Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scandal and Truth about Secret Service, GSA

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scandal and Truth about Secret Service, GSA

Article excerpt

Dueling scandals of the GSA and the Secret Service battle for the honor of enraging us more. To the tune of more than $800,000.

But the next minute you are thinking, no, it's those cocksure Secret Service swingers who are the most outrageous. The 24/7 cable news and blogosphere are all a-Twitter with reports that 11 agents un-secretly inserted themselves into international scandal while setting up a presidential visit to Colombia. They reportedly went to a strip club and brought prostitutes to their rooms. But they got their covers blown when one agent refused to pay a woman what she felt she'd earned.

Of course, you figure it is bizarre to even get news of obscure GSA bureaucrats and stealthy Secret Service elites in one week. And it is. But it takes me back to another era of investigative journalism -- one that put the GSA and Secret Service together in one room. And culminated in a quasi-investigative finale with the Secret Service honorably blowing up a GSA cover-up.

Here's what happened.

It was 1973 and I'd heard government funds were being spent on nonsecurity improvements at President Richard Nixon's homes and grounds, especially his new estate in San Clemente, Calif. I was Newsday's Washington bureau chief, and when I started asking questions, a White House spokesman said I could inspect the public records -- but only at the GSA regional office in California. When I flew there, GSA officials said, oops, those records were still in Washington. Back in D.C., the GSA said the records would be made available to me by the GSA administrator himself, a political appointee named Arthur Sampson.

Expecting there'd be boxes to sort through, my Newsday colleague Pete Bowles came with me to Mr. Sampson's vast office. Mr. Sampson greeted us pleasantly but we saw no documents, just a half-dozen people waiting silently at a conference table. …

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