about leadership in mixed messages to those who serve. after the fence jumping incident the secret service was very quick to put out a statement that honored the officers and agents for their quote tremendous restraint. that is not what we are looking for. tremendous restraint is not the goal of the objective. it sends a very mixed message. it should be overwhelming force. if one person can hop the fence and run unimpeded all the way through an open door of the white house, do not praise them for tremendous restraint.
that is not the goal and not what we looking for. if there were alarms inside the door that were muted or silenced, i want to know why that is. who makes that call and decision? that is a leadership decision. i think as some point we need to go back and visit the 2013 inspector general report that says there is not a problem but over 1000 indications of security concern. in the opening statements they would have to be 100% right all of the time. everyone agrees with that. the inspector general's report, pretty damning. very concerned about the 2011 incident. i'm thankful for the "washington post" reporting. the best i can tell, as well as the article in "the washington post" the event in 2011 were eight shots were fired at the white house, no less than five secret service agents reported
they thought they heard shots fired. you had someone on twitter report they saw somebody who shot at the white house. blocks away moments later someone crashes a vehicle and an assault rifle is in there in the secret service is on the scene and no one ties them together. i don't understand that. later, the arlington county police detain this person. he had been positively identified based on the vehicle but no one put it into the system to put him on the watch list. consequently when arlington county police pulled him over they took his picture and let him go. it was only the pennsylvania police five days later that find the person. now he is serving 25 years in jail but could have done a lot more damage. if the director is going to take full responsibility, i think the
opening statement should also talk about leadership. as i talked to the whistleblower and others come at they are concerned about leadership, and training. as i look at the 2015 budget request, page 39 there is a basic total and i want to run through the numbers because it is important. under special agent basic classes there were eight classes. 2010 eight classes. 2011 five classes. 2012, no classes. then in 2012 there was one class. 2013 one class. look at the budget line appropriation, it did not go down. it was basically the same.
why did the training diminish? i worry about protocol. if you project weakness, it invites attacks. we want to see overwhelming force. the would-be intruder was not stopped by a dog or person perhaps lethal force is necessary. i want the secret service agents and officers to know at least this member of congress has their back. do not let someone get close to the president, the family, get in the white house ever. if they have to take action that is lethal, i will have their back. in this day and age with eisele and terrorist's, -- with isil we do notists, know what is owing on underneath that person's clothing. if they want to penetrate that,
they need to know they will perhaps be killed. that is the message we should be sending every single time, and that is the kind of secret service that i expect. i thank them for the service and dedication. we love them and care for them but we need better leadership and it is not happening. i yield back. >> we now recognize the gentlelady for her opening statement. >> thank you very much. thank you for this hearing. my respect for the secret service goes back to when i was growing up as a child in the district of columbia and continues to this very day. but today we must ask recent events call for recent unprecedented events call for an unprecedented response. first, an increasing number of white house jumpers, including the most recent this month, was able to get deeper into the interior of the white house.
