Report: Elder Bush’s home alarm down for 13 months
President George H.W. Bush’s Houston home was not protected by a working alarm system for at least 13 months, according to an investigation conducted by the Department of Homeland Security.
Bush’s home was protected by a Secret Service detail that put one agent in a “roving post” after discovering the alarm failure, but it’s unclear how quickly that measure was put in place after the alarm system broke down.
“The protectees may have occupied the residence for a period of time without a roving post or a working alarm system,” reads the report from the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General.
The Inspector General launched the investigation in fall 2014 after receiving a complaint about the alarm system and concluded its investigation last month before sending its full report to Secret Service Director on Monday. A redacted report was released publicly Thursday.
A Bush family spokesman said that they continued to have “total confidence” in their security team.
“George and Barbara Bush have total confidence in the men and women of the Secret Service,” spokesman Jim McGrath said in a statement. “Their trust in them is as unshakable as it is unbreakable.”
U.S. Secret Service Spokesperson Brian Leary told CNN on Thursday that “The Secret Service concurs with both of the OIG’s recommendations and has already taken steps to fully address them,”
The alarm system malfunctioned and became inoperable in September 2013, though the system was not replaced with a new system until at least 13 months later when the Secret Service installed the new equipment in November and December 2014. The agency first installed a temporary alarm in April 2014, according to the inspector general’s findings.
But several years before the alarm system failed, a Secret Service Security expert requested in 2010 the Bush family home’s alarm system, which was about 17 years old at the time, be replaced.
That request was denied, though, and the DHS inspector general did not determine why.
The Secret Service then made “limited upgrades using repurposed and new equipment” in 2012, but the alarm system failed just over a year later.
The lapses at the Bush residence add to a long list of blunders by the Secret Service in recent years that includes several breaches on the White House grounds, mismanagement of the agency and agent misconduct abroad.
Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Elijah Cummings, the chairman and ranking member of the House oversight committee, respectively, called the lack of an alarm system for more than a year “startling and unacceptable.”
“Although the Secret Service assigned employees to monitor the grounds, there is absolutely no room for error when it comes to protecting the nation’s Presidents,” the pair said Thursday in a statement. “This adds to the growing list of significant concerns Congress has had with the management of the Secret Service.”
The Inspector General recommended that the Secret Service evaluate its system for tracking maintenance requests at protectees’ residences and called on the Secret Service to evaluate “the status of security equipment at all protectees’ personal residenes.”
The Secret Service completed “needs assessments” for the residences in Jan. 2015, according to the Secret Service response to the recommendation — an assessment that resulted in requests for repairs and upgrades to the residences’ security systems.
Bush’s primary residence is in Maine.
By Jeremy Diamond
CNN’s Kevin Bohn and Kristen Holmes contributed to this report.