Report: House panel finds Secret Service rife with problems

3 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

More Security Lapses by Secret Service Disclosed.

WASHINGTON (AP) — There have been 143 security breaches or attempted breaches at facilities secured by the Secret Service in the last 10 years, according to a lengthy House Oversight and Government Reform Committee report critical of the agency. In one email exchange uncovered by the committee, at least one agent was cavalier about his intentions for Obama’s April 2012 trip to Cartagena, Colombia, where Secret Service officials were later found to have hired prostitutes. “Swagg cologne-check/Pimp gear-check/Swagg sunglassescheck/Cash fo dem hoes-check,” the unnamed agent wrote, according to the report. He later added to the exchange, “Plenty of magnums … double check!” The report says that the Secret Service’s lack of manpower, low morale and questions of leadership still haunt the agency despite assurances that improvements have been made. “Since [the Cartegena scandal], several incidents have made it abundantly clear that USSS is in crisis,” the report says. “The agency’s weaknesses have been exposed by a series of security failures at the White House, during presidential visits, and at the residences of other officials, including Vice President [Joe] Biden and former presidents of the United States.

The report faults both leadership failings within the agency and budget cuts imposed by Congress that have led to what the committee concluded was a “staffing crisis.” The committee is chaired by Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), has been probing the agency since a 2012 scandal over agents bringing prostitutes back to their hotel rooms in Cartagena, Colombia.

Chaffetz is considering legislation that would leave the service charged exclusively with protecting the president, presidential candidates and dignitaries. A previously disclosed incident in which a man pretended to be a lawmaker to get backstage at a Congressional Black Caucus event was worse than initially thought. Last year, a Czech citizen with an expired visa was able to enter the property of a former president and remain undetected for almost an hour, the report said.

The committee also found that agents failed to properly vet multiple armed security guards who were near Obama during a September 2014 visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The report also concluded that the last three Secret Service directors, including current head Joseph Clancy, have provided “false information’’ to the panel when questioned about incidents and operations.

The committee said the service spends too much time on investigative matters like credit-card and computer fraud and not enough time on its protective duties. The committee blamed the staffing situation on “significant (budget) cuts … systemic mismanagement at (the Secret Service) that has been unable to correct these shortfalls and declining employee morale leading to attrition.”

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