US Secret Service agents face investigation for Colombian sex scandal

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The beaches of Cartagena, Colombia with the Hotel Caribe in the background.
Image: FreddySampayo.

US Senator Susan Collins said Tuesday US Secret Service agents and US military personnel in Cartagena, Colombia engaged around 21 Colombian women in the prostitution sex scandal last week.

In addition to the eleven US Secret Service agents currently under investigation, the US military doubled the target of its review from five to ten of its own members, all of whom were at Hotel Caribe in Cartagena. The investigated Secret Service agents have had their security clearances suspended during the investigation period, and are on administrative leave. Mark Sullivan, director of the Secret Service agency, is in charge of the investigation.

Senator Collins said she was worried that the agents could have been compromised in ways that might have harmed the president’s security, such as being bugged.

The sex scandal has overshadowed President Barack Obama's trip to Colombia last Friday where he went primarily to discuss trade issues at the Summit of the Americas, but the President expressed his confidence that the internal investigation would be "thorough" and "rigorous".

Speaking for the military, Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Monday the military had been "embarrassed" and had not served the president well during the trip.

A manager at the Hotel Caribe first alerted the police after women had stayed in the Secret Service agents' rooms past the hotel's time limit for guests, according to US House of Representatives member Peter King. Guests are required to leave identification with the hotel while on the premises, and the policy of the hotel is that guests must leave by 7 in the morning. At least five military members missed their curfew and were at the same hotel where the incident with the agents took place.