President Obama has named Joseph Clancy as the new permanent director of the U.S. Secret Service, the White House confirmed Wednesday, defying the recommendation of an independent panel that recommended he look outside the agency.
Clancy, a 27-year veteran of the Secret Service and former special agent in charge of its Presidential Protection Division, took over as temporary director last October after the former director, Julia Pierson, resigned.
The law enforcement agency has been rocked by a series of security breaches and damaging revelations over the past few months, including a fence-jumping visitor armed with a knife who made it into the presidential residence before being tackled by agents.
After that incident, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson appointed a four-member, bipartisan panel to study White House Security. The panel recommended that the next director come from outside the Secret Service.
“Only a director from outside the service, removed from organizational traditions and personal relationships, will be able to do the honest top-to-bottom reassessment this will require,” the panel’s report said.
Some panel members said Wednesday that Clancy had a good mix of experience inside and outside the agency. “Joe Clancy is deeply respected within the federal law enforcement community. He has served with distinction inside the Secret Service, and he has done well respected work outside the Secret Service too,” said Mark Filip, a former federal judge and deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration.
Johnson said that he and President Obama considered a number of candidates, “including those who had never been with the Secret Service.”
“Ultimately, Joe Clancy struck the right balance of familiarity with the Secret Service and its missions, respect from within the workforce, and a demonstrated determination to make hard choices and foster needed change,” Johnson said Wednesday. “I am confident Joe will continue this management approach.”
Clancy formed a relationship with Obama as the head of his protective division before retiring in 2011. He was the director of corporate security for Comcast for three years before coming back to the agency at Obama’s request.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the chairman of the House oversight committee that has been investigating the security lapses, said Obama should have followed the panel’s advice.
“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,'” Chaffetz said in a statement. “The good men and women of the Secret Service are screaming for a fresh start.”
But Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on the committee, said Clancy has “taken strong action over the past several months to begin righting the ship at the Secret Service, he has been extremely responsive to Congress, and his decisive leadership has already resulted in major changes.”
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SOURCE: USA Today – Gregory Korte and Kevin Johnson