before that in 2011 multiple shots into the living quarters of the first family discovered only four days later not by secret service investigation but by white house staff. beyond these failures, in the core mission of the secret service to protect the white house and the first family is an unsettling failure to disclose, perhaps even understand, what has occurred or to promptly investigate. together this combination of failure suggest the time is right for a 21st-century makeover of the secret service. i do not regard this matter as a mere question of personnel. i believe it goes far deeper than that. moreover, the stunning events
have occurred during a time when the united states, and by definition, the white house and even the president, are being targeted by domestic and international terrorists. according to threat assessments, this president has had three times as many threats as his predecessors. just as troubling have been indications of unwarranted secrecy in the secret service. the secret service is not a secret society. if there is a willing avoidance of needed transparency, that in itself poses a danger to the white house. for example, when noises were heard that could be gunfire at the white house, others believed
is automobile backfire. others believe it is gang gun fire, isn't it the job of the secret service to presume such a sound is gunfire until an immediate investigation shows it was not? when officers close to the sound have to become whistleblowers , have active suppression of information becomes yet another threat to the white house, worse such failures such that some are in denial of danger, perhaps posing the greatest risk to the white house. particularly troubling in light of such unanswered questions would be a rush to quick fixes
such as suppression of public access to the area around the white house without a thorough investigation. the white house and lafayette park just like the congress, our first in the area and the public must be allowed to express their grievances as they always have been. in light of the seriousness of recent breaches, the investigation at the first instance of the department of homeland security should go well beyond the details of these events. they are merely the most recent raw data for a top to bottom investigation of secret service operations at the white house. this is not a mere question of personnel. changing people at the top or in
between will not solve the issue i think we are presented. we must learn whether today's secret service as structured, for example, could stop five or six men jumping at the same time. intent on harm to the white house and president. not just a demented war vet who even alone might have succeeded. no scenario should be off the table for the needed 21st-century study of secret service operations in the age of terrorism. director pearson has shown
accomplishments in her 18 months as director. the heroism of the secret service is beyond debate. the white house and intruder was brought down by an agent. but the white house and president have been thrust into a new era of danger. the secret service should welcome an outside investigation to assure the necessary resources and the expert backup and structure for the 21st century is necessary to do its job. >> thank you. >> members may have seven days to submit opening statements for the record. i now ask for unanimous consent that our colleague, the gentlelady from texas comments jackson lee be allowed to participate in the
hearing. additionally, unanimous consent that our colleague, the gentleman from missouri, be allowed to participate. we now welcome our panel of witnesses, the honorable julia pearson is the director of the united states secret service. ralph is the former director of the united states secret service, and currently up a partner at command consulting group. the honorable todd keele is the former assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at the united states department of homeland security and currently a senior advisor to touchtone page. pursuant to the committee's rules i when asked that you please all rise and raise your right hand to take the oath. do you solemnly swear or affirm the testimony you are about to
give will be the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth? please be seated. let the record reflect all witnesses answered in the affirmative. in order to allow a sufficient time for discussions and questions, please limit your testimony to five minutes. the entire opening statement will be made a permanent part of the record. with that, director pearson is recognized. >> good morning chairman isaa, ranking member cummings and distinguished members of the committee. i'm here to address the concern we all share following september 19 at the white house. it is clear the security plan was not properly executed. this is unacceptable, and i take full responsibility and make sure it does not happen again. as director my primary concern is ensuring the operational readiness of the workforce. i have been aggressive in addressing our professionalism and developing leaders through active engagement with agency
supervisors and employees i have made it clear my expectations for professionalism and personal accountability. much of what we do to protect the president that involves information that is highly classified. so i will be limited what i can say in a public hearing. on september 19, a man scaled the north fence of the white house and crossed the lawn, entered through the front door and was subsequently arrested on the state floor. immediately that night i ordered enhancements around the complex and in consultation with the secretary initiated a comprehensive review of the incident to ensure it will not happen again. the review began when the physical assessment of the state and personnel issues. all the personnel that evening are being evaluated. i am committed to the following, a complete and thorough investigation of the facts of the incident, a complete and thorough review of policies, procedures, protocols and place, and the response to this incident and based on the result of that review, coordinated,
informed effort to make any and all adjustments for training and personal actions that are necessary to properly secure the safety of the family and president and white house. the white house emergency action plans are multifaceted. the secret service has apprehended 16 individuals who have jumped the fence over the past five years. in fact, on september 11, 2014, we prior to this event, officers apprehended an individual seconds after he scaled the fence. in addition, hundreds of individuals have approached the white house parameter, verbalize ing threats or acting in a suspicious manner. officers routinely leverage decisions to arrest or transfer them to appropriate facilities for mental health evaluations.
protecting the white house complex is a challenge and any threat environment. in addition to a national icon, it consists of public spaces, executive officers, and the private residence of the president and first family. ensuring the safety of all who live and work in the white house while preserving access to the millions of visitors each year's -- each year requires a unique balance. in this environment we are never satisfied by the status quo in constantly reviewing security protocols. with the help of congress we have enhanced security features of the white house. in the past five years the secret service has upgraded perimeter cameras, and command and control systems along with enhancements to highly classified programs. we have generated many of the new security enhancements in direct response to terrorist tactics.
