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Review Points to Deep Problems Within US Secret Service

U.S. Secret Service agents are seen at the White House in Washington, Dec. 18, 2014.
U.S. Secret Service agents are seen at the White House in Washington, Dec. 18, 2014.

An independent review has concluded that the U.S. Secret Service needs an outsider to overhaul what the report describes as an "insular" agency, increase staffing and improve training.

The review also recommended that the White House fence be raised by up to 1.5 meters (about five feet) to make it more difficult to climb.

An executive summary released Thursday of the highly classified review revealed deep problems at the agency, which is charged with protecting the U.S. president and other senior government officials.

The review said the organization is starved for leadership that rewards innovation and excellence and demands accountability.

The report said the service needs strong, new leadership that can drive change within the organization. Additionally, it said security teams should be trained in conditions replicating the physical environment in which they will operate.

Other recommendations call for reforms regarding recruiting, hiring and promotions, while another addresses disciplinary issues.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said some of the panel’s recommendations are similar to others made in past agency reviews, many of which were never implemented. He said they cannot fall by the wayside this time.

Analysts said many of the proposed changes date to the Warren Commission Report, which detailed the government investigation into the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The new report followed an incident in September in which an Army veteran armed with a small knife was able to climb over the White House fence and run deep into the executive mansion before he was subdued.

In November, an internal review concluded that inadequate training, poor staffing and a series of missteps contributed to the breach.

Julia Pierson was forced to resign as director a day after testifying about the White House breach. Retired Secret Service agent Joseph Clancy has been acting director since shortly after Pierson's ouster.