Cartagena Prostitution Scandal Is No Laughing Matter to Secret Service Alumni
Have you heard the joke about the Secret Service?
The one in which President Obama told a ballroom full of reporters at last weekend’s White House correspondents’ dinner that he had to leave early to get his security detail “home in time for their new curfew”?
Tim McCarthy heard it. He was vacationing on Marco Island, Fla., when Obama’s joke came on the news, replayed again and again by cable channels.
McCarthy, 62, is the former Secret Service special agent who was struck in the abdomen by a bullet from John Hinckley’s .22-caliber pistol March 30, 1981 — right there outside the very same Washington Hilton where Obama made his dig. Look it up on YouTube: McCarthy’s the guy in the steel-blue suit turning his body into the path of the gunshots as his partners, Special Agents Jerry Parr and Ray Shaddick, pushed Ronald Reagan into the waiting limousine, saving the president’s life.
That video clip used to stand for what the Secret Service was all about — before 12 agents and officers were caught boozing and womanizing in Cartagena, Colombia, last month, turning the august institution into a national laughingstock.
McCarthy said he chuckled at the president’s wisecrack, but he acknowledged that it felt like another punch in the gut.
“It bothered me,” said McCarthy, who has been the police chief in Orland Park, Ill., for 18 years. “I’m disappointed something like this happened and personally embarrassed that the service is the butt of jokes.”
He’s not the only one. Across the country, former Secret Service agents are coping with perhaps the most salacious scandal in the 147-year history of an agency whose motto, “Worthy of trust and confidence,” is held as dear as “Semper fi” is by the U.S. Marines.