Strangest White House security breaches


Despite a legion of Secret Service agents tasked with keeping the bad guys out, there is a long history of people making it past security at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

A 2003 Secret Service report found at least 91 incidents of security breaches since 1980.

The most recent came earlier this month, when Army veteran Omar Gonzalez allegedly scaled the fence and sprinted into the White House, reportedly making it all the way to the historic East Room.

The security slip-ups usually fall under one of two categories: the serious, and the less so.  Here are a few of the stranger or lesser-known incidents of people sneaking past the Secret Service.
Pokemon jumper

A man dressed as a character from the popular Japanese television show and video game, Pokemon, made it over the fence this September. Secret Service agents easily caught the intruder, who didn’t seem to be interested in anything more than a prank.

Party crashers

Michaele and Tareq Salahi found their way into a State Dinner with the Indian Prime Minister in 2009 — despite being uninvited gusts. The two even introduced themselves to President Obama and had their photo snapped with him. Months later, the Secret Service discovered that a third, unrelated, person crashed the dinner as well.

Lawn landing

A 38-year-old died in 1994 after he stole a small airplane and crashed it onto the White House lawn, where it skid to a stop against the building. It’s unclear whether he sought to attack the White House; the Baltimore Sun reported at the time that the man’s brother suggested that he simply wanted to land the plane on the White House lawn for the publicity. The Clintons fortuitously spent the night at Blair House thanks to air conditioning repairs and were not in the White House at the time.

Follow the conductor

Robert Latta capped off his trip to the White House with a stroll right through the gates and through the hallways before Secret Service agents noticed him. Latta snuck in behind the Marine Corps Orchestra in 1985 just hours before President Reagan took his second oath of office. Since the band did not have to go through metal detectors, he easily gained entry to the White House, according to the Chicago Tribune.  

Family vacation

The 2003 Secret Service study detailed by The Washington Post in 2009 mentions the saga of James Douglas Imes, who drove into the White House uninvited in a minivan with his wife and two children in 1982. Imes drove up to the gate, honked, and continued onto the grounds after the Secret Service let them in through the gate.