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US probing Secret Service crash near White House

12 March 2015, 08:05

Washington - The Homeland Security Department is investigating two senior Secret Service agents accused of crashing a car into a White House security barrier, an agency spokesperson said, in the latest embarrassment for the agency tasked with protecting the president.

Secret Service spokesperson Robert Hoback said on Wednesday appointed Director Joseph Clancy has been briefed on the 4 March incident. Clancy has asked the Homeland Security Department's Inspector General's Office to investigate the incident.

Hoback did not provide additional details.

The agency said the two agents have been reassigned to non-supervisory, non-operational jobs.

The Washington Post first reported the investigation on Wednesday afternoon. The newspaper reported that the agents drove a government car into a security barrier near the White House after a night of drinking.

Also read: US declares Venezuela a national security threat

The Post reported that one of the agents involved is Mark Connolly, the second-in-command on President Barack Obama's security detail. The newspaper identified the other agent as George Ogilvie, a senior supervisor in the Washington field office.

The leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee - Republican chairman Jason Chaffetz and top Democrat Elijah Cummings - issued a statement on Wednesday evening saying, "The fact that this event involved senior-level agents is not only embarrassing but exhibits a clear lack of judgment in a potentially dangerous situation."

Security breaches

In the last six months, several top agency officials, including former Director Julian Pierson, have been forced out amid revelations of multiple, serious presidential security breaches. In September, a Texas man armed with a knife was able to climb a White House fence and run deep into the executive mansion before being apprehended.

An internal investigation and an outside panel report both described serious problems within the agency.

A four-member panel of former senior government officials concluded in a report released last year that the agency was too insular and starving for leadership.

The panel recommended an agency outsider to replace Pierson, but Obama earlier this year tapped Clancy, a retired agent who led the agency on an interim basis after Pierson's ouster.

- AP


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