Did that get your attention? A whole host of websites annually rank the top party schools. That may be a plus for some or a minor for others on choosing a college. I tried surfing a variety of terms to find a similar ranking for government agencies to work for, but to no surprise didn’t find one. With the news coverage of embarrassing Secret Service scandals, one could be excused for thinking that the agency might rank in the top ten–if not number one. If the Department of Agriculture were on top of such a list (no offense to the workers there, this is just a hypothetical) would it be newsworthy? Doubtful.
Incompetence is bad enough–the Kardashian style wannabes, the Salahis, who managed to attend a White House dinner without proper credentials; people scaling the fence and actually getting way inside the White House itself; a bullet(s) hitting a window (bullet proof, but still); the drone on the grounds and the list goes one. But worse is the sex and the booze. Agents hiring prostitutes in Cartagena. Passing out drunk in hotel corridors. Crashing into a fence at the White House in an official vehicle. So yes, there seems that an oft heard phrase among agents might be, “Let’s party!”
But as we all know, or should know, scandal is way more “newsworthy” than humdrum events. So maybe the news media unfairly tars the agency. Successful protection of presidents does get coverage. But even there, the central mission of the agency has been far from perfect. How successful are security agencies in protecting leaders around the world compared to America? I don’t know. Perhaps given the number of public appearances the agency does a fantastic job. Undoubtedly having the mission to take a bullet for someone and do a good job at preventing the bullet from ever being fired is a stressful job. But so is being an air traffic controller. Are there news reports out about a culture of sex and boozing among their employees? No, I don’t think so.
While living in a Virginia suburb home to employees for various federal agencies, particularly law enforcement ones, several inquiries came from investigators every year updating the security clearances of current or prospective employees. There were, at one time or another Secret Service agents both uniformed and plain clothes living on my block. They had families with children; none were hard partiers (the investigators always asked that, along with any disturbances–loud music, fights, etc. and about their loyalty to the United States). So I have no personal knowledge of bad behavior. But then, whether married or single, one might conclude that the activity reported on might not be something happening in the backyard or front porch of suburban homes either. More likely it comes as frat boy peer influenced conduct while out of town. How really rotten is the core of this agency apple? As bad, not as bad or worse than what news reports lead one to conclude? The tip of the iceberg or not, the fact is that the events reported happened. The fact is that they keep happening.
There shouldn’t be a report on the top Federal agencies for partying. If there were, the Secret Service shouldn’t be near the top of that list. Surely there are individuals who are not prone to such behavior; they need to step up to the task of changing the culture. More importantly, the supervisors who fail to discipline or properly evaluate such behavior need to go. It is difficult to get rid of Federal employees, but It needs to happen. And it needs to happen now, not later, before things get worse and a president or a member of his or her family dies as a result.