Pierson was given the reigns of the agency following a major controversy involving the Secret Service in 2012. That incident was the scandal involving eleven agents engaging with prostitutes while on presidential detail in Cartagena, Columbia. Shortly after that, additional reports of misconduct within the agency flooded the media, involving prostitutes and strippers in El Salvador the prior year.
Now Pierson has resigned following a different sort of disgrace involving the Secret Service… incompetence.
As widely reported, on September 19, 2014, Omar Gonzalez scaled the 7ft. 6 in. fence surrounding the White House, sprinted across the lawn, and entered what should be the most secure building in America. Entering through an unlocked front door, Gonzalez was eventually tackled by Secret Service agents and arrested. A search revealed that Gonzalez was carrying a knife. Since the intrusion, the Secret Service and Pierson have been under fire, both in the media and the Capitol.
Initial reports were that an intruder breached the White House fence and lawn and was captured before entering the building. But as more information was made available about the incident, it was revealed that Gonzalez entered the building and made it through multiple rooms before getting caught.
On September 30, before she tendered her resignation, Pierson faced a hearing with the House oversight committee. Angry committee members rebuked the then-director for her agency’s ineffectiveness, and even more so for Pierson’s attempt to down-play the incident.
“The more I learn, the worse it is, and that scares me,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said. “Misleading people to say that he [Gonzalez] didn’t make it very far into the White House, that’s just unacceptable. What they put out there was factually untrue, misleading and inaccurate.”
At the hearing, Pierson accepted the blame for the lapse in security, and promised to order a full investigation. The next day she resigned.
The Secret Service is currently being led by acting-director Joseph Clancy, who served as the head of the agency’s presidential protection division before retiring in 2011. Hopefully Clancy, one of President Clinton’s former jogging mates, can whip the agency back into shape.
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Military Connection: Secret Service, Public Scorn: By Debbie Gregory