Here’s the scoop, via the Associate Press: dozens of grumpy Secret Service employees conspired to publicly embarrass the chairman of the House oversight committee in retaliation for his committee’s ongoing investigations into recent Secret Service fuck-ups.
It’s been a pretty rotten, embarrassing 12 months for the Secret Service. A year ago tomorrow Director Julie Pierson resigned in disgrace after highly publicized and, frankly, terrifying lapses in which the service allowed a man with a knife inside the White House, and a man with a gun onto an elevator with President Obama. Times haven’t improved, much: the very next day it was reported that the service leaked President Obama’s campaign itineraries to the Romney campaign; later in the month a Secret Service dog was punched by a White House fence jumper; back in March a couple of drunk agents drove into a White House barrier, disrupting an active bomb investigation; and employees were suspended and arrested for sexual assault and breaking and entering, respectively.
Now this: a mere 18 minutes after the start of a March congressional hearing about the drunk driving incident, Secret Service employees managed to access an old 2003 application to the service filed by committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). The application was unsuccessful, for unspecified reasons, and it was circulated among Secret Service employees in an apparent plan to use the document to publicly embarrass Chaffetz. Secret Service Assistant Director Ed Lowery articulated this plan about as clearly as possible in an email to fellow Assistant Director Faron Paramore:
“Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out. Just to be fair.”
Days later, the unsuccessful application was reported by The Daily Beast, in an article entitled “Congressman Who Oversees Secret Service Was Rejected By Secret Service.” Not a lot of dots to connect, here. Low bed baby could probably crack this one.
The AP’s report indicates Homeland Security Secretary* Jeh Johnson personally apologized to Chaffetz earlier today, and the question now is whether the accessing and subsequent leaking of the application represent a criminal violation of the U.S. Privacy Act. It seems impossible that there won’t be another round of resignations from within the department’s leadership—at least under Pierson’s watch the fuck-ups were good old-fashioned incompetence.