Secret Service Director Julia Pierson has resigned following several high-profile security lapses.
Julia Pierson offered her resignation to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security on October 1.
On September 30, Julia Pierson faced angry questions in Congress about a major breach of White House security.
News of another incident involving an armed man allowed in an elevator with President Barack Obama compounded calls for her to go.
“Today Julia Pierson, the Director of the United States Secret Service, offered her resignation, and I accepted it,” Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson wrote in a statement.
“I salute her 30 years of distinguished service to the Secret Service and the Nation.”
President Barack Obama also expressed his appreciation to Julia Pierson for her long history of public service, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on October 1.
Julia Pierson offered her resignation because “she believed it was in the best interests of the agency to which she has dedicated her career”, Josh Earnest added.
Julia Pierson faced angry questions in Congress about a major breach of White House security
In an interview with Bloomberg News after her resignation was announced, Julia Pierson said she knew Congress had “lost confidence in my ability to run the agency”.
Joseph Clancy, in charge of the presidential protective division of the Secret Service, will take over as acting interim director.
High-ranking members of the Congress had been calling for Julia Pierson’s resignation in the wake of her testimony before a House oversight committee on September 30.
There Julia Pierson acknowledged the Secret Service security plan was “not executed properly” during a recent breach of the White House.
On September 19, suspect Omar Gonzalez, 42, allegedly scaled a fence and gained entry to the White House while carrying a knife.
On October 1, Omar Gonzalez pleaded not guilty to charges against him, including entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon.
Prosecutors say Omar Gonzalez jumped the main fence around the White House and gained entry inside through an unlocked door, then barreled past a guard and ran into the East Room before being tackled.
The incident is the latest in a string of security lapses overseen by the Secret Service, tasked with guarding the Obama family.
On September 16, President Barack Obama is said to have been in an Atlanta elevator with an armed security contractor who had assault convictions.
This contravened a protocol that only members of the Secret Service are allowed to carry weapons in the presence of the president.
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President Barack Obama rode in an elevator this month with an armed security contractor who had assault convictions, in what appears to be another security lapse.
It happened on September 16 when Barack Obama visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.
The incident came to light on September 30, hours after Julia Pierson, the boss of the Secret Service, was grilled by Congress about a security breach at the White House.
An armed contractor with violent criminal record got in the elevator with President Barack Obama during his visit at the CDC in Atlanta (photo Reuters)
A Secret Service official confirmed the incident but declined to comment.
The gun was found when the man was questioned after taking a video in the elevator and was immediately fired by his employers, according to newspaper reports.
The Washington Post said the man had three convictions for assault and battery.
“This person was within arm’s length of the president with a gun,” said Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz, who was told of the incident by a whistleblower.
It will come as another embarrassment on the day when Secret Service Director Julia Pierson took responsibility before a hostile House oversight committee hearing for an “unacceptable” security breach at the presidential residence.
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Secret Service Director Julia Pierson says the agency’s security plan was “not properly executed” when Omar Gonzalez broke into the White House this month, a lapse she said would never be repeated.
At a House of Representatives oversight committee hearing, Julia Pierson took responsibility for the “unacceptable” breach.
She was addressing congressmen angry over the September 19 break-in.
The 42-year-old intruder, Omar Gonzalez, scaled a fence, ran across the lawn, entered an unlocked door and was tackled inside.
Omar Gonzalez made it well into the first floor of the White House, having pushed his way past a guard standing just inside the unlocked door of the North Portico. He was tackled in the East Room, a long, ornately decorated chamber used for presidential addresses and formal receptions.
“It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly,” said Julia Pierson in testimony at the House Oversight committee hearing, where lawmakers of both parties expressed anger at a number of recent lapses by agency personnel and incidents of agents’ misbehavior.
“I take full responsibility; what happened is unacceptable and it will never happen again.”
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson says the agency’s security plan was not properly executed when Omar Gonzalez broke into the White House this month
While acknowledging the recent failure, Julia Pierson said the agency’s “emergency action plans” were “multifaceted and tailored to each threat”.
She said that agents and uniformed officers had apprehended 16 people who had jumped over the White House fence over the past five years, including six in 2014 alone.
Julia Pierson also said they had dealt with hundreds of people who had approached the grounds and made verbal threats or acted suspiciously.
She had ordered a full review of White House security procedures and said “all decisions made that evening are being evaluated, including decisions on tactics and use of force”.
Committee chairman Darrell Issa, a California Republican, said the White House complex was supposed to be one of the most secure places in the world but the breach had exposed serious problems in the protective agency.
“The system broke down on September 19 as it did when the Salahis crashed a state dinner in November 2009, or when Oscar Ortega-Hernandez successfully shot at the White House on November 2011, or when agents engaged in prostitution in Cartagena in April 2012, or when agents showed terrible judgment and got drunk in the Netherlands in March 2014,” he said, referring to previous, well publicized breaches at the White House and scandals involving Secret Service agents.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz, a Republican, said he was concerned the Secret Service was sending mixed messages when it praised its officers for “tremendous restraint” following the September 19 incident.
Democratic Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District of Columbia, said the issues facing the agency were not a “mere question of personnel” and called for a “21st Century makeover” of the agency.
Barack Obama and his family were not at the White House when the latest intrusion happened, having departed about 10 minutes earlier by helicopter.
Omar Gonzalez has been charged with unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon.
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New Secret Service director Julia Pierson’s personal information has been hacked and published online according to new claims now under federal investigation.
The hacking would be the latest in a string of such incidents against top officials that include first lady Michelle Obama and CIA Director John Brennan.
The information on the website included a Social Security number, phone numbers, and a credit report that includes accounts with The Home Depot, Sears, and Macy’s.
It was unclear how much of the data that appeared on www.exposed.re was accurate or who posted it.
The website appeared to have information about other government officials and celebrities that had been published online previously at another Internet address, www.exposed.su.
That address appears to have been taken down after its launch last month.
Julia Pierson’s personal information has been hacked in her first days as Secret Service director
In that one-month period the former site was viewed more than a half a million times, Information Week reports. The latest site reports more than 770,000 page views and counting.
“We are investigating and we are aware of the matter,” a Secret Service spokesman said without commenting further.
Julia Pierson was sworn into office on March 27 and is the first woman to head the Secret Service which protects the US president.
An FBI spokeswoman said they are aware of the reports but she would not say whether the federal bureau was investigating them.
The Internet domain country code for the island of Reunion is .re, while .su was the domain code for the Soviet Union.
President Barack Obama has picked Julia Pierson to be the first woman head of the Secret Service, White House officials have announced.
Julia Pierson, currently Secret Service chief of staff, will succeed Mark Sullivan, who announced last month that he would retire.
The Secret Service was caught up in a prostitution scandal last year during a presidential visit to Colombia.
President Barack Obama has picked Julia Pierson to be the first woman head of the Secret Service
The agency investigates financial crimes, and protects the US president and his family.
Julia Pierson, originally from Florida, joined the Secret Service’s Miami Field Office in 1983.
From 1988, Julia Pierson spent four years with the Presidential Protective Division.
Julia Pierson’s appointment does not require confirmation by Congress.