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March 11, 2015 8:24 PM   Subscribe

 
What's happened to the Secret Service over the last few years? The Columbian and El Salvadorian prostitute scandal, the multiple failures to stop intrusions onto White House property, and now this.

Have they always been this problematic? Growing up I don't remember reading about these kinds of problems, but maybe I'm just not remembering them.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:38 PM on March 11, 2015 [22 favorites]


At least they weren't flying drones!
Or riding in one.
posted by clavdivs at 8:41 PM on March 11, 2015


At least they weren't flying drones!

"In a surprise move, the secret service has hired a number of male bees...."

The idea of small drunk men wearing suits, sunglasses, and earpieces and riding on bees is endlessly amusing
posted by Going To Maine at 8:42 PM on March 11, 2015 [20 favorites]


What if they hired female bees are u against female bees why do you hate the secret service!

Kidding, yeah what's with all this damage to the White House and these incursions by disturbed folks. The shuffle in administration. WTF, treasury department.
posted by clavdivs at 8:50 PM on March 11, 2015


Ha, Jason Chaffetz. Yeah, I'm sure he's positively brimming with concern for the president's safety and totally not just trying for Benghazi 2.0
posted by indubitable at 9:03 PM on March 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


Maybe the House Republicans will write the SS a sternly worded letter.
posted by boo_radley at 9:07 PM on March 11, 2015 [20 favorites]


I think all of this coming out about the Secret Service is less "wha' happened!?" and more "so this is how they run things...". There was that imaginary 'elite of the elite' and 'the best cops' being the ones that guard the President story that was always told to kids in civics classes and so on that's being gradually replaced by the realistic idea that people work for a particular service and they're just as liable to be shitty people as anyone else. At least now we're more likely to hear about them and hopefully they can be fired. It's not new. We just know about it now.
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:08 PM on March 11, 2015 [12 favorites]


There were a couple of incidents in the mid-90s where disturbed people jumped the fence and attempted to enter the White House. If I remember correctly, one guy shot a rifle at it as well.
posted by Hatashran at 9:20 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Mr. Chaffetz added: “It’s never good to be drunk at work, especially if you are in the Secret Service.”"

I mean, it worked out pretty well when I was at a newspaper - I type faster drunk and argue more vehemently about grammar - but, sure, sure, I can see how its a downside when there are weapons involved.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:23 PM on March 11, 2015 [42 favorites]


Go home, Secret Service, you're drunk.
posted by bq at 9:25 PM on March 11, 2015 [22 favorites]


s/was at a newspaper/am on Metafilter/
posted by benzenedream at 9:40 PM on March 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


uhh actually it's always good to be drunk at work especially if you are in the public service.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:48 PM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Just hire Mormons.
posted by Tullyogallaghan at 9:58 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Secret Muslims, surely...
posted by pompomtom at 10:06 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing they're both *heroes*, too.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:08 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just hire Mormons
Svetlana Ogorodnikov.
posted by mecran01 at 11:30 PM on March 11, 2015


Have they always been this problematic? Growing up I don't remember reading about these kinds of problems, but maybe I'm just not remembering them.

I'm gonna have to go with yes. We just hear about it more now because texting and DMs and such enable more efficient gossip and leaks.

I don't believe for a second that in ye olden days when drinking on the job and drunk driving were facts of life that this didn't happen more. We just didn't know because boys will be boys etc and everyone waved it through or was afraid to speak.

I also have a hard time believing that there isn't an element of "show the Obama administration can't do shit right" to us suddenly hearing about this.
posted by emptythought at 12:15 AM on March 12, 2015 [13 favorites]


Have they always been this problematic?

Agent Carter tells me that secret agents have always been pretty bad, so there.
posted by happyroach at 12:33 AM on March 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Growing up I thought they were roughly like the dude in West Wing.
posted by persona au gratin at 12:46 AM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]




“The biggest problem I ran into with the Secret Service when I was an agent was their constant drinking,” he told me. “When we would get to a place one of the first things they would do was stock up with liquor. They would drink and then we would go to work.” On November 22, Bolden says, “their reflexes were definitely affected by, number one, the loss of sleep and, number two, the fact that [some may have] consumed that amount of alcohol.”
posted by Prince Lazy I at 3:33 AM on March 12, 2015


Growing up I thought they were roughly like the dude in West Wing.

