On This Week, Much Pearl Clutching Over Secret Service Men Behaving Badly
My goodness, the pearl clutching that's going on over (gasp) the Secret Service patronizing hookers! Someone I know who used to work in military intelligence had this to say:
Granted, asking for the two-for-one special is pretty lame, but this whole Colombia thing is too funny. When Reagan visited Guam in 1985 at least 15-20 members of his SS detail hit up Club Yobo strip club. Are they really gonna have an investigation because SS and TDY [temporary duty] military patronize strip clubs and hookers?
Why, yes, they are. And on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Carolyn Maloney get to shake their heads and look Very, Very Serious while talking about this today:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning. The headlines out of Washington this week swirled around a single theme: federal workers behaving badly. At the GSA, the depth of wasteful spending became clear when new photos showed official Jeffrey Neely living the high life at a Las Vegas hotel at taxpayer expense.
And the scandal involving the president's security detail in Colombia continues to spread, with six Secret Service agents now forced out, six others still under investigation, and 11 members of the military also under scrutiny.
The White House says security was not compromised and is standing by Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, who personally briefed the president Friday. But Congress is stepping up its investigations, and our headliners are at the center of that work, Maine Senator Susan Collins, the ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, and New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney from the House Oversight Committee.
Welcome to you both. I think it's appropriate that we have female legislators here today, because we just learned this morning that the agent who swept in and cleaned this all up, female agent Paula Reid, head of the service detail down in Latin America, and she seemed to get to the bottom of this quickly.
COLLINS: She did. She acted decisively, appropriately, and I can't help but wonder if there'd been more women as part of that detail if this ever would have happened.
That, alone, might be the stupidest damn thing I ever heard. Yes, because admitting women into the military academies has completely changed the culture of sex and violence, right?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, what's the latest, though, on the investigation?
MALONEY: I would like to say I talked to Director Sullivan last night, and he was commending her leadership, too. She really went in there and cleaned up the mess. And one thing I asked him is, how many women are on the force? It's only 11 percent of the agents are women.
And if -- we agree on this. If there were more agents on the ground, maybe we would not have had this.
Arghh. Women are not some magic ingredient that you add and testosterone just... disappears! Military culture (and paramilitary culture, like the Secret Service) is, ultimately, based on force. How far back do you suppose the term "rape and pillage has" goes?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Only 11 percent?
MALONEY: And I can't help but keep asking this question, where are the women? We probably need to diversify the Secret Service and have more minorities and more women.
Yes, we do need to do that, but not as some incredible overnight remedy. After all, has adding women and minorities to urban police forces stopped brutality? Of course not. The dominant culture still rules.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is an excellent point. Let me -- let's get to this investigation right now. We learned, Senator, from McClatchy news this morning that Colombian police are now investigating whether any of the women involved in this scandal were underage. And we know that at least six agents have been forced to leave their jobs. Do we have any evidence that underage women were involved? And do you expect more agents to go?
COLLINS: That's an issue that I raised with the director, and he told me that at this point there is no evidence of underage women. But, frankly, in some ways, although that would make the matters worse...
COLLINS: ... it would make it illegal, so that obviously makes it worse. It is beside the point as far as the broader issue. Most Secret Service agents do an extraordinary job, and they're very disciplined and professional. But what are Secret Service personnel doing bringing unknown foreign nationals to their rooms, regardless of their age?
When it happened under Reagan, it was the era of, you know, actual communists. No one seemed to care then.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, that is an excellent point. And the chairman of your committee has sent a letter to Director Sullivan suggesting that those four nationals may have come in contact with sensitive security information. Do you have any evidence of that?
MALONEY: Well, I -- I spoke to Director Sullivan last night. And he is doing a thorough investigation. He does not believe that security was compromised in any way for the president or any national leader.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you pretty confident of that at this point?
MALONEY: Well, the investigation is going forward. We don't have all of the facts yet. We need to wait until the end. I know that he found -- another person was implicated. He announced that immediately. I'm pleased that the whole process is very transparent. And we'll see at the end. And the Oversight Committee will be holding hearings when the information comes out, and we are going to get to the bottom of this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Senator, you said you find this hard to believe that this is a one-time incident.
COLLINS: I do. Now, I recognize that the vast majority of Secret Service personnel are professional, disciplined, dedicated, courageous. But to me it defies belief that this is just an aberration. There were too many people involved. If it had been one or two, then I would say it was an aberration. But it included two supervisors. That is particularly shocking and appalling.
No, it isn't. It's just a political problem. It makes the administration look bad, because as many Americans still look at online porn and sneak off to strip clubs, we like to pretend that we're above that sort of thing. The fact is, military and paramilitary culture supports this very thing. It's even seen as a bonding experience. It may not be pretty, but it's reality.
The thing that concerns me is, I don't see how you get rid of a bunch of experienced people without leaving the president's security in jeopardy. This seems like an incredibly bad idea.
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