Investigators have found that nine of the Colombian women who were drinking and partying with Secret Service personnel last month in Colombia were paid for their services, Congressional sources say. The Secret Service has now interviewed most of the women, who range in age from 20 to 39, and none were found to have any ties to terrorist organizations or drug cartels.
That information has allayed fears on Capitol Hill that the wild night of partying by Secret Service personnel in Colombia did not compromise the President’s safety, or national security.
The scandal unfolded when 175 Secret Service agents and officers traveled to Cartagena, Colombia last month to make advance preparations for President Obama’s trip to the Summit of the Americas. The prostitution allegations became public when a Colombian woman at the Hotel Caribe complained to police that a Secret Service employee did not pay her the agreed-upon price for her services. The police informed U.S. Embassy officials, and the seedy details of agents’ drinking heavily, visiting strip clubs, and bringing escorts back to the Hotel Caribe became an international scandal.
The Secret Service also provided Congressional investigators with more details of who exactly was involved with the escorts: two of the 12 employees were supervisors; three were snipers and another three were members of a Secret Service counter-assault team. Their careers ranged in length from two years to 22 years. Nine of the 12 people involved took polygraph exams, but three refused – including the supervisory agent who had the original dispute over payment with the Colombian escort. Nine of the 12 involved have resigned or been fired by the Secret Service, 2 agents have been cleared, and one is appealing disciplinary action.
Last Friday, the Secret Service announced that all agents must complete ethics training before being eligible for foreign travel.
The new rules say:
–”Patronization of non-reputable establishments is prohibited.
–”Alcohol may not be consumed at the protectee hotel once the protective visit has begun.
–”Foreign nationals, excluding hotel staff and official counterparts, are prohibited in your hotel room.”
–”Alcohol may only be consumed in moderate amounts while off-duty on … assignment and alcohol use is prohibited within 10 hours of reporting for duty.”