The U.S. Secret Service, the agency responsible for the security of the American president, has blundered again. 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, according to The Washington Post.
The incident took place during Obama’s visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where he was scheduled to discuss strategies aimed at fighting the Ebola virus.
According to The Washington Post story, based on three people who were familiar with the case, the man hired by a private company to work on building security was on an elevator with Obama and other Secret Service agents. He raised everyone’s suspicions when he “acted oddly,” and despite an agent’s reproofs, did not stop recording the president with his cellphone camera.
Obama got off the elevator, while the rest of the agents questioned the man and checked his identity in a database. The verification revealed that the man had three assault convictions. Afterward, the man relinquished a weapon, surprising agents who were not aware the man was armed.
The White House refused to comment on this incident, and would not say whether the president was informed that the man had been carrying a weapon.
Secret Service safety procedures require agents to check the names of workers, invited guests or volunteers helping with organization events during every presidential visit outside of the White House, and the background checks are conducted in multiple databases, including files containing criminal records, Central Intelligence Agency records, the National Security Agency database and Pentagon records.
The president’s itinerary is not available to people who have any criminal record, history of mental illness or other issues that could pose a threat. According to one of The Washington Post sources, at least one person is excluded from participation on every Obama outing due to disclosure of past disturbances.
The incident in Atlanta is another embarrassment for the Secret Service, demonstrating that the agency’s procedures are failing or that they are not respected. On Sept. 19, another man broke into the White House. Later, it turned out that he had a knife with a 9-centimeter blade, and 800 rounds of munitions were found in his car. At the time, the presidential family was not in the White House.
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