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A security contractor with a gun and three prior convictions for assault and battery was allowed on an elevator with President Obama during a Sept. 16 trip to Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocols, according to three people familiar with the incident.
The incident occurred as Obama appeared at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to discuss the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis.
The contractor did not comply when Secret Service agents asked him to stop using a phone camera to videotape the president in the elevator, according to the people familiar with the incident.
Agents questioned him, and used a database check to learn of his criminal history.
When a supervisor from the private security firm approached and learned of the agents’ concern, the contractor was fired on the spot and agreed to turn over his gun — surprising agents, who had not realized he was armed during his encounter with Obama.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said he was appalled when whistleblowers came forward to him with this account. The Washington Post confirmed details of the event with other people familiar with the review.
“You have a convicted felon within arms reach of the president and they never did a background check,” Chaffetz said. “Words aren’t strong enough for the outrage I feel for the safety of the President and his family. “
He added: “His life was in danger. This country would be a different world today if he had pulled out his gun.”
Elements of the breach were first reported Tuesday afternoon by the Washington Examiner.
It is the latest in a string of embarrassments for the Secret Service, whose director, Julia Pierson, drew criticism Tuesday from lawmakers in both parties during a combative hearing focused on security breaches.
A Secret Service spokesman said the agency would provide a response soon.
Sept 30 (Reuters) - U.S. health officials said on Tuesday the first patient infected with the deadly Ebola virus had been diagnosed in the country, in a new sign of how the outbreak ravaging West Africa can spread globally.
The patient had recently traveled to West Africa and developed symptoms several days after returning to Texas, state officials said. The patient was admitted to an isolation room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the diagnosis. U.S. health officials and lawmakers have been bracing for the eventuality that a patient would arrive on U.S. shores undetected, testing the preparedness of the nation's healthcare system.
The Texas Department of State Health Services said it was working with the CDC, the local health department and the hospital "to investigate the case and help prevent transmission of the disease."
"The hospital has implemented infection control measures to help ensure the safety of patients and staff," the statement said.
U.S. hospitals have treated several patients who were diagnosed with Ebola in West Africa, the center of the worst known outbreak of the virus that has killed more than 3,000 people. The previous U.S. patients were all medical and other aid workers who were diagnosed while still in West Africa.
Ebola symptoms generally appear between two and 21 days after infection, meaning there is a significant window during which an infected person can escape detection, allowing them to travel.
CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden has said U.S. hospitals are well prepared to handle Ebola patients and has assured the public that the virus should not pose the same threat in the United States as it does in Africa.
Stocks in small biotechnology companies working on Ebola therapies or vaccines rose on the news of the U.S. Ebola patient in after-hours trading.
Ed Henry reports from Washington, D.C.
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