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Secret Service Agents: ‘We Work for Obama’
Secret Service officials accused of misconduct in the Colombian prostitute scandal revealed their identities and bragged at a Cartagena brothel that they worked for President Barack Obama, ABC News is reporting.
Eleven members of the Secret Service team, sent to Colombia in advance of the president’s visit for the Summit of the Americas last weekend, partied at the Pleyclub and boasted “we work for Obama” and “we’re here to protect him.”
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he’s embarrassed by the incident — even though he’s not sure yet exactly what transpired.
“We let the boss down,” Dempsey told CBS News, “because nobody’s talking about what went on in Colombia other than this incident.”
Several of the agents paid up to $200 each for high-price prostitutes at the well-known Cartagena brothel and downed expensive whiskey, sources told ABC News.
The news of the scandal broke Friday night, and was first reported by Newsmax Chief Washington Correspondent Ronald Kessler; since then it has overshadowed Obama’s trip to Latin America.
Twenty or 21 women were brought back to the hotel by the Secret Service and military personnel, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said Tuesday.
Collins was briefed by the director of the Secret Service, Mark Sullivan, on Monday evening. “There are 11 agents involved. Twenty or 21 women foreign nationals were brought to the hotel, but allegedly Marines were involved with the rest,” the Republican senator said in comments emailed to Reuters.
The Washington Post said agents brought at least two of the women back to the hotel. Although the agents paid in advance for the prostitutes’ services, when it came time to settle the bill, one woman demanded an additional $170. Her demand sparked a noisy argument that spilled into the street, and drew the attention of hotel workers who called police, CBS News reported, citing the Post as its source.
People in Cartagena familiar with the matter, meanwhile, told the Post that some agents paid $60 each to the Pleyclub to bring at least two of the women back to the Hotel Caribe, where Obama’s advance team was staying.
CBS News said it has learned that 10 military personnel were involved — double the original reports — including at least one from every military branch. All were sent back to the U.S. on Monday. The Washington Post, citing congressional sources familiar with the case, is reporting that a preliminary Defense Department investigation, which included video from hotel security cameras, put the number at nine military personnel.
U.S. authorities ordered the police not to discuss the scandal, a senior police official told ABC News.
The 11 Secret Service agents, including two senior-level supervisers at the top of the government’s pay scale and several members of the counter-assault unit, were sent back to the U.S. before Obama arrived for the summit Friday.
The agents’ security clearances were revoked, and they have been barred from all Secret Service facilities.
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