Monday, April 16, 2012

Secret Service Colombia Scandal

As you may have heard the President's recent trip to Cartagena, Colombia for the Summit of the Americas didn't go over so well. Not only did various Latin American leaders snub the US by refusing to attend or leaving early, some of those who did attend made it quite clear that if they had their way this would be the last such summit without a Cuban delegation attending. They took the US to task over the embargo and pointedly refused to issue any joint statement.

However all this was overshadowed by the alleged actions of some of the Secret Service advance security team, who upon arriving in Cartagena and being tasked presumably to scope out the area, determine the safest routes for the President to travel, and ensure the general safety and schedule for the President and his delegation, decided that they had some other things to do as well.

The incident came to light when a Cartagena prostitute refused to leave the hotel room occupied by a Secret Service agent until she was paid, said U.S. Representative Peter King, who heads the House Homeland Security Committee.
The 11 agents, part of an advance security team that arrived before Obama, had brought women to their hotel blocks away from where the president stayed this weekend, said King. All have since been placed on administrative leave.At a press conference standing next to Santos yesterday, Obama said the investigation into the agents' actions is ongoing, "and I expect that investigation to be thorough and I expect it to be rigorous."If allegations are confirmed "then of course I'll be angry," he said. "We're representing the people of the United States, and when we travel to another country I expect us to observe the highest standards."

It is completely unsurprising to me that people in a foreign land (even if they are Secret Service agents) would decide to take in some of the local sights and interact with the natives, so to speak. Men and women always find a way to get together. They always have and they always will. Prostitution is legal in Colombia. I really doubt that this is the first Secret Service detail to have allegedly engaged in such activities and I doubt it will be the last. I am a bit surprised though that professionals (I'm talking about the Secret Service agents, not the call girls) would let a situation get to this level. 

Discretion would seem to be the better part of valor here. Was this a new service? Who called the woman? Did the agent(s) who allegedly interacted with the woman know that payment was expected? Did an agent just come back in his room and find a strange woman demanding money? Did a pimp try to shake down an agent for more money than was allegedly agreed upon? Is this really a client/hooker exchange or is it a possible girlfriend trying to embarrass someone?  If it really is a hooker why didn't someone just pay her some money to go away quietly? Of the 11 agents recalled , how many of them had nothing to do with the situation but just had the bad luck to be in the same hotel suites when the stuff went down? Are any of these guys married? Perhaps they have some 'splainin to do...

All of those questions (and more) will be asked and answered in the coming investigation I suppose. People can and do compartmentalize actions and thoughts so it's possible, even quite likely that the President's security was never in question. On the other hand if you're busy thinking about the fun times you're going to have with Maria and Esmeralda perhaps you're not asking questions about why that fifth floor window in the next building is open. To quote Vito Corleone "What's the matter with you? I think your brain is going soft from all that comedy you play with that young girl. Now stop it and pay attention to business".

1) Is this much ado about nothing?
2) Does this feed into the image of The Ugly American?
3) Do you think this sort of alleged behavior is common for people traveling overseas?

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