i thank congress for the support of the time of constrained resources. beyond technology approximately 75% of annual budget is dedicated to payroll cost that supports the most valuable assets, our people. the agency relies heavily on the training and experience and judgment of men and women. with respect to the questions and opinions raised, i do not want to get ahead of the investigation underway. the secret service has had its share of challenges in the recent years, and some during my tenure. i intend to leave the secret -- lead the secret service or the challenge us and it restore the reputation to the level of excellence the american public expects. i am proud of the workforce to serve each day with honor and distinction. last week our employees successfully implemented security operations in conjunction with the 69 united nations general assembly in new york. over the past 12 months they have completed over 5600 protect
ive missions. it is my responsibility to ensure they have the resources and training they need to succeed. as director i have worked with department of homeland security, the administration and congress to include members of this committee to develop a comprehensive forward leaning strategy to further enhance the workforce and operational capabilities. we remain dedicated and committed to protecting the first family and president. i thank the committee for the opportunity to appear and look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you. ranking member cummings. distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to share my perspective on the recent events at the white house, and more broadly the state of the agency
i care deeply about, the united states secret service. i look forward to discussing how the recent incident highlights some of the challenges the secret service has long faced at the white house complex and balancing desired levels of security, along with the functional needs of those who live and work in the complex and the practical realities of the thriving city it resides within and the historic symbolism and imagery of the people's house. this exposes steps the secret service got right and those they got wrong and will identify corrective measures and additional resources that can be considered. this also poses difficult questions for all of us on the issue. like the use of the legal force and tolerance and additional fortifications around the white house complex. the questions do not have easy answers and the consequences must be thought through. let us also be mindful that
while our analysis has the benefits of days of hindsight in consideration, everyone who has served on protective detail most decision-making in a natural event with life and death consequences is measured in milliseconds. those who were on duty during the incident had a much harder job in trying to get it right than we do today. my perspective is one that is shaped by a career of over 30 years in the secret service but also for my experiences at the head of operational components within department of homeland security. now where i remain deeply involved in the security issues and implementation of international best practices as it relates to protection of individuals and high valued assets. i had the honor of joining the secret service in 1971 and i enjoyed a challenging and very interesting career, including being on protective detail for
henry kissinger, vice president bush, and countless dignitaries. later, president clinton appointed me director as the training center and eventually retired to washington after september 11 attacks to help start a transportation security administration. i rejoined secret service in 2003 when i was appointed director. i was honored to serve former three years. i subsequently was appointed by president bush to serve as commissioner of the united states customs and border protection of the largest law enforcement agency in the united states. i remained in that position at the obama administration at the request of secretary napolitano. upon retiring from the government in 2009 i helped to found the security company that works for the government sector and private clients. therefore, the viewpoint i will share today is informed largely by my experience with the
secret service and the benefits of having worked for and many other security organizations around the world for almost 40 years. let me commend the members for the time and interest you are showing on the subject, especially at this juncture when there are so many pressing security concerns to which our government must pay attention. it goes without saying the reset incident with the individual jumping the fence and making inside the white house is unprecedented and unacceptable. this is not just my view, but it is the director's view that it is unacceptable as well as the rank-and-file. this is critically important in this incident. we could easily be discussing why an iraqi veteran possibly suffering through posttraumatic stress disorder armed with only a pocket knife was shot dead on the north lawn. the secret service, split second decisions made will thoroughly be examined, procedure debated,
training altered and in the end, the secret service will learn valuable lessons as they have been doing throughout their history of protecting the his is an agency that has never been reluctant to red team incidents, those of high consequences and less importance to find opportunities for improvement in the way that it conducts its business and trains their people and the tools it uses to accomplish their incredibly important mission. i can tell you my confidence remains extremely high that this aspect of the service's culture remains as strong today as it has ever been and i know the agency will learn valuable lessons that can apply immediately to improve security at the white house and other settings. committee that it is not one that is valued on security alone.
