Inspector General reports include allegations of Secret Service misconduct
By Carol Cratty, CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) – New documents made public this week about possible Secret Service misconduct include allegations of sexual abuse, domestic violence, drunken behavior and guns being accidentally discharged.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General released on Thursday logs of reports to its hotline dating to 2004. The documents were made public while the office investigates reports of sexual misconduct by Secret Service personnel with prostitutes in Colombia ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena this spring.
Many of the items are blacked out to redact names and other information, and in numerous instances it’s not possible to determine if the complaints were credible or if any action was taken.
In one report dated August 23, 2011, a Secret Service employee said that during a work trip another employee pushed her onto a bed, got on top of her and tried to engage in sex. The woman said she told the agent “no” several times and was able to push him off of her. The log says supervisors viewed the employee who complained of the assault as”conscientious and dependable.” Her report was investigated and the matter was ended in February with some kind of “administrative disposition” which was not specified. All the names were redacted.
Another allegation made October 23, 2003, said that an agent forced a female acquaintance to have non-consensual sex with him at a hotel in Killeen, Texas. The case was closed in January 2005 and there is a notation saying “allegation not substantiated.”
That same month, an anonymous person reported that the FBI was investigating whether an agent was involved in a prostitution ring. The allegation was that FBI wiretaps recorded calls from two phones and the numbers traced back to the unidentified agent. According to the log note, the agent said he got a phone number “from a woman handing out fliers on the street and called it out of curiosity.” The agent retired.
A redacted October 7, 2010, entry with no specifics says there was a report a Secret Service employee might have been involved in the leak of national security information. The case appears to still be open.
A number of reports concern off-duty Secret Service personnel being arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol or for alleged domestic violence. There are also incidents of misfiring guns while on the job, including a September 26, 2007, log note that an agent accidentally discharged one round from a submachine gun while on temporary assignment in New York for the U.N. General Assembly.
A Secret Service spokesman described the material as an intake log covering eight years with items that either mention the Secret Service or concern matters that have been referred to the law enforcement agency.
“The vast majority did not involve alleged misconduct by Secret Service agents or officers,” said spokesman Edwin Donovan.
Bill Hillburg, a spokesman for the Office of Inspector General agreed that only a small number of the reports dealt with allegations against the Secret Service.
“None of it is related to our investigation of Secret Service behavior in Cartagena,” Hillburg said. He said all the hotline reports were noted and passed on to the Secret Service. Hillburg added that the hotline number is well-advertised to the public.
The DHS released the 229 pages of log notes as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request by news media. Dozens of entries concern such things as Nigerian fraud schemes. Some items discuss possible terror concerns or threats against presidents.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who co-chairs the committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, released a statement reacting to the logs.
“While some of the allegations proved to be unfounded or frivolous, others appear to be legitimate, and that adds to my concern about apparent misconduct by some of the personnel of this vital law enforcement agency,” said Collins, whose committee is investigating the Colombia incident.
Collins added that in her committee’s hearing last month, it was revealed there have been 64 allegations of sexual misconduct by Secret Service employees over the past five years. One of those included a 2008 case in which an employee solicited a prostitute who was actually an undercover police officer.
Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan testified before Collins and other members of the committee last month that the behavior by employees in Colombia was the result of poor choices by a dozen agents who were drinking heavily. “This is not a cultural issue,” he said.
The April scandal led to nine Secret Service members losing their jobs. Three others were cleared of serious misconduct. A dozen members of the military were also involved.
Collins told Sullivan at that hearing, “I continue to believe that the problem is broader than you believe it to be.”