White House Grounds Breached After Secret Service Froze Officers’ Pay, Leaked Email Reveals
Intruder jumped multiple fences before being apprehended near a White House entrance
This past Friday's intrusion of the White House grounds happened within two weeks of the U.S. Secret Service restricting work hours via an overtime-pay limit for its uniformed officers. That pay freeze was implemented because of budget concerns — a recurring theme in the fledgling Trump administration that has promised to slash federal programs and spending.
"It's chaos here," one source close to the situation said. "Can't make this stuff up."
A man with a backpack, two cans of mace, a passport and a letter to President Donald Trump was apprehended late in the evening on Friday, March 10, by a Secret Service officer near the south entrance to the White House, according to media reports.
"The [Secret] Service did a fantastic job. It was a troubled person. It was very sad," Trump told reporters in the wake of the intrusion.
That may be true, but if so, the administration’s penchant for slashing the federal budget may have made this intrusion of the White House grounds — the first such major incident under the fledgling Trump presidency — a closer call than might otherwise have been the case.
An email drafted by Secret Service management and sent in late February to uniformed officers of the agency, which was obtained by Narco News [link to email], indicates that the Secret Service needs a waiver from the Republican-controlled Congress to pay additional overtime to officers — which sources close to the situation indicate is necessary to provide adequate security, including helping to protect the president.
“In 2007, and continuing as part of the U.S. Secret Service’s annual budget appropriation, Congress placed a statutory limit on how much overtime any employee may earn,” the email from Secret Service management states. The email goes on to indicate that Congress limited “annual Secret Service overtime payments to no more than $35,000.00 for any individual,” adding that, “the Secretary of Homeland Security may expand or waive this requirement.”
The leaked email, then, reveals that the overtime (OT) limitation provision has been in place since the George W. Bush presidency. Sources familiar with the OT edict outlined in the email say the missive applies to Secret Service uniformed officers only.
For whatever reason, whether part of the Trump administration’s overall budget-slashing efforts or general incompetence, or both, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (retired Gen. John Kelly) has not authorize an OT waiver, and it appears the head of the Secret Service so far has failed to request that waiver. Regardless, the effect is the same, inside sources indicate, in that the OT freeze reduces the effectiveness of the Uniformed Division’s security efforts.
The Uniformed Division of the Secret Service provides physical security for the White House complex, the vice president's residence, the Treasury Building and for foreign diplomatic missions in Washington, D.C.
From the Feb. 27, 2017, Secret Service email:
In the past there has been several occasions, at the request of the Director [of the Secret Service], that the Secretary [of the Department of Homeland Security] has utilized this privilege and authorized a waiver to allow members to exceed the limit and be compensated beyond the $35,000.00 pay cap. However, NO WAIVER HAS BEEN GRANTED at this time.
Without a waiver, by law individuals will not be paid for any overtime worked in excess of $35K. Therefore, we must operate under current guidelines and limit overtime to prevent and protect against non-payment. We will continue to use the ROD/TOD report as a quarterly gauge in an effort to track and disperse overtime. The Office of the Chief is working diligently with the Office of Protective Operations to request a waiver in writing.
Effective immediately, ... members who are currently at or exceed the pay cap have been “Frozen” and not permitted to work any voluntary overtime. Members who are encroaching on the ceiling have also been restricted from travel, if it’s believed the travel will cause them to exceed the limit. ... Members will be notified by the Assignments and Scheduling Office of any imposed restriction… .
A CNN story about the apparent breakdown in security exposed by the intrusion this past Friday reveals that the intruder gained entrance to the highly-fortified White House grounds after initially jumping a fence on the grounds of the adjacent Treasury Building, which means the intruder breached more than one fence before being apprehended near the south entrance to the White House. The incident took place just before midnight this past Friday, and Trump was reportedly in the White House at the time.
From CNN’s report:
"This is really troubling," said [Jonathan] Wackrow, a [former Secret Service agent and] CNN law enforcement analyst. "If someone came over the northwest fence of the Treasury complex, what that indicates is they didn't go over just one fence, they went over multiple fences. This has the potential to be a catastrophic breach of the White House complex. This is really disturbing, just the amount of real estate that this intruder was able to gain or bypass on the complex."
"So the Secret Service has to really take a very hard look very quickly as to why weren't other defense measures alerted," Wackrow said.
It seems the Trump administration's plan to gut the government and end the "administrative state" is coming with a bit of blowback that is now showing up in Trump's backyard.