Three U.S. Secret Service agents were sent home from Amsterdam this week on the eve of a visit by President Barack Obama after one of them was found passed out in front of his hotel room, an agency official said.
The three agents were drinking on March 22 and one consumed too much alcohol, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity when discussing a personnel matter. That agent was discovered in front of his room by hotel security early on the morning of March 23, the official said. Obama stayed in the same hotel while meeting with world leaders on nuclear security and Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.
The agents are members of the Secret Service’s elite counter-assault team, which protects presidential motorcades from attack, the official said. The three employees were sent home for disciplinary reasons, the official said. The incident was reported tonight by The Washington Post.
The Secret Service’s reputation was tarnished two years ago after allegations that a dozen employees may have consorted with prostitutes while preparing security before Obama visited Cartagena, Colombia, for a summit in April 2012. The scandal resulted in nine employees either being fired or leaving the agency voluntarily.
In the current incident, the three agents were sent home from the Netherlands because they violated a rule that bans drinking within 10 hours of going on duty, the official said. That rule, among others, was adopted in the aftermath of what occurred in Cartagena.
Obama is on a weeklong overseas trip that includes stops in Europe and Saudi Arabia. During a two-day stay in the Netherlands for a Nuclear Security Summit and a Group of Seven meeting, Obama sought to build global support for sanctioning Russia over its seizure of Crimea from Ukraine. He’s to give a speech on European security today in Brussels.
Last year, the president swore in Julia Pierson, 54, as the agency’s first female director of the Secret Service. The Secret Service has a dual role of protecting the president and safeguarding the nation’s financial infrastructure.
The Secret Service was created in 1865 to combat counterfeit currency. In the decades that followed, it was reshaped to become the full-time protector of presidents and foreign dignitaries. The agency began providing part-time protection for the president in 1894 and assumed that responsibility full time in 1902.
To contact the reporter on this story: Del Quentin Wilber in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org