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Secret Service Requests $8 Million Playhouse

Secret Service Requests $8 Million Playhouse

Is the facility really the problem?

The Secret Service is in trouble—and new director Joseph Clancy thinks their training facilities are to blame.

During testimony before a House committee yesterday, Clancy went on defense against concerns about systemic problems within the organization tasked with defending the President of the United States. He claimed that the Service’s lack of adequate training facilities are partially to blame for recent scandals, and asked the panel for $8 million in appropriations for a new, “real life” facility that mimics the White House and surrounding grounds.

From the New York Times:

“Right now, we train on a parking lot, basically,” Mr. Clancy said. “We put up a makeshift fence and walk off the distance between the fence at the White House and the actual house itself. We don’t have the bushes, we don’t have the fountains, we don’t get a realistic look at the White House.”

Joseph P. Clancy, the Secret Service director, faced aggressive questioning Tuesday from the House Appropriations Committee about a crash at the White House. Mr. Clancy added, “It’s important to have a true replica of what the White House is so we can do a better job of this integrated training between our uniform division officers, our agents and our tactical teams.”

This of course begs the question—what does a training facility have to do with incompetence and cover-ups? It’s possible that the answer is “nothing,” and that Clancy is asking for this funding because he sees a problem with agent training that’s completely separate from the drinking, droning, and deadly mistakes that have peppered the news cycle.

It’s also possible that Clancy stared down into the void and has no idea where to go from here.

The House panel has its doubts about the request:

Members of the House committee, to put it mildly, were skeptical. Kentucky Rep. Harold Rogers told Clancy, “We’ve got to have some changes and you’ve got to be the one to make those changes. I don’t sense at this moment that you have the determination to make that happen.”

Cringe.

It’s possible that the Secret Service’s problems break down into two categories: training, and culture. I’m willing to give Clancy the benefit of the doubt about their training—he knows more about it than I do, and if $8 million will keep the President safer, that should be something we’re willing to consider.

But that cannot serve as a band-aid to concerns about the Service’s problems that have nothing to do with stopping armed intruders. I think that the House panel was looking for an explanation that covers, say, the drinking and driving into security barriers that’s been going on.

Welcome to the season of accountability, Mr. Clancy. I hope you do what it takes to raise the bar.

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Comments

I understand the logic of the request. They are looking for a rehearsal and planning tool. My problem is that they are doing it in lie of addressing the problem.

The core problem is poor management, which can and should be ameliorated by replacing the political appointees, followed rapidly by the replacement of the irredeemably undisciplined favorites of the employees.

Perhaps they should ask the US Air Force and Navy about something called a “stand down,” where the entire force stops and re-evaluates its procedures in light of a catastrophic failure (air plane crash). If I recall correctly, our military is not rewarded for failure.

Training similar to this is something I had experience with before retirement. Building an 8 million dollar potemkin village on the taxpayers’ dime to practice securing one facility is ridiculous. Off the top of my head I can think of at least three existing private training facilities with excellent track records that have the ability to incorporate such a setup on their grounds. Chances are very good they would be delighted to do so on the assurance of several years of training contracts going forward.

I don’t know Joseph Clancy from Adam’s off ox. He may have been an excellent senior agent, but making that request is dumb enough on its own. Making that request while you are being pounded for running an agency with serious culture and training problems is professionally suicidal. Makes me wonder if he looked around the agency after his appointment and decided that retirement and heading a security consulting company looked like a much better deal.

The question should be…will he be ALLOWED to do what it takes to raise the bar? Because of union rules, he isn’t allowed to fire anybody….those men who were driving drunk were simply relocated elsewhere within the SS. In any private sector job, drinking AND driving while on the job, they would have been out the door post-haste.

He has a long, tough row ahead of him. I think he has the will and fortitude for it, but his hands are tied from the get-go for the real housecleaning the service needs.

Sounds like a plan … an exact replica of the White House … complete in every detail like Bill Clinton’s semen stains on the Oval Office carpet. A block away is the Secret Service dormitory … with a well-stocked wet bar and dance floor for ‘after hours’ activity.

    userpen in reply to walls. | March 18, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Except for the logical premise: the president is in far more danger when he leaves the white house than when he is staying at the white house.

Maybe breathalyser auto-locks on their vehicles would be a better investment?

Is there no problem in government for which the solution is NOT “throw money at it?”

It’s a culture problem, not a training problem.

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