msnbc | April 21, 2012
>>> can own the original?
>>> more now on the developing she secret service scandal. three more agency employees have been ousted bringing the total to six. the investigation is ongoing. we'll get perspective on the secret service from a man who is on the inside. andrew o'connell, former secret service agent. andy, good morning.
>> good morning, alex.
>> let's talk about really what goes on here. what are the duties of advanced teams in the secret service , particularly when scouting foreign locations for the president?
>> well, before the president travels anywhere, whether it is ? in the united states or overseas, the advance teams go out, the white house staff advance team goes out to figure out what the president is going to be doing, the schedule, where he's going tois talking to. the secret service advance teams go out to design security, so they get there ahead of time, sometimes weeks and days, it really depends on the country or city to which they are going and the threat or risk assessment . and then when they get down there, their job is to meet with local law enforcement, the military, white house staff , and figure out what needs to be done to secure the president on the visit. and when they figure out what they need to do, they let washington, d.c. and the president's detail know what needs to be done. and they ask for certain resources, including men and women bodies to come down and stand post. they ask for things like metal detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs and the like. that's really what goes into an advance.
>> okay, is there typically much down time?
>> not typically. it depends on the country or the city. some places you go you work an 8-hour shift during your advance and maybe you're done and have time for dinner and to go out after it. sometimes your 12-hour shift, 16-hour shift, because it's a really high-risk environment and you are worried about getting everything done before the president get there is.
>> okay, i want to pick up on that, you're talking about the shift time , when you're overseas, are you on 24/7?
>> in ? theory you're on the job 24/7 no matter where you are, the united states or overseas, you're given a firearm, you have a badge and credentials that identify you as a federal agent, you're always on. but in reality, agents work a shift, and they're allowed to have time off, that is to go have dinner or go out to see and experience the culture of the different countries or cities they are in.
>> so is the secret service , are they advanced or encouraged to get to know locals, dignitaries or others, or are they encouraged to stay among themselves and be that kind of tight unit as we all have the presumptions about who the guys are and what they do?
>> they are not encouraged to get to know locals. they are encouraged to do their job. in fact, required to do their job while they are there. but the fact is, when they finish what they're doing, as long as they have everything done, they do go out and experience the culture. so you can be in a foreign country , maybe you have never been to before, and you want to see some of the sites after you get off. certainly you're not supposed to be walking the streets and just hanging out with the people and meeting the people.
>> what about -- is there reason to be concerned that prostitutes or anyone might target secret service agents for information that could compromise national security or the security of the president?
>> well, certainly anyone. it doesn't matter what their background is or what line of work they're in. you always have to be on the lookout as a federal agent, especially a secret service nagt a foreign country for folks that could be foreign intelligence , trying to get at you, trying to get at the information that ? you have and using ways to get to you. so it could be any number of ways.
>> describe the code of ethics , if any, that secret service agents must ascribe to when joining that team.
>> well, the first thing is to abide by the u.s. constitution , but really it is some simple concepts. that is, don't engage in unlawful conduct, don't break the law, act ethically, act professionally, and almost as important, most importantly, don't embarrass the secret service or the president of the united states . that's really a summary of what you're taught when becoming a secret service agent and throughout your career. those basic tenants.
>> okay. andy o'connell, thank you very much for speaking with us and giving us the lay of the land in what happens there on the road. appreciate that.
>> thank you.