Worst Week Ever
Adriana Pratt | Wednesday, April 18, 2012
A visit to speak about trade in the Western Hemisphere? Definitely presidential. A trip to hang out with Colombian prostitutes? Not so much.
U.S. Secret Service agents and military personnel are under fire for allegedly spending time with a certain set of ladies during their South American trip last week. While they supposedly pursued the rendezvous before President Barack Obama arrived, they’re feeling its repercussions long after its end.
American Secret Service and military men, you may have had your night of fun, but now you’re having the worst week ever.
Eleven Secret Service agents and at least ten military personnel are under investigation for misconduct, allegedly keeping the company of at least 20 women late into last Wednesday night, according to CBS News.
While prostitution is legal in Colombia, paying for special attention ahead of Obama’s visit garnered these gentlemen a whole lot more than they bargained for. Once the media caught wind of the breeze blowing down south, headlines exploded and investigations ensued.
When Obama arrived at the summit in Cartagena, he said the U.S. has “never felt more excited about prospects of working as equal partners with our brothers and sisters in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
I don’t think this is what he meant.
If the allegations are true, the United States isn’t going to look too fabulous. All this suspected fun time with friends comes at a price – literally.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the senior Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, was none too pleased with the developments.
“Could they have planted bugs, disabled weapons or in any other way jeopardized security of the president or our country?” she asked in a New York Times article.
Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Monday the team was embarrassed.
“We let the boss down, because nobody is talking about what went down in Colombia other than this incident,” Dempsey said.
The cat was let out of the bag after one woman supposedly demanded an additional payment of $170, according to The Washington Post. An agent got upset and the ensuing dispute drew hotel attention, The Post reported.
Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan acted quickly, and the Secret Service put 11 agents on administrative leave Saturday in lieu of the allegations. They’ve been stripped of their “top-secret” clearance and lost their official identification and firearms.
Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said there is no reason to believe security was compromised, but the team will still conduct investigations to be safe.
While a casual dalliance might have been the intention, an exploding scandal is the reality. Men in charge of protecting the president are in a quandary, as their ability to protect themselves and America’s reputation comes into question.
It sounds like the Secret Service’s services might need some fine-tuning and maybe a little reworking. Perhaps some time to reflect, regroup and refocus could serve the gentlemen well. As the situation continues to develop, one thing is for sure: the Secret Service’s secret ain’t a secret anymore.
Contact Adriana Pratt at [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.