New Secret Service Hires Working Despite Lack of Security Clearance

AP

On Tuesday, the White House briefing room was cleared in the middle of a press conference due to a bomb threat. The risk was managed by the Secret Service, despite many of the agents not having received national security clearance.

A Secret Service official told the Washington Post that four to five dozen officers lacked security clearances as of last week. A little more than two dozen of those were posted at the White House, the official said.

Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said Tuesday that Clancy has put additional administrative staff to work on the backlog and that all outstanding clearances will be issued by Friday.

The Secret Service has rushed to increase its security force since September, when a man hopped the fence guarding the White House lawn and broke into the first floor wielding a knife.

Security threats have increased since, pushing the Secret Service to speed up the placement process, including stationing officers in high security positions without the proper clearance.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R., N.C.), member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, confronted Secret Service Director Joseph P. Clancy in a private conversation last week after hearing about new Secret Service agents being present in meetings in which confidential information was discussed.

"Without the clearance, you could share information by mistake, Meadows told the Washington Post. "I trust everyone on my staff, but there are only a few with a top-secret clearance. They know the zero tolerance that any of us have for inappropriately sharing this information."

Leary said the agency is working through the list, and as of late Tuesday was down to 10 officers without clearances. He declined to say what kinds of sensitive information the officers may have access to.

Once the bomb threat was cleared, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest retuned to the briefing room.

"I have complete confidence in the professionalism of the men and women of the Secret Service to make judgments about what's necessary to keep all of us safe,"Earnest told reporters.