The US Secret Service has decided to tighten its staff guidelines in an attempt to stop any repeat of the Colombia sex scandal.
Agents travelling overseas will be banned from drinking on duty, visiting “disreputable establishments” and bringing foreigners into hotel rooms.
“Consider your conduct through the lens of the past several weeks,” Director Mark Sullivan reportedly told staff.
The agency will also hold ethics sessions for staff as it attempts to move on from the Cartagena episode.
Twelve Secret Service agents and several US military officers were implicated in a night of sex and drink in the Colombian port city ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit for a regional summit earlier this month.
All 12 agents have now either resigned or are facing disciplinary action.
The US Secret Service has decided to tighten its staff guidelines in an attempt to stop any repeat of the Colombia sex scandal
The Secret Service has also said it is investigating a report that members of another advance team visited strip clubs and paid for prostitutes in El Salvador in 2011.
A spokesman said on Thursday that no “credible” evidence had been found to back up the report.
The agency described the changes as “common-sense enhancements” of existing rules – “refinements of existing rules” governing employee responsibilities and conduct.
Agents deployed on foreign assignments will in future receive briefings on arrival that include “off-limit zones and off-limit establishments”.
Drinking within 10 hours of being on duty will be banned, as will allowing foreigners into hotel rooms, with the exception of hotel staff and official counterparts. At other times only “moderate” alcohol consumption is permitted.
The 12 Secret Service agents linked to the Cartagena scandal enjoyed a night out at a well-know strip bar in the city’s port area, reported to have involved large quantities of vodka.
They later returned to the five-star Hotel Caribe accompanied by a clutch of Colombian women.
The next morning a row over payment saw one woman fly into a rage and led to the discovery of as many as 20 women in American rooms.
The Secret Service removed the men from active duty and replaced them before President Barack Obama arrived for the Summit of the Americas, insisting that the president’s safety was never compromised.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress earlier this week that the incident in Colombia appeared to be an isolated case, saying she would be surprised if it represented a broader cultural problem.
Eleven US Secret Service agents and five soldiers were recalled to Washington last week after nearly all of them allegedly brought prostitutes back to their rooms at a luxury hotel in Colombia.
The agents were in Cartagena, Colombia, to scout out the security situation ahead of President Barack Obama’s trip there for the Summit of the Americas this weekend.
But the agents – who have now been placed on leave – reportedly capped off a week of heavy drinking at the beachfront Hotel Caribe in Cartagena by cavorting with prostitutes.
The partying was exposed when one of the women caused a commotion after an agent refused to pay her. Local police and hotel security were called.
Five U.S. military personnel, who were working with the Secret Service, could also be involved in misconduct and have been confined to their rooms and ordered not to have contact with others. They face possible disciplinary charges.
Rep Peter King, who was briefed on the incident, said 11 agents, many of them married, were in the team that was recalled to the U.S. – instead of 12 as originally reported – and that “close to” all of them were involved.
Peter King said he was told that anyone visiting the hotel overnight was required to leave identification at the front desk and leave the hotel by 7:00 a.m.
When a woman failed to do so, it raised questions among hotel staff and police, who investigated.
They found the woman with the agent in the hotel room and a dispute arose over whether the agent should have paid her. Peter King said he was told that the agent did eventually pay the woman.
The incident was reported to the U.S. embassy, prompting further investigation.
The Secret Service agents reportedly capped off a week of heavy drinking at the beachfront Hotel Caribe in Cartagena, Colombia, by cavorting with prostitutes
During their week-long stay at the five-star hotel in Cartagena, the agents were seen drinking heavily, according to waiters there.
A number of the White House staff and traveling press corps were also staying at the hotel.
The White House said Barack Obama had been briefed about the incidents but would not comment on his reaction.
“The President does have full confidence in the United States Secret Service,” presidential spokesman Jay Carney said when asked.
Jay Carney insisted the matter was more a distraction for the media than Barack Obama. But Secret Service assistant director Paul Morrissey said in a statement: “We regret any distraction from the Summit of the Americas this situation has caused.”
The Washington Post reported that Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said the accusations related to at least one agent having involvement with prostitutes.
The association represents federal law enforcement officers, including the Secret Service.
Ronald Kessler, a former Post reporter and the author of a book about the Secret Service, told the newspaper that he had learned that among the agents involved, several are married.
Although prostitution is legal in parts of Colombia, the Secret Service is said to consider solicitation inappropriate behavior for its agents.
Colombia has become known as “the Thailand of Latin America” for its loose laws on prostitution and the easy availability of sex workers.
The incident threatened to overshadow Barack Obama’s economic and trade agenda at the Summit of the Americas and embarrass the U.S.
Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan would not confirm that prostitution was involved, saying: “The Secret Service takes all allegations of misconduct seriously.”
