Secret Service scores an A- in scandal response

Soon after a reporter revealed that Secret Service agents hired prostitutes while on duty, the agency has accepted responsibility and issued timely updates.

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Wait, what? The agency with the squeaky clean record (and some other military personnel outside of the agency) have been charged with allegedly bringing as many as 21 foreign prostitutes to their Colombian hotel rooms, cavorting, until a hotel manager was called after a prostitute claimed she wasn’t paid and ultimately exposed the agents.

(A reminder that prostitution is legal in some parts of Colombia; this case is about code of conduct rather laws being broken).

What makes this case disturbing on so many levels is:

• Two of the agents accused are purported to be paid at the top levels of the federal government.
• The scale of people involved in the incident—two or three people engaging in this type of behavior can be easily remedied. But 11 agents and nine members of the military? A bigger caramel cream to chew.
• Gross misjudgment from officials reflecting a possible larger cultural issue within the agency than just a few bad apples.
• As Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal Constitution points out, “an agency with this kind of internal culture could be easily manipulated by those with reason to do so.”
• It indirectly damages President Obama’s trip and message by handcuffing credibility and shifting attention away from him and toward the scandal.

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