Hangover Part IV: Secret Service agents sent home for drinking
posted at 8:41 am on March 26, 2014 by Ed Morrissey
Say, didn’t the Colombian adventures of the Secret Service presidential detail prompt the agency to adopt some reforms in dealing with its advance teams? Apparently not, as the Washington Post reported last night. Almost two years after the Cartagena hooker scandal embarrassed the agency, three agents got booted from the Netherlands after a night of drinking — one of whom was found passed out in a hotel hallway:
Three Secret Service agents responsible for protecting President Obama in Amsterdam this week were sent home and put on administrative leave Sunday after going out for a night of drinking, according to three people familiar with the incident. One of the agents was found drunk and passed out in a hotel hallway, the people said.
The hotel staff alerted the U.S. Embassy in the Netherlands after finding the unconscious agent Sunday morning, a day before Obama arrived in the country, according to two of the people. The embassy then alerted Secret Service managers on the presidential trip, which included the agency’s director, Julia Pierson.
Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan confirmed Tuesday evening that the agency “did send three employees home for disciplinary reasons” and that they were put on administrative leave pending an investigation. Donovan declined to comment further.
So much for chaperones, eh? The rules adopted in the wake of the earlier scandal prohibits agents from drinking at all in the ten hours previous to an assignment. The advance team would have been working Sunday morning, preparing in a briefing for the President’s arrival, as Barack Obama arrived on schedule Monday. Therefore, no one should have been drinking past the early evening on Saturday, but apparently that rule didn’t get a lot of attention from the agents on duty.
By the way, these agents aren’t on hand just to pick up dry cleaning and order room service. They were members of the Counter Assault Team, responsible for preventing attacks and defending the President if one occurs. One would believe that this takes more than a little sobriety for the preparations, or at least a clear head in the morning. Rendering one’s self unconscious in a hotel hallway is probably not the optimal way to prepare for such duty.
The previous scandal resulted in a rare show of accountability for this administration:
The revelations in Cartagena led to the removal of 10 agents from their jobs, multiple federal and congressional investigations, and the rules aimed at preventing similar activity in the future. Mark Sullivan, the Secret Service director at the time, apologized for his employees’ conduct. Sullivan retired in February 2013 after 30 years in the agency.
Clearly, that message was not received well enough to make an impression, or at least one that lasted just under two years. The last time, agents within the service complained of being “railroaded” over the Cartagena scandal, but it seems a little more accountability is in order here.