Secret Service agents are once again at the center of a security and public relations controversy. Top Secret Service officials have still not uttered any justification for diverting agents from the White House area posts to go deal with a neighborhood dispute. “Operation Moonlight” involved a Secret Service employee who lived about an hour away from the White House, according to NBC News.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General John Roth called Operation Moonlight and the Secret Service diversion of agents a “serious lapse in judgment.” Roth is leading an investigation into the reasons the White House Secret Service agents left their assigned posts while on duty.
The Operation Moonlight Secret Service agents were part of a team known as “Prowler.” The team is reportedly typically assigned to patrol the White House area. They were reportedly diverted to the neighborhood on five days in July 2011. President Barack Obama was at the White House on two of those days. Operation Moonlight has also been referred to as Operation Moonshine.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned under perceived pressure in early October. The 2011 Operation Moonlight incident occurred when Mark Sullivan, her predecessor, was in charge of the agency.
A female Secret Service employee was reportedly involved in an ongoing dispute with a neighbor. The employee was an assistant at the then Secret Service director’s office. The female staffer ultimately applied for and was granted a restraining order against the neighbor. The unidentified neighbor eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault charges.
The DHS Inspector General said that none of the Secret Service personnel interviewed about the Operation Moonlight agents who left their posts said they believe White House security was compromised during their absence. Critics of the decision to avert the team have stated that if their presence near the White House is not necessary, the taxpayers should not be footing the bill for their roving patrols.
Operation Moonlight occurred in a rural area near the southern Maryland town of La Plata. The Secret Service agents were reportedly told by Mark Sullivan was worried that his assistant was being harassed by her neighbor. Two agents were reportedly sent to her home twice a day, one pair in the morning and one pair in the evening, to monitor the residence of staffer Lisa Chopey.
Secret Service team Prowler is also routinely assigned to monitor the southern section of the White House when crowds gather to watch President Obama and his family arrive and leave via either motorcade or helicopter.
What do you think about the Secret Service agents participating in Operation Moonlight?
[Image via Defense Review]