Secret Service Scandal: New Rules Limit Alcohol Consumption, Hotel Guests Abroad

on April 30 2012 1:05 PM
Secret Service Scandal
The U.S. military on Friday said it is investigating 11 service members for alleged misconduct in Colombia, according to the Associated Press. REUTERS

No excessive drinking, no alcohol within 10 hours of going on duty, and no entertaining foreigners in hotel rooms. Those may sound like the guidelines for a high school field trip, but those rules are among a handful that have been added to the U.S. Secret Services standards of conduct in response to the agency's recent prostitution scandal in Colombia.

The agency released the tightened conduct rules late last week, which will apply to traveling personnel while they are both on and off duty, according to a memorandum describing the changes that was obtained by The Associated Press. In addition to the rules listed, the new guidelines forbid agents from visiting non-reputable establishments while traveling and will require chaperones to accompany agents on trips in some circumstances.

Agents may consume alcohol in moderate amounts while off duty. When the official to be protected arrives at the scene, the consumption of alcohol is entirely forbidden.

The new behavior policies are the agency's latest attempt to shake off bad press resulting from the prostitution scandal that came to light as President Barack Obama was heading to a Latin American summit in Cartagena, Colombia, earlier this month. Twelve Secret Service Agents, officers and supervisors, in addition to 12 more enlisted military personnel, reportedly hired prostitutes and brought them back to their hotel rooms while traveling ahead of the president to prepare his security.

Eight of the Secret Service agents involved have been forced out of their jobs, while the agency is reportedly seeking to revoke the security clearance of another employee. Concerns about the agency's overseas conduct was further highlighted after it was revealed the Secret Service is investigating whether its employees hired strippers and prostitutes in advance of Obama's visit to El Salvador last year. 

Prostitution is legal in both Colombia in El Salvador. The new rules emphasize that laws of the United States shall apply to Secret Service personnel while abroad.

The following is a list of the new policies, as provided to Yahoo News by Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary:

The following enhanced standards of conduct are effective immediately.

1. Standards of conduct briefings will be conducted for all protective visits, events and NSSEs [National Special Security Events],  as well as prior to foreign car plane departures.

2. The U.S. Department of State Regional Security Officer will work with the USSS advance team to provide intensified country-specific briefings upon arrival in a foreign country. The briefings will update personnel on safety issues, off-limit zones and off-limit establishments for USSS personnel, and any country-specific rules imposed by the Ambassador.

3. Foreign nationals, excluding hotel staff and official counterparts, are prohibited in your hotel room.

4. Patronization of non-reputable establishments is prohibited.

5. Alcohol may only be consumed in moderate amounts while off-duty on a TDY assignment and alcohol use is prohibited within 10 hours of reporting for duty.

6. Alcohol may not be consumed at the protectee hotel once the protective visit has begun.

The following measures relating to foreign car plane staffing are effective immediately.

1. Car planes will be staffed with two GS-15 supervisors - one from the Office of Professional Responsibility and one from the field.

2. The car plane supervisors will be responsible for briefing the standards of conduct expectations prior to departure to the destination country, as well as for enforcing these standards while in the foreign country.

3. All personnel traveling will have to have completed relevant LMS-based ethics training in order to be eligible for protective travel.

4. The Security Clearance Division will intensify country-specific briefings covering all pertinent topics prior to departure for the destination country.

5. Laws of the United States shall apply to Secret Service personnel while abroad.

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