Report: House Panel Finds Secret Service Rife With Problems

3 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

House report details Secret Service lapses.

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. 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. Elijah Cummings — includes new details on well-publicized incidents, such as a special agent’s plans to bring “cash fo dem hoes” on a trip to Colombia that resulted in a prostitution scandal.

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. In the report, lawmakers faulted 2011 budgetary cuts, “systemic mismanagement” and the declining morale of the Secret Service’s employees — which has deepened its losses. 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. The report said that the Secret Service’s own investigation of that incident uncovered multiple emails sent between agents and officers discussing the trip and eluded to plans to enjoy their surroundings.

And the guard stationed in the elevator had a criminal history that includes three arrests for misdemeanors — including reckless conduct with a weapon, a charge that involved a three-year-old. 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. And in 2013, an agent accessed a woman’s personal information without authorization, and then traveled from New York to California in an unsuccessful effort to ask her on a date. 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.

Managers and supervisors do not always report incidents, and managers have at times failed to follow Department of Homeland Security procedures for referring some types of misconduct to the inspector general, the report says. 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. A Secret Service spokesman didn’t immediately comment, though agency leaders have defended their record of protecting the president, senior officials and their families.

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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