Home » Politics » Military ensnared in Colombia Secret Service scandal

Military ensnared in Colombia Secret Service scandal

“We don’t want our service members to be inadvertent supporters of trafficking,” he said. “It’s a crime; it’s a criminal business enterprise. And the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who say, ‘Well, I just go there to get some drinks,’ if it’s a place where the women working in there have been trafficked and are being held against their will, then you’re supporting that business.” ~John F. Awtrey, DoD

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Carrie Budoff Brown & Josh Gerstein – (Politico) – CARTAGENA, Colombia – April 14, 2012 – Five U.S. military members have been ordered confined to quarters over possible involvement in inappropriate conduct at the same hotel here as the 11 Secret Service personnel sent home in an unfolding scandal involving local prostitutes.

“First of all, to be getting involved with prostitutes in a foreign country can leave yourself vulnerable to blackmail and threats,” King said. “To be bringing prostitutes or almost anyone into a security zone when you’re supposed to protect the president is totally wrong.”~Rep. Peter T. King

Making the announcement Saturday, United States Southern Command commander Gen. Douglas Fraser said he is “disappointed by the entire incident and that this behavior is not in keeping with the professional standards expected of members of the United States military.”

The Secret Service confirmed Saturday night that 11 of its staffers assigned to the trip have been placed on administrative leave as the investigation proceeds into dealings between prostitutes and U.S. government personnel preparing for President Barack Obama’s arrival at the Summit of the Americas in Colombia.

“The nature of the allegations, coupled with a zero tolerance policy on personal misconduct, resulted in the Secret Service taking the decisive action to relieve these individuals of their assignment” and send them home, Secret Service Assistant Director Paul Morrissey said in the agency’s most detailed statement to date.

“The personnel involved were brought to Secret Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C., for interviews today. These interviews have been completed,” Morrissey added. He called the administrative leave “standard procedure [that] allows us the opportunity to conduct a full, thorough and fair investigation into the allegations.”

Morrissey said some of the Secret Service personnel were special agents and some were part of the Service’s Uniformed Division, but none came from the Presidential Protective Division — the iconic plainclothes agents who shadow the president at his public events.

Earlier Saturday, the White House maintained its stance of refusing to comment on the scandal, even as word came that military personnel were also involved.

White House press secretary Jay Carney, in an on-camera briefing in Cartagena Saturday afternoon, said of the military personnel that “It is our understanding this is part of the same incident” as the Secret Service.

Carney confirmed that the White House was informed of the incident by the Secret Service on Thursday and that Obama was told about it Friday.

Asked whether the episode amounted to a distraction for the president, Carney said, “It has not. I think it’s been much more of a distraction for the press.”

Carney directed reporters’ questions to the Secret Service, declining even to say whether the White House was disappointed by the episode.

“I don’t have any characterization of this beyond my referral [of questions] to the Secret Service,” Carney said.

However, the Secret Service did express regret and acknowledge that it may have shifted the spotlight.

”We regret any distraction from the Summit of the Americas this situation has caused,” Morrissey said in his statement.

On Wednesday night, 11 special agents, including at least one supervisor, allegedly brought prostitutes back to the hotel where the president was expected to stay later in the week, Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) told POLITICO earlier Saturday. King, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, received a 15-minute briefing Saturday by an aide to Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan. The hotel in Colombia required hotel guests to leave IDs at the front desk and leave by 7 a.m. the next morning, King said. When one of the women did not leave on time, the hotel manager went to the room, but the guests would not come out, he said, so the manager called the police.

The alleged prostitute told police she would not leave until she was paid, King said. The incident was resolved peacefully, but local police are required to file a report with the embassy any time they come in contact with a citizen of another country, King said.

The report to the embassy set off the broader investigation, although rumors of the evening had already spread to the Secret Service’s Miami office, which has jurisdiction over the summit’s security, King said.

“All of this happened very quickly,” he said. “The 11 guys were required to leave the country.”

King said he will first instruct his staff to do an investigation “to see if this is symptomatic of the Secret Service.”

“I don’t believe it is,” King said. “I have great regard for them. [Sullivan] moved very quickly on this, very quickly, very effectively.”

But, he added, “it definitely could have compromised the security of the president” by opening the agents to threats of blackmail.

King said he was not briefed on the alleged actions of the five U.S. military members.

Ronald Kessler, a former Washington Post reporter and author of the book “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect,” called the incident “the biggest scandal in Secret Service history.”

“It is all part of this pattern that I wrote about in the book of corner cutting, laxness, cover up,” Kessler said in an interview Saturday with POLITICO.

King said: “If this is the worst [scandal] they have, this is a pretty good agency.” (Click HERE for original article)

my image


  1. Comment by Intrepid:

    No Discipline and apparently, very sloppy training by introducing themselves to Prostitutes as Agents of a Foreign Service. What were they thinking? I guess with the other head. If any of them are Married I hope the wife’s Castrate them.

    • Comment by all ears:

      Come on now, it’s like the GSA event. What goes on in Columbia stays in Columbia, or so they thought. Perhaps if their per diem was more they wouldn’t have quibbled over the $47. Congress is now investigating this. One said he doubts that this is a isolated incident. While I agree with that , how about we investigate all trips that Congress takes and see who lives in a glass house.

    • Comment by Agamemnon:

      As a former Dept of the Navy civilian employee and now contractor in Afghanistan. We are all trained in trafficking in persons and what happens when you are caught soliciting! This is hammered into our minds through training and what you see on brain wash television (AFN) day and night! Honestly, I can’t believe that these highly trained agents would be stupid enough to have prostitutes in there govt paid housing. I hope to gawd that it proves to be a set up to make these agents and the service look bad!

  2. Comment by Jim:

    I know the the Air Force EOD shop is one that helps out with presidential visits. Any word if this was the “service members” they are talking about?

    • Comment by Jim:

      I heard on the news tonight that the military members were indeed EOD and also dog handlers. But no AF were involved, Marines, Army and Navy.

      • Comment by Forseti:

        According to the NY Times:
        The enlisted personnel under scrutiny include two Marine dog handlers; at least one member of the Green Berets from the Seventh Special Forces Group, which focuses on South America; and Air Force and Navy personnel who specialize in the disposal of explosives.

  3. Comment by Contractor:

    I have a cousin who was Secret Service during Reagan & Bush Sr admin’s and part of Clinton admin before medical retirement. His area was the Pacific and Asia. He said it was fairly common for the advance teams to party and get hookers. Kinda like with military/civilian folks, deploying overseas and the wedding ring comes off. I guess they just never argued over the payment.

    I imagine the “Human Trafficking” training will be alot more intensive now, besides an online course on AKO.

    Is it still considered “Human trafficking” if it takes place in an area where it’s legal and regulated? Like say the legal areas in Nevada or the area in Cartagena?

  4. Comment by Agamemnon:

    I’m curious does anyone know if these material witnesses against SS, EOD and SF have been placed in Protective Custody?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *