Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy asked Congress Tuesday for $8 million to build a copy of the White House. Clancy, who was testifying before a House panel about the Secret Service budget, told lawmakers the agency needs to use it as a training facility in Beltsville, Maryland, about 20 miles from the real executive mansion, to provide agents and officers more realistic training experience.
Currently, Clancy told lawmakers their training is hampered by the lack of a good reproduction of the White House. He says training is now done in a parking lot but the parking lot doesn't have the bushes and fountains as the White House grounds do.
Shortcomings in the agency's coverage have emerged over the last year, but one of the most troubling incidents took place in September, when Omar Gonzalez, who was armed with a knife, climbed a fence outside the White House, sprinted across the lawn and was able to get deep into the unlocked residence before he was apprehended.
The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General announced that it would investigate the Service's latest headache, an incident on Mar. 4, in which two Secret Service agents, suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, drove through security tape, hit a barricade, and disrupted the investigation of a bomb scare.