Unpaid prostitute precedes Obama's Secret Service controversy
Arguments over $47 bursts open a scandal in Colombia involving U.S. agents
A Colombian prostitute, angry over not being paid her typical $47 fee has led to an ever-growing scandal about U.S. Secret Service agents working in South America. One of 11 agents assigned to protect President Obama at a summit meeting in Cartagena, Colombia has shamed the administration after his "lady of the evening" refused to leave his hotel room without being paid.
The woman was only one of 11 prostitutes that had been hired for that evening. The prostitute in question hadn't left Cartagena's swank Hotel Caribe, where White House staffers, members of the press and dignitaries were staying during the Summit of the Americas meeting.
The incident occurred last week, according to Rep. Pete King, a Long Island Republican who was briefed on the incident yesterday.
A hotel employee had told The Associated Press that agents arrived at the beachfront hotel a week ago and drank heavily during their stay. Prostitution is legal in much of Colombia inside "tolerance zones" controlled by police.
A hotel employee noticed the prostitute's ID was still at the front desk at 7 a.m., in violation of hotel policy on overnight guests, King said. The manager then went to the agent's room where the woman had spent the night and saw the agent and the prostitute arguing.
"She said the agent owed her money," King said. "He said he didn't have to pay her." The agent eventually paid the prostitute and the situation was resolved. However - the police were called and they filed a report, which was sent to the U.S. Embassy.
The probe widened to include five members of the U.S. military who were allegedly involved in the same incident. The service members, with the Southern Command, are reportedly still in Colombia "because of the expertise and the knowledge that these guys have," a military spokesman told CBS News.
A statement released by the Southern Command said the service members "violated the curfew and may have been involved in inappropriate conduct."
An expert on the Secret Service says that the majority of the secret service agents are married and could have been exposed to blackmail.
"It could have resulted in a potential assassination attempt on the president," Ronald Kessler, author of "In the President's Secret Service," said.
Kessler declares that the incident is "the biggest scandal in the history of the Secret Service and the most basic breach of security," the author said.
However, Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said that Obama's security was not compromised because of the incident. "This entire matter has been turned over to our Office of Professional Responsibility, which serves as the agency's internal- affairs component," he said.
In addition, Donovan said that none of the agents involved was directly assigned to protect the president. Donovan said the agents involved were relieved from duty and replaced.
But the scandal has made the United States the laughingstock of the important summit, as diplomats have been gossiping about the scandal rather than focusing on Obama's goals in the region.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
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