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Bad boys of the Secret Service
Washington loves a good scandal
Washington loves a good scandal. The General Services Administration’s (GSA) lavish retreat at a time that austerity is a byword and unemployment is high is an appropriate scandal. Managers at an agency that is charged with ensuring that the government spends its money wisely should have known better. That one burst upon the scene and shone brightly, drawing hearty scorn and ridicule for a few days and now has gone quiet.
Now, the dirty little secrets of the Secret Service, on the other hand, is a story that keeps on giving. Every day, news anchors breathlessly relate the revised body count of agents who have resigned or been fired.
In my mind, the situations are reversed. The GSA was an intentional wrong. Actors in the drama were recorded mocking and extolling their extravagance. They could rightly be shamed on a daily basis, but I wonder whether the Secret Service agents deserve the same mortification.
What happens in Cartagena....
We joke that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and, when it was more acceptable, we joked about sailors who “had a girl in every port.” Why then is the Secret Service incident drawing such scorn?
I suspect that one reason is that we love to see the mighty fallen. Secret Service agents are generally feared and respected because they are so uniformly professional. One of their jobs is to protect our nation’s leaders and, as in the case of candidates for elected White House slots, potential leaders. It is they who are always vigilant, looking for the glint that suggests a weapon, the facial expression that suggests a threat, the angles that might leave one of their charges open to a threat if only for a second.
They are committed to saving the lives of their charges at the risk of their own. They are extraordinarily well-trained and always on their guard. How surprising is it, then, that they might look for release when they have the opportunity?
Now, about prostitution....
Prostitution is legal in Cartagena. I happen to think that it should be here as well. Making it legal would allow for medical examinations to avoid sexually transmitted diseases, reduce associated crime, and reduce court traffic and the demands on law enforcement officers’ time for a victimless crime.
That is not to say, that I am in favor of prostitution. In one of the few areas that I am conservative, I believe strongly in married couples being faithful to each other, in adolescents abstaining from sex, of everyone disdaining promiscuity. I personally find that sex without love—or at least affection—sex with strangers for cold hard cash, unattractive concepts, so I am not advocating prostitution, only that if it continues (and history suggests that it will) it should not be criminalized.
Boys will be lechers....
That aside aside, the agents who went to strip clubs and hired prostitutes did nothing illegal. Their integrity and discretion suffered a blow; their LIDMAC (the tests of Loyalty, Integrity, Discretion, Morals and Character) took some heavy fire. Wives and girlfriends, husbands and wives might not be happy about it, but those are personal issues and no one else’s business.
The argument then is that their actions made the president more vulnerable to harm.
Blackmail is usually the first response, one that I think doesn’t hold up in this case. A man or woman who is resigned to taking a literal bullet is probably strong enough to hold up to a prostitute’s threat that she will tell on him. Even if she were the agent of an international conspiracy to harm the president, I just don’t see it, particularly when it seems to the common knowledge among colleagues that the activity had occurred. And what was the agent who set in motion this series of events and disclosures thinking when he chose to try to stiff (Don’t!) his lady of the evening?
Would she (and we will stipulate that all prostitutes are not women and that Johns are sometimes Janes) leave an explosive device or steal the agent’s credentials or secret decoder lapel pin or weapon? All but one were in a hotel different from where the president was scheduled to stay, and …get real.
When it was learned that one of the agents who hired a prostitute stayed in the hotel in which the president was to stay, media muckrakers rushed to gasp at the enormity of that threat.
That is not to say that the agents did no wrong. They are held to a higher standard, and adultery is among infractions to their code of conduct of which they are aware. And, of course, they give a black eye to all Secret Service agents. I know only a few, but now I will look at them and wonder what shenanigans they get up to on the road.
And I would add that they, as anyone traveling on an official or diplomatic passport, are representing the United States when they are abroad. Their behavior only adds to the scorn already heaped upon these godless Americans, and, frankly, our enemies don’t need the extra ammunition o add to their lies and propaganda.
Sarah, you got some 'splainin' to do
And when one agent made a sophomoric remark about “checking out” Sarah Palin in a photo of him standing behind her, a gleeful Ms Palin, who is sometimes given to hyperbole—and cheap shots—said that it was the worst thing that could happen short of assassination. She also blamed President Obama, neatly forgetting that the “incident” (Okay, I happen to think that the agent was being facetious) occurred when George W. Bush was president; Sen. Obama was a candidate, as was she. Of course, she also blamed the GSA scandal on the president. I suspect, though, that if he were actually personally supervising the agents assigned to protect him and the executives and middle managers at GSA, she would legitimately ask whether he didn’t have some larger fish to fry.
Whisper words of wisdom:
So, I suggest letting it go. Okay, Superman is vulnerable and this Kryptonite is a fancy girl who is now offering to sell her story. Hiring a prostitute is not a threat to national security and it doesn’t warrant losing a dozen extraordinary well-trained men in whom the government has invested substantial time and expense. Now that the original miscreant has been identified, I suspect that he and his family have been sufficiently punished for him and his colleagues to think long and hard (Oh, dear.) before repeating such behavior.
Let’s stop playing holier than thou and admit that even stone-face agents let off steam once in a while. If they didn’t they would be dangerous.