Here’s What Will Get a Secret Service Agent Sent Home

PHOTO: President Barack Obama, center, and two secret service agents
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We’re all human.

That’s what a top law enforcement official said helps explain the Secret Service’s latest alcohol-induced escapade in which one agent reportedly became so drunk he passed out in a hotel hallway ahead of President Obama’s trip to Europe this week.

The Secret Service, like the FBI, is “an organization of human beings,” the bureau’s director, James Comey, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill today, just hours after reports surfaced of three Secret Service agents sent home for drinking shortly before the president arrived in Amsterdam earlier this week. “Human beings, as am I, are flawed. And there are going to be problems.”

Comey said the key was to “root out” the problems “and try to put in place remedies that we don't just repeat the problem all over again." In fact, the Secret Service tried to do just that in the wake of the prostitution scandal two years ago, when several Secret Service agents solicited prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, while preparing for a presidential visit in April 2012.

Among other new rules, Secret Service agents were prohibited from drinking any alcohol within 10 hours of reporting for duty, and no alcohol could be consumed at the president’s hotel once the president arrived. Patronizing so-called “non-reputable establishments” was also added to the list of no-nos.

Here is a list of agency policies and “enhanced codes of conduct” the then-director of the Secret Service, Mark Sullivan, announced in the wake of the Cartagena scandal:

  • All laws of the United States shall apply to Secret Service personnel while abroad.
  • Standards of conduct briefings will be conducted for all protective visits, events and National Special Security Events, as well as prior to Secret Service personnel traveling aboard military aircraft prior to departure for a foreign country.
  • The U.S. Department of State Regional Security Officer will work with the Secret Service advanced team to provide intensified country-specific briefings immediately upon arrival in a foreign country. The briefings will update personnel on safety issues, off-limit zones and off-limit establishments for Secret Service personnel, and any country-specific rules imposed by the Ambassador.
  • Foreign nationals, excluding hotel staff and official law enforcement counterparts, are prohibited from all Secret Service personnel hotel rooms.
  • Patronization of non-reputable establishments is prohibited.
  • Alcohol may only be consumed in moderate amounts while off-duty on a temporary duty assignment and alcohol use is prohibited within 10 hours of reporting for duty.
  • Alcohol may not be consumed at the protectee hotel once the protective visit has begun.

The three Secret Service agents caught up in the latest misstep, first reported by the Washington Post, were members of an elite counter-assault team who were drinking Saturday night into Sunday morning. Responsible for evacuating the president and others in the event of an attack, the agents were supposed to attend a classified briefing hours later to discuss the president’s arrival the next day.

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