Secret Service Director Pulled White House Agents to Protect his Assistant

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
President Obama and Secret Service agents on the move (AP photo)

Secret Service agents assigned to guard the area around the White House were pulled from their posts and told to help the assistant of the agency’s director.


Under the codename Operation Moonlight, the agents went sent in 2011 to the home of Lisa Chopey, assistant to then-Director Mark Sullivan, more than an hour away from Washington, D.C. Pairs of agents rotated in shifts to monitor Chopey’s residence in rural Maryland, where a neighbor had supposedly harassed the woman.


Agents involved in the unusual, two-month assignment were part of a special team known as Prowler, whose duty is to guard the White House compound. When the operation began, two Prowler agents were ordered to leave their posts only minutes before President Barack Obama departed on his helicopter—a key security time.


“Prowler is there for a reason, and it shouldn’t be pulled when the president is on the move,” Dan Emmett, a former Secret Service agent and author of the book “Within Arm’s Length,” told The Washington Post.


The newspaper reported that “agents inside the Washington field office were concerned that Operation Moonlight increased security risks to the compound and the president.”

Furthermore, agents were worried that they were participating in an illegal use of government resources, prompting some to report what was going on to the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees the Secret Service.


“People familiar with the operation said a Senate committee’s recent finding that the former DHS inspector general softened and delayed investigations — particularly those critical of administration officials — renewed frustration that the issue may have not been properly investigated,” the Post’s Carol Leonnig wrote.


Sullivan left the agency last year following the revelation that agents assigned to protect Obama during his 2012 trip to Colombia had hired prostitutes.


The former director told the Post that he did not personally order Prowler agents to monitor Chopey’s home, and instead blamed a supervisor in his office for the order.

“The U.S. Secret Service always has taken seriously threats made against employees and responds as appropriate,” Sullivan said in a statement. “In this case, the employee followed protocol in reporting concerns about her safety to a supervisor who took action consistent with the seriousness of the situation. I was informed later of those actions.”

Chopey, who now works at DHS, did not comment on the matter.


The agency’s current director, Julia Pierson, has asked the new inspector general for DHS to investigate the allegations.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Secret Service Agents Pulled Off White House Patrol To Help Protect a Top Official’s Aide (by Carol D. Leonnig, Washington Post)

Secret Service Director Calls for Investigation of Operation Moonlight (by Carol D. Leonnig, Washington Post)

Biden Continues to Charge Secret Service Rent (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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