March 25, 2014— -- Three members of an elite counter-assault team were sent home for excessive drinking hours before President Obama was to arrive in Amsterdam, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service confirmed to ABC News.
Secret Service personnel on official trips are prohibited from drinking alcohol 10 hours prior to duty. The counter-assault team members were drinking on Saturday evening and Sunday morning ahead of a Sunday briefing – a violation of the rule, the spokesman said.
The incident, first reported in the Washington Post, comes in the wake of other misbehaving law enforcement officials assigned to prepare the way for a presidential visit.
The episodes have not involved the plainclothes Secret Service agents who shadow the president wherever he goes, but the uniformed squads that work behind the scenes.
The counter-assault teams – usually dressed in all-black combat attire, including a gray-and-white U.S. flag designed not to stand out on their uniforms – are deployed in presidential motorcades a few vehicles behind the limousine and at airports where Air Force One takes off and lands.
The counter-assault teams are elite units that undergo rigorous extra training. While uniformed agents surround a president when he is in public, the CAT teams are military-style combat units designed to evacuate those in danger and repel anyone attacking a president.