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What’s The Big Deal About Secret Service Prostitutes?

The big news of the weekend is that some members of the Secret Service who are tasked with anti-terrorist duties have been caught hiring prostitutes while working in Colombia. New York Newsday writes breathlessly this morning that the “scandal deepens” with the discovery that five members of the U.S. military also hired prostitutes.

I don’t get it. What’s the big scandal?

Yes, exchanging money for sex is always risky, sometimes abusive, and is illegal. But, to reach the level of scandal, rather than anecdotal wrongdoing, there’s got to be some connection to high political policy, either in the nature of the crime or in the extremely high position of the person who does the wrongdoing.

If it was Barack Obama who hired a prostitute in Colombia, I could understand calling that a scandal, though it wouldn’t really be very political. If the Secret Service agents and American soldiers had passed classified secrets on to the prostitutes, I could understand calling that a scandal.

As I understand it, though, there was no political aspect to the sex, and the Secret Service agents and soldiers are mid-level at best.

So, I ask, is there something I’m not understanding? What makes this story such a big deal, rather than a page 19 one-paragraph article?

14 thoughts on “What’s The Big Deal About Secret Service Prostitutes?”

  1. Tom says:

    They didn’t pay for services rendered apparently.

    1. Rowan says:

      Yeah, but… so what? A scandal has to have a big so what, and I don’t see one with this story.

    2. Felix says:

      Too funny… Actually, I think we need to just stop with all the sex scandals. Just accept the fact we all get horny ( well most of us, anyway) and if one works 60+ hrs. Week, cut me some slack. Sex is fun, it feels good and relieves stress. Embrace it. Stop scandalizing it. I’d much rather the money that goes into publishing this garbage, be spent on finding a cure for cancer, or feeding starving children. Wouldn’t that make more sense?

  2. t ball says:

    We have a 24-hour, voracious news culture that simply must be fed.

  3. NomNomNom says:

    That our president, such as he is, is guarded by men who think women are saleable commodities is contemptible. Maybe you do not care what the ethics of these men are, but I do, as they are representing my nation. I prefer that my nation’s visible representatives not support the idea that women are things. Is that clear enough?

    1. Rowan says:

      NNN, I understand what you say, but first of all, these Secret Service agents were not, as I understand it, on presidential protection detail. Secondly, they weren’t selected by Barack Obama himself, so it’s not as if this is a matter of Obama’s judgment. Third, they weren’t hired to set policy, and they’re not in high government position. They’re mid-level, if that.

      The Secret Service and military individuals weren’t on vice duty, and their mistakes were not related to their jobs. It was an off duty problem.

      The question in my mind isn’t whether the individuals did a bad thing. They did.

      The question in my mind is whether this story truly reflects a scandal. It looks to me more like individuals doing some bad things. People do bad things all the time. It’s not a story of government gone wrong. It’s a story of people gone wrong.

      1. NomNomNom says:

        I don’t think it does reflect on Obama’s judgment, rather I think it reflects on the judgment of whoever selected them. But I don’t think it needs to reflect upon Obama’s judgment to be a scandal. The scandal is that men tasked with guarding the president and other US officials at an important trade meeting are more interested in hiring prostitutes than doing their duty. What does reflect upon Obama is that their conduct illustrates that Obama does not inspire the loyalty of men designated to protect him. That is why their behavior is damaging to him.

        1. Rowan says:

          Do you really think that they were out hiring prostitutes because of their opinions about Barack Obama?

        2. NomNomNom says:

          That’s not what I said. I said: their behavior shows a lack of loyalty. They had no thought of staying fit for their duty or avoiding embarrassing their country and president. Whether or not a president inspires loyalty is of import to those who value leadership. This may or not be something that describes you. The world is not comprised of people with only one mindset or one set of priorities.

