Tags: Gizzi | secret service | replacement | Pierson | recruitment

WH to Newsmax: Pierson's Replacement Could Come From Outside Service

By    |   Wednesday, 01 October 2014 09:53 PM

Hours after U.S. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson offered her resignation to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson today (and one day after the White House insisted Pierson would "absolutely" remain in her job), the Obama administration was floating a trial balloon that her replacement could be the first to come outside the protective agency in nearly 80 years.

In a statement following Pierson’s resignation, Secretary Johnson announced he was appointing a special panel of experts "to submit to me recommendations for potential new directors of the Secret Service, to include recommendations of individuals who come from outside the Secret Service."

At the Tuesday briefing for White House reporters (which was delayed nearly three hours from when it was announced for), Newsmax asked Press Secretary Josh Earnest if there was a genuine possibility the next director could come from the outside and thus break a near eighty-year tradition in the Secret Service.

"Yes, that is a possibility," Earnest told us.

President Barack Obama's top spokesman added that "[t]he panel hasn’t been formed yet. But what they will do once they are formed is they will consider the review [of the fence-jumping incident September 20 that led to Pierson's resignation] that's already been done by Deputy [Homeland] Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas."

The panel, whose members have not yet been named, will submit recommendations by December 14, at which time the new director is expected to be named. Until then, Earnest announced today, Joe Clancy, retired Secret Service agent and a former head of the White House security detail, will be acting head of the agency founded in 1865.

The "trial balloon" of a Secret Service director from outside its ranks is an intriguing one, since all modern directors have been veterans of the agency. Pierson, for example, was lauded by Earnest as one who "dedicated more than thirty years of her life to the Secret Service." Both of her immediate predecessors, former Directors Mark Sullivan (2006-13) and W. Ralph Basham (2003-06), also had long careers in the Secret Service before assuming its top position.

One has to go back to 1936 and the appointment of Frank Wilson to find a Secret Service Director who was an "outsider." As an agent of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (now the Internal Revenue Service) in 1928, accountant Wilson worked closely with the legendary Eliot Ness and the Untouchables in preparing the tax evasion case that sent crime lord Al Capone to prison.

"Frank Wilson had broken the code for Capone’s confiscated ledgers, allowing the prosecution to unravel the Mob boss’s business finances and pinpoint his 'salary,'" wrote Douglas Perry in the new biography "Eliot Ness: The Rise and Fall of an American Hero."

Wilson’s role in bringing down Capone (who once ordered a mob "hit" on him) was dramatized in the 1949 film "The Undercover Man," in which Glenn Ford played "Frank Warren," who was based on Wilson.

Named by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to head the Secret Service in 1936, Wilson helped craft many of the modern techniques for protection of the First Family. He also successfully resisted the efforts to have the Secret Service incorporated into the Federal Bureau of Investigation that were launched by its director, J. Edgar Hoover.

554 days after she became the first female director of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson’s exit was particularly noteworthy because she was considered the president’s personal favorite for the job following their interview.

The "National Journal's" George Condon, Jr. cited a source saying Pierson "'hit a home run' in her session with Obama. He was comfortable with her and comfortable entrusting his family's safety to her hands. 'This person now probably has more control over our lives than anyone else, except for our spouses,' he joked at the time of her swearing-in. 'I could not be placing our lives in better hands than Julia's.'"

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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Hours after U.S. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson offered her resignation to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson today (and one day after the White House insisted Pierson would absolutely remain in her job), the Administration was floating a trial balloon...
Gizzi, secret service, replacement, Pierson, recruitment
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 09:53 PM
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