Tuesday, June 19, 2012
FOX EXCLUSIVE: Secret Service agents got 'Animal House' reputation on Obamas' Vineyard vacation
Trashed rental homes, bad behavior and barroom brawls that have required the local police to step in have some disgusted Martha’s Vineyard homeowners vowing never to rent out to the Secret Service again. And while none of the disturbing behavior appeared to have any direct effect on the president’s safety, some occurred even as the president and his family were nearby.
One resident called police in the early morning on Aug. 18, 2011, about a party that went on until well past 4 a.m. on the day President Obama arrived for a nine-day vacation. Cars were parked on a lawn strewn with beer bottles and young women went in and out of the house as shouts from a spirited foosball game pierced the wee-hours air, neighbors told FoxNews.com.
A police report obtained by FoxNews.com describes two local cops arriving at 2:23 a.m. to find as many as a dozen people on the porch “talking and laughing loudly.”
“I was informed by two males that it’s a rental house and they were working the presidential vacation,” the report states. “I informed them that it was still 2:30 a.m. and people in the area are complaining about the loud voices, and [they] were told to go inside and close the windows.”
In response to FoxNews.com’s request for comment, Secret Service spokesman Max Milien in Washington said the Secret Service “has not received any complaints or information regarding alleged misconduct of its personnel operating in Martha's Vineyard during the summer of 2011. Any information brought to our attention that can be assessed as credible will be followed up on in an appropriate manner.”
But at least one Vineyard homeowner says that isn’t true.
She said her husband called the Secret Service in Washington last year to complain about the rowdy behavior of agents and damage they caused to their home, but his gripe was dismissed by officials who told her “that’s what they do on vacation” – even though the agents were on assignment at the Vineyard.
“If Secret Service says they’ve never received complaints about these same guys, then there is clear evidence to the contrary -- if they say that, they’re lying,” the woman told FoxNews.com. "We were the only ones to care, apparently. Nobody else cared about them partying, trashing the house, bringing girls home.
“We would not rent to them again,” she said.
She described a wake of destruction left by the commander-in-chief’s bodyguards, including the Counter Assault and Counter Sniper Teams, the same elite groups that got into trouble in Colombia. Antique furniture was destroyed, expensive "locally harvested" wide pine flooring was ruined and beer and liquor bottles were scattered throughout the property after agents stayed in the house, one of several stately million-dollar Victorians with pastel-painted wood shingles and wraparound porches of the exclusive East Chop section of Oak Bluffs.
The homeowners and several neighbors described another incident where police responded to complaints about a truck parked half on the lawn, half on the driveway. Cops arrived, spoke to the Secret Service agents inside and, moments later, a half-dressed woman came running out, got in the truck and sped off, said neighbors.
The owner of a six-bedroom home rented out the last two summers to the same Secret Service team that got in trouble in South America showed FoxNews.com a bullet he said was left behind by the agents and said CAT agents let neighborhood children and other residents handle their weapons.
More alarmingly, he said the men told him details of presidential security plans and logistics.
“They left ammo behind, they told me things they shouldn’t have been telling me, things they shouldn’t be telling anyone about the details about how they protect the president. They let us hold their weapons, see all their stuff, they had huge house parties,” said the man, who spoke to FoxNews.com with his wife on the condition they not be named.
Glen Caldwell, the general manager of Offshore Ale in Oak Bluffs, told FoxNews.com about an incident last summer when one of his staff found a Secret Service badge on the floor after the bar had closed at the end of the night. The commission book also included a list of emergency phone numbers -- two 1-800 Secret Service numbers, a Department of Homeland Security ID card.
“It was on the floor of the bar for who knows how long, covered in peanuts. It was pretty clear that the guy was drunk,” Caldwell said.
When another worker found the badge, Caldwell said he put it in the bar’s safe. He then got a frantic call an hour or two later from someone asking if they’d found a Secret Service ID. He said the owner soon showed up at the bar and, when he asked for proof that the ID was his, showed a Virginia driver’s license bearing the same name.
In another incident, a local bartender said she and her boyfriend were playing pool with White House staffers who were members of Obama’s detail at an Oak Bluffs restaurant when they ran out of quarters. She said the staffers shot pool using what they said was the cash they were carrying for Obama -- the president doesn’t carry his own cash; White House staffers traveling with the president pay for his meals or other purchases.
Yet despite the myriad incidents, neither local law enforcement nor Secret Service officials in Washington would acknowledge a problem with the agents’ behavior on Martha’s Vineyard.
“This isn’t news,” Oak Bluffs Police Lt. Timothy Williams insisted to FoxNews.com, when asked about the East Chop address party. “There’s no news here,” he said, while also refusing to make available the officers who responded to the early morning party.
A chef at one popular restaurant, who cooked for a Secret Service party last summer, said the hi-jinks weren’t confined to the male agents. Three female Secret Service agents at the affair “partied just as much, if not more, than the other guys,” he said, and even organized tequila-fueled “ladies nights” out on the town.
The women also detailed protection strategies the security team provided for the president.