Dave Powers, a long-time aide to the President, was a man without a meaningful job in the White House. He had the innocuous title of Special Assistant to the President, and his duties were mundane but pivotal. While on the road with the President, if the First Lady wasn’t present, one of his jobs, according to sources in the Secret Service and staff, was to prowl the streets of whatever city they were in and fetch the most attractive women he could find. It wasn’t unusual for him to bring back as many as three, walk past disapproving Secret Service agents, lead them to the presidential suite, and bid the Commander in Chief goodnight in his thick Boston accent.
The Secret Service and FBI Director Hoover (circa 1961-1963) were not amused at the time. They were fearful that pillow talk might compromise national security, a concern that survives today. It’s dangerous stuff, and it does happen. One slip and there was no telling who’d get hold of the classified whispers.
President John F. Kennedy’s womanizing was hardly a secret among the adoring press and even those who disapproved of his politics. They were noted but unreported. There was an unwritten “gentlemen’s agreement” back then that presidential dalliances were out of bounds.
Not so today; although those engaging in sexual interludes are not presidents (as far as we know), various law enforcement agents comprising national security through pillow talk are most foul.
The House Oversight Committee had had a parade of Justice Department and other agency and department heads testify that while those in their charge had indeed poorly acted, especially when it came to illicit sex, they could not fire them. Instead, the agents would be sent home for two days to a week, then reinstated, security clearances still intact.
That comprises today’s punishment, save for serious offenses that can revoke a security clearance. Back in the 1960s, especially in the FBI, if Hoover got word of an agent’s hair being out of place, that agent would be assigned to northern Alaska and, at worst, fired on the spot.
To the person, when asked by Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, why offenders identified in The Handling of Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Allegations by the Department’s Law Enforcement Components1 they had not been canned, each director or agency head testified that under current Civil Service laws not even they can fire an agent, not from the DEA, not from the Secret Service, not from the IRS or FBI, Short of committing a capital offense, firings seem to be impossible in Washington.
The bad actors were identified and questioned by checking through the OIG report assigned. Sins were uncovered with stiff resistance and often via heavily redacted documents. Chaffetz vented his spleen at DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, according to The Blaze.2 “ [when she] testified at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing after a damning Inspector General report said DEA agents used prostitutes in Colombia that a drug cartel in that country provided. The report also said the DEA didn’t fully cooperate in the investigation.”3
“This is a matter of national security,” Chaffetz said. He touched on the key findings: “The report highlights repeated sexual abuses including ATF training instructors sleeping with their students; using government vehicles to facilitate inappropriate sexual relationships, and managers sexually harassing employees and then asking them to watch pornography. The report also clarifies that when law enforcement engages in inappropriate and illicit sexual behavior, the agencies they work for often look the other way. To use the IG’s language, these cases of sexual misconduct are treated as quotes, local management issues, and end quotes. In other words, they’re swept under the rug.”4
He went on to say that the FBI and DEA tried to hide these incidents from their own Inspector General…and even told their employees not to cooperate. He explained that the IG asked the DEA to run more than 40 search terms to identify relevant information. “The three terms they ran out of forty included, ‘sex,’ ‘prosti’ and ‘exposure.’ Why exclude the search terms the inspector general is asking for?”
He then read the DEA head the riot act for submitted documents so heavily redacted that the IG couldn’t figure out what they were about.
Citing all of the agencies investigated, Chaffetz said, “It’s incumbent on the leadership of these law enforcement agencies to weed out employees who put our security at risk, embarrass the country and break the law.
“People make mistakes,” he continued, “but these weren’t simple mistakes. This went on and on, multiple reports of sex parties, of loud parties to the point that the landlord was complaining back to our federal government about how out of control these parties were,” he said, his tone incredulous.
He shook his head, saying, “It’s a sad day for the DEA.”
No, Mr. Chairman, it’s a sad day for the United States, and it demonstrates how government agencies and departments seem to find nothing wrong with debauchery. Is it any wonder why the rest of the world regards the U.S. with a highly-raised eyebrow?
The only and best way to rectify this ethically is to rewrite the civil service laws and grant agency and department heads the power to fire any agent who engages in these activities. Period.
©2023. Amil Imani. All rights reserved.
CITATIONS AND REFERENCES
1. The Handling of Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Allegations by the Department’s Law Enforcement Components Evaluation, Evaluation and Inspections Division 15-04 March 2015