the service has to ensure the facilities in which they work nd live are safe and secure. in this dynamic is in fact more true when it comes to the area surrounding the white house omplex than any other. are holders with a voice the national parks service. white house historical society and others that provide input into any changes and
improvements, new infrastructure and changes in appearance. a prime example of this is the closeure of pennsylvania avenue in front of the white house to traffic. imperative from the services perspective for many years. it was politically impossible until the oklahoma city bombing in 1995 made the impact of vehicle borne exposure to a government building. even then it was not until 2004 hen i was director that we even then it wasn't until 2004 as director we were able to complete the project to converting this portion of the road into a mall. there are those that believe the avenue should be reopened. be reopened in spite of the irrefutable evidence of the extreme risk such a move
would put the first family and hundreds of employees who work there. i can also tell you there have been numerous studies conducted by the secret service and at the secret service respect -- request to conduct them at the white house, motivated in part by concerns about the inadequacy of the current white house fence as an outer perimeter for a complex given the ability of an individual or group of individuals to quickly scale it and be on white house grounds. while multiple improvements have been made, especially over the past decade to the security of the white house complex, there have been several improvements desired that have not been possible in light of other considerations given the level of funding provided to the agency for such capital mprovements. let me be clear, i am not anyway trivializing the importance of the considerations as -- importance of the considerations. there have almost always things i'd like to do for security purposes but could not because of limited funding
or other factors. that will always be the case. it is always keep in mind white house is an important symbol for the american people. it is obviously critically important to be kept safe the security must be accomplished in a way that does not jeopardize the very values we seek to protect and the buildings themselves in deed symbolized. i ask that you keep this in context when looking at this particular incident and examining how something could have happened or how it could be and should be presented in the future. i want to make sure the committee is aware of another fundamental principle the secret service and any good security organization is based. law enforcement it is usually referred to as multilayered security. when it comes to protecting the president or the white house complex there are many layers of protection in which an
attacker must trolve order to achieve their objectives and pose a threat to the person or thing that is the target. a breech of the fence and entry into the white house -- >> could you summarize. >> i apologize. having that said mr. chairman, i am ready to take questions. >> thank you. mr. kyle. >> thank you chairman. i believe i can offer a unique perspective on protecting high visibility targeted facilities after spending 23 years as a special agent with the diplomatic security service with responsibility for developing and implementing security programs for u.s. personnel, embassies, other official facilities around the world. i spent numerous years in the private sector working in and advising security operations and management. from late 2009 until early 2012
i was the assistant secretary for infrastructure and protection at the department of homeland security. as the assistant secretary i was responsible for partnerships and a regulatory program to protect the critical assets of the united states. last year i was selected and recommended independent panel on best practices identifying best practices from across public agencies, private sector and ally countries on management and operations and high threat and high risk locations globally. mr. chairman, the united states secret service has a proud history of almost 150 years protecting the most important government leaders of our country, white house and other facilities and conducting criminal investigations to ensure the integrity of our currency, banking system and inancial services. the men and women on the
frontline do a tremendous job. the agents and officers of the secret service are constantly in the spotlight, especially serving at the white house, one of the most prominent symbols of the nation's strength and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their service to our country. however every organization, even those with a century and a half of history must be willing to learn. those that wish to do us harm from an unpredictable lone and mentally unstable person to an organized terror group intent on unleashing a calculated attack typically have the element of surprise. our country faces a dynamic, fluid and evolving threat environment in which the aggressors have become very patient and resilient ask determined. we have to be better than they are. to counter the threat security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies like the secret service must have solid and tactical management and
