The Secret Service Tamps Down at Home, Too

Remember US efforts to silence any potential sources about the Secret Service scandal in Cartagena? Well, they’ve finally decided they ought to do the same here in the states, too.

Retired agents have been instructed to stop talking to reporters. Secret Service agents are dismantling Facebook accounts, hanging up on reporters and notifying headquarters — even calling police — when journalists knock on their doors at home for interviews about the investigation.

[snip]

More than a dozen Secret Service agents contacted by The Associated Press have abruptly hung up or declined to return multiple messages to discuss their agency and former coworkers. One reported it to headquarters when an AP reporter visited his home in the evening; some retired officials who were interviewed quickly notified headquarters about what questions reporters were asking.

A police officer came to the Annapolis, Md., home of Greg Stokes — one of the employees who already has lost his job in the scandal — and directed an AP reporter to leave his property. At the home in Virginia of another employee who also lost his job, David Chaney, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office parked a patrol car — sometimes two of them. A deputy reprimanded reporters who came to the front door.

I wouldn’t much care one way or another if it weren’t for a detail in the new Secret Service Guidelines–designed to prevent future such scandals–that has gone little noticed.

In addition to prohibiting Secret Service agents from bringing foreigners to their hotel rooms or drinking within 10 hours of duty, the new guidelines require agents to adhere to US law. Maybe that’s an effort to prohibit the use of sex workers, except prostitution is not illegal in all of the US. So I’ve been wondering whether there was something more about the scandal. There were allegations, for example, that cocaine was being used.

There are a lot of very good reasons for the Agency to try to keep details of their work and this scandal secret. But I wonder if one of them relates to further details that have not yet been reported.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

7 replies
  1. Phil Perspective says:

    There are a lot of very good reasons for the Agency to try to keep details of their work and this scandal secret. But I wonder if one of them relates to further details that have not yet been reported.

    Of course it does!! Does anyone really think this was an isolated incident?

  2. MadDog says:

    Does anyone else suffer these days from the feeling that as American citizens, we are merely tolerated by our own government?

    As in whatever our own government is up to, our government thinks it ain’t any of our business?

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It would be reprehensible if a government agency threatened retirement benefits of those who speak out of turn, if they disclose patterns of wrongful or criminal conduct or negligent, lazy management. Since employment is not lifetime, neither should be the government’s control over its former employees.

  4. alinaustex says:

    This may sound like I am putting on the tin foil hat & playing the Oliver Stone film soundtrack ,, but could the scandal at Cartegena been some sort of threat to POTUS from within the Secret Service? Is it true that some of the prostitutes have not been located ? This type of behavoir seems so far from the norm for the zero tolerance squeaky clean culture that the Secret Service historically has enjoyed . I have always had the opinion the JFK & RFK could not have been murdered without some type of duplicity from those who were tasked to protect them . Could this Cartegena scandal be some rouge elements within the protection detail -that was revealed ?

  5. bmaz says:

    @alinaustex: I think you just do not usually hear about it, but my guess the boys will indeed be boys when on assignment and they have free time. This was not the personal protection group, it was advance, they have free time on their hands.

  6. alinaustex says:

    bmaz
    The protection team personel and the advance team personel will over time be one and the same personel . Even the advanced teams – could be targeted by ‘evil doers ‘ if nothing else to get operational intelligence . Part of the scandal is that some advanced team members had in their rooms with the ‘whores’ the whole calender schedule for the Cartengena visit . Setting aside my own suspicions of whether or not high profile ‘assasins ‘ really worked alone ( Sirhan Sirhan) – it to me beggars common sense to allow any Secret Service Personal to bed whores in their spare time . If you do a little research this is why the Secret Service has a zero tolerance mandate for for this type of behavior .

  7. bmaz says:

    @alinaustex: I didn’t say it should be condoned, merely that my guess is there has been some of this for decades and it is just not heard about. Scandalous behavior of US agents abroad is not a new concept.

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