US Agencies Probe
Secret Service Prostitution Scandal
May 15, 2012
Top U.S. lawmakers are calling for more firings at the Secret Service,
after a prostitution scandal diminished the reputation of the agents who
protect the president. Three people have left the service as a result of
the scandal. It is uncertain whether the events in Colombia will affect
President Barack Obama's reelection bid.
Republican Representative Peter King, who is leading an investigation of
the scandal, said Thursday he welcomed the previous day's departures and
would not be surprised if more followed. Senator Charles Grassley, the
top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the departures
a positive development.
Eleven Secret Service employees are alleged to have taken prostitutes to
their hotel in Cartagena, Colombia last week, when they were setting up
security for President Obama's visit to the Summit of the Americas.
Secret Service investigators are in Colombia, looking into the incident.
Jeffrey Robinson, co-author of a book about the inner workings of the
Secret Service, says the scandal has tarnished the agency’s image.
“Well, tarnished is the right word, and that is why a lot of the agents
are really very upset," said Robinson. "I mean, they are furious that
these 11 guys would put the agency in this kind of light and deter from
a lot of the other agents - all of the other agents - doing their job.”
Immediately after the incident was made public last Saturday, President
Obama told reporters the alleged behavior of the agents was unacceptable
for anyone representing the United States.
"If it turns out that some of the allegations that have been made in the
press are confirmed, then, of course, I'll be angry," said President
The Secret Service employees thought to be involved were not part of the
president's protection detail. About 10 military service members are
also suspected to have taken part.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney this week praised the actions of
Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan after the incident.
"The president has confidence in the director of the Secret Service,"
said Carney. "Director Sullivan acted quickly in response to this
incident, and is overseeing an investigation, as we speak, into the
Reaction to the scandal by opposition Republicans has been somewhat
muted. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, President Obama's
likely opponent in the November election, said he also has confidence in
the agency's director.
Romney said in a radio interview on Wednesday that he would fire the
The Secret Service incident comes at the same time that employees of
another government agency, the General Services Administration, are
accused of spending extravagant amounts of money at a 2010 conference in
Las Vegas, Nevada.
The two stories are causing some of the president's political opponents
to question the competence promised by the Obama campaign in 2008.
But several experts say they do not expect the Secret Service scandal to
cause lasting political harm to President Obama.
Mann of the Brookings Institution says it would be hard for political
opponents to capitalize on the scandal.
"It is unfortunate," said Mann. "It is embarrassing for the Secret
Service, but it is hard to imagine any sentient human being linking
Obama to it. And I cannot imagine how an opposing candidate could
actually use it against him in the campaign without himself being
Author Jeffrey Robinson says there is little, if anything, the Obama
administration could have done to prevent the agents from engaging with
"Anybody who tries to make this into something more than 11 guys getting
drunk and doing what 11 drunk guys do when they have got time on their
hands, and go look for hookers and that sort of thing, it is just not
fair. It is wrong," he said.
Robinson predicts that the Secret Service prostitution scandal will
probably be forgotten within a year.