Failed summer school teachers, all of 'em.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:27 AM on March 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Say what you will about GW Bush, but at least his administration was better at covering this sort of thing up.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:18 AM on March 12, 2015


I guess what I'm trying to say is: thanks, Obama.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:19 AM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


During the events at Selma, I couldn't help but noticing Obama's detail seemed much older than I'm typically used to seeing. I don't know if this was a one-time fluke or a result of procedures to put more experienced, responsible (non-partying frat boys) in the line of fire.
posted by sardonyx at 5:24 AM on March 12, 2015


more experienced, responsible (non-partying frat boys) in the line of fire.

Great theory, except that the ones who crashed the car appear to have been those exact senior people. More experienced at drinking on the job, perhaps.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:30 AM on March 12, 2015


well i mean obviously when the chips are down you want the more experienced drunks who can hold their liquor to have your back
posted by indubitable at 5:34 AM on March 12, 2015 [12 favorites]


The Secret Service protects more than just the sitting president. Makes it more unlikely that "caring" is split by party. Nor would Republicans want to see a President Biden and a martyred Obama.
posted by zennie at 5:38 AM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think the elite reputation has been working against them – senior people can't be disciplined, they're so good they can wing ordinary problems, etc. It's understandable why loyalty is so important to the culture but that's a huge hazard when it leads to ignoring problems rather than, say, giving someone a second chance but making it clear that they have to do better.
posted by adamsc at 5:39 AM on March 12, 2015


More experienced at drinking on the job, perhaps.

The outcome would suggest otherwise.
posted by BWA at 6:30 AM on March 12, 2015


There was that imaginary 'elite of the elite' and 'the best cops' being the ones that guard the President story that was always told to kids in civics classes and so on that's being gradually replaced by the realistic idea that people work for a particular service and they're just as liable to be shitty people as anyone else.

I dunno. Given what we've learned about the standard operating procedures of many major police departments over the last few years, I wouldn't be shocked to hear that the Secret Service really IS the best of the best. If they were just run-of-the-mill law enforcement, they'd be driving drunk with the president in the limo, rather than just taking it for a spin after hours.
posted by Mayor West at 7:05 AM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


[A few comments deleted; if you want to make a point, try again with one based on an accurate timeline and less hurf durf middle aged ladies amirite.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:03 AM on March 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


C'mon Meechum, we're all upset about Chapter 39. But you gotta pull yourself together man.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:06 AM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


A relative of my neighbors (Bob) is in one of those fed agencies where you carry a gun and protect political people. Bob was assigned the AG (Holder) about 5 years ago. Bob said both nasty racist things about Holder, and political things about Obama and Holder. So, yeah, agents do have political feelings and can be as shitty as your other person on the street. I steered clear of Bob whenever he was visiting.

I'm curious how many PDs and feds like FBI/SS recruit from ex-military. I know fed hiring gives huge preference points to veterans. While the military isn't monolithic, it does run conservative, and heavy drinking. Like the SAE-isn't-all-racist thread, if your recruiting pool comes mostly from a certain demographic, it's easy to see how self-reinforcing a bad-apple selection process can be.
posted by k5.user at 8:12 AM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]




So, the Secret Service's dirty little secret isn't a secret anymore. This is also the military's secret, and Washington's secret. But don't hire teetotalers, especially from Utah, while protecting the power structures that be, stone cold sober, they will make sure to find all bad guys by bulldozing the entire surface of the USA, "coincidentally" discovering oil and gas resources. Oh lookie here Jedediah, I don't see me no bad guys, all clear Mr. President; but we found this here oil and some nachural gas! Oh that Warshinton Monument (monument, a dirty word in Utah,) will stand right back up, don't you worry none, 'preciate ya!
posted by Oyéah at 9:39 AM on March 12, 2015


PARTY!!!!!


