But while they acknowledge the potential dangers to national security, sex workers in the United States think the "breach" argument is another form of discrimination against prostitutes. "If the issue is attracting attention or bragging about being in the security detail, then it would be a problem if they brought in any outsider," said McNeill. "If that's the case, then what difference does it make if she's a prostitute or an accountant?"
According to The New York Times, the incident was brought to light after one of the women failed to depart the hotel at 7 a.m., a policy for non-registered guests staying over. Hotel staff and police searched for her; they found her quarreling with an agent over her fee. She reportedly said they had agreed on an $800, but that the agent only offered her $30.
"I tell him, 'Baby, my cash money,'" the woman told the Times.
Colombian police officers argued on her behalf, while American officials tried to quell the situation. She was finally given $225, and left. But since the situation involved a foreign national, the police notified the Secret Service and U.S. Department of State.
Sex worker advocates say she was lucky to have gotten police support. And Norma Jean Almodovar, a retired prostitute and the founder of International Sex Worker Foundation for Art, Culture and Education, a non-profit organization, doubts the women in Colombia wanted the story to get out.
"Why would we want our clients to be arrested? They provide our living, they pay our rent," she said. "Part of what we get paid for is discretion."
Nor are they at all surprised that the situation occurred in the first place. "My friends and I have certainly seen our share of law enforcement officers and politicians," said Leigh. "If they fired or arrested every man in government who ever saw a prostitute, there would not be anyone left to run it."
Indeed, politicians from both sides of the political aisle have gotten in trouble for sex scandals: In 2008, then New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer quit after his involvement with prostitutes went public. The previous year, Deputy Secretary of State Randall L. Tobias resigned after it was confirmed that he frequented a Washington, D.C., escort service.
Almodovar looks at it this way. "On a scale of 1 to 10, if murder is the worst thing you can do to your fellow human, giving them an orgasm has to be one of the best things, unless one believes that giving or receiving sexual pleasure is a bad thing... which I do not," she said. "Why are so many people terrified of sex and sexual pleasure? I do not understand that at all."