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New rules for Secret Service after prostitution scandal

Secret Service agents will now be assigned chaperones on some trips to enforce new rules of conduct that clamp down on excessive drinking – even when they’re off duty.

A Secret Service agent walks the tarmac as Marine One carrying Barack Obama takes off
A Secret Service agent walks the tarmac as Marine One carrying Barack Obama takes off
Image: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski

EMBARRASSED BY A  prostitution scandal, the Secret Service will assign chaperones on some trips to enforce new rules of conduct that make clear that excessive drinking, entertaining foreigners in their hotel rooms and cavorting in disreputable establishments are no longer tolerated.

The stricter measures, issued by the Secret Service on Friday for agents and employees, apply even when traveling personnel are off duty.

The policies, outlined in a memorandum obtained by The Associated Press, are the agency’s latest attempt to respond to the scandal that surfaced as President Barack Obama was headed to a Latin American summit in Cartagena, Colombia, earlier this month.

The embattled Secret Service director, Mark Sullivan, urged agents and other employees to “consider your conduct through the lens of the past several weeks.”

Sullivan said the rules “cannot address every situation that our employees will face as we execute our dual-missions throughout the world.” He added:

The absence of a specific, published standard of conduct covering an act or behavior does not mean that the act is condoned, is permissible or will not call for — and result in — corrective or disciplinary action.

“All employees have a continuing obligation to confront expected abuses or perceived misconduct,” Sullivan said.

Ethics classes will be conducted for agency employees next week.

Embarrassing disclosures

The changes were intended to staunch the embarrassing disclosures since 13 April, when a prostitution scandal erupted in Cartagena involving 12 Secret Service agents, officers and supervisors and 12 more enlisted military personnel who were there ahead of Obama’s visit to the Summit of the Americas.

The new rules did not mention prostitutes or strip clubs. But they prohibit employees from allowing foreigners, except hotel staff or foreign law enforcement colleagues, into their hotel rooms. They also ban visits to “nonreputable” establishments, which were not defined. The State Department was expected to brief Secret Service employees on trips about areas and businesses considered off-limits to them.

During trips in which the presidential limousine and other bulletproof vehicles are transported by plane, senior-level chaperones will accompany agents and enforce conduct rules, including one from the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

The Secret Service has forced eight employees from their jobs and was seeking to revoke the security clearance of another employee, which would effectively force him to resign. Three others have been cleared of serious wrongdoing. The military was conducting its own, separate investigation but canceled the security clearances of all 12 enlisted personnel.

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Associated Press

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