It’s hard to believe that an armed man was allowed on an elevator with the President of the United States, but that very thing happened in Atlanta.
The Washington Post reports:
A security contractor with a gun and three convictions for assault and battery was allowed on an elevator with President Obama during a Sept. 16 trip to Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocols, according to three people familiar with the incident.
Obama was not told about the lapse in his security, these people said. The Secret Service director, Julia Pierson, asked a top agency manager to look into the matter but did not refer it to an investigative unit that was created to review violations of protocol and standards, according to two people familiar with the handling of the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The incident, which took place when Obama visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to discuss the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis, rattled Secret Service agents assigned to the president’s protective detail.
The private contractor first aroused the agents’ concerns when he acted oddly and did not comply with their orders to stop using a cellphone camera to record the president in the elevator, according to the people familiar with the incident.
When the elevator opened, Obama left with most of his Secret Service detail. Some agents stayed behind to question the man and then used a national database check that turned up his criminal history.
When a supervisor from the firm providing security at the CDC approached and discovered the agents’ concerns, the contractor was fired on the spot. Then the contractor agreed to turn over his gun — surprising agents, who had not realized that he was armed during his encounter with Obama.
Extensive screening is supposed to keep people with weapons or criminal histories out of arm’s reach of the president. But it appears that this man, possessing a gun, came within inches of the president after undergoing no such screening.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who heads a House subcommittee that oversees the Secret Service, first heard of the breakdown from a whistleblower. The Washington Post confirmed details of the event with other people familiar with the agency’s review.
“You have a convicted felon within arm’s reach of the president, and they never did a background check,” Chaffetz said. “Words aren’t strong enough for the outrage I feel for the safety of the president and his family. “
Chaffetz added: “His life was in danger. This country would be a different world today if he had pulled out his gun.”
A Secret Service official, speaking on behalf of the agency, said an investigation of the incident is ongoing. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the pending review.
(Photo Source: AP)