The director of the US secret service has told congress that they are struggling to deal with alcohol dependency among the nation’s top security detail.

Director Joseph Clancy said: “We do have an element that goes to alcohol” indicating that it was to cope with the stresses of the job. The congress sub-committee questioned Clancy following an incident in which apparently-drunken secret service agents were spotted in public with extremely unacceptable behaviour.

The incident on the 4th March was reported to involve two agents, one of them supposedly a senior member of the team. They were on route to the White House late at night and hit a barricade and drove through an active investigation. Neither of the agents has been publically named.

Stress in the Secret Service

Duties of the secret service include protecting the life of the president and vice-president and they are also in charge of policing counterfeiting and online fraud. Clancy suggested there are a number of factors that add to the stress of the job alongside these specified duties. He said: “When you’re working 12 hours a day, and you think you have the next day off, and it’s cancelled … [it adds to]the stress that we’re under.”

He added: “We’ve got to find a way to help some of these people that are going towards alcohol as a coping mechanism,” and that the secret service had “kicked off a work-life initiative” to help agents who need it.

Secret Service Agents Alcohol Culture

At one point, Appropriation Committee Chairman, Hal Rogers interrupted Clancy’s testimony. He voiced his disapproval of the service’s misuse of alcohol saying: “I’m concerned about [agents’] health as well. But I’m more concerned about the health of the president … This is the latest episode of agents drinking, carousing, on and off duty, that this agency has suffered in the last few years. It’s not working right, Mr Director.”

The barricade incident in early March went unreported for days and disciplinary action is yet to be taken. Clancy said: “I should have been informed. We’re following up on that and there will be accountability.” However, extreme measures do not seem to be the answer in Clancy’s opinion with the director playing down the consequences of the issue. He added: “I don’t have the ability to just fire people at will. In the government – my understanding is that you cannot do that.”

House Republican, John Carter countered this view, dramatically summing up many of the sub-committees suggestions that sackings were in order. He said: “You got a big job and you’re going to have to make heads roll.”

Clancy overtly suggested to the sub-committee that although there is no excuse for the actions it will take time for the alcohol ‘culture’ to be changed as he earns the agents’ trust as their new chief. House Republican, Chris Stewart, seemed astonished by the remark exclaiming: “Dude, you don’t have to earn their trust. You’re their boss!” He added: “They’re supposed to earn your trust and they haven’t earned your trust … hold them accountable.”

Secret Service Scandals

Joseph Clancy, former head of the president’s protective detail, replaced Julia Pierson as director of the 4,600 employees. She resigned last October under the pressures of scandal after scandal during her time as director of the service that often struggles for leadership according to political commentators.

Before Clancy took over as director of the secret service incidents included:

  • An Army veteran jumping the White house fence and making it inside the building, wielding a knife.
  • A secret service agent on a trip to the Netherlands found passed out in a hotel hallway.
  • An agent mistakenly left a bullet from his gun in the hotel room of a woman he met in a Washington bar and alerted hotel staff when she would not let him back into the room.
  • In April 2012, 13 secret service employees were suspected of soliciting prostitutes in advance of a presidential visit to Colombia.

Perhaps it is time that the secret service cleaned up their act. If you feel as though you or someone you care about may be drinking to dangerous levels or becoming dependent on alcohol you may want to consider arranging an alcohol test to help you determine the level of alcohol consumed over a certain period of time or to ensure someone is remaining abstinent during rehabilitation.

Please call AlphaBiolab’s friendly customer service team on 0333 600 1300 to arrange an alcohol test or to ask any questions at all regarding testing or the services we provide, it may be the first step on the journey to recovery.