Joseph Clancy chosen to head Secret Service, against call for outsider

The White House said Clancy will take over as director after four months of running the troubled Secret Service last year when then-Director Julia Pierson was forced out in the wake of a host of security breaches.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters/File
Acting Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on 'Oversight of the United States Secret Service' on Capitol Hill in Washington November 19, 2014. President Obama has chosen Clancy as the new head of the Secret Service, the White House said on February 18, 2015.

President Barack Obama has chosen the former special agent he asked to temporarily run the troubled Secret Service to take over as director.

The White House said Joe Clancy will fill the position after four months as acting director. Clancy, former head of the service's presidential protective division, was appointed on an interim basis in a hurry last year after then-Director Julia Pierson was forced out in the wake of a host of security breaches.

An independent panel tasked with reviewing the agency and making recommendations for improvements concluded earlier this year that agency was too "insular" and "starving for leadership."

They also recommended hiring an agency outsider as the next director. Last month, four of the agency's highest-ranking officials were reassigned in response to the mishaps.

"The next director will have to make difficult choices, identifying clear priorities for the organization and holding management accountable for any failure to achieve those priorities," the panel said after interviewing 50 Secret Service employees. "Only a director from outside the (Secret) Service, removed from organizational traditions and personal relationships, will be able to do the honest top-to-bottom reassessment this will require."

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Wednesday it was "disappointing" that Obama decided not to follow the panel's recommendations.

"The panel made it crystal clear that only a director from outside the agency would meet the needs of the agency today - someone with a fresh perspective, free from allegiances and without ties to what has consistently been described as a 'good old boys network,'" said Chaffetz, R-Utah, in a statement.

On Sept. 19, a fence-jumper carrying a knife was able to run deep into the executive mansion, prompting the agency to put a second layer of fencing around the presidential complex. Obama initially told aides he was satisfied with the changes, but then wanted new leadership after he learned that he had ridden on an elevator with a security contractor that the Secret Service didn't know was armed.

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