WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — The Obama administration said Thursday that a review is underway to potentially enhance security at the White House after the latest fence-jumper incident.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked if they are considering putting in a higher fence to deter people from jumping over. Earnest responded that the homeland security deputy secretary is working with the department’s general counsel to conduct a review about the “security posture” around the White House.
“They’re considering a wide range of things, including the deployment of personnel, the deployment of technology, and even physical obstacles – like a fence – that are critical to protecting the first family, the White House and those of us who work here,” Earnest stated.
Earnest said the review should be completed within the next couple of weeks.
“That review will then be considered by an independent panel of experts that’s been assembled by the Department of Homeland Security to ultimately make some recommendations to the secretary of homeland security and to the leadership of the Secret Service about what steps are necessary to strike the proper balance between the top priority, which is safeguarding the president and his family and the White House complex, while also preserving the White House’s status as the people’s house, as a tourist destination where thousands of Americans a day can come through the White House, tour the executive branch of government and walk out the front door,” Earnest said during the press briefing.
Dominic Adesanya was swiftly apprehended on the North Lawn, on Pennsylvania Avenue, by uniformed Secret Service agents and their dogs after he climbed the White House fence on Wednesday night. He was unarmed. President Barack Obama was at the White House at the time.
The incident came about a month after a previous White House fence jumper, Omar Gonzalez, sprinted across the same lawn carrying a knife, ran past armed uniformed agents and entered the mansion before being felled in the ceremonial East Room and taken into custody. This week a federal judge delayed his arraignment because of questions about his mental fitness to stand trial.
The embarrassing Sept. 19 incident preceded the disclosure of other serious Secret Service breaches in security for Obama and ultimately led to Julia Pierson’s resignation as director of the agency after 18 months on the job.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who has been leading congressional investigations into the Secret Service, commended the swift response Wednesday night but said more needed to be known about Adesanya, including whether he was doing anything suspicious immediately before the incident that should have led to his detection. Chaffetz also suggested changes might be needed to “maximize the pain of going over the fence.”
“It seems a little too easy to get over,” he said.
Adesanya, 23, of Bel Air, Maryland, was ordered held without bond in an appearance Thursday before a federal magistrate judge. Wearing blue prison garb, he resisted being taken away and started talking as two deputy marshals removed him from the courtroom.
Adesanya has been charged with two federal offenses: unlawfully entering the restricted grounds of the White House and harming two law enforcement dogs that were released to take him down. A preliminary hearing and detention hearing have been scheduled for Monday.
Adesanya had previously been arrested at the White House on July 27 and ordered to undergo mental health screening. His father, Victor Adesanya, said in a telephone interview Thursday that his son has been experiencing mental health problems for over a year, but he refused the help the family tried to get for him.
Victor Adesanya said his son was diagnosed with paranoia and “complained about cameras everywhere.” He said at one point his son took down a mirror in the bathroom and cut into the wall, trying to find a camera. He also looked for them in the family’s attic. He said his son was not trying to hurt the president.
“He’s not violent. He’s not a criminal. He’s not a murderer. He’s just someone that’s just mentally disturbed,” he said.
Court records from Dominic Adesanya’s July arrest show he told an officer that he wanted cameras that had been placed in his home removed. The document also says he told an officer that the security barrier he jumped over “was easy and that the next fence to the south grounds of the White House would not be a problem as well.”
After the arrest he was ordered to get outpatient mental health screening. He was apprehended again on July 30 after he refused to leave the Treasury building, which is next to the White House, and swung his fists at officers. Dominic Adesanya was supposed to return to court Sept. 9 but didn’t show up. Warrants for his arrest were issued.
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