Meet ‘Father Joe’ Clancy, new interim Secret Service head

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Some members of the Secret Service call the new interim director "Father Joe."

Since leaving active duty, Joe Clancy has worked in security at Comcast

Clancy worked for years on the personal protection team for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama


There’s not much to cheer inside the once venerable Secret Service lately, but veterans are thrilled that at this moment of crisis that “Father Joe” agreed to take the helm.

Before Wednesday, people outside of the Secret Service weren’t familiar with Joe Clancy when President Obama appointed him to be the interim head of the agency. But, within the Secret Service, he is still well known and highly regarded. Fellow agents call Joe Clancy “Father Joe” because he looks the part of a priest but also because of how he goes about his business. Clancy has a good relationship with both Obamas. And in addition to being in charge of protecting the President as the director of the Presidential Protective Division (PPD), he worked closely with the first couple on the protection arrangements for the daughters. The Obamas have been generally happy with that according to several colleagues that served with him at the time.

One likely knock on Clancy that has been mentioned since his temporary appointment is that he was in charge of PPD at the time of the infamous Salahi gate crashing incident in 2009. Even though PPD agents have little to do with guest clearance at events, when the crisis exploded, Clancy offered to resign. The director at the time, Mark Sullivan, said no.

Not telling Obama of elevator breath was ‘final straw’ for Pierson

There was some talk of Clancy coming back when Sullivan left and before Julia Pierson was appointed, for either the number one or number two job, but he preferred to stay in the private sector at the time. Clancy left his job as executive director of Comcast Cable Security for this role. What remains unanswered about Clancy is whether he wants the job permanently or whether pressure will be too great for an outsider to be chosen.

Secret Service insiders think that it would be a mistake to bring in an outsider. They argue for a new management type as a number two but think you need a “take the bullet” person as director. They didn’t know if that argument will carry the day in this environment. But now that Pierson is gone, agency veterans are thrilled Clancy agreed to come back. They were worried the outsider thing would be immediate.

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigns