Secret Service Director: Replica White House Needed Because Agents Train in Parking Lot

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After recent snafus, Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy requested a replica White House for agent training, instead of the parking lot used currently.
After recent snafus, Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy requested a replica White House for agent training, instead of the parking lot used currently.

If Congress wants to better protect the White House, the First Family and the president, it should build the Secret Service a replica 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy told members of the House Appropriations Committee.

If only the Secret Service could get a White House to train agents with, everything will be OK. Hopefully there won’t be any boozed up agents there, right? At least if someone crashes into the fake house, it won’t cost too much in damage, though someone’s reputation could take another hit.

In the face of several screw-ups and the spotlight shining directly in Clancy’s face, he made the budget request while testifying on the state of current conditions at the Secret Service training grounds in Maryland.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest also addressed related issues during a press briefing on Tuesday. He said President Obama continues to have faith in Clancy, even in the face of black eyes for the Secret Service. Earnest told the media that the director “has conducted a comprehensive bottom to top assessment to determine the root causes behind some of the recent security incidents” and also sought additional training for Secret Service personnel that work at the White House.

Read more: The Worst Secret Service Moments

Clancy was alternately grilled and made some surmising admissions regarding the state of current training conditions. He also lobbied for additional millions for a “shoot house” and an updated “Tactical Village” environment that replicates a typical city street situation.

“We put up a makeshift fence and walk off the distance between the fence at the White House and the actual house itself,” Clancy said. And it’s not just the human agents that are hampered by the crappy training facilities which Clancy described as “a parking lot, basically.” Secret Service dogs, the agents’ canine coworkers, are also slowed by the conditions as the animals are “responding on hard surfaces rather than grass.”

The Secret Service’s funding request in total was $1.94 billion and “represents the largest year-to-year increase for the Secret Service since the agency was transferred from the Department of Treasury to the Department of Homeland Security more than 12 years ago and builds on the protective mission enhancements that are underway this fiscal year,” Clancy said.

So comparatively $8 million isn’t much, but will it really help?

Though Congress was receptive to the need to upgrade facilities for the important functions of the Secret Service, Clancy’s request comes on the heels of a fence-jumper who terrifyingly made it into the White House six months ago and the two boozed-up agents who just this month crashed into a barrier and disrupted a live suspicious-package investigation.

While some critics have charged that a culture of complacency exists at the Secret Service that needs to be changed to address problems, not a replica house, this is one situation where we should all get behind the president. It’s him they are protecting, after all. Obama has said he is behind Clancy, and if the president believes Clancy is in the best position to protect him and his family, let agents have a White House of their own to train on.

Because though it’s a sometimes an overused expression, it’s appropriate in this case to say that the president’s safety is kind of a big deal.

Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.

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