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.”
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.DONATE
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