A former Secret Service agent who spent three years at President Obama’s side is claiming in a new book that White House staff regularly got drunk at “wheels-up” parties overseas, acting just as badly as agents fired for their involvement in a foreign booze-and-prostitution scandal last year.
Dan Bongino, who quit the service in 2011 to run as a Republican in the Maryland Senate race, charged that he witnessed Obama staffers boozing at parties in foreign nations after Air Force One was “wheels up” and the president headed for home. The parties bring together U.S. and foreign staff involved in presidential trips.
“The only bad behavior I ever witnessed at these events was by intoxicated White House staff,” wrote Bongino, who expressed dismay at how the agents fired in the Colombian sex scandal were treated by the president.
“I felt the president's harsh words were inappropriate,” he said of Obama's comments about the 2012 scandal involving agents advancing an Obama trip to Cartagena. “He failed to acknowledge that this was was a pattern of behavior that was not uncommon among his own staff members within the White House.”
In the upcoming “Life Inside the Bubble,” provided in advance to Secrets, the 12-year agent added: “I assure you, if the same level of investigative scrutiny was applied to the White House staff members conducting advance work as was applied to the Secret Service, the results would not be flattering.”
Bongino, a former top-ranked agent in the elite Presidential Protective Division, did not identify any of the staffers in the book to be released Nov. 19. His brother, an agent on the Colombian trip, was exonerated in the scandal.
His is a rare insider’s look at the Secret Service and is likely to cause heartburn within the agency for the criticism leveled at the administration.
For example, he slaps staged presidential photo ops pushed by staffers to make their boss look good despite security concerns, including one of Obama during the Gulf oil spill.
He also said that Obama has surrounded himself with “yes men” who refuse to tell the boss bad news.
Bongino cites the president’s push for his trademark health care act as an example. “Obamacare is an obvious example,” he said. “The administration persists, despite the angry town hall meetings, the poor results and the abysmal polling, because they are insulated within the walls of the White House. The president has surrounded himself with acolytes who rarely speak truth to power,” he wrote.
Bongino did not win his race for Senate. He recently announced plans to run for Maryland's 6th Congressional District, which stretches from Montgomery County to Garrett County.
In his book, he suggests changes to the nation’s security that would end duplication while redirecting attention to problem areas. He also condemned the layers of bureaucracy he witnessed in the government, which he said delay prompt and often-needed action on security issues.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.