Secret Service Agents Seek Apology
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Two former Secret Service agents sought an apology from the agency’s director Thursday for criticizing them for telling a best-selling author about alleged extramarital activities by President John F. Kennedy.
Through their lawyer, the pair rejected the assertion by Secret Service Director Lewis C. Merletti that talking about the personal life of a Secret Service protectee, even 35 years after his death, damages the agency’s professionalism and its relationship of trust with those it protects.
The attorney, Mark S. Zaid, said that while he regards Merletti’s statements as ``quite defamatory,″ his official position likely protects him from a defamation suit.
But Zaid said he believes the Association of Former Agents of the U.S. Secret Service Inc. ``has been placed in legal jeopardy″ for publishing a letter from Merletti restating agency policy on the confidentiality of the lives it protects.
The two former agents, William McIntrye and Anthony Sherman Jr., recalled their experiences guarding Kennedy in interviews with author Seymour Hersh, who included them in his 1997 book, ``The Dark Side of Camelot.″
``Director Merletti’s position on this issue is clear and unchanged,″ said agency spokesman Arnette Heintz after the agency received the Zaid letter.
In a Dec. 5 letter to 4,600 current Secret Service employees and hundreds of former agents, Merletti said the disclosures to Hersh were, ``regardless of accuracy, very troubling and counterproductive to the mission of the Secret Service.″
He wrote that an agent’s determination to keep confidences ``should continue forever.″