Secret Service Scandal
For all the recent pandemonium in the public arena over contentious political situations such as the recent General Service Administration’s Las Vegas fiasco, the perpetuating ugliness of the war on women, the feral discussion enveloping Arizona, and the public harangue surrounding the Buffet Rule, none has been a greater blow to objective credibility than the endlessly erupting Secret Service scandal. With a body count of guilty individuals that almost appears to be multiplying by the day, the recent media scrutiny casts the spotlight on more than a decade of unscrupulous actions and spurs a fundamental reexamination of the conduct and policies of the Secret Service.
When news began emerging, it began simply with murmurings that President Barack Obama’s personal Secret Service members were embroiled in prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia and that a number of them had been unceremoniously let go. It only added to the inopportune timing that this news came out amidst Obama’s regional Summit of the Americas, an event intended to boost United States trade ties with Latin America. The media hammer came crashing down after Ronald Kessler, a former Washington Post reporter and writer of a behind the scenes expose of the Secret Service was given an anonymous tip about members being let go after misconduct. In an interview with Politico shortly after the article published, Kessler called it, “the biggest scandal in Secret Service history.”
Following the initial story, more incriminating and vaguely comical details have streamed out ranging from the salaries of the agents involved (all in the highest pay grade) to the involvement of military personnel to tales of shortchanging prostitutes, but the most damning information is perhaps that Colombia is not an isolated incidence.
According o a report from CBS News on April 28, the Secret Service is currently investigating prostitution dealings within their own sector going back twelve years and spanning four different countries including Russia, Argentina, El Salvador and the aforementioned Colombia.
What began as an isolated incidence and an opening for discourse about how the Secret Service has misused their resources and shrunk their credibility has instead snowballed into an index of shadowy circumstances in posh nightclubs and strip clubs. The common jibe surrounding these events inevitably relates the Secret Service’s notorious mystery in past situations. Insert various sweeping under the rug metaphors here. All jokes aside though, how did an organization that so implicitly values the importance of secrecy end up with a limelight swallowing scandal?
It’s perhaps important to note here that this isn’t the Secret Service’s first experience with mishaps. Various Secret Service individuals have had their own sordid pasts. The Washington Post pointed out that in November, 2011, Christopher W. Deedy, a Secret Service agent with the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security was charged with second degree murder after firing on a bystander after a dispute outside a McDonalds outside Honloulu. Politico viewed the Colombian prostitution scandal as the first large-scale scandal since 2009 when three agents were let go for failing to enforce security protocols and allow gate-crashers into a state dinner at the White House.
As the cloak continues to recede on the truth of the Secret Service’s conduct in Colombia and the other countries, it remains to be seen what kind of permanent damage will be done to one of America’s most respected institutions. But in the wake of this scandal, the Secret Service is sure to be under far greater scrutiny.