Servicing not so secretly

Daniel Perret-Goluboff

President Barack Obama arrived in Cartagena, Colombia last Friday for a summit meeting, but the details of the discussion were certainly not the most interesting thing to surface in its wake. Rather, allegations surfacing against Secret Service members have come as a shock to a nation that — arguably — could have seen this scandal coming.

Prior to Obama’s arrival in Colombia, Secret Service agents and officers had been sent to aid in setting up and preparing security measures. Shortly after the arrival of these agents, however, the entirety of the security team was flown back to America and replaced by other Secret Service agents.

Now, rumors are rising that these agents and officers, along with other military personnel stationed there — 11 men in total — have been placed on leave pending an investigation into misconduct that allegedly involves the hiring of Colombian prostitutes.

Details about these incidents are still moderately unclear in nature and official statements have stated that investigations into these matters are still in their early phases. Several things, however, are clear.

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Representative Peter T. King — Republican, New York — has stated that all 11 men under investigation are suspected of having brought Colombian prostitutes back to their hotel rooms. This information was included in a **The New York Times** piece on the investigation.

Some have raised arguments, however, that these men should not be punished given the legality of prostitution in the area of Colombia in which they were staying. Their actions did, however, violate agency rules of conduct for the Secret Service for obvious reasons – specifically, their actions distracted them from protecting the president to the best of their ability.

Here’s the real kicker: these agents would not have been caught if not for their own selfishness and stupidity. The hotel they were staying in required that all guests present some form of identification at the front desk upon their arrival and then leave by 7a.m.

The morning after these alleged actions took place, the hotel manager realized that one of these agent’s “guest” had not left, and went to his room to ask the woman to leave. The agent refused to open the door for the manager, who in turn called a Colombian police officer.

Upon the police officer’s arrival at the room, the woman stated that her reason for not leaving was that the agent had not paid her for her services. The agent eventually paid the woman, who left without any further altercation.

Although no Colombian laws were broken in this process, the Colombian police sent an incident report to the U.S. embassy, which sparked this entire investigation.

My views on prostitution aside, these actions represent a much larger glaring problem with America’s Secret Service. An organization aimed at protecting America’s political elite should be enlisting men of the highest honor, men who hold the value of completing their work to the highest degree of excellence above personal satisfaction.

If we’ve truly exhausted the supply of hardworking American people willing to work an esteemed job with honor and conviction, perhaps we should focus on filling these positions with people who, at the very least, hold the foresight and mental ability to pay their prostitutes.