Sex scandal harms US image abroad
Published: Sunday, April 22, 2012
Updated: Sunday, April 22, 2012 18:04
Hate to tell you this, but we have yet another political sex scandal on our hands. This time it isn’t about pregnant campaign managers or nude tweets. It’s about our Secret Service men and their responsibility and commitment to protecting the president of the United States.
The incident that I am referring to involves Secret Service personnel bringing prostitutes to their hotel rooms. In case you’re not familiar with this national security debacle, I’ll take some time to go over the basics.
President Barack Obama was traveling to Cartagena, Colombia to attend the Summit of Americas, an international trade conference. Before his arrival, Secret Service agents (as typically done) were sent to Cartagena to go over security measures before the president’s visit.
Upon their arrival to Colombia, it seems like the men were quickly distracted and, according to ABC News, 11 were soon spotted at the Pley Club, a well-known brothel and strip club located in the Bosque neighborhood of Cartagena. Eye witnesses reported that the men spent their evening drinking expensive whiskey, bragging about their jobs and enlisting the services of the club’s prostitutes. By bragging, I mean that they were literally boasting to those around them about their Secret Service responsibilities. They were quoted as saying: “We work for Obama,” and “We’re here to protect him.”
If revealing their identities doesn’t sound bad enough, listen to this: The men brought around 20 prostitutes back to their hotel rooms, where classified information – like the president’s schedule and whereabouts – were being kept. The next morning, an agent refused to pay the prostitute her desired amount, leading to a fight between him and the 24-year-old Colombian woman.
The prostitute told The New York Times that the agent agreed to pay her $800 for a night of services but only offered her $30 the morning after, according to an NPR report that said a fight between the groups spilled into the hotel hallway, attracting even more attention. The prostitute eventually left the hotel, but only after she reported the incident to the local police, who then brought the issue to the American embassy.
By the time Obama arrived in Cartagena on Friday, the agents involved with this debacle were all sent back to the U.S. for further investigation. Twelve have been implicated so far, and six agency officers have resigned. The scandal recently widened to include members of the military team in Cartagena, too; apparently 10 or more soldiers may have solicited sex from prostitutes as well.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week that he was embarrassed by the conduct of these service members and that “we let the boss down,” referring to Obama, according to ABC News.
Some are using this sex scandal as a political tool against Obama. For instance, 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was quoted as saying to Fox News that the Colombian incident was “a symptom of government run amok” and she is led to wonder “who’s minding the store around here?”
In contrast, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) defended the service men, calling them outstanding, following his statement with “I am confident that the overwhelming majority of Secret Service people did not engage in this kind of behavior,” McCain said, according to MSNBC.
Despite the political rhetoric, the only people that we can truly blame for this behavior are the men involved. They are the ones out in the field, as Obama said, “When we travel, we have to observe the highest standards. We’re not just representing ourselves. We’re here on behalf of our people.”
I hope that this incident will serve as a warning for all Secret Service agents and military personnel. Hopefully next year’s news reports might actually focus on the president’s trip to the Summit of Americas, not what his Secret Service agents were doing the night before.