WASHINGTON – Testimony before Congress on Tuesday by new Secret Service Director Joe Clancy further revealed the stark and stunning contrast between two incidents in the headlines.
- On Oct. 3, 2013, unarmed suburban mother Miriam Carey was accused of ramming a White House barricade with her car. Secret Service agents and Capitol Police officers chased her down and shot her dead. They were rewarded with a standing ovation in Congress.
- On March 4, 2015, two apparently drunk Secret Service officers rammed a White House barricade and drove through the middle of an active bomb investigation. One agent was a member of the president’s protective detail. They were set free. They were not given sobriety tests. They were not fired. They were not suspended. They have been reassigned to desk jobs. With full pay.
The sharp difference in outcomes was dramatic. But so were the differences in the causes of the two incidents.
While the Washington Post reported Secret Service agents did ram a White House barricade, Carey never did. In fact, a Secret Service agent threw a bicycle rack-type gate in front of her car, to try to prevent her from lawfully exiting a White House kiosk after she apparently entered by mistake and promptly tried to leave.
In the incident two weeks ago, the Post quoted an agency official who said the two agents “drove a government car into White House security barricades after drinking at a late-night party.”
The paper also reported, “Officers on duty who witnessed the March 4 incident wanted to arrest the agents and conduct sobriety tests. … But the officers were ordered by a supervisor on duty that night to let the agents go home.”
Secret Service Director Clancy was grilled on Tuesday by outraged lawmakers about a pervasive culture of scandal in an agency they portrayed as out of control and a national embarrassment.
Carey family attorney Eric Sanders has been saying as much, ever since Miriam was gunned down in the shadow of the nation’s Capitol.
Regarding the latest incident, Sanders told WND, “This is more solid proof the United States Secret Service is a poorly managed federal agency filled with chronic alcoholics, criminals and apologists.”
“Meanwhile, gullible citizens still believe the authorities’ version of the events that led to Miriam Iris Carey’s death. So much for the so-called independent investigations by the Metropolitan Police Department and United States Attorney’s Office. More apologists!”
The apparently drunk agents who rammed a White House barricade on March 4 were off duty, having arrived from a late-night party for retiring Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan.
A key player in the Carey case was also an off-duty agent who tried to block her from leaving the White House.
When asked in July how Carey managed to drive past two uniformed Secret Service agents at the kiosk without them stopping her, Sanders told WND, “You know how she got past them? Because they were over there, smoking and joking and lackadaisical, just like I said.”
The left-wing media are just now beginning to notice the Carey story and the civil liberties implications in her shooting death by federal officers.
Mother Jones published a summary of the Carey case last week, questioning the official version of events after discovering the basic facts of the case.
The website did acknowledge, “The media outlet that pursued Miriam’s story with the most zeal was WorldNetDaily (WND), a conservative news site, which published more than 50 pieces about her.”
On Tuesday, Democracy Now published an article with an interview with Miriam’s sister, Valarie Carey, retired New York police sergeant; Carey family attorney Sanders; and David Montgomery, a staff reporter for the Washington Post.
The Post’s Montgomery has been the only member of the mainstream media to investigate the Carey story.
His article on Nov. 26, 2014, made a simple but brilliant observation.
The reporter noted the U.S. attorney had claimed Carey, while being chased by federal officers, had driven at speeds estimated at 40 to 80 mph, weaving through traffic and ignoring red lights.
But Montgomery deduced, “Garfield Circle is 1.3 miles from the White House checkpoint. The U.S. attorney’s investigation determined that Carey covered the distance in four minutes. If Carey arrived in four minutes, her average speed was 19.5 mph in a 25-mph zone.”
If Carey’s family members are skeptical of the official version of events, they are not alone.
Lawmakers on the House Appropriations committee were blistering in their questioning of Secret Service Director Clancy about this latest scandal, and the scathing admonitions were bipartisan.
Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky.:
- “I can’t believe you did not learn of this incident from Wednesday, when it happened, until Monday. Why – what happened? Why did you not learn of this incident immediately?”
- “You can’t run an agency like this, for God’s sakes, or any other agency unless you have discipline in the ranks. And this is a breakdown, to put it mildly, of discipline within the ranks of your agency, and that – that’s a cancer that can consume you.”
- “I’m disappointed that you have not waged your own vigorous, tough investigation of this that occurred on White House grounds by security agents who appeared to be inebriated. To say you’re not investigating because you want the inspector general of the department to investigate is hogwash.”