leadership, focused on their primary mission and providing their people with the best training and resources and most important be ready to act aggressively and appropriately when faced with a threat. the secret service, like any successful organization, must be willing to continuously evolve and improve to adapt the agency ahead of the threat curve. throughout my career i found that government agencies and private sector organizations were at the top of their game become complacent. time tends to unknowingly erode and blunt the pointy end of the spear and organizations and their management teams rely on. this is the way we have always done it. we know how to do it best. they are unwilling or unable to change. the secret service i believe would benefit from expanded use of new and emerging technology to assist with the security responsibilities. in fact when i was at the department of homeland security the secret service partnered with my office and the dhs office of science and
technology to research and develop technology for use at major events in the united states. now is the time for the department of homeland security to bring those enhancements out of the lab and expand their use in the secret service toolkit. management and leadership of an organization must adapt, change and improve. policies and procedures and deployment of personnel and resources should be under constant scrutiny and exercises in real world scenarios. the officers and agents are some of the best the country has to offer and they deserve the leadership to match. mr. chairman, after something has gone wrong the cry is simply for more money and more personnel and a larger physical setback. this is rarely the correct answer. a comprehensive understanding, throwing more money and people at the problem will only exacerbate existing weaknesses
and magnify rather than correct management challenges. internal reviews post incident are typical in the u.s. government from agency to agency. from my experience the reviews are impacted by intentional or unintentional professional basis and also performed by the same management gaps that may have been a contributing factor in the original incident. the department of homeland security and the secret service now have a unique opportunity at a critical moment in time to obtain a top to bottom review focusing on the service's management and policies and procedures related to the incident on september 19 and other incidents. i strongly recommend the secretary of homeland security appoint a panel of external independent experts to conduct the review and this group should be tasked with providing advice, guidance and formal recommendations. the panel i was on was chaired
by the former secret service director, mark sullivan. throughout my career i have been proud to work side by side with my secret service colleagues. united states secret service is a recognized world class organization and i am confident they will learn from the most recent incident and innovate, strengthen and improve as they keep our country and leaders safe. thank you mr. chairman and committee members. i am happy to answer any questions. >> thank you mr. kyle. i will recognize myself now. i think the first question if you put up the map of the white house up there. the first question, director, if you look at the lower portion the first question the american people want to know is there a crash button and had it been pushed would it have locked the front door marked as the entrance hall? >> the front door at the time did not have an automatic
locking mechanism and required an individual to hand lock the door. >> ok. we have an automated system that can lock down the white house. $800 million a year, millions of dollars more during your tenure each year than the president's request and that door was unlocked with no one standing at it when mr. gonzalez came through it. is that correct? >> the door was unlocked at the time of mr. gonzalez's entry. that is correct. >> ok. and earlier there was a report and in the indictment of mr. gonzalez that he was apprehended at the entrance hall. isn't it true today that we understand that is not true. he was actually apprehended in the greenroom. is that correct? >> if i may clarify my first answer. the front door consists of two doors.
an outer door which is a glass, described as a storm door. and an inner door which would be a wood historic door. the outer door was not locked. the internal wood door was in the process of being hand locked. >> ok. bottom line is automated locking is a capability within the white house but not at that entrance at that time? >> not at that time but it has been installed. >> we learned from our mistakes. the second question. your agency previously had reported in an indictment against mr. gonzalez asserted he was arrested in that entry area. isn't it true he actually penetrated the cross hall, the east room and in fact was arrested in the vicinity of the greenroom? >> referring to your map on the wall as i have been briefed the -- mr. gonzalez entered the front double doors. >> ma'am, i want a short
answer. i have very little time. the federal complaint said that he was in fact apprehended in one place. isn't it true he was apprehended furlingter into the white house? >> as mr. gonzalez entered the door he knocked back the officer standing at the doorway. the officer engaged mr. gonzalez. they crossed the east entrance hall together, made the left turn down the cross hall. they stepped momentarily into the east room. another officer rendered aid and he was place on the ground and on the carpet and handcuffed just outside of the greenroom. >> ok. the federal complaint in the earlier reports were not accurate. is that correct? yes or no. >> i think the original complaint is accurate that mr. gonzalez scaled the fence. >> ma'am, hold it. i have very little time. the american people want to know if the president is safe.
