A congressional panel on Tuesday released a video surveillance tape of an incident near the White House in which a government car driven by Secret Service agents appears to brush a barrier in an area where a suspicious package was being investigated.
The tape was released by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, whose members angrily questioned Secret Service Director Joe Clancy about the incident and why additional videos were not preserved and made available to the panel.
“My local Store 24 has a better surveillance system,” Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., said at Tuesday’s hearing.
Panel Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said Clancy was “keeping Congress and the American public in the dark” by refusing to allow the supervisors on duty during the incident to testify at the hearing.
The video of the March 4 incident was recorded by a Washington, D.C., police camera across the street from where it occurred. Details are difficult to determine because of the poor nighttime lighting.
Clancy refused to give the committee videotape footage from a different camera, saying it was handed to the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, which is investigating what happened.
The Secret Service chief later told panel members that he heard their “outrage loud and clear” and will revisit his decision.
The March 4 incident began, the panel said, when a woman drove her vehicle to a security gate outside the White House and announced she had a bomb. She dropped off a package and drove away.
According to a timeline provided by the House committee, the package sat unattended for 17 minutes as cars and pedestrians passed by.
After the area had been marked off, the two Secret service agents drove onto the scene, their car appearing to nudge aside an orange barrel that had blocked access.
According to an anonymous email released by the committee, the two agents, including a member of President Obama’s personal security detail, both appeared to be “extremely intoxicated” after having attended a retirement party earlier that night.
Clancy says the inspector general is expected to release his report in “weeks not months.”
The two agents have since been assigned to administrative duties.