- “I don’t care about the office of the inspector general. God love them and good luck to them. You’re in charge.”
- “We’ve got to have some changes, and you’ve got to be the one that makes those changes. And I don’t sense at this moment that you have the determination to make that happen. Am I wrong?”
- “And if we’ve got special agents on the grounds at night, in the White House, ramming a barricade, drunk, it seems to me that the only discipline that you could exert would be caused by the ability of you and your staff to terminate as punishment, so that every other agent knows, Boy, I don’t want to go there. That director’s going to fire me. That’s what makes the mind work.”
Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.:
- “I’m just shocked by your testimony. First of all, you said it wouldn’t have been reported to you other than a whistleblower. I mean, it wasn’t someone in the chain of command that reported it to you.”
- “And then you said what really shocks me – it will take time to change the culture. I don’t understand this one bit. It seems to me it should take time to help people who think this is the culture to go get another job! How can we, as members of Congress, have respect for an agency that feels it’s OK – we’re not talking about someone drinking at a party. We’re talking about a respected member of the Secret Service who was absolutely drunk!”
- “How many people do you know, how many friends have you – do you know who may go to a party and then take a car and go ram it into a fence, or some other barricade? I find this testimony shocking.”
- “I would think it would take five minutes to change the culture. Before you even know the facts, you can say, based on the allegations, if, in fact, you are not aware that this kind of activity is inappropriate for a member of the Secret Service, you better get it now and go find another job.”
- “That’s why I’m so puzzled. I can’t believe you said it will take time to change the culture. Can you explain to me why it’s OK for a member of the Secret Service to get so inebriated that they would take a car and run into a barricade?”
- “I don’t want a member of the Secret Service, frankly, who’s capable of getting so inebriated that this kind of an action can be accepted.”
- “I don’t think we want this kind of person in the Secret Service. Whether they’re on duty or off duty or – you don’t want them behaving this way at any time. That is not the kind of person you want in the Secret Service. They can go find another job, frankly.”
- “[W]hether you’re on duty or off duty, you cannot get so inebriated – it is not accepted that you’re capable of taking a car and going into a fence or killing someone on the street. These are people with guns.”
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah:
- “You may not be able to fire them, but you should assign them to the furthest tip of the Aleutian Islands.”
- “I was a military man for many years, and I hear you say, ‘Well, you know, people are coping with stress.’ And I got to say – I kind of go, ‘Please, oh, please,’ because lots of people experience stress. This is a stressful job, but there’s lots of stressful jobs in the world. And military members experience acute stress, and they would never protect nor sanction the behavior such as this.”
Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas:
- “Put yourself in our shoes. We’ve heard other directors say, ‘We’re going to take care of it.’ What are you going to do that’s going to be different? Because we’ve heard this before, and, with all due respect to you, tell me how do you convince us that what you’re going to do is going to be different?”
The list of Secret Service scandals under Obama’s watch is long.
- September 2014: Secret Service agents allowed a man with a gun and an assault record to get on an elevator with the president during a trip to Atlanta.
- September 2014: A man with a knife jumped the White House fence, making it past on-duty agents and 160 feet inside the executive mansion before he was tackled by an off-duty agent. Another fence jumper was brought down weeks later by guard dogs.
- March 2014: Three Secret Service agents responsible for guarding the president in Amsterdam were placed on leave after a night of drinking. One agent reportedly was found passed out in a hallway.
- May 2013: A Secret Service supervisor reportedly tried to force his way into a woman’s room at the Hay-Adams hotel, overlooking the White House, after leaving a bullet there. An investigation revealed he and a colleague had sent sexually suggestive emails to a female subordinate.
- October 2013: Miriam Carey was shot and killed by Secret Service agents and Capitol Police after the unarmed mother apparently made a wrong turn, then tried to leave a White House checkpoint.
- April 2012: A dozen agents on assignment in Cartagena, Columbia, brought prostitutes back to their hotel rooms during a world summit attended by President Obama.
- November 2011: A man with a rifle fired at the White House, with Sasha Obama inside. A Secret Service supervisor ordered officers to stand down after mistaking the shots for a car backfire. The Secret Service only figured out that shots hit the building four days later, when a housekeeper noticed broken glass.
- November 2009: Washington couple Tareq and Michaele Salahi crashed Obama’s first state dinner. The Secret Service never checked to see if they were on the guest list.
Follow Garth Kant @DCgarth