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Senator 'troubled' by Secret Service misbehavior

Published: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 1:33 p.m. CDT
Caption
(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
The U.S. flag flies outside Hotel Huis ter Duin, the hotel where President Barack Obama stayed Monday night, in Noordwijk, western Netherlands, Wednesday March 26, 2014. A Secret Service agent found drunk by staff at an undisclosed Dutch hotel was recalled to the U.S. along with two of his colleagues, the day before President Barack Obama was set to arrive in the Netherlands. The Secret Service said the three agents were benched on Sunday for "disciplinary reasons" but declined to elaborate. U.S. newspaper The Washington Post reported that the incident happened at Hotel Huis ter Duin but the hotel denies that any such incident happened at the hotel.

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee said Wednesday he's troubled by an incident involving a drunken Secret Service agent in connection with President Barack Obama's overseas trip to The Netherlands.

On Sunday, the agency called three agents home from the Netherlands just before Obama's arrival for talks with foreign leaders in The Hague. One agent had been found inebriated inside a hotel.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said Wednesday he is "troubled by the reports regarding the behavior of a few Secret Service agents serving on the president's detail in the Netherlands," according to a statement. His office said he's asked the Secret Service for more information about the episode.

The latest embarrassing incident involving a drunken Secret Service agent comes a year into the term of a new agency director who already has been confronted with a handful of incidents since the Colombia prostitution scandal nearly two years ago. In that incident, 13 agents and officers were accused of partying with female foreign nationals at a Cartagena, Colombia, hotel where they were staying before Obama's arrival.

Since then, the agency banned drinking alcohol fewer than 10 hours before a shift, and said alcohol may only be consumed in moderate amounts on foreign trips.

A Secret Service spokesman on Wednesday declined to comment on the incident, except to say that three agents were sent home for "disciplinary reasons."

Obama named Julia Pierson as the agency's first female director last March as sign he wanted to change the agency's culture and restore public confidence in its operations. Since then, Pierson has had to face some misbehavior on the elite service, which is charged with protecting the president and investigating financial fraud.

In November, two Secret Service agents were removed from Obama's detail after one was allegedly discovered trying to re-enter a woman's hotel room because he left a bullet from his weapon behind. In a subsequent probe, investigators came across sexually suggestive emails that the agent and another supervisor had sent to a female subordinate, The Washington Post reported.

The agency disputes that recent misbehavior is indicative of a widespread trend. And an inspector general's report in December concluded there was no evidence of widespread misconduct, in line with the service's longstanding assertion that it has no tolerance for inappropriate behavior.

Pierson said in a letter to former Acting Inspector General Charles Edwards that, while the agency agreed with the report's 14 recommendations, she was concerned about how the survey was conducted and its results.

___

Associated Press writers Alicia A. Caldwell and Josh Lederman contributed to this report.

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