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Politico: Secret Service tightens personnel rules

Politico — by Byron Tau

The United States Secret Service is tightening internal personnel rules in the wake of an expanding prostitution investigation into the conduct of agents abroad, the agency announced Friday.

According to Secret Service spokesman Bryan Leary, an internal memo has gone out from Deputy Director A.T. Smith to all Secret Service personnel, covering standards of conduct,  interactions with the State Department and training. It applies to all Secret Service personnel.

The rule changes, first reported by the Associated Press, will bar agents from bringing foreign nationals into their hotel rooms, from patronizing "non-reputable establishments" and from drinking alcohol within 10 hours of going on duty.

Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security that has been investigating the alleged incidents in Colombia and elsewhere, hailed the action as a step in the right direction.

"This is another step toward correcting what went wrong," King told POLITICO. "These are very positive steps." King, in particular, praised the new rules regarding foreign nationals in Secret Service hotel rooms — telling POLITICO that had been his main concern all along.

King also said that he has been in touch with Secret Service director Mark Sullivan, who told King he is consulting with additional federal agencies about extra steps. King praised Sullivan's quick action on the rule changes and the investigation that has already ensnared 12 employees.