Any longheld suspicions that Secret Service agents are actually perfect, Terminator-issue cyborgs manufactured in the bowels of The White House came to an abrupt end this weekend when word spread that 11 of their earbud-monitoring ranks have been placed on administrative leave. The 11 men stand accused of "drinking excessively" and "cavorting with prostitutes" while at the Hotel Caribe in Cartagena, Colombia, stationed there ahead of the president's diplomatic visit to the country.
The story broke Friday night, after an argument over payment between an agent and a local prostitute (The New York Post puts the disputed sum at $47) was brought to the attention of the local authorities, who informed the U.S. Embassy. In addition to the 11 men, five military service members were later confined to their quarters and are also facing investigation for having violated curfew and involving themselves in "inappropriate conduct" at the same hotel, The New York Times reports. The 11 men were rushed back to Washington and replaced by another team of non-prostitute-cavorting agents (some pictured above).
While details are still murky, Peter T. King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, which oversees the Secret Service, acknowledged that the 11 agents and officers were all suspected of "bringing women back to their rooms," according to the Times. Prostitution is legal in the country, but constitutes a clear violation of Secret Service duties, partly because "it could expose the agents to blackmail or facilitate espionage, help an enemy get inside a security perimeter and otherwise distract agents when they are supposed to be focused on protecting the president," King said. He characterized the incident as "an aberration."
Less convinced of that was Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee. Addressing the scandal on CBS's Face the Nation this morning, Issa said he doubted this scandal was an isolated incident: "The question is," he said, "is the whole organization in need of some soul searching, some changes? ... We think the number (of personnel involved) might be higher and we're asking for the exact amount of all the people who were involved."
Meanwhile, a widely circulated photograph of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "dancing and drinking beer at a local [Cartagena] hotspot," according to the description by ABC News, has been sitting atop The Drudge Report for much of the day.
UPDATE: The president has addressed the scandal at a joint press conference held with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos