Secret Service: Abysmal Character Fail
The Secret Service website discusses Careers Driven by Integrity in the following:
The United States Secret Service culture is represented through the agency’s five core values: justice, duty, courage, honesty and loyalty. These values, and the Secret Service adage “Worthy of Trust and Confidence,” resonate with each man and woman who has sworn to uphold these principles. Not only do these values foster a culture of success, but they also hold each person to the highest standards of personal and professional integrity.
By now most of us are familiar with the recent lack of integrity shown by President Obama’s Secret Service advance team at the Hilton Cartagena in Colombia. At least 11 agents and several military officers have been implicated in using the services of as many as 21 prostitutes while at the Hilton. The agents and two supervisors were put on leave. As of this writing, three have been ousted and certainly the likelihood of more firings is possible. If one of the prostitutes had not raised a ruckus about being paid, this may not have come to light. For an agency like the Secret Service to have had conduct so unbecoming, goes against the very “Integrity” for which they claim to strive.
Clearly these agents knew the rules. According to Stephen Kohn, head of the National Whistle-blowers Center in Washington, “For Security clearance you have to have a high level of trust and not have associations or relationships that could compromise you. For the government, if you don’t pay your loans or have an affair, you are susceptible to blackmail and can lose your security clearance.” Anyone who would so blatantly violate these tenants shows an abysmal lack of character. They not only put themselves at risk, but the President and our national security.
Let me put this in perspective. I had applied for a job as an Investigator with the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General (OIG). They called me in for an interview which lasted almost three hours. During that interview, I had to field difficult questions from six people in the hierarchy of OIG from across the state. After that they conducted a background investigation of me that lasted six months. They spoke with neighbors, friends, grilled my employers and did a credit check, among other things. And all of this for a state-level job, not even a federal-level career like the Secret Service. I was indeed hired, given a gold shield, and worked every day to live up to their standards. For me it was an honor, as it should have been for those Secret Service agents in Colombia.
I once met a former Secret Service agent who had served under Ronald Regan. More than once he told me that he “loved that man” and would have given his life for him. He described the job as intense, which I am sure is true. When Regan left office, this agent retired and became a carpenter. Never in all my conversations with him did he say anything about his time with the Secret Service other than what I have shared here. There are reasons they are called “Secret” Service.
The alleged behavior of the Secret Service agents in Colombia is not just an abysmal character fail. They potentially put the safety of our president and our national security at risk. For that, those agents who were at the Hilton Cartagena and were silently complicit or actively participating in alleged indiscretions should be fired, and the entire agency scrutinized.
Tags: adage, advance team, cartagena, Cher Duncombe, core values, honesty, kohn, likelihood, man and woman, military officers, national security, Obama, professional integrity, prostitutes, ruckus, security clearance, service culture, states secret service, united states secret service, whistle blowers