Secret Service scandal: GOP gets ahead of the facts

We don't know what happened in Colombia, but GOP congressmen are already talking about unlikely sexual blackmail

Topics: Love and Sex, Sex,

Secret Service scandal: GOP gets ahead of the facts (Credit: iStockphoto/johnnyscriv)

Secret Service agents, with their impenetrable black sunglasses and unwavering stoicism, seem anonymous, sexless beings. They are rigorously trained to sacrifice all, including their lives, in the name of their president. And yet even they, in their nun-like devotion, are vulnerable to the lure of easy sex.

At least, that’s the narrative playing out in the news today surrounding allegations of misconduct involving Secret Service agents and a prostitute — possibly prostitutes, plural — in Cartagena, Colombia, ahead of the president’s visit there. The media has been whipped into a frenzy — finally, another sex scandal! — while officials have been quick to offer condemnation, some claiming that the incident could put national security at risk.

Now, before getting all hot and bothered, let’s look at the actual evidence that’s available: This happened before the president arrived in the country. The agents in question are not members of the presidential protective division. Officials have said that some of the agents under investigation “may merely have been attending a party and violating curfew,” according to ABC News. Still, Republican congressmen Peter King (N.Y.) and Darrell Issa (Calif.) have claimed that the incident could leave the agents vulnerable to blackmail.

Dan Emmett, a two-decade Secret Service veteran, disagrees. “I spent six years in the CIA after I left the Secret Service and am well familiar with sexual blackmail espionage,” he told ABC. “It is a tactic, but I just don’t see that here. The Secret Service is not an intelligence organization, it’s law enforcement.” He also noted that prostitution is legal in parts of Colombia and that “this is not a criminal conduct type of situation, it’s strictly personal conduct.” (That’s an important distinction — although it might not spare the agents their jobs: Paul Morrissey, the Secret Service’s assistant director, told CNN that the agency has a “zero tolerance policy on personal misconduct.”)

Rep. Peter King, who was briefed on the investigation, says a “significant number” of the agents involved brought women back to their hotel on the night in question and that the women are “presumed” to be prostitutes. But it hasn’t been confirmed. It’s alleged that one of those women refused to leave the agents’ room the next morning until she was given money, but we have no clue whether there was negotiation over her services before she came to the room, or why there was an alleged disagreement over, or delay in, payment. Based on news reports, it could be that Secret Service agents had a massive orgy with Colombian prostitutes — or that one agent had a date that ended with a disagreement over money. We just don’t know.

No matter: The American public loves a good sex scandal, especially one involving politicians or law enforcement — and with this story, we have have bit of both. We never tire of seeing authority figures felled by their sexual appetites, do we? Stories like this function as an allegory for our own repressed desires, our terror of the power of sex, and fear of losing control. I have but one question: How long before the porn parody is made?

Tracy Clark-Flory

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>