WHOOOOO!!!!
posted by hal_c_on at 9:48 AM on March 12, 2015


your recruiting pool comes mostly from a certain demographic, it's easy to see how self-reinforcing a bad-apple selection process can be

I can see a certain line of reasoning that might be part of the reason that there is a preference for those with a military training that can often trump other bad habits. Ideally, someone with a successful military career has been ingrained for years with the command structure far more than civilians - as in, no matter what you think of your commanding officer, the rank/office itself is what is to be protected and respected, and is supposed to override personal opinions. A career in the Secret Service often spans multiple Presidents from different political parties, so in the cliche "take a bullet" scenario, you need to find someone who is the most likely to so just as much for Bush as for Obama - military training is designed so that the rank comes first, no matter who is wearing the uniform and what they think about them personally. At least that's the ideal, but I think that such training logically would be preferred in many situations over candidates that do not have that.

It's a trade-off though. While you've addressed one large issue - protecting the rank/office rather than the person - you now have to deal with all the smaller BS that goes with it, such as these drunken debacles. Frankly, I'm amazed that it keeps happening, and that the hammer has not come down harder on such dishonorable behavior. Part of me thinks that there is a concern that if the punishment and public shaming is too much, that the punished agent may retaliate by publicly speaking about every little thing they have seen - not so much the secret stuff, but whatever embarrassing personal thing they can remember or even plausibly make up. So they are just transferred so some remote out-of-the-way station and left to push paperwork behind a desk in a consulate office or some such place, and the root of the issue remains.

In any case, there is an internal discipline problem that has grown to the point that it keeps spilling out into the outside world, and if its not already been done privately, it's time the Commander-in-Chief arranges a series of personal, one-on-one meetings between his boot and the asses of those responsible and arrive at a successful result, and at least release a (heavily redacted) schedule of these meetings, so at least we know something was done.
posted by chambers at 10:24 AM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Tullyogallaghan: "Just hire Mormons."

They kind of have that covered, too
posted by rhizome at 12:48 PM on March 12, 2015


The most interesting part of this story to me is that the supervisor of the officers who wanted to arrest these guys told them to let them go. Who's that guy?
posted by rhizome at 12:49 PM on March 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Bob was assigned the AG (Holder) about 5 years ago. Bob said both nasty racist things about Holder, and political things about Obama and Holder.

I find this terrifying and all kinds of fucked up.
posted by sallybrown at 1:23 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Obama has come out and said he still has confidence in the Secret Service. Mind you he was surrounded by a army of heavily armed secret service agents at the time.
posted by srboisvert at 2:55 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bush aids Secret Service agent!
posted by clavdivs at 4:27 PM on March 12, 2015


Metafilter: hurf durf middle aged ladies amirite
posted by hwestiii at 5:43 PM on March 12, 2015


Kidding, yeah what's with all this damage to the White House and these incursions by disturbed folks. The shuffle in administration. WTF, treasury department.

They were previously part of the Treasury Department. In 2003 they became part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Which may actually be related to the perceived issues they're having. The U.S. Department of Treasury has been around for a long time, and the Secret Service has been around for a lot of that, over a century. Any institution around that long is going to have clearly defined policies, procedures and the reporting and monitoring processes to go in place with that. Not to mention established training protocols.

I don't know, but I assume the DHS reorganization brought with it your standard reorganization issues. A new set of administrators who brought in their own experienced and familiar staff and people they've worked with in the past. They in turn probably implemented new policies because that's what you do when you're doing a re-org. Institutional knowledge was lost. In addition, DHS is a young department, so that doesn't help, even if it does have experienced bureaucrats leading and running it.

I assume this latest thing will lead to some changes in the Secret Service. If they did lose experienced people in the re-organization, hopefully they bring in some who have worked with them in the past and know what they're doing.
posted by formless at 5:46 PM on March 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm starting to hear YaketySax every time I see a dude in dark glasses with an earpiece anywhere near the President.
posted by k8oglyph at 8:48 AM on March 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, right, nearly every department is under DHS...WTF is up with that. Do we really need the DHS?

Wow, they drove into an active investigation of a suspious package.

I say fire them all. Get the military to do it or D.C. Police.
posted by clavdivs at 4:47 PM on March 13, 2015


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