Friday, April 20, 2012

Winners and Losers of Week 1, Secret Service Scandal

Winner: Spirit Airlines, which spun up an advertising gimmick based on the scandal ("upfront payment is required").

Loser: The Secret Service GS-14 supervisory agent who resigned abruptly this week. Since the agent is married, 48 years old, and reportedly had almost twenty years in, I'm guessing that he wasn't quite ready yet, financially speaking, to retire. With all the notoriety surrounding him, his post-retirement opportunities in the private security industry might be disappointing. It doesn't help that he posted lots of indiscreet photos of himself - at a boozy high school reunion, with an Egyptian belly dancer, and "checking out" Sarah Palin while on her protective detail in 2008 - on his Facebook account.

Winner: The 24-year old Colombian woman who complained to police when the Secret Service agent who had picked her up the night before didn't seem to understand that he owned her $800 in the morning. She was interviewed by the New York Times this week where she stressed that her high price tag makes her one of the classier ladies that can be hired for sexual services in Cartagena. ("The price alone, she said, indicates she is an escort, not a prostitute. “You have higher rank” ... “It’s like when you buy a fine rum or a BlackBerry or an iPhone. They have a different price.”) It's a commercial hierarchy, with escorts like her at the top, followed by the prostitutes who work out of the nicer clubs, followed by the ones who work out of sleazy bars, and so on down the chain to the street-walkers and the underage runaways. She is no doubt already fielding offers for an 'as told to' book and a TV movie deal. Classy ones, naturally.

Loser: The other Secret Service GS-14 supervisory agent who got the ax this week. That one is still employed for the moment, and his lawyer says he will take full advantage of the bureaucratic process to fight his dismissal for cause. He is reported to be divorced, and his ex-wife is also a Secret Service agent.

Winner, sort of: The one Secret Service agent who is reported to have been cleared of serious charges, and faces only lesser administrative punishment.

Losers: The four non-senior Secret Service agents who have resigned as of today, ending their careers prematurely.

Likely future losers include the remaining five agents, who are all under investigation by the Secret Service's Office of Professional Responsibility, plus the eleven military service members who have been returned to their commands and are facing disciplinary procedures and possible criminal charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

We might as well count Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan among the losers, since he is likely to come out of this with his, and his agency's, reputation diminished.

As the weeks go by, I think winners will be harder and harder to come by in this kerfuffle.


A Daring Adventure said...

I don't feel AT ALL sorry for these men.


I hope what happens to them deters other would-be cheaters and prostitute hire-ers (and foreign national sleepers-around) in the federal government.

I do, however, feel AWFUL - just AWFUL - for their wives (and children?). Those poor women - not only are their husbands human garbage, but now the husbands won't be able to pay the alimony and child support that they SO should have to pay when their wives divorce their sorry asses. And the wives don't deserve ANY of what is happening.

I think any men who sleep around (especially with foreign nationals!) while on details should be immediately fired, regardless of whether the women are officially prostitutes or not. THE END. It's not like there aren't a zillion other applicants desperately wanting those jobs. Rumor has it that DS had something like 7,600 applications this cycle for what will probably end up being something like 60 spots. I'm sure the Secret Service has bigger applicant numbers than that. It's not like federal law enforcement agencies can't demand high standards! Keep your penis in your pants while you're on a detail, or you're gone. There are literally THOUSANDS of applicants behind you drooling over your job.

TSB said...

Hi, Kolbi!

This sorry episode has so many aspects that I'd like to comment about - the legal part, the personal, professional, cultural - but it's a fine line to walk between understanding what happened and seeming to condone it.

Based on my personal observations of traveling USG (and other) employees over 2+ decades of TDYs, this behavior is a lot more common than most people believe. But, I hesitate to write that for fear of alarming some spouses unnecessarily. "Unnecessarily" because trustworthy people are still trustworthy when traveling overseas, and it doesn't matter that they get exposed to more temptation there than they do at home.

On the other hand, I don't tell my wife about it when I get solicited by prostitutes - like everybody does - in Bosnia or Nigeria or wherever, or when my TDY companions do everything those Secret Service agents did and more. It's just a seamy topic.

What really interests me is how our modern Western liberal attitudes end up facilitating the exploitation of impoverished women, like that pathetic 'escort' in Cartagena. A big backfire for feminism, I think. Officially, the USG supports the rights of prostitutes ("sex-workers") overseas, for example:

“We agree that no one should face violence or discrimination in access to public services based on sexual orientation or their status as a person in prostitution.” - United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group

That's a liberal sentiment, but in practice it means that we tolerate the exploitation of poor women under the heading of Human Rights.

I've got to think about this some more before posting anything.

It's good to hear from you. Say hello to James for me!


Anonymous said...

TSB: I agree with you entirely. Exploitation of women is supported by the USA,UN,NATO, as well as China, Russia etc. Of course Berlesconi is the lead dog! I would add Obama to the list of big losers on this one. Great coverage!

TSB said...

GWB: The attitudes of the 'international community' toward prostitution have always puzzled me. I was once a guest at a World Bank Wives Association (I'm probably getting that name wrong) dinner where they presented awards to two different women, one for her work improving the lives of sex-workers, and the other for her work fighting trafficking in persons. I don't know if I was the only one, but I had a hard time telling the difference between the two groups of victims there. The victims of trafficking qualify for U.S. visas, so maybe that's the difference.

NATO is hopelessly confused on this subject. Their peace-keeping troops come from countries (like the Netherlands) where prostitution is a human right, but they are deployed in places (like Bosnia) where prostitutes are abundant and openly available but consorting with them is regarded by NATO as a human rights violation.

This whole subject is like an ink blot test. Do you see freedom or oppression? Sex-workers or prostitutes? Victims or criminals?

The Snake's Mommy said...

I am a long-term U.S. resident foreign national and am extremely conscious of it. I have lost count of the dozens of NoVA-located men I've begun chatting with on dating sites who have been confused when I warned them of my residency and advised them of the paperwork they'd have to go complete if they spoke or met with me, let alone bedded me, given their [alleged] positions. And that was on U.S. soil, not foreign. I'm suspecting now, given the widespread ignorance, that USG is doing a terrible job of educating new hires on this subtlety, or that Americans in general are way too certain that a white American-looking woman who has perfected a Southern Waffle House drawl cannot possibly be a foreigner. I'd probably make a great spy if I weren't saddled with crippling ethicism.

TSB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Snakes Mommy couldn't possibly be foreign with that great sense of humor... and ethics! gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: My former governor Gary Locke has really surprised me with the great job he is doing as Ambassador
to China. I hope he winsthis one for his staff! gwb

Anonymous said...

Word Order:The Internet as the Toy With a Tin Ear
By Lewis H. Lapham (snip)
Advertising isn’t interested in political regeneration. The purpose is to nurture foolish thoughts, and the laziness of mind suckled at the silicone breasts of CBS and Disney counts as a consumer benefit. The postliterate sensibility is offended by anything that isn’t television, views with suspicion the compound sentence, the subordinate clause, words of more than three syllables.

Ambiguity doesn’t sell the shoes. Neither does taking time to think, or allowing too long a pause between the subject and the predicate. In the synthetic America the Beautiful, everything good is easy, anything difficult is bad, and the customer is always right. The body politic divides into constituencies of one, separate states of wishful thinking receding from one another at the speed of light. TSB: this is what I was getting at regarding being "brainwashed" by advertising and tv. It makes us all "post-literate" gwb

Federale said...

How many in the military have been prosecuted for partronizing a prostitute? If every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, and Coastguardsman were prosecuted for that crime, even in the U.S. where it is illegal, there wouldn't be much of a military left.

And I note that the supervisor is divorced. So, what is the problem. Its legal and he is single.

The hooker even admitted that she didn't know they were USSS.

I predict that the supervisor who fought it will win in the end.

Especially given that there is a good chance the girls sprung a surprise on the morning after. Since they met in a bar, that is a good chance.

TSB said...


I don't know if any service member has ever been prosecuted for that - I doubt it - but it's now a possibility since the UCMJ was modified to prohibit 'trafficking in persons' (or some wording to that effect). I think that was done during the GW Bush administration after we signed on to treaties and conventions against trafficking.

Some civilian agencies make it a firing offense to hire prostitutes overseas (for the same reason, i.e., we are officially against 'trafficking in persons'). State has fired people for that, but, so far as I know, the Secret Service doesn't have that policy.

The whole problem in Cartagena probably started with a simple miscommunication about the rules at the Pley Club. The agents/officers had to pay the club something like $60-$80 to take the girls off the premises; one guy might have thought that was for the girl, and didn't expect to pay her more later. So much trouble that could have been avoided with a little Spanish proficiency.

TSB said...

GWB: On the Internet and Louis Lapham's point about advertising, you should listen to this podcast that just came out tonight: Is The Internet Closing Our Minds Politically?

I've only just started listening to the debate and already I agree with the guys arguing that it does indeed close our minds, due to the market segmentation and info-customization that comes with the commercial nature of the thing. But that doesn't mean you can't avoid the problem by consciously opening your mind to opposing points of view, etc.

Anonymous said...

I'll check that out TSB. You can certainly open your mind but when it comes to educating anyone (

(like Ron Paul has been cheerfully trying to do on economics, or like a lot of good school teachers are probably attempting) you are speaking a language no longer in wide use. gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: It's hard to keep track of all the stories detailing the failures at the US border the past year but this is one of the best yet.|met:300|cat:0|order:1

When semi loads of guns or ammo are getting thru customs BY ACCIDENT maybe it indicates a problem. gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: I listened. Compared to television I don't think internet is much of a mind closer. There is massive opinion mining (usually angry,polarizing, uninformed)but there is a gold mine of informed opinion and great writers. FB ad revenues were down 17% in the latest quarter and expenses are way up. I see a rebellion coming against all this "mind shaping". gwb

Anonymous said...

Another great insight from Juan: Dick Cheney has cloned himself as a guy running for Veep. Mark Rubio gwb

TSB said...

GWB: About Rubio and his saber-rattling, it's a good thing that what politicians say during a campaign doesn't predict what they will actually do when and if they get into office. For example, Bush on nation-building, Obama on closing Gitmo, Romney on most things, and so on.

Anonymous said...

Amen TSB: I notice Diplopundit is carrying the ball today in the ongoing rugby match called strippergate. Whenever you hear Janet Napolitano saying it's nothing you know there's more to come! gwb