Originally published on January 17, 2015, at NationofChange.org
Due to a recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report detailing misconduct and incompetency within the agency, the Secret Service has demoted four assistant directors and asked two more to retire. Although six out of eight assistant directors will be replaced, the acting Director and Deputy Director have no intention of resigning.
Calling for new leadership, taller fences, improved training, and holding agents accountable, a recent DHS report said the Secret Service was “starved for leadership” and recommended hiring an outsider as the new Director. In response, acting Director Joseph Clancy demoted Mark Copanazzi, the assistant director for technology; Paul Morrissey, the assistant director for investigations; Dale Pupillo, the assistant director for protective operations; and Jane Murphy, the assistant director for government and public affairs. Victor Erevia, the assistant director for training; and Gregory Marchio, the assistant director for professional responsibility, announced they are retiring while Faron Paramore, the assistant director for administration; and Craig Magaw, the assistant director for strategic intelligence and information, will remain at their posts.
Clancy has been serving as acting Director ever since former Director Julia Pierson resigned after lying to Congress last year. On September 30, 2014, Pierson testified to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. While reviewing the September 19 break-in at the White House, Rep. Jason Chaffetz discovered Pierson had neglected to inform President Obama about the CDC incident with the armed private contractor three days prior. During a visit to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention three days earlier, President Obama entered an elevator accompanied by an armed private contractor with three convictions for assault and battery.
On March 27, 2013, Pierson became the first female Director of the U.S. Secret Service after agents had been caught purchasing prostitutes in Colombia the previous year. Days before President Obama’s arrival to the international summit in Cartagena, multiple Secret Service and DEA agents brought prostitutes back to their hotel rooms to engage in sexual misconduct. In the morning, the Secret Service agents refused to pay the full amount owed to the prostitutes. Following a Justice Department investigation, eight Secret Service agents lost their jobs.
In May 2013, Secret Service supervisor Ignacio Zamora left a bullet in a woman’s hotel room and attempted to force his way back into the room to retrieve it. An investigation into the incident revealed Zamora and a colleague, Timothy Barraclough, had sent sexually suggestive emails to a female subordinate. Zamora lost his job while Barraclough was reassigned within the detail.
In March 2013, three members of the Secret Service’s Counter Assault Team were placed on paid administrative leave after one of them was found passed out drunk in a hallway by hotel staff in Amsterdam. Considered the last line of defense in case of an attack against the president, the three agents violated agency rules by drinking alcohol during the ten hours leading up to their assignment.
On November 11, 2011, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez fired a semi-automatic rifle at the White House while Sasha was home. The Secret Service realized four days later that seven bullets had hit the White House after a maid noticed broken glass and pieces of cement on the Truman balcony.
On September 19, 2014, Iraq war veteran Omar Gonzalez leapt over the fence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and broke into the White House. Equipped with a three-inch serrated knife, Gonzalez was finally arrested by two off-duty agents after breaching five levels of security. According to an anonymous Secret Service official, the security alarm near the front entrance had been disabled because White House staff had found it annoying.
Although acting Director Clancy demoted four assistant directors, they are now free to resign or report for new assignments within the Secret Service or its parent agency, DHS.
“Change is necessary to gain a fresh perspective on how we conduct business,” stated Clancy. “I am certain any of our senior executives will be productive and valued assets either in other positions at the Secret Service or the department.”
As Deputy Director since April 2012, Alvin Smith has served as second-in-command during the majority of these scandals. Working under the past three directors, Smith will not be retiring or receiving a demotion. And although the DHS report calls for new leadership, acting Director Clancy has no intention of resigning until the president asks him to.
“The Secret Service has suffered from a lack of leadership and that has had a detrimental impact on security, training, protocols, and overall culture,” said Rep. Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee.