Turning a routine budget hearing into an early test of Joseph Clancy's leadership of the Secret Service, members of Congress yesterday renewed questions about whether the agency would be better served by an outsider in charge as Clancy tried to account for yet another embarrassment by agents. “We've got to have some changes,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) told Clancy. “And you have to be the one to make those changes. And I don't sense at the moment that you have the determination to make that happen.” Allegations surfaced last week that two senior Secret Service agents, purportedly under the influence of alcohol, disrupted an investigation on the White House grounds March 4.
Clancy said it was unacceptable that it took a tip from an anonymous whistle-blower for him to learn of the incident and said he shared lawmakers' frustration over it. He also sought to cast the episode as less egregious than reports have suggested, saying that agents nudged a security barricade with their government vehicle on purpose to move it out of the way, rather than erratically ran into it. He said he was waiting to discipline the men to avoid impeding an outside inquiry on what happened. “This is my first test,” he said. “I'm frustrated that we can't act until we get all the facts … but I just don't want to act improperly too soon.”