The "Events"...from the past 7 days.
Motorist who followed Obama daughters’ motorcade set to appear in court
BY ANN E. MARIMOW,, CAROL D. LEONNIG AND KEITH L. ALEXANDERMay 7
Mathew Goldstein’s wrong turn near the White House started as a moment of confusion and ended as a national incident.
The IT specialist for the Internal Revenue Service was driving his gray Honda Civic along 17th Street NW on Tuesday afternoon when he inadvertently followed the motorcade carrying President Obama’s daughters into the secure perimeter for the presidential compound.
Goldstein, 55, who is charged with*a misdemeanor and was released*after a brief appearance in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday, told law enforcement officials that he had made a mistake and was not familiar with the roads around the White House.
“He was at a function downtown with colleagues and said he was just checked out mentally and confused,” said an official familiar with the incident. “It seems to be bad luck on his part.”
But Goldstein’s mistaken left turn raised serious questions about how an unauthorized vehicle was able to travel within five feet of the Obama girls’ motorcade and get through two rows of metal metal security bollards at the checkpoint at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
Goldstein, described by a friend as brilliant but absent-minded, was so close to the motorcade that the large metal posts could not be raised in time to block the car, according to court papers filed Wednesday.
A foot-patrol officer stopped Goldstein, of Mitchellville, by stepping in front of the Honda as it neared Jackson Place NW and Pennsylvania Avenue. The officer removed Goldstein from his car. He was arrested, and the Honda was towed to a lot in Southwest for “safe keeping,” according to the documents.
When asked Wednesday how Goldstein was able to breach the outer perimeter, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said the agency would “have to review and find out how that did happen.”“This incident is being taken seriously and it should not have happened,” Donovan said.
Former Secret Service officials characterized the incident, which led to the lockdown of the White House for more than an hour, as a modest failure of security. Even though Goldstein maneuvered past the checkpoint, he did not get past the rear-most vehicle.
“Obviously, any failure is basically viewed as unacceptable with the Service,” said W. Ralph Basham, who served as director of the agency from 2003 to 2006
“It’s the human element,” he said. “You’re not expecting to see something like that, and when it’s that quick, being able to react in a timely fashion is challenging.”
Dan Emmett, another former Secret Service agent, said it was “amazing this did not happen long ago.
”A presidential motorcade has a marked tail car that stops to block the entrance once the “secure package” transporting the president is inside. On Tuesday, there was apparently no tail car blocking for the Obama daughters.
“Literally anyone can follow them,” said Emmett, the author of a book about his career, “Within Arm’s Length.” “I would be willing to bet they now have a tail car and will from now on.”
Donovan, the Secret Service spokesman, said the agency “does not comment on specific security arrangements for motorcades, and neither should our former personnel.”
But it is not uncommon for a presidential motorcade to be inadvertently breached when the president travels outside the District, and it happens a couple of times a year, according to the agency.
Intrusions occur when checkpoints are unmanned prematurely and cars enter the lengthy motorcade, which can have substantial gaps between the more than 20 vehicles. The overwhelming majority of breaches are considered mistakes.
But having a breach at the 17th Street checkpoint is extremely unusual, according to two law enforcement sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Both Basham and another former Secret Service agent, who has experience with motorcades, said Obama’s daughters would have been traveling in a “stripped down” motorcade with far fewer support vehicles than the president’s entourage.
In some cases, the smaller motorcades are without local police escorts so as not to draw attention, they said.
Basham said that during his tenure, confused motorists sometimes got near the motorcade but were forced out by police or intelligence vehicles. He could not recall any instance when a motorist got near the motorcade with the intent of doing harm to the president or another dignitary.
The president and first lady Michelle Obama would probably be briefed on Tuesday’s incident, he said.
“I’m sure they would be curious about whether this should have happened,” Basham said.
In the courtroom Wednesday, Magistrate Judge Karen Howze released Goldstein pending a hearing May 21. The misdemeanor charge of unlawful entry carries a maximum of 180 days in jail and a fine of as much as $1,000. The judge ordered Goldstein*to stay awayfrom the White House and its grounds.
Goldstein and his attorney declined to comment.
Don Wharton, who runs the Secular Perspectives blog, said he recruited Goldstein to be a contributor about three years ago. He described Goldstein as an introverted and intelligent atheist who cares deeply about the separation of church and state and had concerns about government surveillance.
Wharton said Goldstein never expressed any ill will toward President Obama or showed signs of violence. He spends some time as an activist for the coalition and writes a personal blog called the Explicit Atheist*that has touched on subjects ranging from cosmology to political races in Arizona.
Goldstein’s brilliance, Wharton said, was also punctuated by an absent-mindedness.
“He is very capable of taking philosophical aspects of quantum mechanics and talking about them with clarity, Wharton said. “By most standards, that is a very competent manner of thinking. I can imagine him getting lost though.”
