Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Reacting to Friday’s security breach in which a U.S. veteran scaled a perimeter fence at the White House and made it all the way into the building, White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Monday said President Obama is “obviously concerned” by the incident but added that the president “continues to have complete confidence” in the Secret Service.
“I had the opportunity to speak briefly with the president about it earlier today. He did indicate, as you would expect, his family lives in the White House, and so he is obviously concerned by the incident that occurred on Friday evening,” Earnest said.
“Providing security at the White House is complicated business,” he said, pointing to its dual role as a government office building and popular tourist destination. “The Secret Service has the challenging task of balancing the need to ensure the safety and security of the first family, while also ensuring that the White House continues to be the People’s House. And balancing those equities is challenging work, but it’s clear that in this case a review of that work is warranted and that review will be conducted.”
Earnest said the ongoing review is studying the positioning of tactical and non-tactical assets inside and outside the fence line, but Obama is “confident that the reforms that are determined to be necessary will be implemented in the proper way.”
“It will include a review of technical or physical security enhancements that may be necessary to improve security at the White House. It will also include a question about ongoing staffing and an assessment about whether or not additional staffing is needed,” Earnest said.
He added that the Secret Service will review its policy and procedures “related to the assessment of threats” and go over its previous interactions with the suspect.
Earnest refused to say whether Obama personally favors building a higher fence or further restricting access near the White House, but added that Obama and several senior administration officials were briefed “multiple times on the actual incident” over the weekend, and that a number of changes to the security posture have already been implemented in the “immediate aftermath” of the incident.
“The Secret Service has beefed up foot patrols along — around the fence line of the White House complex,” Earnest said. “The Secret Service has deployed additional surveillance resources to beef up the surveillance around the White House. The Secret Service has changed the procedures for ensuring that the entrance to the White House is secure, and there is already some stepped-up training for officers who are essentially standing on the front lines of the White House to ensure that they are aware of the policies and procedures that are related to securing the White House and dealing with incidents like the one that we saw on Friday.”
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