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Moat Floats their Security Boat

Friday, November 21, 2014

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The recent security breach by an armed fence-jumper at the White House has members of Congress reaching for some creative solutions.

Or maybe they've all just been watching too much of HBO's Game of Thrones.

A question posed Wednesday (Nov. 19) to Acting Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy before the House Judiciary Committee suggests a little of both.

What about a Moat?

Following several questions about the September security breach, Rep. Steven Cohen (D-TN), submitted a query reminiscent of medieval lore.

“Would a…moat,” Cohen asked, “water, six feet around, be kind of attractive and effective?”

Clancy responded, “Sir, it may be.”

Moats were often used to protect medieval castles.

Balancing Interests

The director explained that the Secret Service was working with the National Park Service to come up with a solution involving the fencing first.  

Cohen added, “Like a higher fence? This guy got further into the White House than some of my Republican colleagues have ever gotten.”

Clancy also noted that the agency must balance accessibility to the White House and the historic nature of the building.

He seemed to entertain the moat idea more than a higher-tech option, however.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) asked, “Would you be in favor of removing the fence around the White House and having, maybe, a virtual or electronic fence around it?

“My knee-jerk reaction to that would be no, sir,” he told Gohmert. “Partly because the number of tourists that come up Pennsylvania Avenue and come up to that area.”

White House
© iStock.com / Kent Weakly

Lawmakers have suggested building a moat or an electric fence around the White House.

The director noted that renderings of a higher fence were in the works.

The Reactions

The moat suggestion has incited a flurry of social media reactions.

@diogeron referenced a popular Game of Thrones character in his post on Twitter: “[C]omplete with alligators too? Talk to Daenery [sic] Targaryen about maybe buying her dragons? LOL. These people are insane.”

On the other hand, @npenzenstadler posted, “I’m ALL for a moat around the White House. That would be SICK.”

Still, others found the idea outrageous. @theologyguy posted, “@cspan @RepCohen A moat? Really? Come on.”

And @BikeSC offered this low-tech suggestion: “[…]Maybe they should just get people that can do their jobs.”


Tagged categories: Architectural history; Architecture; Government; Government contracts; Historic Structures

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