“These personnel changes will not affect the comprehensive security plan that has been prepared in advance of the President’s trip,” said Ed Donovan of the conference in the Colombian port city attended by Barack Obama and more than 30 world leaders.
He said the allegations of misconduct were related to activity before the president’s arrival on Friday night.
Barack Obama was attending a leaders’ dinner on Friday night at Cartagena’s historic Spanish fortress.
He was due to attend summit meetings with regional leaders on Saturday and Sunday.
Those involved had been sent back to their permanent place of duty and were being replaced by other agency personnel, Ed Donovan said.
The matter was turned over to the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which handles the agency’s internal affairs.
On the steamy streets of Cartagena, a resort city with a teeming prostitution trade, there was condemnation for the Secret Service agents for what residents saw as abusing their station and dishonoring their country.
Edwin Yepes, a souvenir vendor, said: “They are supposed to come here and set an example.
“We are an inferior culture, and so it’s better if they don’t come than if they damage our image of them.”
A dozen of Secret Service agents providing security for President Barack Obama at an international summit in Colombia have been sent home following allegations of misconduct.
The agency did not give details, but reports suggest the accusations involve prostitution in Cartagena, which is hosting the Summit of the Americas, and at least one agent was found to be cavorting with prostitutes.
Agency spokesman Edwin Donovan told said the agents had been replaced and Barack Obama’s security would not be affected.
Barack Obama arrived in Colombia on Friday to attend the summit.
In a statement, Edwin Donovan said the agency took allegations of misconduct “very seriously” and said an investigation had been launched.
“There have been allegations of misconduct made against Secret Service personnel in Cartagena, Colombia prior to the President’s trip,” he said.
“Because of this, those personnel are being relieved of their assignments, returned to their place of duty, and are being replaced by other Secret Service personnel.”
A dozen of Secret Service agents providing security for Barack Obama in Colombia have been recalled following allegations of misconduct
According to The Washington Post, 12 agents were recalled, and at least one was suspected of involvement with prostitutes.
More than 30 leaders are in the Colombian port city for the summit, which will see talks on economic policy and trade.
Even before the incident with the agents, the summit seemed likely to be an awkward one for the US government, with debates on the legalization of drugs and sanctions against Cuba promised.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa is boycotting the summit because of Cuba’s exclusion, and the attendance of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is in doubt.
Earlier, Colombian police said two small explosions took place in Cartagena, but caused no casualties or damage.
Those explosions followed at least one other blast in Bogota near the US embassy, officials said.
Dan Emmett, a former U.S. Secret Service agent has launched a stinging attack on the Clinton administration staff he used to protect – branding them arrogant and claiming that ex-First Lady Hillary Clinton was aloof.
Dan Emmett has laid bare a series of anecdotes about the inner workings of the White House in a controversial book.
The former Secret Service agent tells how Hillary Clinton, now Secretary of State, never said “thank you” to agents, unlike her husband, Bill, and their daughter, Chelsea.
This trait, Dan Emmett added, was found in even greater measure among the young White House personnel, whom he said displayed “fundamental traits of rudeness and arrogance” which, at times, bordered on dangerous.
“Most of these youngsters were from wealthy families and many viewed Secret Service agents as the hired help,” Dan Emmett he wrote in the autobiography Within Arm’s Length.
One unnamed Clinton employee treated a Russian KGB agent on one presidential visit “as if he were dealing with a Wackenhut security officer in Toledo”.
Dan Emmett has laid bare a series of anecdotes about the inner workings of the White House in a controversial book “Within Arm's Length”
Dan Emmett also accuses Bill Clinton of putting his own life and those of his agents at risk by insisting on a “totally pointless photo op” on the North Korea-South Korea border.
During the trip in 1993, Dan Emmett said the former President Bill Clinton went too far along the bridge separating the two nations, according to the Washington Examiner.
“No-one seemed to know if President Clinton grasped how potentially dangerous this stop on the bridge was,” Dan Emmett writes.
“The Secret Service obviously believed this move unwise.”
Dan Emmett added: “Nevertheless, he was POTUS and he wanted to stand on the bridge, so stand on the bridge he would do.”
In another account, Dan Emmett said Bill Clinton “dealt us this nightmare” by insisting on jogging in public.
Agents tried to change his mind and even went as far as building a quarter-mile track inside the White House confines.
Bill Clinton was unpersuaded and asked the presidential protective division to come up some routes outside the grounds, it was reported on Chicago Tribune News.
“The worst thing for the Secret Service is to take a sitting president into public when no one has been swept and anyone could be out there,” he said.
Dan Emmett, who also served under George H.W. Bush and now works as a teacher, has been criticized by the service for publishing his tell-all.
Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told the Washington Examiner: “It causes concern because we don’t want to erode the trust that we have with our protectees.”