Twelve members of the United States Secret Service are under investigation after an incident in mid-April in Cartagena, Colombia. The alleged misconduct involved the agents and a prostitution scandal, which happened before President Obama arrived in the South American country for the Summit of the Americas, where the leaders of many Western Hemisphere countries met to discuss various multi-national issues. Eleven U.S troops are also under investigation for alleged offenses related to the scandal.
The agents were part of the “jump team” that precedes the President to events that he travels to. The controversy was sparked when one of the women allegedly involved with the scandal disputed the amount of money she was to be paid for the night in question. Soliciting prostitution is legal for most adults in Colombia, but both military law and the Secret Service Conduct Code bar members from participating in such acts.
Since the story broke in the news, six of the twelve Secret Service agents have resigned. The remaining agents under investigation are on administrative leave. The troops who were allegedly involved are also accused of heavy drinking and missing curfew, and they will likely not be re-deployed until the case is resolved. The United States Military and the Secret Service have conducted over two hundred interviews in the investigation.
Ex-Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin weighed in on the controversy, calling it a sign of a “government run amok.” A spokesperson for President Obama responded by saying that it was “preposterous to politicize” the current situation, and that the President would be very angry if what is being said in the press turns out to be true. According to press reports, at least twenty Colombian women were involved in the scandal.
The United States Secret Service is a multi-faceted agency. Protection of the President and First Family is only one of the duties performed by the Federal Agency, which was formed in the late 1800’s. They also protect other government personnel, foreign dignitaries, and heads of state, as well as investigate the counterfeiting of currency.