"Secret Service Sex Scandal!" - it's like a headline writer's dream. And Rupert Murdoch's. It's perfect for capturing the Reality TV mentality of the 24-hour news cycle. But it's hard, as some might want, to pin the sexual escapades of a pack of randy bodyguards on the president.Embarassing? Yes. Potentially dangerous? Yes. Stupid? Yes. Should they be fired? Yes.
But national policy failure? No.
When 11 Secret Service agents on a mission to protect the president go out and get roaring drunk two days before the big guy hits the ground, that's a concern. When they get drunk and bring home a horde of hookers, 20 or 21 in all, and brag about how they're there preparing for the president's arrival, that's a gigantic security risk.
Let's face it, these are Secret Service agents, not a bunch of conventioneers at a gathering in Cedar Rapids.
That, though, is what we're discovering happened while this group of Secret Service agents was supposed to be doing advance work for the president's trip. Apparently, they got a Groupon half-off deal, or went for the Buy One Get One special. It poses an interesting math puzzle - figuring out the logistics of 20 or 21 women and 11 men.
More importantly, it raises questions about their morals, their judgment, and, as Fox News military analyst Lt. Col. Ralph Peters said on "The O'Reilly Factor," about the leadership that created an environment where that many agents would join in to do such a thing. (As you'll see, Peters also slurred an entire continent and its people during his analysis, but that's another issue.)
"The Secret Service is a great organization that has done tremendous work," Peters said, "but as with the military, sometimes you get this sort of thing. Latin America has always been regarded as the 'party continent,' and this was obviously an incident of poor leadership. If the leader of the team is misbehaving or tolerating misbehavior, the troops will go bad."
Notably, though, Mitt Romney and the Republican Party have pretty much left the issue alone. Even Fox News, which loves bashing the president, has been mostly circumspect in dealing with the secret service┐s not-so-secret screw-up. For the most part.
Bill O'Reilly actually stepped up to defend the Obama administration. This, he said, was the failings of a group of men behaving very badly - and, possibly, of the organization they're a part of - but not of the president.
"I wouldn't blame it on the administration, I don't think that's fair," he said. "But I do think there's something wrong in the Secret Service hierarchy because they obviously don't have any fear in doing this. I mean come on, going to the Pley Club in Cartagena?" So far only one of Fox┐s name stars has tried to paint the Cartagena affair (or affairs, in this case) as more evidence of the moral flaws of the Obama administration.
"A prostitution scandal has rocked the United States secret service and has the Obama administration scrambling to contain this national embarrassment," Sean Hannity said in his breathless introduction Monday night. "... the President has said publicly he would be quote, 'angry if these reports are true.' But he and other top administration officials don't seem to understand the gravity of this incident on Saturday night. Just hours after this bombshell story broke; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was seen partying at a Colombian nightclub, drinking beer, dancing with friends. And apparently, she is not the only one impressed with, well, Colombia's night life."
The whole thing might have remained a secret servicing if one agent hadn't argued over paying one of the hookers. Hotel staff apparently found her in his room, demanding her money. Eventually, other agents reportedly gave her some more cash and got her to go away. But the ruckus brought the kind of attention none of the agents - especially the married ones - wanted. El Cheapo probably has few fans among his fellow agents now.
Most of the real outrage seems to be coming from the president himself. And, as he put it, it's not about the security issue. It's about men acting like pigs, for all the world to see.
"If it turns out some of the allegations that have been made in the press are confirmed, then, of course, I'll be angry because my attitude with respect to Secret Service personnel is no different than what I expect out of my delegation sitting here," Obama said at a press conference.
Prostitution may be legal in Colombia, but that shouldn't matter. As the president said, it's not about them; it's about us and how the rest of the world perceives us.
"We represent the United States. When we travel to another country, I expect them to observe the highest standards because we're not just representing ourselves. We're here on behalf of our people and that means we conduct ourselves with the utmost dignity and probity and obviously what's been reported does not match up with those standards."
Source: Terra/Carlos Harrison