Sunday, June 4, 2023

Colombian rule? Years of ‘gentlemen’s club’ membership pinned on US Secret Service

A Secret Service Agent holds his tuxedo together as Marine One with
US President Barack Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House
on May 8, 2012 in Washington (AFP Photo / Brendan Smialovski)

Prostitutes, improper use of weapons and sensitive data leaks – the US reveals 229 pages of accusations against Secret Service agents dating back to 2004.

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­The heavily redacted document disclosed by the US government under the freedom of information act indicates the prostitution scandal in Colombia, which came out in April this year, may not be so unrepresentative of agents’ practices as the agency’s bosses insisted in Congress.

Thus, the dossier reads that in 2005 a county sheriff stopped a special agent at an undisclosed location after the latter left a “gentlemen’s club.” The police had to be summoned after the man displayed his weapon and badge and told the club manager that they were “violating federal law by charging $40 for a lap dance and $25 for a tableside dance.”

In 2008, an on-duty officer was arrested in a Washington prostitution sting. Eventually, the officer was fired.

One employee was accused of attempted sexual assault in a hotel in August last year, the document shows. This incident was closed with an “administrative disposition.”

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In total, the dossier reveals that Secret Service agents, whose primary function is to protect the president, have been accused not only of sex-related crimes, but also of publishing pornography, illegal wire-tapping, spreading software viruses, leaking sensitive information and drunkenness.

The compilation, obtained by the Associated Press and other news outlets, covers all kinds of the Secret Service related claims submitted since 2004 to the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general.

How many of the accusations were later sustained by proper evidence remains unclear.

All this comes after Congress held a hearing in May over the Colombian prostitution scandal, which cost several Secret Service officers, agents and supervisors their jobs. Congress then expressed concerns that the incident exposed a culture of misconduct within the agency.

Mark Sullivan, the agency’s director, went out of his way to assure the assembly that hiring call girls and embarking on alcohol-fuelled festivities while preparing for the arrival of President Barack Obama in Colombia was “not representative” of the “high ethical standards we demand from our almost 7,000 employees.”

“The Secret Service has five core values: justice, duty, courage, honesty, and loyalty,” Sullivan said testifying to the congressmen.

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