Secret Service Under Fire for Personal Misconduct Allegations
The Secret Service is under fire for allegations including excessive drinking, violation of curfew, and cavorting with prostitutes in Colombia during the course of preparations for President Obama's trip to the country for the Summit of the Americas.
Reportedly, the Associated Press was the first to break news of the alleged scandal, which was based upon an anonymous tip.
While the group of some 17 Secret Service agents and 5 special operations military personnel were not a part of the Presidential Protection Division, the potential fall out from the incident goes way beyond the moral implications.
Because prostitution is legal within certain "tolerance zones" in Colombia, it isn't a matter of violating solicitation laws. Rather, some leaders feel that the agents have potentially opened themselves up to future blackmailing incidents. Additionally, the prostitutes were brought into the hotel where the agents were staying, which could have allowed the women potential access to secure information or other opportunities to breach security.
An argument between an alleged prostitute and at least one of the agents is what brought the incident to the attention of the hotel and local authorities. The dispute was allegedly over payment for services rendered.
Assistant Secret Service Director Paul S. Morrissey said in a statement that, "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, return them to their place of duty and replace them with additional Secret Service personnel," and that "These actions have had no impact on the Secret Service's ability to execute a comprehensive security plan for the President's visit to Cartagena."
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