As the U.S. Secret Service arrived in the Netherlands last weekend for a presidential trip, managers were already on high alert to avoid any more embarrassing incidents involving agents.
Two counter-sniper officers had been involved in a car accident during a presidential visit to Miami two weeks earlier, the Washington Post reports, citing several people with knowledge of the incident. The driver was administered a field sobriety test because his breath smelled of alcohol, but he passed and was not arrested.
With that in mind, Secret Service supervisor George Hartford issued a warning to a group of agents gathered for dinner in Amsterdam on Saturday night: Go out if you want, but stay out of trouble.
But by the next morning, Hartford was pounding on the hotel door of a junior agent, 34, who had passed out drunk in a hallway and later had to be lifted into his room by several hotel employees, according to a hotel spokesman and two other people familiar with the incident. The agent claimed to have no memory of the events.
That night on the town created another highly public embarrassment for the elite Secret Service, which is still attempting to recover from a tawdry drinking-and-prostitution scandal two years ago during a presidential trip to Cartagena, Colombia.
The new incident — which unfolded in the hotel where President Barack Obama was scheduled to arrive the following day — prompted immediate condemnation Wednesday from lawmakers in Washington. Sen. Ronald Johnson, R-Wis., said the agency has a "systemic" problem of rowdy and inappropriate behavior by its agents, who are sworn to protect Obama and other senior officials from harm.
The Post reports that those with knowledge of the internal investigation said the incident in Amsterdam infuriated managers because it came less than three weeks after the March 7 traffic accident in Miami, which led to the two officers involved being sent home. Local police gave one of the officers a field sobriety test on suspicion of drunk driving but released him with a citation for the accident and no additional charges, the Post reported.
The two officers, who serve in the uniformed division, notified their superiors of the accident. They were ordered to return to Washington under Pierson's "no tolerance" policy, according to the Post, citing an official familiar with the matter. The two men continue to work for the agency.