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Obama 'disappointed' with agents under DUI investigation

Security video shows the agents' vehicle moving slowly before it struck the barricade on March 4.

By Doug G. Ware

WASHINGTON, March 12 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama said he is "disappointed" in two senior members of the U.S. Secret Service -- one of whom is second in-command of his protective detail -- for their involvement in an alleged drunk driving incident near the White House last week.

The agents, Mark Connolly and George Ogilvie, were identified Wednesday as the agents involved in a March 4 incident during which they supposedly rode a government vehicle into a security barricade near the executive residence. They had reportedly just left a Washington, D.C., area bar where they paid tribute to a retiring and longtime colleague.

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Connolly is second in charge of Obama's protection and Ogilvie is a senior member of the agency's Washington, D.C., field office. The agents are now being investigated by the Homeland Security Department and have been reassigned to other duties pending the outcome of the investigation.

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CBS News reported Thursday that a source close to the White House and the investigation said Obama was "disappointed" by the agents' alleged misconduct.

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Investigators said Thursday that surveillance video footage of the incident exists, and depicts the agents' vehicle moving slowly in the moments leading up to the crash, the New York Times reported.

The security barricade had been set up in an area near the White House following the discovery of a package police deemed suspicious. On the security video, officials say, the Secret Service vehicle is seen moving slowly through security tape that cordoned off the scene and bumping the orange barricade.

The agents' vehicle, in fact, almost ran over the suspicious package that triggered the lockdown, Fox News reported Thursday. The package turned out to be a book with cloth wrapped around it.

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The White House was upset it wasn't notified of the incident until three days later, which is when Director Joseph P. Clancy was also informed. A major part of the investigation, CBS News reported, surrounds an unidentified supervisor at the scene who dismissed junior officers' intention to perform field sobriety tests on Connolly and Ogilvie.

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The incident is the latest in a series of embarrassing missteps by the Secret Service, and will be the first real test of leadership for Clancy, who was named to the post in October. He replaced Julia Pierson, the agency's chief for 18 months who presided over multiple embarrassing lapses in security. Clancy's promotion was seen as an attempt by the Obama administration to restore credibility to the service.

Last September, a man armed with a knife leaped a security fence at the White House and made it all the way inside the president's residence before he was stopped. A subsequent investigation criticized the agency for poor training and lack of communication among its agents. Previous incidents include agents soliciting prostitutes in Colombia, a drunk agent passed out in a hallway in Amsterdam, a shooting at the White House in 2011 and sexual harassment by male agents toward a female subordinate.

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Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Thursday he believes there is a cultural problem in the agency.

"This is a big moment for Director Clancy," he said in the Times report. "He's going to need to demonstrate and send a message that discipline is of the utmost concern."

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Chaffetz said he expects Clancy to brief his committee next week on the incident and his plan to address it.

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"How he handles this is as important as the incident itself," Chaffetz said. "[Connolly] is regularly within arms length of the president, and you would expect that elite service to put only the best people within reach of the president."

Before this latest controversy, Clancy had already taken clear steps to shake things up in the Secret Service. In January, he demoted four assistant directors in the agency and asked two others to retire. The remaining two assistant directors remained in their post.

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