Rep. Lynch to Secret Service Chief: Wish You Protected WH Like 'Your Reputation’

Melanie Arter | September 30, 2014 | 4:01pm EDT
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Secret Service Director Julia Pierson (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

( - Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) took Secret Service Director Julia Pierson to task Tuesday over the Sept. 19 White House security breach, in which a mentally disturbed man made it inside the White House before he was apprehended.

“I wish to God you protected the White House like you’re protecting your reputation here today. I wish you spent that time and that effort to protect the American president and his family like I’m hearing people covering for the lapses of the Secret Service on these several occasions. I really do,” said Lynch during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Secret Service protocols.

Iraq war veteran Omar Gonzalez was able to scale the fence at the White House, enter the residence, and make it all the way to the Green Room before he was apprehended, Pierson acknowledged.

“I know you’ve got a lot of wonderful people over there, but this is not their best work, and we have a serious, serious issue here about protecting the president and his family. This is disgraceful. This is absolutely disgraceful that this has happened, and I’m not even going to mention the fact that it took us four days to figure out that somebody had shot seven rounds into the White House,” said Lynch. “This is beyond the pale.”

As reported, when Gonzalez was captured, he was carrying a knife, but in an incident dating back to July 2014, he was pulled over with 11 weapons and a map of Washington, D.C. with a line drawn towards the White House.

“When does the red flag come up for the Secret Service?” Lynch asked Pierson. “So the Secret Service was informed that he had 11 weapons in the car, and I just want to go over the—I have the evidence list from the state police that was provided to the Secret Service.”

According to Lynch, Virginia State police found the following weapons in Gonzalez’s car in July: a Mossberg Maverick model 88 .12 gauge pump service shotgun, a Springfield Armory .308 Winchester with a scope and a bipod, an Adler Italy Jager AP-85 with a red dot scope, a Tristar 12 gauge shotgun, an AR-15 - “which is a pretty sophisticated weapon with a flashlight and scope,” a Weatherby Vanguard 270 caliber bolt action rifle with a scope and a bipod, a Smith and Wesson 380 caliber automatic black handgun, a Glock 45 “with an empty magazine, although later we found he had 800 rounds of ammunition,” a .357 Magnum revolver, and another .45 caliber weapon.

“So that’s what we have with our introduction to Mr. Gonzales. Then in August 2014—and also subsequent to that, we know he has a history of mental illness. Then he shows up at the White House in August of 2014. He’s got a hatchet in his belt. No red flags. We let him go. Then of course, there’s the day that he jumps the fence and runs into the White House,” Lynch said.

“I’m just wondering when do the red flags go up for the Secret Service?” he asked.

“This is the Secret Service against one individual with mental illness, and you lost. You lost, and you had three shots at this guy – three chances, and he got to the green room of the White House. What happens when you have a sophisticated organization with nefarious intent and resources going up against the Secret Service? What happens then?” Lynch asked Pierson.

“Let me be clear, the United States Secret Service does not take any of these incidents lightly. They’re all of extreme—” Pierson said before Lynch cut her off mid-speech.

“With all due respect, that’s my point. As a casual observer to what has happened here, I don’t think the Secret Service is taking their duty to protect the American president and his family at the White House-- I don't think you're taking it seriously,” Lynch said.

“Based on the evidence, and the series of lapses, unfortunately, that’s the conclusion that I arrive at – that you’re not taking your job seriously,” he said. “I’m sorry. I hate to be critical, but we have a lot at stake here.”

Lynch said he had “very low confidence in the Secret Service” under Pierson’s leadership.

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