|Troops and prostitutes - nothing new there|
The U.S. Secret Service was quick to investigate the prostitution-and-misconduct scandal that occurred during the Presidential trip to Cartagena last April. As a result of that investigation, eight Secret Service agents were fired or resigned, three were cleared, and one lost his security clearance.
The U.S. Southern Command, however, took its time investigating the military members who supported that Cartagena trip, and has only now released its report.
From the WaPo, report says military members brought prostitutes to Colombia hotel:
A dozen U.S. service members brought women, likely prostitutes, to their hotel rooms in Colombia and also allowed dogs to soil bed linens and building grounds shortly before President Barack Obama arrived in the country for an April summit, according to a military investigation that followed the announcement of punishments for the men.
The dogs ran out of control, too? Yes, but ignore that part for now. Back to the troops:
Seven Army soldiers and two Marines have received administrative punishments for what the report described as misconduct consisting “almost exclusively of patronizing prostitutes and adultery.” Three of the service members have requested courts martial, which would give them a public trial to contest the punishments.
Since 2005, the Uniform Code of Military Justice has outlawed the patronizing of prostitutes. It is punishable by dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for one year. I don't know whether any servicemen have ever actually been convicted of that offense - possibly none have - but given the high level of political interest in this scandal, those three guys could be the first.
The military report concluded that “the combination of unstructured free time, the prevalence of legalized prostitution and military members’ individual choice to commit misconduct,” were the primary causes of the transgressions. It also found that there was no evidence that the interaction with prostitutes presented any risk to national security, and that no sensitive materials were compromised.
That unstructured free time does pile up when you're on TDY, doesn't it?
The investigation also concluded that there was no broad coordinated effort to commit the misconduct or to cover it up later, although there were some instances where military members may have made misleading or “factually unlikely” statements when questioned about the matter.
Factually unlikely statements? That's a very generous way for SOUTHCOM to characterize it.
By the way, the Cartagena prostitute whose complaint about being short-changed led to all these investigations is now reported to be opening a non-profit organization to assist women who want to get out of prostitution.