President Barack Obama, disregarding a government panel’s recommendation to appoint an outsider as the next Secret Service director, has chosen the former chief of his personal security detail to head the embattled agency, a White House official said on Wednesday.
Obama plans to name Joseph Clancy to the post, four months after Clancy assumed the role of interim director amid a shakeup in the Secret Service ranks.
The pick will put a trusted hand at the top of the agency as it navigates the aftermath of a series of embarrassing incidents, including a breach last fall where an intruder made it all the way inside the White House doors.
Clancy has served in the presidential detail for Obama and former President Bill Clinton. He left the Secret Service in 2011 to become the head of corporate security at Comcast, but Obama asked him back to assume the interim role in October.
Since assuming the interim director role, Clancy has been a visible presence around the White House grounds and on the road when Obama travels, including the President’s recent trip to India.
In the pre-dawn hours Clancy has been seen making rounds outside the White House gate, which the September intruder scaled before running through the North Portico doors.
That episode prompted new security precautions around the executive mansion, along with congressional hearings probing the agency’s practices and culture.
The firestorm led to the resignation of Julia Pierson, the agency’s director, and the resignations of many top officials.
A review conducted by the Secret Service’s parent department recommended Obama name an outsider to head the agency on a permanent basis, citing the need for new thinking that could lead to bolstered security.
“It is disappointing the President ignored the recommendation from the independent panel, appointed by [Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson], to select a director from outside the Secret Service,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
“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.
Speaking Wednesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in making his decision Obama weighed “personal attachments inside the agency with (the) ability to take a cold-eyed assessment of what actually needs to be changed in that agency.”
“Mr. Clancy over the last several months has demonstrated that he was willing to conduct a candid, clear-eyed assessment of the shortcoming of that agency and to look at needed reforms and implement them. And that precisely is why he has been promoted to this permanent role,” Earnest said.
A White House official said that in the four months Clancy has been serving in the interim role, he’s conducted a “bottom-to-top assessment” of the Secret Service, directed agents and officers to undergo more training, and pushed for new funding.