White House on lockdown for second time in 3 days
Associated PressMay 8, 2014 2:58 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) — For the second time in three days, the White House is on lockdown because of a security breach.
The Secret Service says two people threw something over the fence surrounding the White House complex — one person from the south side and one from the north.
The two people were being detained and questioned Thursday afternoon. Secret Service officers were ordering people in the West Wing to stay inside.
The incident follows an hourlong lockdown Tuesday after a vehicle followed a motorcade bringing President Barack Obama's daughters home through the gates. The driver was charged with unlawful entry, a misdemeanor.
Lockdown lifted at White House; items tossed over fence were cleared
BY J. FREEDOM DU LAC*May 8*
The White House was put on lockdown for the second time this week after two people threw items over fences on opposite sides of the presidential compound at almost exactly the same time Thursday, the Secret Service said.
The lockdown — which went into effect just before 3 p.m. — was lifted after about 90 minutes and both suspects were charged with “throwing objects — missiles,” according to Secret Service officials. Evan J. Graham allegedly threw a cassette tape over the north fence line, the Secret Service said.
Von Greenbrier Lerriche is suspected of throwing “miscellaneous papers” over the south fence line.
White House's $17 billion helicopter fleet
The items were thrown “in very close proximity,” Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said — both at about 2:52 p.m.
President Obama was out of town Thursday,headlining Democratic Party fundraisers*in California.
According to a Secret Service statement, Graham was transported to George Washington University Hospital “after he complained of a medical condition while being interviewed.” He will be moved to the Metropolitan Police Department’s 2nd District station once he receives medical clearance, the statement said.
Lerriche has been transported to the 2nd District station for processing.
A Secret Service official said it was “unknown” whether the two men were together.On Tuesday, the White House on lockdown for more than an hourafter a motorist inadvertently followed the motorcade*carrying President Obama’s daughters into the secure perimeter for the compound.
The Daily Beast*By*Kyle MizokamiMay 9, 2014 5:45 AM
The Pentagon has*awarded a contract*to begin development of the most expensive helicopters ever made.Each helicopter will probably cost at least $400 million.
The entire project, to build at least 23 helicopters,*has been estimated*to eventually cost between $10*billion to $17 billion.
By comparison, the project could pay the combined defense budgets of Finland, Norway, and Swedenfor one year ($16.9 billion).
The passengers for this enormously expensive helicopter fleet? The President of the United States and his entourage.
The first president to fly regularly in helicopters was Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower faced a two-hour commute to and from his summer home in Rhode Island, a commute that could be shaved down considerably if taken by helicopter.
In these early days of the Cold War the president needed to be moved around quickly—the president could not be stuck on a ferry for an hour in case the Soviet Union launched a nuclear attack.
The South Lawn of the White House was designated as the official presidential helicopter landing pad, and official flights to Andrews Air Force Base began.
A Marine Corps helicopter squadron, HMX-1 (“The Knighthawks”) is responsible for flying and maintaining the fleet of presidential helicopters. The current Marine One helicopters are derivatives of the Sikorsky Sea King helicopter, which was phased out of the U.S. military during the 1990s.
Those currently flying were built somewhere around 1975, making them only 14 years younger than President Obama himself.
In 2002, the U.S. government solicited proposals for replacing the Sea Kings with a new, modern helicopter. In the wake of 9/11, with concerns about terrorist attacks against the president, the call went out for a helicopter that could fend off a terrorist shoulder-fired surface to air missile and keep functioning in the wake of a nuclear attack on Washington, D.C.
In 2005, the Department of Defense announced that the team of Lockheed Martin and the Anglo-Italian helicopter giant AgustaWestland had won the contract to build 28 presidential helicopters. The helicopters would be known as the VH-71 Kestrel. (The “V” stands for “VIP Transport”)
Todays "Secret Service"
Secret Service agents on Obama detail sent home from Netherlands after night of drinking
By Carol D. Leonnig, David Nakamura and Michael Birnbaum,**Published: MARCH 26, 9:48 AM ET*E-mail the writers
Three Secret Service agents responsible for protecting President Obama in Amsterdam this week were sent home and put on administrative leave Sunday after going out for a night of drinking, according to three people familiar with the incident. One of the agents was found drunk and passed out in a hotel hallway, the people said.
The hotel staff alerted the U.S. Embassy in the Netherlands after finding the unconscious agent Sunday morning, a day before Obama arrived in the country, according to two of the people. The embassy then alerted Secret Service managers on the presidential trip, which included the agency’s director, Julia Pierson.
Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan confirmed Tuesday evening that the agency “did send three employees home for disciplinary reasons” and that they were put on administrative leave pending an investigation. Donovan declined to comment further.