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Misconduct Alleged Against Secret Service Agents


Billy Ocean
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Misconduct alleged against Secret Service agents

CARTAGENA, Colombia — Alleged misconduct by a dozen Secret Service agents sent to provide security for President Barack Obama in Colombia threatened to overshadow his diplomatic mission to Latin America.

On Friday night, a caller who said he had knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that the misconduct involved prostitutes in Cartagena, site of the Summit of the Americas this weekend. A Secret Service spokesman did not dispute that.

The White House had no comment, but also did not dispute the allegations.

A U.S. official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and requested anonymity, put the number of agents at 12. The agency was not releasing the number of personnel involved.

The alleged activities took place before Obama arrived Friday in this Colombian port city for meetings with 33 other regional leaders. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said the agents involved were relieved from duty and replaced with other agency personnel.

"These personnel changes will not affect the comprehensive security plan that has been prepared in advance of the president's trip," Donovan said.

Still, the allegations were an embarrassment for the president and his delegation while guests of the Colombian government. And the incident threatened to torpedo White House efforts to keep the president's trip focused squarely on the economy and boosting U.S. trade ties with fast-growing Latin America.

Obama was to hold two days of summit meetings with regional leaders before heading back to Washington Sunday night.

The agents at the center of the allegations had stayed at Cartagena's Hotel Caribe. Several members of the White House staff and press corps were also staying at the hotel.

A hotel employee, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, said the agents arrived at the beachfront hotel about a week ago. The employee described the agents as drinking heavily during their stay.

The employee said the agents left the hotel Thursday, a day before Obama and other regional leaders arrived for the weekend summit.

The hotel's public relations chief had no comment.

The Washington Post reported that Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said the accusations related to at least one agent having involvement with prostitutes in Cartagena. The association represents federal law enforcement officers, including the Secret Service.

Adler later told the AP that he had heard that there were allegations of prostitution, but he had no specific knowledge of any wrongdoing.

Donovan said the agency personnel involved had been sent back from Colombia to their permanent place of duty. The matter was turned over to the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility, which handles the agency's internal affairs.

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Associated Press writers Libardo Cardona and Pedro Mendoza contributed to this report.

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Secret Service personnel sent home from Colombia amid allegations of misconduct

The Secret Service is investigating allegations of misconduct by agency personnel preparing for President Barack Obama’s arrival at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, including that at least one officer solicited a prostitute, according to media reports.

A dozen Secret Service workers were sent home this week. They were replaced by others on site. The service overstaffs on international trips by bringing more agents than needed should one become sick, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Secret Service employees had arrived about a week before Obama touched down and stayed at Cartagena's Hotel Caribe, according to The Associated Press. A hotel employee told the AP that they had been drinking heavily throughout the week. Several reporters and White House staff also had rooms booked at the hotel.

Those recalled were members of the Uniformed Division, which oversees manning entrances, according to NBC News. The Secret Service website defines the Uniformed Division as "officers who carry out their protective responsibilities through a network of fixed security posts, foot, bicycle, vehicular and motorcycle patrols."

The recalled personnel were not a part of the president’s security detail. When the president travels, agents ahead of him map routes and check venues, according to Politico.

Obama arrived in Cartagena, a port city, on Friday and attended a leaders’ dinner that night at the city’s historic Spanish fortress. Thirty-three leaders from the Americas are gathered at the summit to discuss economic policy, trade and immigration. The president was scheduled to hold two days of meetings before heading back to Washington Sunday night.

Word of the allegations leaked out Friday. The Washington Post reported that former Post reporter Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said the accusations relate to at least one officer being involved with prostitutes in Colombia.

The AP said it received an anonymous tip about one or more federal agents soliciting prostitutes. A U.S. official told the AP that about a dozen personnel were sent home.

Adler told the Post that the entire unit was being recalled for investigation.

He later told the AP that he had no specific knowledge of wrongdoing but had heard the accusations related to prostitution. Although prostitution is legal in Colombia when conducted in “tolerance zones,” soliciting prostitutes is considered inappropriate by the Secret Service, according to the Post. Additionally, the Post reported, several of the agents sent home are married.

Cartagena has a history of problems with sex trafficking, Politico reported, and there are nongovernmental organizations dedicated to the issue, Politico reported.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan would not confirm that prostitution was involved, saying only that there had been "allegations of misconduct" made against Secret Service personnel.

The matter was turned over to the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility, which handles the agency's internal affairs.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story.

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I would've preferred to live back in the Old West... where the mayor and sheriff and everybody always hung out at the town whore house.

And one additional downside to our fighting wars in the Middle East is the lack of whores for our servicemen. Getting a weekend leave had to be a lot more fun for a G.I. in Europe or 'Nam.

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On a side note I have a sister currently in Cartagena who told me that 32 police agencies from 27 countries were assisting with the security. There are a total of 7,680 police officers, 400 vehicles with GPS, 300 video cameras, 36 radiation detectors, 6 explosive proof robots, and 20 intelligence patrols with 85 special devices in place to guard the President. Apparently there is also a battle group lurking close by. Its apparently a big deal in Colombia.

Edited by daroadrambler
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