Dan Master | News & Features Editor
Several members of a Secret Service unit that were tasked with securing a safe arrival and stay for President Obama while he attended a summit meeting in Columbia were a little distracted by the local fare while there. They are accused of using the services of a high-priced escort service. The transaction escalated when one member of the Secret Service refused to pay the prostitutes price. Instead, he insisted on paying 30$, 25x less than her regular price, according to the New York Times.
In her first public appearance since the incident, the woman was reported as saying, “I tell him, ‘Baby, my cash money.’” The incident took place in a room located in the Hotel Caribe. The morning after the intercourse took place saw the disagreement over the price move into the halls of the elegant hotel. Another prostitute, Columbian Police, Hotel staff and other American Federal Agents were all in the hallway trying to get to the bottom of the quarrel.
According to the prostitute that was short-changed by the Secret Service Agent, she was never informed as to why the American was in Columbia, nor was she notified who he worked for.
“They never told me they were with Obama,” the woman said, responding to allegations that the agents were claiming to be protecting the president. “They were very discreet.”
Because of the nature of what she is doing-calling attention to the wrongdoings of an American Federal Agent- the escort is in a constant state of nervousness for she does not want to be the victim of a retaliatory attack.
“This is something really big,” she said. “This is the government of the United States. I have nervous attacks. I cry all the time.”
The whole situation has a larger theme: the Secret Service members compromised the validity of their operation to protect the president by exposing foreign nationals to sensitive national security information. Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California, and Democrat Elijiah Cummings, ranking members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, both feel that reform is necessary to ensure that something like this situation does not happen again.
In a letter to Mark Sullivan, director of the Secret Service, Issa and Cummings said that there are 10 information requests that they would like answer by May 1st so they can effectively combat this issue.
“Your swift and decisive action in response to this scandal has given us confidence that the agency will complete a thorough investigation and take steps to ensure that similar lapses in judgment will never again jeopardize the important work of the U.S. Secret Service, Issa and Cummings said.
Responding to the malfeasance of several of its agents, the Secret Service administration have let 3 agents who were directly related to the incident go, and placed 8 others on administrative leave.
Secret Service Assistant Director Paul Morrissey said in a public statement that the Office of Professional Responsibility is conducting a thorough investigation that will get to the bottom of the incident.
“The Secret Service continues to conduct a full, thorough and fair investigation, utilizing all investigative techniques available to our agency,” Morrissey said. “This includes polygraph examinations, interviews with the employees involved, and witness interviews, to include interviews being conducted by our Office of Professional Responsibility in Cartagena, Colombia.”
As well as the 11 Secret Service Agents involved in the incident, 10 other military personnel were also partakers in the night-bacchanalia that included excessive drinking, strip clubs, and escort services. There is a second investigating agency now, the Department of Defense.
The question is with the ordeal: how did these members of the Secret Service pass the necessary background check and rigorous aptitude tests required to become a Federal Agent? The Vision Statement of the Secret Service states that, “The vision of the United States Secret Service is to uphold the tradition of excellence in its investigative and protective mission through a dedicated, highly-trained, diverse, partner-oriented workforce that employs progressive technology and promotes professionalism.”
In light of recent events, we know that these agents were anything but professional, excellent or protective. Issa and Cummings certainly have their work cut out for them.