The Secret Service sent three agents home from the Netherlands just before US President Barack Obama’s arrival after one agent was found inebriated in an Amsterdam hotel, the Secret Service has said.
The agents were relieved of their duties for “disciplinary reasons”, said Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan, declining to elaborate.
Donovan said the incident happened prior to Obama’s arrival in the country on Monday and did not compromise the president’s security in any way.
The incident represents a fresh blemish for an elite agency struggling to rehabilitate its reputation following a high-profile
prostitution scandal and other allegations of misconduct. 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 behaviour.
The agents sent home from Amsterdam were placed on administrative leave, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the disciplinary action. The newspaper said all three were on the Counter Assault Team, which defends the president if he comes under attack, and that one agent was a “team leader”.
One agent was discovered highly intoxicated by staff at a hotel, who reported it to the US embassy, said a person familiar with the situation. The other two agents were deemed complicit because they did not intervene despite being in a position to assist the drunken agent, the person said.
“It wasn’t like a big, crazy party,” they said.
In 2012 the Secret Service adopted new guidelines forbidding agents from visiting non-reputable establishments or bringing foreigners to their hotel rooms.
The standards of conduct also forbid agents in the presidential protection force from consuming alcohol within 10 hours of reporting for duty and require trips to be staffed by a supervisor from the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility.
Obama arrived in the Netherlands early on Monday on the first leg of a week long, four-country trip. He departed for Brussels on Tuesday night, and there were no known security issues during his stay in the Netherlands.