“What’s Going On Here?”:The Secret Service’s Vindictive Leak

I was going to use another "fish rotting from the head" picture, but Thomas of Beckett's murder---which Henry didn't direct, mind you!---seemed more appropriate.

I was going to use another “fish rotting from the head” picture, but Thomas of Beckett’s murder—which Henry didn’t direct, mind you!—seemed more appropriate.

Last week, we learned that Secret Service Assistant Director Edward Lowery suggested that unflattering information the agency had in its files about a Republican Congressman ­who had been critical of the service—and who hasn’t been?— should be leaked to public as the agency’s revenge. And it was.

“Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out,”  Lowry wrote in an e-mail to a fellow director on March 31, commenting on an internal file that was being widely circulated inside the service. “Just to be fair.” Soon an internet source reported that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had applied to be a Secret Service agent in 2003 and was rejected. That information was part of a Chaffetz personnel file stored in a restricted Secret Service database and required by law to remain private.

During an inspector general’s investigation, Lowery denied that he directed anyone to leak the private information about Chaffetz to the press and said his e-mail was simply venting. How Clintonian. No, he didn’t direct anyone to do it: he just said that it should be done, as in Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?”

So far, this self-evident dodge has been enough to keep Lowery in his job, because as those who are honest and fair know, there is no accountability in the Obama Administration, and if a Republican Congressman is embarrassed, everyone knows the President is smiling about it. Lowry was  promoted to the post of Assistant Director for Training a month ago to help reform the agency after outrageous security lapses that Chaffetz had helped expose and criticize.

That’s some reformer!

Lowry should have resigned the second the e-mail was released, and if he didn’t, Director Joseph P. Clancy, who appointed him, should have fired him, and if Clancy didn’t, Homeland Security head Jeh Johnson should have insisted that he and Lowry be fired, and if Johnson didn’t, then Obama should have sacked all three of them—Johnson, Clancy, and Lowery. That’s how you reform a corrupt culture. Paid White House spinner Josh Earnest, in typical fashion, mouthed pablum about the President having confidence that the agency would do the right thing and issue apologies.

Apologies? You can’t apologize for a breach of trust like that.

In assessing situations that raise ethics issues, the threshold question is “What’s going on here?”

What’s going on here is an open display of a corrupt and untrustworthy government culture, not just in the Secret Service but at all levels of the Obama Administration, seeded and nourished by the President’s refusal to treat incompetence and misconduct with sufficient seriousness, his abandonment of the principle of accountability, his own atrocious ethical leadership as exemplified by his refusal to order an independent investigation of the I.R.S. scandal, and his persistent vilification of the Congress, sending a message to underlings like Lowery that partisan hits will be welcome rather than punished.


Facts: Washington Post 1, 2

16 thoughts on ““What’s Going On Here?”:The Secret Service’s Vindictive Leak

  1. That pretty much sums it up. Ethical leadership is a dying breed. If there are ethical leaders out there they are not remotely interested in national leadership roles.

  2. Something’s missing from this discussion: The guy was rejected when he applied to become a member of the Secret Service? So what? That’s supposed to be a big deal? Huh?

    These macho morons in the Secret Service club all seem to assume Chaffetz was rejected because, unlike all the rest of the fellows in the frat house, Chaffetz’s dick wasn’t big enough. What incredible arrogance in an organization.

    The guy applied for a job and didn’t get it. Boy, that’s really damning. Idiots.

      • The scandals and depredations of the executive bureaus during the Clinton Era would fill their share of volumes, too. It would seem that these agencies tend to reflect the abilities (and morals) of the sitting president. For myself, I’d just advise the next president (assuming it’ll be a man of integrity) to shut down every unconstitutional agency- one by one- and revamp the remainder from the ground up. Since that would only leave State, Justice, Defense and Treasury, their reformation should be swift enough!

  3. I’m sure the President had NOTHING to do with sliming a political opponent. Usually administrations back off this kind of tactic as they get experienced and figure out it accomplishes nothing. President Obama arrived in office a small-minded, vengeful bully, and he’ll depart a small-minded, vengeful bully in about 16 months, leaving this country certainly no better, and arguably in a worse state than he found it. Never mind, melanin trumps all, and even honest history writers will be afraid to tell the truth for fear of being labeled racist.

  4. “No, he didn’t direct anyone to do it: he just said that it should be done, as in “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?””

    Though it rests on a sliding scale of how strictly the principle applies to any particular hierarchy, the concept of “Your wish is my command” IS part of hierarchies.

    The more rigid, formal, and decisive an organization, the more the concept applies. In the military, young officers and NCOs understand or are made to understand that a commander who says “I wish…” or “I want…” or “I would like…” should be interpreted as saying “Do this…”. It of course leads to the further training as those officers and NCOs grow up in the ranks that you can’t just flippantly pop off about your preferences, however idle, because your subordinates are trained to interpret that as a command.

    No, the head Secret Service guy doesn’t get a pass because that organization falls closer to the military end of the “Your wish is my command” continuum.

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