Saturday, April 14, 2012

Another TDY Gone Wrong (Deadbeat Secret Service Agents Recalled From Colombia)

Updated at 4 PM: Since I originally posted this, there have been some unattributed statements in the Washington-based news media to the effect that the Secret Service agents had a dispute with the Caribe Hotel over room charges - the hotel expected them to pay extra for having overnight guests - and that it may have been the hotel management, rather than local prostitutes, who complained to local police.

Updated again at 5:45: The New York Times has a bit more detail on how the TDY went south.
A senior United States official who had been briefed on the matter said that investigators were sorting through accounts that more than one member of the Secret Service team may have had women in their rooms — although it was not clear whether others were prostitutes or, if so, whether the agents knew that.
“There are people who willingly went to prostitutes and other people who ended up with prostitutes,” the official said. “Either way, it’s just unacceptable.”
Specifically, the official said, on Wednesday night an agent is believed to have taken a Colombian woman back to his hotel room and had then thrown her out in a dispute over money; investigators are trying to figure out whether the agent knew that she had intended to be paid.
The woman apparently began causing a disturbance in the hallway, eventually bringing other Secret Service agents — as well as a small number of law enforcement and military officials working with them on security and communications matters — out of their rooms and attracting the attention of hotel management and security.
It emerged that others on the team also had women in their rooms. Tempers flared, compounded by the language barrier. At some point Colombian police became involved, and American government officials decided to replace the team.

I'm shaking my head ruefully. Ruefully, I tell you.


This is an example of why consular officers always have the best stories of anybody in the Foreign Service:

Who could not be entertained as often as appalled by the infinite variety of troubles that visiting gringos can cause?

Ed Henry's tweet from yesterday reinforces what the WaPo's Ronald Kessler said in his interview with CNN today, the bottom line of which is that a prostitute in Cartagena complained to local police that a U.S. Secret Service agent had refused to pay her, leading the police to contact "the State Department" which in turn contacted the Secret Service.

The State Department official in that chain of phone calls was having a much better day than the Secret Service official.

I looked at several Colombian newspapers in search of juicy details, but they had nothing, really, other than the unsurprising news that the Secret Service agents involved had "bebían mucho alcohol" during their stay at the Hotel Caribe in Cartagena.

I think Homer Simpson said it best: "To alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems."


Anonymous said...

LOL! I agree! Drinking is lots more fun in Mexico as long as you are in a safe place for gringos! This story reminds me of those secret service guys in Ft. Worth around Nov 22,1963 gwb

TSB said...

GWB: Call me naive, but I admit I'm surprised that USSS agents would be quite so reckless when actually on a Presidential trip. They're paying for it now.

I'm also surprised about the "language barrier." With 15 or more visiting gringos in the same hotel corridor, wasn't there anyone who could hablo with the cops?

Jen said...

Wow, those idiots just screwed up a whole bunch of lives. I'm sure more than a few are married with kids and probably need to be employed.

Being that I am married to the law, if you will, for State, I can only say: I know they knew better. Nothing short of shameful...

TSB said...


They definitely knew better. And, with 15 or more agents and others involved, at least two or three of them were supervisors who ought to have prevented the Animal House antics in the first place.

That's an excellent point about the married agents needing to stay employed. It's a sad thing all around.

Anonymous said...

TSB: You should get a "Bloglitzer" nomination for your coverage of this story. It's going to be great to see their female boss explaining to "The Committee" of old white guys what possibly could have gone wrong. Then Daryl Issa will probably subpoena all the videos.. that should get us to November. gwb

Anonymous said...

It's always sunny in Kabul and it looks like fighting season has begun.
I'm sure the NYT will report on this as soon as their sources find out what's going on. Britain says they are in close contact with their embassy people. (who are under attack) gwb

TSB said...

If it's Spring, it's Fighting Season. Our Ambassador has been interviewed by CNN from inside the locked-down embassy, and at the Parliament, one of the legislators went Rambo and was firing a machine gun from the roof.

Ah, we'll miss this sort of thing after we're gone from there.

Anonymous said...

TSB: The free NY Post is getting some more details from
NBC about the big weekend. I wonder if it will make the NBC news? gwb

Two Secret Service supervisors and three elite agents were among those placed on administrative leave amid allegations they brought prostitutes back to their hotel rooms in Cartagena, Colombia, in advance of a presidential visit this past weekend.
Citing law endorsement officials, NBC News reported that the elite agents were members of the Secret Service's Counter-Assault Team (CAT), which plays a direct role in protecting the president.

Read more:

TSB said...

GWB: That the agents were from CAT and counter-sniper teams is really interesting, since it shows what a huge deal the White House thinks this scandal really is. The administration yanked them out of Cartagena the night before the POTUS arrived, replacing them with a pick-up teams of agents from Miami and other field offices, agents who would not have time to familiarize themselves with the routes and venues for the summit conference. Basically, the White House chose to degrade the president's security package rather than leave the naughty agents in place for three more days.

Anonymous said...

TSB: Besides being a little embarassing look at the price on this AK-47 ammo! United Nations Ammo must be making a fortune supplying American "Sportsemen" for their hunting needs. I pay more than that for my .22 ammo and so far I haven't been able to kill anything with it but pop cans. gwb

TSB said...

I wish they would sell us some cheap .380 ammo. That stuff is getting expensive in my area.