For Secret Service Chief, Revelations Could Threaten Job Security
By Michael D. Shear SEPTEMBER 30, 2014  Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 7.25.05 AM

 Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The question following several blockbuster revelations about the Secret Service’s handling of a White House intruder is this: Will President Obama eventually fireJulia Pierson, the agency’s director?

That is likely to be the subtext of a hearing Tuesday morning where members of Congress from both parties are expected to grill Ms. Pierson about security breaches at the White House. She will testify alongside a former Secret Service director and a former State Department official in charge of “hardening” buildings against attacks, according to an official with knowledge of the committee’s plans for the hearing.

The official line – at least for now – on the possibility that Ms. Pierson will go is “No.” The White House spokesman says the president retains “full confidence” in Ms. Pierson and the agency’s ability to protect him and his family.

But the latest revelations about a fence-jumper who made it deep inside the White House before being stopped, and a separate report about security fumbles around a 2011 shooting episode, follow closely on a series of controversies at the agency – including issues of drinking and cavorting with prostitutes – that go straight to the question of competence of the agency’s leadership.

In particular, members of Congress say they will raise concerns about morale and staffing levels at the agency, and about whether agents and officers have become too complacent in the face of ongoing threats against the president.

“Why is it someone can jump over the fence and run into the White House? What’s that all about? I want to know that,” said Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland. “Whether new leadership is needed, I want to determine that.”

Mr. Obama has dismissed members of his team before. He fired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal after disparaging remarks were attributed to the commander of American troops in Afghanistan. And Mr. Obama accepted the resignation of Eric Shinseki, the secretary of Veterans Affairs, after reports of delays in care at the agency’s hospitals. But Mr. Obama is also sometimes loyal to a fault, preferring to give his staff members the benefit of the doubt following crises. He accepted the resignation of Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, months after a disastrous launch of the website.

And the Secret Service case may be different than the others anyway. In the case of the health care website, the mistakes affected millions of people. In the case of the Secret Service, the one person most imperiled is the president himself. That could lessen the impact of public pressure on Mr. Obama to make a decision, one way or the other.