US President Barack Obama's Security Service agents face questions over new sex scandal

Two cases in quick succession have placed US secret agents under scrutiny

Washington

A call from Washington DC’s Hay-Adams Hotel in May reporting that a Secret Service agent was trying to force his way into a woman's room set in motion an internal investigation that has sent tremors through an agency still trying to restore its elite reputation.

The incident came a year after the agency was roiled by a prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, prompting vows from senior officials to curb a male-dominated culture of hard partying and other excesses.

The service named its first female director, Julia Pierson, seven months ago, and a broad inspector-general report on the agency’s culture launched in the wake of Cartagena is expected to be released in coming weeks.

The disruption at the Hay-Adams involved Ignacio Zamora Jr, a senior supervisor who oversaw about two dozen agents in the Secret Service’s most elite assignment – the President’s security detail. Mr Zamora was allegedly discovered attempting to re-enter a woman’s room after accidentally leaving a bullet from his service weapon.

In a follow-up investigation, agency officials also found that Mr Zamora and another supervisor, Timothy Barraclough, had sent sexually suggestive emails to a female subordinate, according to those with knowledge of the case. Officials have removed Mr Zamora from his position and have moved Mr Barraclough to a separate part of the division.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan declined to comment on the internal review of the Hay-Adams incident or the supervisors’ alleged behaviour.

The Hay-Adams, which overlooks the White House and served as the Obama family’s temporary home before the President’s first inauguration, is accustomed to seeing Secret Service agents on and off duty. One night in May, hotel staff alerted the White House about odd behaviour by an agent demanding access to one of their guest’s rooms.

According the Secret Service’s internal findings, Mr Zamora was off-duty when he met a woman at the hotel’s Off the Record bar and later joined her in her room.

The review found that Mr Zamora had removed ammunition from the chamber of his government-issued handgun during his stay in the room and then left behind a single bullet. He returned to the room when he realised his mistake. The guest refused to let him back in. Mr Zamora identified himself to hotel security as a Secret Service agent.

The incident triggered an investigation that included a search of Mr Zamora’s government-issued BlackBerry, which contained sexually charged messages to the female agent, according to the people briefed on the findings.

The review of the communications revealed that Mr Barraclough had also sent inappropriate and suggestive messages to the female agent.

All Secret Service employees must maintain top-secret security clearances to be employed. A report earlier this year that dealt with events in Cartagena said employees’ sexual behaviour should be considered in granting security clearances “when the behaviour may subject the individual to coercion, exploitation, or duress, or reflects lack of judgment or discretion.”

Mr Zamora, a veteran agent who had risen to the top rungs of Mr Obama’s protective detail, previously headed up first lady Laura Bush’s protective detail. Mr Barraclough joined the presidential detail four years ago.

©Washington Post

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent