Monday, April 23, 2012
Secret Service secrets
Eleven members of the Secret Service were sent back to the US from Colombia recently, where they were working in advance of a presidential visit. Apparently, before the President's arrival in Cartagena, there was a party at what ha been described as a "bordello". (Prostitution is legal in Colombia.) Those attending included military personnel as well as Secret Service agents. Following the party, which involved a considerable amount of alcohol, a number of the participants engaged in sexual activity with women "sex workers". The story allegedly came out because one participant initially refused to pay for "services rendered". We were told that the Secret Service group was not part of the special team that directly protects the President. This story has "legs": there have already been some firings, and at least one "early retirement". Investigation continues, and we shall probably learn more later. Meanwhile, I have some thoughts and questions. How many Secret Service agents are employed? If we can afford to send an advance party of 11, and replace all of them, none of whom is part of the protective team, it seems unlikely that there are less than 40 Secret Service agents: probably more. Was the affair in Colombia typical? I can hardly believe that this was an isolated example of behavior. Are the agents trained to understand that they represent their country, and are always on duty when deployed abroad? Are there any female agents? One columnist has suggested just what I had in mind: the presence of women agents would probably have lessened the likelihood of such wholesale lubricity. How much does each agent cost? Training, salary, benefits, pension obligation, travel...my guess would be well over $100k annually per agent. How are the agents recruited and selected? And by whom? Will the Cartagena affair change anything? Will we ever know?