Politics

President’s Life Put In ‘Danger’ By Broken Secret Service Radio Systems

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Ethan Barton Managing Editor

Broken radio systems used by the United States Secret Service (USSS) put “the president’s life” in danger, a congressional committee chairman said Friday.

A failure of the agency’s outdated radio systems could be catastrophic during an emergency, according to a Department of Homeland Security inspector general report made public by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

“Secret Service needs to upgrade the radio systems used around the White House complex, the Vice President’s residence and Foreign Diplomatic Embassies,” the report says. “We identified issues that could inhibit communications in an emergency.

“In addition, the systems are old and have been failing,” it continues. “A single missed transmission or delay could result in a national incident.”

The Secret Service’s Radio Trouble Log showed more than 100 instances in less than a year “where technical issues interrupted the radio systems and communications,” though only 3 percent of the IG’s 186 radio tests were unsuccessful, the report says.

The Secret Service’s plethora of recent failures has been a focus of the oversight committee.

“Secretary Johnson must fix the problems within USSS before the president’s life is put in further danger,” Oversight Committee Chairman [crscore]Jason Chaffetz[/crscore] says in a statement. “This is another inexcusable security vulnerability at the White House.”

The Secret Service’s outdated radios and the infrastructure “may not be working as effectively as needed,” the IG reports, though the age of the equipment was redacted.

Radios are Secret Service agents’ “first line of communication for events such as fence jumpers, suspicious packages or protests,” the report says. “These radio systems are critical for day-to-day protective operations.”

The Secret Service plans to invest $54.2 million by 2019 to upgrade its Washington radio systems, according to the report.

“This is not a lack-of-funding issue,” Chaffetz says. “This problem stems from mismanagement and poor prioritization by DHS leadership.”

The Secret Service has been given more money than requested, the Republican from Utah also notes. “They’ve had ample resources to prevent such a dangerous situation,” Chaffetz said.

The committee released a report titled “United States Secret Service: An Agency in Crisis” in December, which “highlighted serious leadership and staffing concerns” and “security breach incidents.” It unanimously approved the report.

The IG reports issues with another USSS system, but details were redacted.

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