A Public Review of the Secret Service

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The Secret Service of the United States is shrouded in legend and discerning its past often involves separating the untenable claims of officials and detractors. Many officials and critics of conspiracy seek to mold these men as unimpeachable and conversely some conspiracy advocates have often predetermined most had a nefarious role in President Kennedy's death. Unconsidered by these groups are incompetence and repeated disregard of protocols and yet it does not require elevating or denouncing these men based on speculation, the primary evidence offers insights that speculations cannot.

Regarding the Kennedy assassination repeated allusions of Secret Service agents drinking occur, and they were likely subject to exhaustion from chasing strippers the morning of the Kennedy motorcade.i Multiple Agents were drinking according to Mr. Rowley the Chief of the Secret Service and witnesses corroborated their exploits with strippers. This blatant disregard for duty and protocol infer possible corruption and incompetence.ii These factors indeed would subsequently weigh upon Secret Service agents during security measures in Dealey Plaza. However, these repeated failings do not substantiate Secret Service complicity in the feasible plot. To include the Secret Service in such as plot is beyond the verified evidence and it is highly improbable that every guard assigned to the President would all simultaneously betray him. Also problematic is the idea that so many would be included in a plot without actual reasoning to its goal. The Secret Service had already compromised itself; they required no orders to do so.

Secret Service Chief James j. Rowley

Secret Service Chief James j. Rowley

The Secret Service's later removal of the President's body without jurisdiction would seem to be a more substantial action to back nefarious intent and not the Secret Service but men who ordered these actions to occur that should bear the blame. Yet we cannot allow supporters to ignore the serious mistakes that continue to occur and these proven mistakes compromise the Secret Service's purpose. The Secret Service problems were not merely contained to the Kennedy assassination, the problems have continued with alarming regularity. Among the most widely known problems was the Colombian prostitution scandal, this includes heavy drinking and solicitation according to a Department of Homeland Security investigation and one agent admitted prior misconduct.iii

Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan assured officials "This is not a cultural issue; this is not a systemic issue..." but Senator Susan Collins subsequently replied to Sullivan "I continue to believe that the problem is broader than you believe it to be".iv Secret Service, military personnel, and Drug Enforcement Agency members were embroiled in a prostitution and scandal in Columbia. Senator Collins commented, "It's disturbing that we may be uncovering a troubling culture that spans more than one law enforcement agency."v However, the recent scandals have been ongoing and even with the Secret Service Director's claim, the next alleged scandal occurred in El Salvador. Shortly after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Reno stated the problems were isolated; a report on El Salvador emerged and the report states Secret Service agents were involved in excessive drinking and prostitution.vi A dozen Secret Service employees and officers were implicated in the scandal and eight Secret Service officers have reportedly been "forced out" and others face administrative discipline.vii

Some Secret Service agents alleged that similar behavior occurred on other official trips. viii Between 2007 and 2012 officials received sixty four complaints of sexual misconduct and between 2004 and 2013 the Secret Service was cited for 824 cases of misconduct for various reasons.ix x The Secret Service issued new guidelines to curb these feasibly corrupt practices and within the new initiated protocols was a ban on drinking within ten hours of duty.xi Most officials dismissed any inference of these activities being a possible long-term behavior of the Secret Service agents. One Secret Service agent found innocent of the charges stated "Of course it has happened before...It really only blew up in this case..."xii

Secret Service agents referred to a prior trip with President Bill Clinton to Buenos Aires where some agents allegedly went out for evening strip club parties. Secret Service agents, the media, and the official record in many cases repeatedly affirmed these activities. Despite attempts to curb such behavior more scandal was to come and it seems a handful in this agency place more importance on their personal activities. Days ago, the Secret Service had a problem with three agents excessively drinking in the Netherlands and these agents were sent home from the Presidential visit.xiii This was subsequent to a prior scandal involving agents sending unwanted sexual emails to a co-worker.xiv After considering the evidence, a substantial problem feasibly exists and the Secret Service in my view needs serious reform far beyond that currently offered by the Obama administration. 

The insular culture of the Secret Service has allowed some agents to ignore normal protocols and not the entire Secret Service, but a significant minority has created enduring problems that compromise national security. These could be agents from decades ago to recent personnel dismissed for misconduct and the repetition of history and scandal needs to be addressed. If the President's defenses are so easily compromised, America is not as secure as officials imagine.
C.A.A. Savastano
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i. Hearings of the President's Commission, Volume XVIII, Ex. 1019, United States Secret Service memo to General Counsel Rankin of President’s Commission, May 5, 1964, p. 666.
ii. Hearings of the Pres. Com., Vol. V, Testimony of James J. Rowley and Robert Carswell, (June 18, 1964), pp. 451, 454, 458, 459.
iii. Greg Seaby, (October 20,2012), Investigation revisits Secret Service prostitution scandal, CNN News, cnn.com
iv. Tom Cohen, (May 24,2012), Secret Service scandal: Systemic problem or aberration?, CNN News,  cnn.com
v. Pierre Thomas and Jason Ryan via World News, (May 21,2012), Columbia Secret Service Prostitution Scandal Spreads to the DEA, ABC NEWS, abcnews.go.com
vi. New Secret Service scandal focuses on strippers and prostitutes in El Salvador, (April 26, 2012), The Daily Mail, dailymail.co.uk
vii. Report: Secret Service agents partied with strippers ahead of Obama El Salvador visit, (April 26, 2012), CBS News, cbsnews.com
viii. Korva Coleman, New Allegations Surface of Secret Service Misbehavior in El Salvador, (April 26,2012), npr.org
ix. U.S. Secret Service received 64 complaints of misconduct - US Election 2012, (May 23, 2012), BBC News, bbc.co.uk
x. Aamer Madihani and Kevin Johnson, (March 27, 2014), Questions raised again about the Secret Service culture, USA Today, usatoday.com
xi. Secret Service Columbia scandal prompts new rules, (April 27,2012), BBC News, bbc.co.uk
xii. Carol D. Leonnig and David Nakamura, (April 24,2012), Confidants: Secret Service agents contend misbehavior on trips not unprecedented, washingtonpost.com
xiii. Jessica Durando, (March 26,2014), 3 high-profile Secret Service scandals in 3 years, USA Today, usatoday.com

xiv. Dave Boyer, Obama backs Secret Service head after second sex scandal, (November 15, 2013), The Washington Times, washingtontimes.com

Edited: January 2019

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