Friday, August 3, 2012

Nine U.S. Troops Punished in Cartagena Prostitution Scandal

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.


Anonymous said...

OMG, military people using prostitutes? So they are going to discharge any soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who was stationed in the PI, Korea, and Japan?

Unknown said...

Dudley Moore [in Arthur]: "You're a hooker?!! I just thought I was doing great with you."

Thomas R. Marshall (Vice-President of the USA): "What this country needs is a good $28 bar-girl."

Yes, yes, the contemporary Marines and Soldiers invented the practice of -ahem- accelerating the female information / decision cycle with slips of special paper as gifts. The DOD just doesn't need that sort of CAN-DO ATTITUDE: off with their heads!

TSB said...


There is a long historical tradition there. During WWII, Hawaii had legal prostitution (it was not yet a state), and the Military Provost Marshal there not only policed the brothels and their military customers but he also set the fees under wartime wage and price controls.


Before 2005, it's all good. Today, discharge is a possibility, but you know that prosecution must be highly selective. I assume they add that charge on to those drunk-and-disorderly and conduct-unbecoming situations where somebody is going to be prosecuted anyway. When I was an MP they selectively charged people with being in an off-limits establishment, and that was effectively the same thing as charging them with patronizing a prostitute. That said, I patrolled those off-limits establishments often and we didn't arrest anyone just for being there.

James said...

Re: Last paragraph. Whores without Boarders?

TSB said...


Good one!

Anonymous said...

Great comments! Especially about that Thomas Reilly Marshall guy. Great sense of humor. gwb

Unknown said...

TSB: in all seriousness, one of the greatest stories about Patton is how he got the word out - in no uncertain terms - that the advantage of rolling into Prague, after pummeling southern Germany, is that - ahem - fraternization with the Czech "occupied" women is NOT a security violation, but "enemy civilian" women in Germany would be off-limits. [the spearhead units got to Prague in a f-ing New York minute, as I recall.]

TSB said...


Interesting. I guess the same legality applied to Austrian women, since the Allies treated Austria as 'occupied' by Germany as opposed to being part of Germany.

Unknown said...

One can only hope that the students at the Army Staff College in Leavenworth or at the Combined Arms Centers (Bragg? Benning?) will get to the bottom of the tactical results of various WWII fraternization policies, ......seeing as how no former (or current) American serviceman has legitimately banged any local talent since V-J Day.

Anonymous said...

I was enlisted from 2000-2006 in the Navy. The UCMJ was the bane of my existence as both a junior guy and a supervisor. A lot of the Articles were written so damn long ago that they don't reflect normal human behavior.

For example, under the article regarding Sodomy, its is so loosely defined that oral sex between a married couple is technically a violation and grounds for punishment. Similarly, adultery can be applied to any co-habitating adults, no matter the regards of their marital status to others. My command had used an adultery charge against a guy living with his girlfriend and they were both single. (Like most NJP...the crimes were not really what the person was getting punished for but was what was convenient at the time).

The end result is that the rules are completely and utterly arbitrarily enforced. Pretty much the entire military is guilty of sodomy (find me one male who has never received oral sex).

The UCMJ comes off like the bible where its almost impossible to not be in violation of something. Shit...the damn "General Article" basically is just so your command can tell you how much they plain don't like ya.

TSB said...


Thanks for your comment! Especially this: "its almost impossible to not be in violation of something" with the UCMJ. That's a good point. It's as much a tool for control as it is a judicial code.

Anonymous said...

Well I got another story...if you want to hear it. I was a nuke on a carrier. Pretty much our year and a half training before we get to the fleet is to undo the damage from boot camp. Boot camp, you are taught to jump at every order. You can't do that in a nuclear power plant.

Prototype (the final facilities where we get trained) are up and running plants. I was literally thrown into a Cold War era sub and expect to learn everything about that sub in 24 weeks. Our instructors would regularly give us messed up orders, confusing situations, and pretty much try to set up difficult operations where we had to get use to thinking on the fly and never losing situational awareness. And "students" would have the entire plant, from the junior watch officer, to the engine room lower level. And if one person on the watch team screwed up...we all failed. We were all invested in running the plant as safe as possible. Most nukes utterly hated their time in the military due to the stress and the pain involved...but we have a safety record that no other organization on the planet has and we are VERY proud of that.

This is incredibly important on carriers because frequently in port, the Office of the Deck in charge would not have nuclear training. We would often get orders that would endanger the propulsion plant and would have to disregard them. This was true from the Reactor Officer (a Captain), down to the Shaft Alley Patrol (usually an E-3 or less).

Once in port, I got the order to discharge waste over the side from the Officer of the Deck (who was the Food Service Officer). Obviously this was retarded and illegal. I basically try to be as PC as possible in denying the request...and after dealing with this idiot Captain, told him to fuck off and if he came down to the Engine Room (as he kept threatening to do), I would have him arrested (He had no security clearance).

He ended up pestering the watch standers on the phone after me until he got our most junior guy in the duty section, threatened the kid with Mast...and against my prior instructions, the kid pumped the waste.

It got the CO two $10,000 EPA fines. The E-3? Went to Captains Mast for "Malicious Intent in Following a Lawful Order" because they had statements where the kid, like the rest of us, told the idiot OOD that it was a violation of pollution controls and after arguing with the guy for close to an hour, the kid said "Screw it...its your ass sir".

And don't get me started on DADT. I can't tell you the number of times I nearly lost my best mechanic on the boat because he had a lisp and we would get some asshole Evangelical prick from the Academy wanting to kick him out.

Love the blog...Long time lurker...

TSB said...

Thanks for the story! That's great stuff.

They told me the same thing about advanced training after Basic - we have to "deprogram" you military police so you can exercise authority with people who out-rank you.