i want to know if we can rely on reports from your agency. going back to mr. hernandez, during your watch, not as director but chief of staff to the director, is it true that agents s reported falsely assumed they were not gunshots when they were gunshots. that there were stand down orders to people that already pulled shotguns out. that the bullets were not discovered to have hit the white house in real time within a 24-hour greater period by the secret service? yes or no, please. >> mr. chairman, you are referring to the ortega shooting that occurred in november. >> yes. >> 2011. >> yes. >> at that time, it is my understanding that there was reports of shots being fired in proximity to constitution avenue. >> ma'am. ma'am. ma'am. no. stop, please. i want to be consider at to
you. you have a hard job. you have an agency that has a morale lower than other agencies, it has had a series of embarrassments. we will leave those out. we had two cases in which the reporting is evolving. only last night did the public learn that in fact it was far worse or at least somewhat worse on september 19. only recently has it been revealed, and you said you wanted to correct the record. the "washington post" makes it clear from what i read, that in fact on november 11, 2011 shots were fired. the assailant left. the secret service supervisor shutdown the response of people that believed rightfully that there were shots fired and in fact the follow-up did not
discover the damage to the white house and the actual shots in real time. dditionally mr. ortega hernandez would not have been apprehended but that he had a car accident. and even when he was, it was not immediately linked to his criminal activity. that in fact the system at the white house did not detect the actual shots fired and begin the pursuit of somebody who had provided lethal force against the facility of the white house . is that correct? you were chief of staff at the time. is that roughly correct? if it isn't i allow you whatever time you need to properly explain what really happened on november 11, 2011 so that the american people can understand that september 19th is not the first time that there has been considerable lapse, as i see it, and in fact
during a long period of time during your chief of staff time. now during your director time. we have had the types of things we should be concerned about for protecting the president. so, please tell us in whatever time you need about november 11, 2011 where the "washington post" is right or wrong. >> thank you, mr. chairman. as you are aware my assignment as chief of staff -- >> could you put the microphone closer? >> certainly. mr. chairman, thank you very much. as you are aware in 2008 my assignment in the united states secret service was chief of staff. my primary responsibilities at that time were business transformation and i.t. transformation for the organization. my focus was on the business operations of the organization. to my knowledge, and based on the briefings that i have received of this investigation that occurred in november 2011 that appeared in the "washington post" on sunday, i a data been aware that
inquiry was asked for and we responded on september 12 and provided detailed information of the secret service's activities on that weekend. shots were reported by the united states secret service officers in the area of constitution avenue and 15th. there were witness accounts of a black vehicle that had fired shots. there was confusion at the time by the part of the witnesses as to what they had witnessed and what they had saw. several of those witnesses put out twitter accounts of what they had witnessed. they were located and interviewed and recanted those statements. the actual shots that were fired in proximity to constitution avenue and 16th, the vehicle sped away and went westbound on constitution and struck a light post in the area of 23rd and constitution.
mr. ortega then fled the vehicle. park police officers and uniformed division officers ultimately responded to the scene where the vehicle had the ak-47 in the front seat. park police has jurisdiction over the traffic accident and assumed responsibility for the initial phases of the investigation. >> ma'am, i am going to give you all the time you need and thank the ranking member. the answer is where are the inconsistencies with what we now know from the "washington post." you said they got it wrong and were misstating it and mischaracterizing it. so far you are just corroborating that in fact the understanding of the series of failures in real time to protect the white house are in fact correct, according to the "washington post." please tell us where they are not correct, please. >> throughout the course there was a command post established down at constitution avenue and 23rd street. metropolitan police department, united states secret service
was there attempting to resolve or understand from the witness accounts what had happened on constitution avenue. back at the white house individuals had heard what they believed to be shots. the secret service, according to the records that i have been able to lobalingt on this investigation did respond properly. the emergency response teams and other officers did a protective sweep of the area to make sure we did not have intruders and that there were no injuries and obvious signs of anything that had been damaged. further investigation with the park police, they were unable to resolve whether or not they were shots fired at other vehicles or shots fired at the white house. that took some time to understand. usher's until the office was preparing for the return of the president and first lady that they identified damage on the truman balcony. that led to further investigation and that led to
