Members of the Secret Service
Photograph by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images.
UPDATE: The Secret Service has issued a new code of conduct for its agents and will even assign chaperones to some high-level trips who will be responsible for making sure the rules are enforced, reports the Associated Press. The stricter policies prohibit agents from allowing most foreigners into their hotel rooms and also ban agents from visiting “nonreputable” establishments, which weren’t defined. Although agents are allowed to drink moderate amounts of alcohol while off duty, they must abstain within 10 hours of working. Before each foreign trip, agents will receive a detailed briefing that will spell out any areas that are “off limits” to Secret Service personnel, reports the AP.
A former agent tells CBS News the guidelines aren’t new and “really just put into print principles that have been around for a long time in the Secret Service.”
Meanwhile, CNN has identified the agent who was apparently at the heart of the Colombia prostitution scandal as Arthur Huntington. The 41-year-old married man was allegedly the agent who had a dispute over payment with a Colombian escort, which was when local law enforcement officials became involved.
Friday, April 27: The investigation into Secret Service misconduct abroad, including the alleged use of the services of prostitutes, has broadened to include four countries and trips dating back to 2000.
CBS News reports that in addition to the Colombia and El Salvador trips previously reported as under investigation, the Secret Service is now apparently looking into a 2000 trip to Russia ahead of former President Clinton's visit to the country, and a 2009 trip, also with Clinton, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, . Both allegations of misconduct pertain to night club or strip club visits.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is calling for an independent investigation into the possible misconduct. "This culture can't persist," he told CBS' This Morning. "Not only for the reputation of the United States, but also for the protection of the president."
Thursday, April 26: The Secret Service is investigating another trip abroad during which agents allegedly used the services of prostitutes, an agency official told the Associated Press.
The allegations come from Seattle television station KIRO-TV, who reported Wednesday that a similar series of events with Secret Service agents and service members happened in El Salvador. The Secret Service is investigating to determine the accuracy of that report.
So far, eight Secret Service members have lost their jobs after a scandal involving service members and Secret Service agents hiring prostitutes in Colombia became big news.
On Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she believed the Colombia Secret Service scandal was an isolated incident, adding that she would find evidence of more widespread misconduct "a surprise."
Saturday, April 21: The scandal involving service members and Secret Service agents hiring prostitutes in Colombia continues to grow as three more agents have been forced out, bringing to six the number of people who have lost their jobs, reports the Washington Post. The three agents chose to resign. The director of the Secret Service, Mark Sullivan, gave President Obama his first briefing in the Oval Office on the latest developments Friday, reports the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, in Colombia, authorities have started to investigate whether any of the prostitutes involved might have been underage, reports the Miami Herald. Officials in Cartagena have questioned hotel employees, a taxi driver, and employees at one of the clubs linked to the scandal that involved as many as 21 women. Although the Herald gives no hint that the Colombian officials have discovered anything incriminating, the paper does point out that the mere fact the investigation exists raises the possibility that the Americans could face criminal charges.
Of the six Secret Service personnel who have been forced out, two were supervisors, one of whom chose to retire while the other was recommended for termination, specifies the Post. A total of 22 men from the Secret Service and the military are suspected of having participated in the fateful events in Colombia that has challenged, “like at no time in modern history” the “Secret Service’s proud, but insular, culture,” as Reuters points out.
Friday, April 20: The Washington Post has identified two of the senior Secret Service agents involved in the Colombia prostitution scandal.
David Randall Chaney, 48, was a supervisor in the Secret Service’s international programs division. The paper points out that Chaney had posted several photos on his Facebook page of his official protective work, including one of himself standing behind Sarah Palin with the following less-than-professional comment: "I was really checking her out, if you know what i mean?"
Chaney is married and has an adult son. He retired under pressure on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Post reports that several people familiar with the case have identified the other supervisor as Greg Stokes, who worked in the K-9 division. Stokes is said to have been notified that he will be fired, but he will have a chance to contest the charges.
Both men are based in Washington, and their nearly two decades of work with the Service has included significant time with the presidential protective detail, according to the report. They were sent to Colombia as part of an advance team to supervise dozens of less-experienced agents in preparing for Obama’s arrival at an international summit last week.
