Armed man shares lift with Obama

Armed man shares lift with Obama
US President Barack Obama takes part in a briefing on the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on September 16, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.

UNITED STATES - A security contractor with a gun and three convictions for assault and battery was allowed in a lift with US President Barack Obama during a Sept 16 trip to the south-eastern state of Georgia.

It violated Secret Service protocols, three people familiar with the incident told the Washington Post.

Mr Obama was not told about the lapse in his security, they said.

The incident took place when Mr Obama visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to discuss the US response to the Ebola crisis and it rattled Secret Service agents assigned to the president's protective detail.

The private contractor first aroused the agents' concerns when he acted oddly and did not comply with their orders to stop using a mobile phone camera to record the president in the lift.

When the lift opened, Mr Obama left with most of his Secret Service agents.

Some stayed behind to question the man and then used a national database check that turned up his criminal history.

When a supervisor from the firm providing security at the CDC approached and discovered the agents' concerns, the contractor was fired on the spot.

Then the contractor agreed to turn over his gun, surprising the agents who had not realised that he was armed while in the lift.

The revelation of the lapse in Georgia is the latest in a string of embarrassments for the Secret Service.

Director of the Secret Service Julia Pierson drew criticism from lawmakers in both parties during the hearing on her agency's security lapses.

The session focused on the Secret Service's fumbled responses to the recent White House fence jumper and a 2011 shooting attack on the residence.

This article was first published on October 2, 2014.
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