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Medieval Times: Congress Suggests Moat, Electronic Fence to Protect White House

Congressman Asks, A Moat Around the White House? 0:35

Maybe the answer is a moat. Or an electronic fence. Or maybe just make the current fence taller.

Acting Secret Service director Joseph Clancy on Wednesday faced a number of tough questions from the House Judiciary Committee about the fence jumper who made it deep into the White House.

But along with the tough questions, Clancy fielded a couple eyebrow raising suggestions on how to better protect the president’s home.

“Would a moat, water six feet around, be kind of attractive and effective?” Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., asked with trepidation.

“It may be,” Clancy said about the tactic commonly used to protect medieval castles.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, had a more shocking suggestion. “Would you be in favor of removing the fence around the White House and having, maybe, a virtual or electronic fence around it?” he asked.

Clancy was less open to the electric fence than the moat.

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

What is likely to happen, though, is that the 7 foot 6-inch fence currently circling the White House gets heightened, Clancy said. Renderings of the new fence are expected in the next few months.

Until then, the Secret Service is relying on a low-tech solution.

“We have a bike rack there now, which we know is not going to prevent someone from jumping the fence, but it’s going to allow us to have a little more time to react,” Clancy said.