Ex-Agent: Secret Service Problem Is Bad Leadership, Not Alcohol


Former Secret Service agent Dan Emmett, author of a new book about the agency, writes in the Washington Post that despite widely publicized incidents involving agents’ drinking, “the problem in the agency is not alcohol or debauchery, but weak leadership. There are too many incompetent managers who want the title, pay and perks of management while performing no duties of leadership. The problem is not bad Secret Service agents but bad leaders of Secret Service agents.”

The most disturbing common thread among the recent episodes of misconduct is the involvement of supervisors or team leaders, Emmett says. While it is unacceptable for any agent to commit infractions such as those in Amsterdam and Colombia, it is “utterly inexcusable” for those in charge to be involved. If managers show continued lapses in judgment, why would anyone expect the rank and file to behave better?, he asks. The Secret Service promotion system is primarily designed to move the best-liked people, not necessarily the best-qualified, into managerial positions,, Emmett contends.

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