Secret Service agents accused of misconduct in Colombia, replaced
The agents were recalled after allegations of misconduct involving prostitutes in the coastal city of Cartagena, where Obama is attending the Summit of the Americas, the Washington Post first reported.
“There have been allegations of misconduct made against the Secret Service in Cartagena, Colombia, prior to the president’s trip,” Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said in a statement, according to reports.
“Because of this, those personnel are being relieved of their assignments, returned to their place of duty, and are being replaced by other Secret Service personnel. The Secret Service takes all allegations of misconduct seriously.”
I suppose there’s a chance that what the agent(s) were allegedly engaged in could have had something to do with their official duties and the appearances were misconstrued, but, not unlike catching the exterminator going through your underwear drawer, it’s highly unlikely to be job related.
However, there could be a lot more — or less — to the story. We may never know.
There have been a couple other recent incidents involving Obama’s security detail:
In November, Christopher Deedy, a federal agent with the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, was charged with second-degree murder after shooting a man during a dispute outside a McDonald’s in Honolulu. Though Deedy was off duty at the time, he was on the island to provide security arrangements for Mr Obama’s trip to an economic summit.
In August, Daniel Valencia, a Secret Service agent, was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in Decorah, Iowa, where he was helping arrange security for Mr Obama’s bus trip through three midwestern states. Mr Valencia, who was off duty at the time of the arrest, was recently sentenced to two days in jail with credit for time served, and a fine of $US1250.
Update: The Secret Service paid Joe Biden $21,000 last year. File under “related stories.”
Update II: A few more details from the New York Times:
A senior United States official who had been briefed on the matter said that investigators were sorting through accounts that more than one member of the Secret Service team might have had women in their rooms — although it was not clear whether others were prostitutes or, if so, whether the agents knew that.
“There are people who willingly went to prostitutes and other people who ended up with prostitutes,” the official said. “Either way, it’s just unacceptable.”
Specifically, the official said, on Wednesday night an agent was believed to have taken a Colombian woman back to his hotel room and later thrown her out in a dispute over money; investigators were trying to figure out whether the agent knew that she had intended to be paid.
The woman apparently began causing a disturbance in the hallway, eventually bringing other Secret Service agents — as well as a small number of law enforcement and military officials working with them on security and communications matters — out of their rooms and attracting the attention of hotel management and security.
It emerged that others on the team also had women in their rooms. Tempers flared, compounded by the language barrier. At some point Colombian police became involved, and American government officials decided to replace the team.
Jay Carney: “Not appropriate” for Obama to comment on the ongoing Secret Service investigation.