us contacting the federal bureau of investigation to initiate their full investigation. >> thank you. i want to thank you for your understanding and just relate something that you and i discussed yesterday, if i may. >> please. >> in washington, d.c. and around the country there are a number of systems that we all know and baltimore has it too, basically microphones that hear gunshots and can identify the direction and quickly, without human intervention figure out whether or not a real shot has been fired, confirm it and often give a very accurate direction. that type of technology is not so odd. we do not see it in our city. and i think that is the reason why i went on so long with this question. the district does have a sophisticated system. i think the committee will want to make sure that not only does the white house have a higher awareness of this system but the district system be enhanced
if necessary to make sure that something like this never happens again. and i thank the gentleman for his patience. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. director, i have thought about it long and hard. and i think that my major .oncern goes to the culture t is very disturbing to know that secret service agents in the most elite protective agency in the world feel more comfortable apparently from what i am hearing, coming to members of this committee and telling things than coming to you and members in the agency. that, i am telling you when i
boil all of this down, that to me is dangerous. it has to go against morale. i don't even see how good decisions can be made if your own people don't feel a level of comfort or they feel fear that they are going to be able to talk about the things that concern them. and i just want to go through some questions. i want you to have a chance to address that. because to me when we -- when all of the dust settles, that is a problem. going back to this november 11, 2011 incident. and i know you were not the director. i understand that. a lot of people talk about the culture problem with the secret service and the press reports,
all of the press reports the one that concerns me is that back there in 2011. it said officers were on the scene who thought gunfire had probably hit the house that night were largely ignored. and some were afraid to dispute their bosses' conclusions. did you see that report and are you aware of that issue? >> ranking member, cummings, i too read that article and was troubled by those accounts. i asked my officers to retrieve the file on those records. what we know and when we knew it if this young officer made such a statement. i did find a statement where the young officer alleges that they were reluctant to report to their supervisor to be criticized i believe was the
statement. that troubles me as well. >> that is a major problem. >> i am going to ask my office to reinterview that officer. they remain on the job today. to determine whether or not that officer would be more confident today or what were some of the problems that night that she felt she couldn't say that. that extremely troubles me. >> it said that she heard shots and what she thought was debris falling overhead. she drew her handgun and took cover and then heard a radio call reporting possible shots fired near the south grounds. then she called the secret service joint operations center to report that she was breaking into the gun box near her post pulling out a shotgun. according to this article she replaced the buckshot inside with a more powerful slug in
case she needed to engage an attacker. but then the call came over the radio to stand down. the next day the officer, and i quote "listened during roll before her shift saturday afternoon as supervisors explained that the gunshots were from people in two cars shooting at each other." the report said that she had told several senior officers friday night that she thought the house had been hit. but on saturday she did not challenge her supervisors for fear of being criticized. she later told investigators. director, as a former field agent and as the head of the agency that has to concern you tremendously. is that right?
>> yes, sir, it does. it is unacceptable. >> does it trouble you that some of your own agents apparently do not feel comfortable raising security concerns? and this is just one person. and there are others who, again, would rather be whistleblowers. i have no problem with whistleblowers. we do everything in our power to protect them. but this agency, they would rather be a whistleblower than o bring their concerns to you? see, you started off by saying that you are going to make sure that this never happens again. let me tell you what the problem is here. if you are heading an eagets where the folks are not providing you with the information to do the right
things, to make the changes, how do you even know what the problems are? do you follow me? help me with this. >> yes, sir, if i may. any time that any organization, you start to make significant changes, some people will have resistance. some will push back. however i will continue to lead and transform the secret service to ensure that we are prepared for our mission and ensure that we can restore our reputation to the american public. what i will tell you is that over the last 18 months as serving as director and over the last six months i have met personally with over 1,500 of our supervisors and employees. i had a number of engagement sessions and spent over an hour with each of them advising them of what my expectations are, what their performance requirements are, what personal accountability is, how to
manage this workforce, how to ensure that we are performing at the highest levels in everything that we do. that we are operationally ready, that we are training. that we are evaluating each other and that we are constantly looking at our mission to make sure that we speak for what has happened in the past. as we move into the future, and while i am director, i will not tolerate personnel missteps, were people fail to act or do not support the workforce, or do not work in unison. i would say that there are many people who are still pushing back, and i will continue to lead forward. >> the problem is that that officer, she was right. and that was the morning after the shooting. yet it took four days for the housekeepers to discover that