Well, there goes the image of the Secret Service as professionals above all concerns but their job and sacrificing their lives if duty demands it. Secret Service Agent David Chaney is guilty of multiple violations of the service’s professional standards. He bragged on his facebook page that, while he was assigned to protect Sarah Palin during the 2008 election, he was “really checking her out.”
Chaney was evidently incapable of keeping his mind on his job. While he was checking out the person he was sworn to protect, he was paying less attention to potential threats and was therefore a security risk. Maybe Chaney was kidding about spending his time on Palin’s security detail checking her out, but posting details about his job on facebook was, by itself, a potential security risk. Given what happened in Colombia, he probably was not kidding about Palin.
Ogling Sarah Palin wasn’t the last time Chaney would pose a risk. Fast forward a few years, and he is one of the two supervisors who went to Cartagena, Colombia on a presidential security detail that included hookers and maybe cocaine use. This incident cannot be the first time these agents have engaged in reckless behavior during their road trips. More is sure to surface in any or all of the five investigations that have been launched. Leave aside that prostitution is legal in Colombia, that is not the point. The point is that Chaney and ten other Secret Service agents exposed their agency and the president himself to all manner of serious threats. And it probably was not the first time.
The Secret Service is supposed to protect the life of our president and the integrity of our currency, among a few other vital missions. Its vision statement says that the service upholds a “tradition of excellence” in carrying out its missions. The Secret Service has spent more than a century cultivating the image of silent warriors who are the best of the best of the best, selfless professionals without peer. Yet here they are, ogling those they protect and going “wheels up” with prostitutes in at least one foreign capital. Just out of curiosity, did they ever stop to think that the women they were partying with could be agents of Colombia’s hostile neighbor, Venezuela? Or some other foreign power? Or could blackmail them, or steal information, or who knows what else?
However the investigations turn out, the Secret Service’s image is severely damaged. They’re not the professionals that we all thought they were.