Sun | Dec 4, 2016

Secret Service chief resigns after security lapses

Published:Thursday | October 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the House Oversight Committee as it examines details surrounding a security breach at the White House when a man climbed over a fence.

WASHINGTON (AP): Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned yesterday, a day after bitingly critical questioning by Congress about a White House security breach. There had been increasing calls for her departure during the day.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said she offered her resignation and he accepted it.

Pierson will be replaced by Joseph Clancy, a former special agent in charge of the president's protective detail who retired in 2011. Pierson has been with the agency for 30 years.

She was widely criticised during and after her testimony on Tuesday.

Pierson took over the embattled agency last year after embarrassing incidents involving misconduct by officers and agents, including the 2012 Colombia prostitution scandal.

Scrutiny over security lapses

According to the White House, President Barack Obama believes it was in the best interest of the Secret Service for Director Julia Pierson to resign.

Pierson offered her resignation yesterday amid intense scrutiny over security lapses at the White House.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama concluded that new leadership of the agency was required. He says Obama called Pierson yesterday to thank her for her service to the Secret Service and to the US.

Earnest says Obama has full confidence in Joseph Clancy. He's the former special agent taking over as acting Secret Service director.

Earnest says the administration is awaiting a review to determine whether more people will be leaving.

Pierson's resignation comes after a man with a knife made it deep into the White House.

In the meantime, the man accused of jumping the fence at the White House pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges that he ran into the presidential mansion while carrying a knife.

A lawyer for defendant Omar J. Gonzalez, David Bos, entered the plea on his client's behalf in a 20-minute proceeding that grew contentious because of a disagreement between Bos and US Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson.

Wearing a standard prison-issue orange jumpsuit, Gonzalez sat attentively at the defence table but did not address the court.

Robinson wants Gonzalez to undergo a forensic screening to determine whether he is competent to stand trial. Bos opposed that, telling reporters he does not want to provide the government with an extensive amount of information about his client that would be revealed by a forensic screening.

Bos said Gonzalez is competent to stand trial, an assertion that marked the start of a dispute over whether Gonzalez will have to undergo the screening.

A three-count federal grand jury indictment issued Tuesday accuses Gonzalez of unlawfully entering a restricted building while carrying a deadly weapon, a federal charge. He also was indicted in the September 19 incident on two violations of District of Columbia law, carrying a dangerous weapon outside a home or business, and unlawful possession of ammunition.