Security, the Secret Service Agent’s Facebook Behavior + White House Personnel — Today’s Q’s for O’s WH — 4/20/2012

Apr 20, 2012 2:07pm

TAPPER: The director of the Secret Service, in a meeting with congressional investigators, voiced concern that these prostitutes were in a room or rooms that had confidential security information. I’m wondering, have steps been taken to make sure that if they were, travel plans or whatever may have been on those computer or papers were no longer relevant?

CARNEY: Well, I’ll say two things. One, I am certainly not privy to conversations the director of the Secret Service may have had with members of Congress or the conversations that those members might have had with you about their conversations with the director. I would say that the investigation is ongoing. Specifics like that are not things that I’m in a position to answer questions on at this time. And matters of security in general — presidential security – are handled by the Secret Service and are generally not things that we discuss, for reasons of security.

But I understand the question. I understand at least hypothetically what a concern like that would be and why it might exist. But I would ask you to patiently wait for the conclusions of the investigation before either the Secret Service or the White House addresses those kinds of questions.

TAPPER: And as I’m sure you know, it’s been reported — I think it was by the Washington Post to begin with — that one of the agents in question — or one of the officials from the Secret Service in question had on his public Facebook page a picture of him with Governor Palin, with an inappropriate remark about checking her out. This was before the incident this picture had been posted.

Does that cause the president or anybody in the White House to question whether or not Director Sullivan’s oversight was sufficient? It would seem that that would not be professional either and it would cause — it might cause somebody to question whether Sullivan was engaging in enough oversight and setting the right tone when it came to the behavior of his agents and officers.

CARNEY: Well, I did see the report that you mentioned, but that represents the entirety of my knowledge about it. I have not had any conversations with the president or others here about that specific report, that I assume happened even prior to President Obama taking office.

The — stepping back, the broader question of behavior, culture of the institution, I think is something that I’m not prepared to address at this time while this investigation into this specific matter and, in this case, this specific person is ongoing. Again, once this investigation is concluded, I’m sure that the Secret Service will have more to say about it and we may, as well.

TAPPER: Would information like that cause the president in any way to question whether his confidence in Director Sullivan may be misplaced?

CARNEY: Well, again, I haven’t had a conversation with the president about this specific Facebook entry or even this agent that you referenced.

The two things I would say is that, you know, the Secret Service has stated quite clearly and the president believes that his security and the overall security of the trip was never compromised into Colombia. He has great faith in, broadly speaking, the Secret Service men and women who protect him and his family, protect the vice president and members of the traveling staff, protect the grounds here.

Right now we want to wait for the conclusion of the investigation into this specific incident before we look more broadly at — if that’s necessary, more broadly at some of the issues of culture or security.

But the president does, as I’ve said before, have faith in the Secret Service and high regard for the agency and the job that that they do protecting him, his family, protecting his predecessors. It is a — an enormously difficult job, as you can imagine. It involves putting your life on the line regularly, being willing to sacrifice yourself for the sake not just of an individual but for the trauma that any kind of harm that might come to a president would cause the nation. That’s a huge responsibility.

And this incident, while it is obviously under investigation and the allegations that are out there are very concerning, it is also important not to forget what — the job that the men and women of the Secret Service do on a regular basis for presidents of both parties.

TAPPER: One last question, Jay. Yesterday when Ann asked you whether the White House was confident that nobody who was employed by the White House was engaged in any similar activities, you said something along the lines of you weren’t aware of any evidence. Has anybody in the White House looked into whether any of the traveling staff or the event staff or anyone at all had anything to do with any of this?

CARNEY: Well, as I — when I got that question yesterday, it was the first time I had heard anything like that. I have no reason to believe — I do not know otherwise that — this did not involve anything but the agents and the military personnel. We are in regular conversation with senior members of the White House staff. We’re in conversation with the Secret Service, getting briefed on the progress of their investigation. You know, I really don’t have anything more for you on that.

TAPPER: But that’s the Secret Service investigating the Secret Service. I’m wondering if anybody in the White House has just made sure that none of this was done by anybody employed by the White House?

CARNEY: You know, I — not that I’m aware of it. I am – you know, my answer is the same as it was yesterday.

-Jake Tapper

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