This week, The Washington Post has reported misstep after misstep by the Secret Service. The agency has had a difficult few years, plagued by reports of agent misconduct and operational failures, with revelations of some incidents only emerging years after the fact. Herein, the top 10 recent Secret Service headaches:
November 24, 2009: Michaele and Tareq Salahi crash White House dinner
During a state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Singh, reality television stars Michaele and Tareq Salahi, who were not invited to the event, managed to pass through two security check points and meet President Obama. Then-White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told CNN "the president was concerned about the security breach here, as was the Secret Service. The Secret Service is evaluating their procedures."
April 13, 2012: Cartagena prostitution scandal
Ahead of the 2012 Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, a dozen agents were caught soliciting prostitutes at the Hotel Caribe. On Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, President Obama said "the Secret Service, these guys are incredible. They protect me. They protect our girls. A couple of knuckleheads shouldn't detract from what they do. What they were thinking, I don't know. That's why they're not there anymore.”
November 14, 2013: Agent leaves bullet inside woman’s hotel room
Ignacio Zamora, a Secret Service agent on Obama’s detail, left a bullet in a Hay-Adams hotel room where he had been staying with a woman. Zamora was caught trying to force his way into the room to retrieve the bullet. An investigation found that Zamora and another supervisor, Timothy Barraclough, had sent suggestive emails to a female colleague. Both were suspended. “Periodically we have isolated incidents of misconduct, just like every organization does,” Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said at the time.
December 11, 2013: Fake sign language interpreter stands onstage with Obama
During Nelson Mandela’s funeral, Thamsanqa Jantjie -- a sign language interpreter who didn't actually seem to know any sign language, had faked his security credentials and was under treatment for schizophrenia -- stood three feet away from President Obama during the president's entire remarks. U.S. officials blamed South Africa for the lax security arrangements ahead of a whirlwind visit from the president. Then White House press secretary Jay Carney said of the Secret Service “they worked very hard on this trip, which came about on short notice. But they, as they always do, took the precautions necessary to ensure the president’s safety.”
March 26, 2014: Agents found drunk in hotel ahead of European summit
Three agents on the president’s detail were put on leave after spending a night drinking in Amsterdam a day before Obama arrived for the summit. Hotel staff alerted the U.S. embassy in the Netherlands after one of the agents was found passed out in a hallway. Secret Service spokesman Ed Dovovan confirmed at that the time that the agency had sent “three employees home for disciplinary reasons.” Jay Carney sounded a tougher note this time. "Generally, the president believes, as he has said in the past, that everybody representing the United States of America overseas needs to hold himself or herself to the highest standards and he supports [Secret Service Director Julia Pierson's] zero-tolerance approach on these matters," he said.
March 27, 2014: Two counter-snipers involved in car accident in Florida
Soon after the incident in Amsterdam, it was reported that two counter-sniper officers were suspected of drinking and then getting into a late-night car accident while President Obama was visiting Florida. Matthew Reyes, one of the agents, had a "slight odor" of alcohol on his breath. Spokesman Ed Donovan said agents had been sent home out of "an abundance of caution."
May 10, 2014: Operation Moonlight
The Washington Post revealed that three years earlier, top Secret Service officials had been removed from patrolling the White House to protect a personal friend of then-agency director Mark Sullivan. During "Operation Moonlight," two agents were diverted twice a day to La Plata, Maryland, the home of Sullivan's assistant Lisa Chopey.
September 27, 2014: Secret Service fumbled response to 2011 shooting
The Washington Post revealed last week that the Secret Service had bungled their response to the White House shooting incident involving Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez in November 2011. Agents were ordered to “stand down” and the bullets were not discovered until five days later. "The president and first lady, like all parents, are concerned about the safety of their children," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. "But the president and first lady also have confidence in the men and women of the Secret Service to do a very important job."
September 29, 2014: Fence jumper made it in to East Room of the White House
Omar Gonzalez, who jumped the fence of the White House earlier this month, managed to make into the East Room – much further than the Secret Service had previously acknowledged. The Washington Post later revealed that Gonzalez had overpowered one agent and was only tackled by an off-duty member of the Secret Service as he reached the Green Room. In response, Josh Earnest said balancing access and security to the White House presents a "significant challenge for the Secret Service" but they are "continually looking for ways to improve on it." The president, he said, "continues to have confidence in their ability to perform their very difficult function."
September 30, 2014: Convicted felon contractor was on elevator with Obama
During a trip to Atlanta on September 16, an armed security contractor managed to get on an elevator with the president. The contractor attracted the attention of agents when he was seen acting oddly -- and the Secret Service were later surprised to find he had been armed during his encounter with Obama. Both the Secret Service and White House declined to comment on this incident.