Secret Service tightens rules for traveling employees

WASHINGTON — Seeking to shake the disgrace of a prostitution scandal, the Secret Service tightened conduct rules for its agents late Friday to prohibit them from drinking excessively, visiting disreputable establishments while traveling or bringing foreigners to their hotel rooms.

The new behavior policies apply to Secret Service agents even when they are off duty while traveling, barring them from drinking alcohol within 10 hours of working, according to a memorandum describing the changes obtained by the Associated Press. In some cases under the new rules, chaperones will accompany agents on trips.

The embattled Secret Service director, Mark Sullivan, urged agents and other employees to "consider your conduct through the lens of the past several weeks."

The changes are intended to staunch the embarrassing disclosures since April 13, when a prostitution scandal erupted in Colombia involving 12 Secret Service agents, officers and supervisors, and 12 more enlisted military personnel who were there ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to a South American summit.

"It's too bad common sense policy has to be dictated in this manner," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "New conduct rules are necessary to preventing more shenanigans from happening in the future."

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., praised the new rules as "very positive steps by the Secret Service to make clear what is expected of every agent and also makes clear what will not be tolerated."

The Secret Service has forced eight employees from their jobs and was seeking to revoke the security clearance of another employee, which would effectively force him to resign. Three others have been cleared of serious wrongdoing.

The military was conducting its own, separate investigation but canceled the security clearances of all 12 enlisted personnel.

Secret Service tightens rules for traveling employees 04/27/12 [Last modified: Saturday, April 28, 2012 12:02am]

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