Secret Service agents disrupted bomb investigation at White House, officials say

13 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Gate-crashing agents make 4 Secret Service scandals in 3 years.

WASHINGTON — Two Secret Service agents suspected of driving under the influence and striking a White House security barricade disrupted an active bomb investigation and may have driven over the suspicious package itself, according to current and former government officials familiar with the incident.Two Service agents who were believed to be driving drunk may have run over a suspected explosive device their colleagues were investigating on the White House grounds, The Washington Post reported Thursday. The episode has prompted questions from lawmakers about whether the newly appointed leaders of the Secret Service are capable of turning around the troubled agency.

CNN interviews with multiple sources reveal that while the two agents were returning from a farewell party, it’s still unclear when, exactly, the agents were stopped, and what gave the impression that they weren’t entirely sober. Police had just cordoned off a package described as a bomb when the agents returned from a work party, drove through police tape, and either hit or came close to hitting the package with their car, investigators told the Post. Among the lawmakers’ questions: whether a Secret Service supervisor, as witnesses have alleged, ordered officers to let the agents go home without facing sobriety testing. According to one source, the agents implicated in the incident are George Ogilvie, a top supervisor in the Washington field office, and Mark Connolly, a high-ranking member of President Barack Obama’s personal security detail. President Obama, briefed on the episode, was “disappointed” to learn that two of the agency’s top officials had steered an agency vehicle into a security gate after drinking at a retirement party in Georgetown.

The agent stuck his hand inside and switched the gear into park — but she shifted it back and drove forward, hitting him again, then speeding off as soon as he darted out of her way. His other incidents have included smearing poop on door handles as well as leaving excrement in the passenger seats of vehicles that were left unlocked. While its agents are still some of the best-trained and highest-skilled, and maintain the trust of the president and his family, the Secret Service’s image has been battered by three years of misconduct. It was all caught on surveillance video, and probers say the two drove extremely close to — or possibly directly over — the package being investigated.

In 2012, a dozen agents on assignment in Cartagena, Colombia were accused of bringing prostitutes back to their hotel rooms in the midst of a world leaders’ summit that included President Obama. The stunning new details emerged amid fresh condemnation of the bumbling agency, which President Obama and director Joseph Clancy hope to overhaul after a series of embarrassing security breaches last year. Obama was “disappointed to hear the allegations,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters earlier Thursday, even before news broke that the agents may have disturbed a crime scene.

The source said the security checkpoints went smoothly — the car was stopped at the first for a few seconds while the agents’ IDs were checked, and again at the second, where officers checked the car for explosives using a dog and a detection device. If God spares me and I’m healthy,” Neeson told The Guardian, when asked about his action film career. “But after that, I’ll stop [the action], I think.” Neeson went on to say that he’s enjoyed the success of films like the Taken series, but “there is a limit” to his career in action roles.

The agent reached inside the car and forced it into park, said the government official, but the woman was able to shift it back into drive and drive forward, again hitting the agent. Clancy — chosen by Obama to lead the agency last month after a lengthy external review — asked the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security to investigate. This source could not explain when the conduct of the agents became an issue with the other officers, but indicated it didn’t happen during the initial security checkpoints — opening the possibility that the incident under investigation took place at a later point that night. Luckily, you’ll still be able to rewatch plenty of Neeson’s action films — which, as you’ll see in The Week’s video below, have more in common than you might think.

Police quickly secured the area with tape and called an explosives inspection team to check the package for potential explosive materials or other dangers. A U.S. law enforcement official confirmed to CNN that the officers in question were allowed to go home that night after a supervisor on duty overruled on-duty law enforcement who wanted to arrest the agents and conduct sobriety tests, a breach of protocol that’s sparked a Homeland Security Inspector General investigation. —Meghan DeMaria Most investors have business decisions they regret — and this week’s video from our sister site, Mental Floss, brings 23 of those bad decisions to light. Secret Service Director Joe Clancy did not learn about the incident until five days after it occurred, according to a law enforcement source close to the investigation. The third largest school district in the country has a plurality of Hispanic students, and as a result, Latino and Latin-American studies will be a part of the Chicago Public Schools’ curriculum, National Review reports.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Latino Advisory Committee teamed with school officials to create the curriculum, which will have kindergartners learning the Mayan counting system and fifth graders learning about “African influences on South American percussion.” According to National Review, the curriculum initiative may have political benefits for Mayor Emanuel as he seeks to appeal to Chicago’s Hispanic population ahead of his runoff election against Jesus “Chuy” Garcia next month. Among the revelations: a drunk agent passing out in a hotel hallway after a night out in Amsterdam ahead of Obama’s trip to the Netherlands and agents crashing a car in the Florida Keys during an Obama family vacation. On Thursday, a government official said a warrant for the woman’s arrest had been issued charging her with assault with a dangerous weapon, the car.

Ted Cruz (R-Texas) thinks that what we’re hearing now of the Obama administration’s deal with Iran over the country’s nuclear program is “echoes of history.” Cruz joined fellow Republican senators to sign a controversial letter to Iran warning Iranian leaders that any deal Obama makes with them will first have to be approved by Congress and may not last. “I believe we are at a moment like Munich in 1938,” Cruz said during an interview on The Hugh Hewitt Show. “And indeed,” he added, “Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to Congress last week was Churchillian in its clarity and moral gravity.” A new study from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center for the Digital Future and Bovitz Inc. surveyed 904 drivers about their texting and driving habits, and found that 18 percent of drivers admit they “cannot resist the urge” to read or send text messages while driving. And 17 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds admitted they text and drive “always or often.” (Seven percent of 35- to 54-year-olds, meanwhile, said the same.) The drivers know what they’re getting into, though. An agency official said the two employees had been moved to ‘‘nonsupervisory, nonoperational assignments.’’ They were not put on administrative leave, which has been a typical procedure when agents are under investigation for alleged misconduct. Officials have been launching test flights of drones in the early morning darkness hoping to develop a counter to unmanned devices.** The new chief, Joseph Clancy, is an old agency hand who, as a former head of Obama’s protective detail, is deeply trusted by the president. At a conference with shareholders today, Disney chairman Bob Iger revealed the first details of the mysterious Star Wars spin-off — the first step in an ambitious attempt to make the Star Wars universe as vast and sprawling as Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.

Chris Weitz, the screenwriter behind Disney’s live-action Cinderella, will pen the screenplay; Gareth Edwards, who helmed last year’s Godzilla reboot, will direct. Iger didn’t reveal any details about Rogue One, but given the title, common speculation is that the story will somehow involve Rogue Squadron — the fleet of pilots led by Luke Skywalker during the Battle of Hoth in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. The shots came amid a protest following the resignation of the town’s police chief over a scathing Justice Department report that accused Ferguson’s police of rampant racial bias.

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