After a string of embarrassing security lapses prompted the resignation of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson this week, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told CBS News Friday that he believes it's appropriate to ask "hard questions" of the embattled agency as it seeks to regain its credibility.
"We're putting in place an independent review panel to look at the White House compound's security," he said. "The individuals who are part of that panel will be named shortly. And I'm inviting this panel to ask the hard questions about whether there needs to be some broader scrutiny brought to the department and the agency beyond that."
Pierson resigned Wednesday after several recent security breaches severely eroded confidence in her leadership.
Two weeks ago, a man hopped the White House fence and made it well into the executive mansion before he was ultimately tackled by agents. And it was revealed this week that the agency allowed an armed security contractor with a criminal history to ride an elevator with the president during a trip to Atlanta in September.
After those troubling mistakes, "Director Pierson offered her resignation and I accepted it," said Johnson, whose department oversees the Secret Service.
"I like Julie Pierson a lot. I believe she is a dedicated, conscientious public servant," he said. "But I recognized that it's in the best interest of the organization - and I believed she recognized it was in the best interest of the organization - that she resign."
Johnson said the agency needs to "have the unqualified confidence of a lot of people," and he stressed that the type of independent review he's commissioned has not happened "in my memory."
He also said he'd not yet seen a letter from Republican congressional leaders requesting a full review of the Secret Service's mission beyond just White House security procedures, but he "look[s] forward" to reading it.
Johnson did offer some words of praise for the Secret Service, noting its successful provision of security for dozens of world leaders at the United Nations meeting in September and a gathering of African heads of state in July.
"They did it, so far as I know, without an incident or without a bump in the road," he said.
But "every once in a while," he added, "you just have to stop and ask the hard questions to make sure that we're getting this right. And that's what we're going to do."