Secret Service Roiled in Scandal, "In Crisis" and Still a Disaster

Katie Pavlich
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Posted: Dec 04, 2015 8:50 AM
Secret Service Roiled in Scandal, "In Crisis" and Still a Disaster

Over the past few years of President Obama's time in the Oval Office, we've seen serious and alarming problems at the Secret Service. There have been a number of instances when agents have been found passed out drunk in a hotel hallway or partying with hookers during foreign trips. In 2014, a man named Omar Gonzales was able to not only jump the White House fence, but made it all the way into the East Room of the White House through an unlocked door before being subdued by agents. 

Now, a new bipartisan report issued by the House Oversight Committee shows that the agency, which is roiled in scandal, is in crisis and still a disaster despite a change of directors last year. The report comes after a year long investigation of the agency.

Here is the summary of the nearly 500 page long report:

The United States Secret Service (USSS) is tasked with a zero-failure mission: to protect the President and other protectees at all costs.

For most of its existence, USSS has strived to complete that mission while simultaneously garnering the respect and admiration of the
American people.  Secret Service agents and officers earned a reputation as stoic and impervious guardians of our government’s most important leaders.  The American public’s respect for the agency diminished following the April 2012 prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, which attracted significant media attention and exposed systemic problems within the agency.

Since then, several incidents have made it abundantly clear that USSS is in crisis. The agency’s weaknesses have been exposed by a series of security failures at the White House, during presidential visits, and at the residences of other officials, including Vice President Biden and former presidents of the United States.  The Committee’s investigation found that problems that undermine USSS’s protective mission predate and postdate the misconduct in Cartagena. The Committee also found that at times agency leaders have provided incomplete and inaccurate information to Congress. 

The Committee investigated four incidents in detail to identify findings and recommendations for this report.
-November 11, 2011, an individual fired several shots at the White House from a semiautomatic rifle.  (p. 22)
-April 2012 misconduct in Cartagena, Colombia. (p. 27)
-September 16, 2014, an armed contract security guard with a violent arrest history rode in an elevator with -President Obama and later breached the President’s security formation at the Centers for Disease Control and -Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. (p. 39)
-March 4, 2015, two likely intoxicated senior USSS officials—including a top official on the President’s protective detail—interfered with a crime scene involving a bomb threat just outside the White House grounds. (p. 54)

“This report reveals that the Secret Service is in crisis. Morale is down, attrition is up, misconduct continues, and security breaches persist. Yet its mission inexplicably continues to expand beyond the zero-fail mission to protect the President," Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz said about the report. "We are now three directors in from the shocking misconduct in Cartagena and the agency is still broken. Strong leadership from the top is required to fix the systemic mismanagement within the agency and to restore it to its former prestige. I thank Ranking Member Cummings for working in a bipartisan fashion during this investigation. We will continue to work together to encourage significant reform throughout the agency.”

There is much work and reform left to do.