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Secret Service questioned over breach
02:32 - Source: CNN AP

Story highlights

NEW: Whistleblower says an armed contractor was allowed on an elevator with Obama

Secret Service chief says agents used "restraint in making a very difficult decision"

Gonzalez entered White House via unlocked door, Pierson tells congressional committee

Rep. Darrell Issa cites instances of "misbehavior" that undermine trust in Secret Service

CNN  — 

U.S. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson called an incident in which a man scaled a fence and entered the White House “unacceptable” and told a congressional committee Tuesday that she takes “full responsibility.”

Omar Gonzalez, a 42-year-old knife-wielding Iraq war veteran, entered an unlocked door to the executive mansion, Pierson told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which grilled her on the September 19 security breach.

A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted Gonzalez on three separate federal and District of Columbia charges that could carry a maximum of 17 years in prison. His first court appearance is expected Wednesday in Washington.

The White House door through which Gonazlez barged had no remote locking mechanism and needed to be manually locked, Pierson told lawmakers, adding that such a mechanism has since been installed.

“It’s clear that our security plan was not properly executed,” she said. “I take full responsibility. What happened is unacceptable, and it will never happen again.”

Saying she couldn’t give complete responses because presidential protection is highly sensitive or classified, Pierson said the incident remains under investigation, and she doesn’t “want to get ahead of the investigation.”

It didn’t come up at the hearing, but the Washington Post reported that the officer who tackled Gonzalez wasn’t even on duty but was leaving