WASHINGTON – White House intruders are nothing new.
President Herbert Hoover had dinner unexpectedly interrupted twice, once by a sightseer and again by a man demanding an appointment. An uninvited guest watched a movie with President Franklin Roosevelt, unnoticed until the lights came on. An intruder followed the Marine Band and toured the White House on his own for 15 minutes during the second inauguration of President Ronald Reagan. Two guests successfully invited themselves to a state dinner with President Barack Obama in 2009.
Not one of them was shot.
Sixteen people have jumped the White House fence in the last five years.
Not one of them was shot.
And then, on Sept. 19, came the incident that shook the Secret Service to its core.
With a folding knife in his pocket, decorated Army veteran Omar G. Gonzalez sprinted 70 yards across the North Lawn on Sept. 19, past an attack dog and a specialized SWAT team, breezed through the unlocked front door, overpowered a female Secret Service agent, dashed through the main hall and turned a corner, rushed past the staircase leading to the president’s living quarters and crossed the 80-foot length of the ornate East Room.
Gonzalez reached the door of the antique-filled Green Room before an off-duty counter-assault agent happened by and finally wrestled the intruder to the ground, but only after he had made it past five rings of security and 168 feet into the executive mansion.
He was not shot.
In contrast, one year ago Friday, unarmed suburban mother Miriam Carey made a wrong turn near the White House gate entrance and immediately tried to leave.
She was shot and killed.
In fact, she was dispatched with overwhelming force.
After apparently making a wrong turn near the White House gate at 15th and E Street, Carey found herself surrounded by menacing federal officers brandishing firearms. Realizing her mistake, she made a U-turn and tried to depart.
But Secret Service agents and Capitol Police chased the dental hygienist down Pennsylvania Avenue at high speeds and forced her to a stop in the shadow of the nation’s Capitol, having fired 27 bullets, hitting her three times in the back, once in the back of the head and once in her arm.
Despite their erratic marksmanship, the shooters somehow missed the 34-year-old’s infant daughter, strapped into the backseat of Carey’s black 2010 Infiniti G37Xs Coupe.
Even after a year, nobody knows exactly why Carey was killed by federal officers on Oct. 3, 2013, after she drove to the nation’s capital from her home in Stamford, Connecticut.
That’s because the Department of Justice, or DOJ, has refused to release the final investigative report.
But Carey family attorney Eric Sanders told WND the Carey case and the Gonzalez incident have one key factor in common: The Secret Service lied about what happened.
Secret Service ‘lies’
Former Secret Service Director Julia Pierson was forced to admit in a congressional hearing Tuesday that her department provided a false account of the Gonzalez break-in, which incorrectly claimed he was not armed and was subdued just inside the White House front door.
The Secret Service admitted the falsehood only after the Washington Post on Monday published an account provided by multiple sources about what really happened.
Pierson resigned Wednesday following severe bipartisan criticism of her testimony and after the revelation of yet another shocking security breach on her watch, in which the Secret Service let a man with a gun and three convictions for assault and battery ride in an elevator with the president in Atlanta on Sept. 16.
During her one-and-a-half year tenure, Pierson was also in charge of the Secret Service when Carey was killed last year.
Sanders rhetorically asked WND: If the Secret Service lied about the Gonzalez case, “why wouldn’t they lie” about the Carey shooting?
In fact, he pointed to two key elements in the Carey case in which he believed the Secret Service had lied.
The attorney said the real cause of the confrontation with Carey at the White House was not because she refused to stop, as the Secret Service had claimed. He said the incident only happened because Secret Service security was so lax that agents allowed her to accidentally enter the area without stopping her at the gate.
A former New York City Police officer himself, Sanders emphasized, “I’ve said from the beginning they (agents) were poorly trained and poorly disciplined, and now it’s been confirmed.”
That echoed what Sanders told WND in July, when he marveled, “She somehow got past them. You know how she got past them? Because they were over there, smoking and joking and lackadaisical, just like I said from the beginning.”
According to the attorney, the second clear instance of an official fudging of the truth was the explanation given as to why agents and officers shot Carey at the Garfield traffic circle, just below the Capitol.
Sanders said the reason authorities did not release photos of officers shooting at Carey at Garfield Circle is because their excuse is so weak.
“Officers were (supposedly) concerned because she was driving toward people on the sidewalk,” he said. “They didn’t show pictures of anyone on the sidewalk. They didn’t show she was about to run anybody over, either.”
The attorney explained what he saw as the absurdity of that reasoning.
“Think about that one for a minute,” he said. “Let’s assume there was someone in front of her car. And you morons are shooting at her from the back? What are you, stupid? So, you miss her and then you shoot (innocent bystanders?)”
Nonetheless, the DOJ cited that supposed concern for bystanders when it announced in July that no criminal charges would be filed against agents or officers.
Sanders called the DOJ’s refusal to release the official report on the incident a “stonewall.” The actions of the Secret Service and the Capitol Police were investigated by the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department. That report was reviewed by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which is part of the Justice Department.
WND has contacted more than 100 members of Congress seeking comment on the case and has not received one reply.
Some lawmakers were contacted multiple times, as WND made more than 170 inquiries.
In April, WND contacted 37 of the most civil-rights minded and libertarian-oriented members of Congress, presenting the facts of the case and asking if they believed the shooting was justified and if a congressional inquiry would be appropriate.
In July, WND made the same inquiry to the 18 members of the House Homeland Security Committee, which oversees the Secret Service, the nine members of the House Administration Committee, which oversees the Capitol Police, and the 43 members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
In September, WND made another inquiry to both the Homeland Committee, the Congressional Black Caucus and the chairmen of key congressional investigative committees.
This time, WND did not ask for any comment on whether the shooting may have been justified, but merely asked whether the public deserved to know what actually happened and why, by having the DOJ release the investigation.
On the day Carey was killed, one year ago Friday, members of Congress gave agents and officers a 30-second standing ovation when informed she was shot dead because of concerns of terrorism.
However, as WND reported in January, when authorities were pursuing that vehicle they initially feared might pose a terrorist threat, they were able to quickly learn the car actually belonged to a young mother and dental hygienist from Connecticut, raising serious questions as to why they did not attempt to subdue her with non-lethal means.
Even after the credibility of the Secret Service has come under such serious scrutiny, WND still hasn’t heard from even one member of Congress expressing interest in how and why Miriam Carey visited the nation’s capital and ended up dead.
It’s about ‘bravado’
When the U.S. Attorney’s Office released two still photos of the Carey incident in July, Sanders zeroed in on the one officer who was not in uniform.
Sanders began quietly, telling WND in a soft but firm tone, “It’s about male bravado,” then adding, “I’ll tell you why I know that.”
He pointed out one of the pictures showed a plain-clothes, or off-duty, officer confronting Carey in her car, and that he had a cooler in one hand and a metal barrier in the other.
Sanders noted the police report even got that simple detail wrong, referring to it as a “bike rack.”
According to the initial police report, Carey struck the “rack” with her car after the officer placed it in front of her, and then it struck him.
“He’s in plain clothes. How is she supposed to know that he’s an officer?” the attorney wondered.
Additionally, what the still pictures taken at the White House gate did not show was whether Carey tried to avoid, or go around, that officer.
Sanders thinks it is significant investigators released only still photos, and not the surveillance video of the incident, because they “conveniently” show only the pictures the police want seen.
“If that’s the best they can do to show what this case is all about, then the public should really be afraid of these people. This is a complete cover-up.”
Follow Garth Kant @DCgarth