September 20, 2014 by David K. Sutton
White House Fence-Jumper Scare Tactic Hyperbole
A man jumped over the White House fence Friday night, ran across the north lawn and made it through the doors of the residence, before being arrested just inside the entrance. The initial reaction to this is expected. How could this happen? In 2014, how is it possible to scale the fence and make it inside the White House?
Maybe my opinion is in the minority, because while I do see this as a security lapse, it’s hardly a chilling wake-up call that more should be done to secure the White House. My guess is, somebody didn’t do their job very well last night, and that somebody (or possibly multiple people) will be disciplined, demoted, or even lose their job(s). And maybe that is an appropriate response. But the last thing I want to see from a singular security lapse is an obvious and major change in security around the White House.
While it is unfortunate that fence-jumping is a regular occurrence at the White House, it is the price we pay to keep the White House from looking like more of a fortress than it already is. It’s also something we should expect in a “relatively” free society. If you want 100% security from the unknown, it requires a heavy-handed approach from the known (e.g. police, government). And then when you’ve dialed back your civil liberties for the sake of security, you then find out it’s still impossible to have 100% security.
And what we don’t need to do in this situation is conflate. We don’t need to use this singular security lapse and combine it with a terrorist group on the other side of the globe. But see, this is America, and we already have people doing just that. “If you don’t think that ISIS could get into the White House, ask the moron from Real Housewives [Michaele Salahi, who is known as one of the two White House crashers],” said Amy Holmes on Up with Steve Kornacki. Really? This is where we immediately go now? ISIS this, ISIS that, ISIS … OMG we are in crisis!
Oh yeah, but I just remembered, ISIS recently released that “slick” propaganda video, you know, the one anybody could create with a smart phone and a laptop. But the news media tells us this video is an example of how “sophisticated” ISIS is. And this video included footage of the White House filmed from a moving car. Oh, scary! How did ISIS get that footage? Are they already in the country? Is there this thing called the internet where you can find all kinds of photos and videos to use without stepping foot out of your house/country/part of the world?
Okay, so an idiot, or someone possibly suffering from mental illness, was able to jump the White House fence. Well, that happens from time to time, and they usually only get a few feet beyond the fence before they are face down smelling the grass. This time around, a fence-jumper got all the way to the White House and was able to enter the north side of the residence before being arrested. That clearly is a lapse in security, and it is something that should be reviewed by Secret Service. But any additional response at this moment falls into the categories of hyperbole and/or scare tactics.
Now people are asking why the Secret Service didn’t shoot the White House fence-jumper, but you won’t find me asking that question. I find it to be a relief that no shots were fired, especially considering the intruder managed to get inside the building. And it alarms me that people think it justified, regardless of context, that a person be shot in this situation. I’m glad the Secret Service showed restraint. I’m glad that even though there was a clear security lapse on their part, they didn’t escalate the situation. They chose not to make the situation worse. They judged the situation on the fly, felt the man was not a serious threat, and they took him down with non-lethal force.