President Obama on Wednesday tapped the acting director of the Secret Service, Joseph Clancy, to lead the embattled agency on a permanent basis, ignoring calls for an outsider to take over.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the president decided that Mr. Clancy “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.”
“That precisely is why he has been promoted to this permanent role,” Mr. Earnest said.
Mr. Clancy was appointed on an interim basis last October after then-Director Julia Pierson was forced out of the agency due to embarrassing security breaches, including one in which a fence-jumper ran all the way into the White House through an unlocked front door. Those episodes came on the heels of an incident in 2012 in which agents performing advance work for the president’s trip to Colombia were caught with prostitutes in their hotel rooms.
While serving as interim director, Mr. Clancy had already embarked on a shake-up of the agency’s top officials, reassigning at least four others to posts elsewhere in government. He is a former agent-in-charge of the president’s personal protection detail as well.
An independent review panel concluded earlier this year that agency was too “insular” and “starving for leadership,” and recommended an outsider for the agency’s next director.
“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.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he and Mr. Obama considered several 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,” Mr. Johnson said. “I am confident Joe will continue this management approach.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman, called the choice of Mr. Clancy “disappointing.”
“The [review] 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,’” Mr. Chaffetz said. “The good men and women of the Secret Service are screaming for a fresh start. At this moment in time, the Secret Service would best be served by a transformative and dynamic leader from outside the agency.”
The panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, said Mr. Clancy has already demonstrated “decisive leadership.”
“I look forward to working with him closely over the next year to ensure that the Secret Service gets what it needs to fulfill its critical mission,” Mr. Cummings said.
Mr. Clancy, a 27-year veteran of the agency, also served in the protective detail for President Bill Clinton. He left the Secret Service in 2011 to become the head of corporate security at Comcast, then returned when Mr. Obama summoned him.