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The Secret Service Is Still Drunk and Dysfunctional

News just broke that a pair of drunken agents drove over a package that was suspected to be a bomb – which is just the latest in a long string of scandals.

by Allie Conti
13 March 2015, 7:00am

Photo of a Secret Service SUV via Flickr user Erik Drost

Yesterday morning, news broke that two Secret Service agents drove a car into the White House's security barricades. The accident allegedly occurred on March 4 after an late-night rager and involved high-ranking officials. As if driving into the building you're supposed to guard wasn't already a massive fuck-up, rumors that the security bros might have driven directly into a potential bomb site emerged yesterday afternoon.

According to the Washington Post, earlier that night a Pennsylvania woman had jumped out of her car and approached an agent near the southeast entrance to the White House with a package she claimed was a bomb. After she sped off—injuring the agent in the process—the area naturally became a subject of a delicate investigation.

Enter our drunken heroes, who not only disrupted the scene, but allegedly drove right over the package.

The Washington Post has reported that the drivers' supervisor convinced cops to let the agents off the hook and not give them a DUI test. That means we'll technically never know if the agents were wasted while they drove into the building they're supposed to protect. But if history is any indication the Secret Service can't handle their liquor.

In April 2012, a huge scandal broke when an alcohol-fueled bacchanal in Colombia led to a bunch of agents hiring strippers. Although that embarrassing incident led to a new code of conduct that barred agents from drinking ten hours before starting work, the reform didn't stop them from raging. Obama also brought in the first-ever woman director, Julia Pierson, to try and clean up the agency's "frat boy culture."

It didn't work. In March of last year, three agents were sent home from Amsterdam after one was found passed out in a hotel hallway. It's natural to ask why these incidents keep happening even as higher-ups scramble to prevent them, and the answer might be because addiction is hard to stamp out with finger-wagging. According to some experts, alcoholism is rampant in the Secret Service.

Pierson stepped down after a series of humiliating security breaches, and last month Joseph Clancy took over to try and finally clean up the Secret Service—a task that's starting to seem impossible.

It's unclear why alcohol is so entrenched in the culture of the Secret Service, or why its members are disproportionally involved in booze-soaked scandals as compared to those of other government agencies, like the FBI. One reason could be that they've been historically much more lenient with drinking and driving than other federal law enforcement offices. That reputation could keep bad apples around longer, or attract people with predilections for partying who might otherwise become air marshals or FBI agents.

But basically, no one knows why the Secret Service can't get its collective shit together, and Obama is reportedly "disappointed" about the latest high-profile blunder. And while he might be doubting the ability of his new appointee, he's got to at least be publicly hopeful that something will finally change and that this is the last scandal. "Nobody has higher standards for the Secret Service than Director Clancy," a White House spokesperson told the Associated Press.

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