In the wake of the sex scandal involving agency employees and Colombian prostitutes, the Secret Service issued formal guidelines for its employees when working in foreign countries.
The rules were sent out yesterday to all U.S. Secret Service agents and employees and apply only when they are working outside of the United States. The rules come two weeks after 12 agents as well as some military personnel were alleged to have been involved with prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia. The agents were in Cartagena in advance of President Obama's appearance at the Summit of the Americas.
To date, eight employees have been forced out and the agency is attempting to remove the security clearance of a ninth.
Secret Service personnel are now banned from drinking excessively and are not allowed to consume any alcohol within 10 hours of starting duty. Prior to the new rules they are not allowed to drink within four hours of beginning work. Secret Service members will be prohibited from entering certain zones in areas they are working in as well as frequenting establishments deemed non reputable. When agency agents and employees first arrive in a foreign country, they will be briefed by a supervisor about where they cannot go.
As well, agents and employees will not be allowed to invite foreign nationals into their hotel rooms, other than hotel staff and foreign law enforcement officials.
Mark Sullivan, the director of the agency, was quoted by CTV News saying, The rules cannot address every situation that our employees will face as we execute our dual-missions throughout the world. The absence of a specific, prohibited standard of conduct covering an act or behavior does not mean that the act is condoned, is permissible, or will not call for—and result in—corrective or disciplinary action.
Not everyone is satisfied these rules are sufficient to prevent future occurrences. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. was quoted in the New York Times saying, New conduct rules are necessary to prevent more shenanigans from happening in the future, and whether these are the best, and the most cost-effective rules to stop future misconduct remains to be seen.
When details first emerged about what took place in Cartagena, there was speculation that this was not an isolated occurrence. As reported by the Globe and Mail, the day before the rules were issued, the Secret Service acknowledged they were investigating reports agents and employees partied with strippers in El Salvador last year in advance of a visit by Obama.
The rules became effective immediately after they were issued. Beginning next week, agents and employees will be required to attend training sessions in ethics.