  4. Bill says:

    I can’t speak to the ‘scandal’ aspect of it, but it was a legitimate security concern. People who commit illegal…or even merely potentially embarrassing…deeds expose themselves to the possibility of being blackmailed. For all they knew, this could have been a ‘honey trap’, with video recorders running. And a blackmailed Secret Service agent would be a very big security concern, indeed. There are folks whose jobs hold necessarily them to exceptionally high standards of personal behavior. Secret Service agents would be pretty high up on that list. If the allegations are true, these guys blew it big time and deserve to move on to flipping burgers.

  5. Bruce Jeffrey says:

    If the agents were on their down time, the president’s arrival days away and they were using thier own money, what is the big deal. The Russians acctively sick prostitutes onto to foreign goverment officials staying in their country. These are big boys who can take care of themselves and the president. Everyone knows what happens on TDY stays there.

  6. D Jones says:

    It seems so predictable that in the USA, a story which involves United States government employees discovered to have engaged in legal consensual sex has become so flush with public shock, political posturing and loud moral outrage. Such knee-jerk reactions are indeed predictable given that our culture is still impacted with puritanical, yet completely hypocritical attitudes regarding sexual behavior. Given the majority reaction that has been portrayed in the media over the past few days over this story, the adult majority in the US apparently actually still believes that private social contracts such as marital fidelity is the business of society rather than solely between a husband and wife, especially if the violator is in any way connected with the United States Government.

    I suspect that the titillation of sex, taboo prostitution, wild sensual parties and the almost universal desire to experience a freedom one feels in anonymity to engage in behavior he or she would otherwise hold in non-verbal reservations that stimulates the interest in such a story, but we are talking about the complete ruination of people’s careers, families and futures when we stampede about holding up a “universal” moral code that has arguably been fabricated long ago by power minded individuals and cultures for purposes which never have demonstrated much value for the cause of individual freedom or even social realities.

    The best argument I can find as to why these agents should lose their careers over their indulgence with Columbian prostitutes is that they could have been subjected to blackmail which could have placed the President or even US foreign policies in jeopardy. The fact is, while this could have occurred, is it not a slippery slope argument? Frankly, given the fact that sex, extramarital or not has been sought after not just by US Government employees, including military men in bases around the world, but for practically every government throughout every age since the beginning of governments, it seems to me that if one wants to use this argument, one at least needs to consider how likely it is that a night with a prostitute will lead to such consequences. I suggest that while possible, it is very unlikely and certainly not likely enough to justify all of the public outcries we have just seen in the press and media.

    Really, this is the old “much ado about nothing” except that we as Americans still like to let others think for us. Whether one agrees with legalizing prostitution or not, engaging in consensual sex is not a new story and will go on long after today. Prostitution is legal in Columbia which means these guys did not violate the laws of Columbia or the United States. If they were on their own time, as it appears they were, and they were not even part of the Presidential security team, other than that they may have violated internal policies, why indeed is this story such a big deal? Is it really because we are so concerned about how such behavior may have impacted the Presidential visit to Columbia 48 hours later? I really don’t think so.

  7. bob mak says:

    If the reason they were fired was that they could have been blackmailed and posed a security risk to the country, then following this train of thought we could probably clean house in congress. Hasn’t this type of thing been happening in the government since the 1700’s???? I could understand if they were on duty or using government funds, but that wasn’t the case.

  8. virginia says:

    this is so absurd first of all prostitution is legal in columbia, that being said. What people do on their free time is just that, now if they spent tax dollarson this, well that is a problem. Hell these people are sent to god forsaken places, this is probably the only fun they get, who would want to be married to one of them, with them being gone most of the year for maybe 30 years, so if they have no wife, what do you expect them to do. If prostitution is legal then the girls would be regulated and be drug and disease free, like in Amsterdam. They are better off doing that then picking up a random girl in a bar and getting Aids. If a Saudi man came to america and drank a beer, he is doing something illegal in his country but not here, yet we don’t go arresting him and sending him back to his country as a criminal. If the men were following the law in that country, I see nothing wrong with it.

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