Showing up for work intoxicated could obviously result in a security breach. But some instances of public drunkenness involving Secret Service personnel simply blemish the Secret Service's storied history of service and valor. In late January, a contingent of about 20 Secret Service agents bunked in at the Western Inn motel in Provo, Utah, on security assignment to the Winter Olympics in nearby Salt Lake City. In the wee hours of February 1, some of the agents hosted a loud party, leading resident manager Casey Clements to plead for quiet. Clements also asked the agents, who he said were clearly inebriated, to stop smoking. "They said, 'We don't have to do anything we don't want,' " Clements recalls. An hour later, the noise grew louder. Clements called the room. Someone hung up. He made another visit, pushing against a partially open door behind which an agent was peering out. "That upset him," Clements says. "He pushed me out of the door and said if I did that again, he'd throw me to the ground, put a gun to my head, and I'd be sorry." Days later, it was learned that the officers may have been drinking with several teenage girls. Local police have been investigating whether a sexual assault took place, after hearing of the incident indirectly. The service had not reported to Utah authorities any involvement of the agents with the girls. The Utah County attorney's office is investigating; the Secret Service is cooperating. The episode left Clements with a bad feeling. "I guess I don't trust law enforcement like I used to," he says. "The agents that threatened me, they were just, like, 'We're above the law.' " Spokesman Irving says one of the three special agents resigned. The other two remain "in an administrative leave status," says Irving, "pending possible prosecutorial action."
The U.S. News inquiry revealed other problems. Secret Service agents assigned to the elite Counter Assault Team (CAT), which responds to any attack on the president, sometimes watch pornography on White House satellite channels in the "band room" in the basement of the executive mansion. That's where the CAT stashes its weapons and the Marine Band keeps its instruments. When the president and first lady retire for the night, several sources say, agents will often "put some skin on." Other agents watch pornographic videotapes on the ground floor of the mansion but only after posting an agent as a lookout, the sources add. If a female Uniformed Division officer approaches, the posted agent clicks three times in an agent's earpiece, to give him time to change channels.
In Miami and Ohio, according to sworn affidavits by several agents, Secret Service supervisors brought professional strippers into the offices. In Miami, Special Agent-in-Charge Jack Kippenberger reportedly permitted a male stripper into Secret Service offices for a female employee's bridal shower. The incident might have passed unnoticed had it not been for Kippenberger's prior refusal—on security grounds—to allow another agency employee to bring in a guest to organize games for her bridal shower. The incident brought a swarm of inspectors from Washington, and Kippenberger, sources say, was given a two-week suspension. He chose to take it at the end of the year, during the Christmas holidays, just before he retired. Kippenberger did not return phone calls. In Columbus, Ohio, Special Agent-in-Charge Irwin Cohen allegedly paid for a stripper from the Strip-a-Gram agency (motto: "You've been strip-a-grammed!") into the Secret Service office there to celebrate the birthday of another agent. Penny Steward, who ran the now defunct striptease service, recalls being whisked in and out of the federal building. "I'm sure we weren't supposed to be there," Steward recalls. Someone in Cohen's office sent pictures of the incident—obtained by U.S. News—to service headquarters, sources say, but no action was taken. Cohen declined to comment to U.S. News except to say "those things were discussed years ago."