The Secret Service Non-Scandal


Timothy Noah’s article in the New Republic today called into question the level of outrage over allegations that Secret Service agents solicited prostitutes on their recent visit to Colombia ahead of the Summit of the Americas. While certainly embarrassing, he argues that congressional hearings and the media frenzy are unwarranted, and I agree.

The natural assumption when one hears “Secret Service agents hiring prostitutes” is that the President’s personal body men left his side to troll the streets of Washington, D.C., creating an illegal and unsafe situation. But that isn’t what happened here. There are a few facts that are crucial to this case:

  • The agents were in Cartagena, Colombia, where prostitution is legal.
  • The events occurred before President Obama had even arrived in Colombia; the activity took place off-hours.
  • The agents have been charged by the Pentagon with violating curfew, which is ostensibly unrelated to what the agents were doing in violating such a curfew.

As Noah points out:

The cops were called not because there was evidence of prostitution, but because one of the prostitutes violated a hotel rule (seemingly designed with hanky-panky in mind) that required visitors of registered guests to leave by 7 a.m. There was also a dispute about how much one of the prostitutes ought to be paid. Had such a dispute occurred over a restaurant bill, we wouldn’t be hearing about it.

Moreover, the congressional hearings set to take place have been justified by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) as necessary because “one of those prostitutes could be paid by terror to infiltrate and hear what’s going on.” But, with regards to infiltrating a hotel room, how do the prostitutes differ from any other hotel staff? Noah goes on to ask:

If the concern is that a foreign national might have accessed such information, what about the hotel maids? What about any other hotel employee who had access to the room? Does the Secret Service manual forbid room service? Are unmarried Secret Service agents required by law to date only U.S. citizens?

The families of these agents have every right to be irate over the prostitutes. But these Secret Service agents did not put the President in harm’s way, and their only transgression, if any, was staying up too late. The American media has a dirty mind. If we get caught up in the outrage over this story, we’ll fall into the gutter, too.

2 comments on “The Secret Service Non-Scandal”

  1. We were told Obama was good good, goooood for our international rep and image. So, TNR has to come in here and say, “Nothing to see here, folks! Move right along.” And of course they can’t do that without a condescending b—h slap, saying, “Oh, America, you’re just caught up in this because you’re a bunch of onanistic perverts.”

  2. I think the views and opinions expressed above by Mr. Noah and Mr. Green are rather short sighted and miss the main reason behind the outrage. Although you do make a good point that a maid or hotel attendant could easily be a malicious foreign national, you ignore the fact that these servicemen were not only hiring prostitutes, but drinking alcohol heavily as well. I’m not an expert, but I’m going to go ahead and assume that a country with such a superb intelligence gathering capability as the United States thoroughly screens the residences at which their agents reside. After all, the agency plans presidential trips and security months in advance. Though it is certainly possible that a hotel staff could be an agent of a foreign government or terrorist cell, I find it much much more likely that a prostitute walking the streets of one of the most dangerous cities in the world, with absolutely no background check or credentials, poses a far greater threat to presidential security than hotel workers. Moreover, the outrage isn’t simply that security was breached, because such breaches must happen regularly, but the manner in which it was breached. The conduct of the agents is nothing short of egrigious. Though they violated no Colombian law, they violated the common practices of ethics that any reputable agency or company abides by (i.e. drinking on the job and fornicating with whores). The fact that they are supposed to be the most elite, disciplined, and focused group of sworn body guards in the world makes matters much worse.

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