Three Secret Service agents were placed on administrative leave this week after they were found to have gone out for a night of imbibery. One of the three men even passed out drunk in the hallway of their hotel hallway.
The agents arrived ahead of the president to protect him during his trip to Amsterdam this week. Employees at the Huis Ter Duin Hotel in Noordwijk notified the U.S. Embassy in the Netherlands once the passed out agent was found the morning following the drinking. The three agents are part of the Secret Service’s Counter Assault Team (CAT).
The Secret Service instituted new rules and codes of conduct upon its agents following an incident that occurred in Cartagena, Colombia in April, 2012. Approximately 11-12 agents drank heavily and purchased prostitutes on a trip during which they were supposed to protect the president while he attended an economic summit.
The agents were found out after one prostitute got into an argument with an agent when he refused to pay her. After federal and congressional investigations, the incident resulted in 10 agent being removed from their jobs.
“They received the best technical training in the service,” said a former agent about the CAT team. “They were the only team constantly in training – training on assaults, on evacuations, all sorts of things. There were very squared away. It was really difficult to get on CAT.”
The misconduct doesn’t end there, however. Last November, two more Secret Service agents, this time supervisors, were removed from the president’s detail because one agent was reported trying to force entry into a woman’s hotel room. The agency conducted an internal investigation and Ignacio Zamora Jr. was implicated in the offense after accidentally leaving behind a bullet from his gun.
Another investigation found that Zamora and fellow-agent Timothy Barraclough sent sexually suggestive emails to a female subordinate. Zamora was pulled from his position and Barraclough was removed from his detail. The agency, including Zamora Barraclough, denied to comment.
Is this a cause for concern? Has it always been a problem? Does this behavior indicate a certain amount of incompetence that could result in endangering the president at some point? It surely needs to be examined. At the very least, the agency tasked with protecting the president can’t afford embarrassing exposure like this.