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Joseph Clancy "frustrated" by Secret Service's latest mishap

U.S. Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy pauses as he testifies during a hearing before the Homeland Security Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee March 17, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

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Last Updated Mar 17, 2015 11:59 AM EDT

WASHINGTON -- Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy said Tuesday he is frustrated about the latest allegations of wrongdoing by two senior agents.

Testifying before a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on his agency's budget, Clancy said he wasn't told about an alleged drunken driving incident near the White House earlier this month for several days. He said there is "no excuse" for the fact that the information was not passed up the chain of command more quickly.

The incident was initially described in press reports as an agent crashing a government vehicle into a security barrier while on-duty agents and officers investigated a suspicious item. But Clancy told members of the subcommittee that he has "seen nothing to indicate this incident as described occurred."

Clancy, who was appointed by President Barack Obama earlier this year after a shakeup in the agency over security problems, told lawmakers that video of the March 4 incident shows the vehicle driving at a low rate of speed when it nudged the barrier

Nonetheless, he said he was frustrated that he was not told about the incident for several days and only learned about it from an anonymous email.

"I should have been informed," he told the House panel. "I'm frustrated. Very frustrated that we did not know about this, I didn't know about this until Monday." And that delay, he said, suggests there is still a lot of work to be done to change the agency's culture, including the use of alcohol.

Clancy acknowledged that some agents and officers have used alcohol to help deal with the job's stresses, but insisted that it was a small group.

"Unfortunately we have an element, and I believe it is small element, that is causing this agency great distress," Clancy said.

Clancy said the agents did not receive a sobriety test the night of the incident.

Lawmakers, including Rep. David Young, an Iowa Republican, pressed Clancy on why the agents involved in the latest incident have not been fired.


"I'm surprised that these two agents...haven't stood up and said `I resign.' What do you do with them?" Young asked.

Clancy said the investigation has been turned over to the Homeland Security Department's inspector general. He said that investigation must be completed before disciplinary action can be taken. "I don't have the ability to fire people at will," he said.

Clancy took over the agency on an interim basis late last year after a series of presidential security breaches, including an incident in which a Texas man armed with a knife was able to climb over a White House fence and make it deep into the executive mansion before being subdued.

The security breaches were the latest embarrassments for the agency in recent years. In 2012 the Secret Service became the subject of late-night comedians after more than a dozen agents were wrapped up in a prostitution scandal in Colombia. There have been several other incidents since then involved agents accused of drunken behavior while on presidential trips.