Thursday, April 19: One of the three Secret Service agents who has been forced out of his job due to the Colombia prostitution scandal is planning a lawsuit, a congressional aide told CBS News late Wednesday.
The Secret Service announced earlier in the day that it had ousted three of the 11 employees accused of misconduct in last week's incident. Two of the employees were supervisors, one of whom was fired, while the other was forced to retire. The third officer resigned, according to CBS. The brief report doesn't indicate which of the agents is planning the suit.
In all, 11 Secret Service employees and 10 military personnel are believed to have been involved in last week's night of partying, which came two nights before President Obama’s scheduled visit to Cartagena for an international summit. The eight remaining Secret Service employees have been put on administrative leave, according to the Washington Post.
Wednesday, April 18: The New York Times sat down with the Colombian escort whose argument over her payment from a Secret Service agent sparked the prostitution scandal that has dominated headlines this week.
You can read the full piece here. Among the highlights from the 24-year-old escort's version of events:
The Agents: The men did not disclose their professions when they approached her and her friends at a discotheque. The single mother said she didn't find out they were Secret Service agents until she saw them on television, leaving her angry and scared.
The Price: The man who asked her to go back to his hotel room had agreed to pay her $800 but the next morning tried to pay her only $30, causing her to cry and call her escort friend in a neighboring room. Two Colombian policemen and a security guard in the hotel then got involved, asking the man to pay her the full price. Eventually, the American men who had gathered near the room paid her $225.
The other big takeaway from the interview was the woman's insistence that she and her friends were escorts, not common prostitutes. "You have higher rank," she said. "An escort is someone who a man can take out to dinner. She can dress nicely, wear nice makeup, speak and act like a lady. That’s me.”
She continued, explaining the difference between a streetwalker and high-end escort: "It’s the same but it’s different. It’s like when you buy a fine rum or a BlackBerry or an iPhone. They have a different price."
You can read the full NYT piece here
Tuesday, April 17: The prostitution scandal in Colombia that has generated headlines these past few days keeps widening, with reports Tuesday that investigators now believe that as many as 20 Secret Service and military personnel may have been involved in the hotel misconduct.
The Washington Post reports that a preliminary Defense Department investigation that included reviewing hotel security footage found that nine military personnel were possibly involved in, as the paper delicately puts it, "the carousing at the center of the probe." Over the weekend, 11 Secret Service agents were put on administrative leave for allegedly bringing prostitutes back to their hotel rooms in Cartagena, Columbia.
One of the Post's unnamed congressional sources who relayed the investigation's preliminary findings also shared this nugget: Two of the Secret Service personnel are senior agents paid at the top level of the federal pay scale, earning an annual salary of $110,000, if not more.
The Post with more on the night of partying last Wednesday that set off the scandal:
People in Cartagena familiar with the matter said that some of the Secret Service agents paid $60 apiece to owners of the Pleyclub, a strip club in an industrial section of Cartagena, to bring at least two of the women back to the Hotel Caribe, where Obama’s advance team was staying. The following morning, one of the women demanded an additional payment of $170, setting off a dispute with an agent that drew the attention of the hotel, the Cartagena sources said.
The Secret Service moved on Monday to revoke the top-secret security clearances of all 11 of their men currently under investigation.
Sunday, April 15: The scandal that has overshadowed President Obama’s attendance at a regional summit in Colombia keeps widening and now involves the military. The 11 agents who were put on administrative leave Saturday allegedly brought prostitutes back to their hotel rooms, reports the Washington Post. On Saturday, the Defense Department said five military service members staying at the same hotel were suspended for breaking curfew and unspecified “inappropriate conduct,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, talked to numerous news outlets and revealed several details about the investigation. He tells the Associated Press that “close to” all of the 11 agents are believed to have brought women who were “presumed to be prostitutes” back to their hotel rooms. King also tells the New York Times that the suspended service members were also suspected of taking women to their hotel rooms, although the Defense Department refused to confirm that.
The Washington Post hears word from a source that one of the women involved “freaked out” when an agent refused to pay and made a scene in the hotel. King, however, made the whole situation seem much calmer, telling the media that police were called when an agent who had an overnight guest refused to open the door to his room. The agent allegedly denied he owed the woman money but paid her anyway. Even though no laws were broken, the U.S. embassy was informed.
Although the White House insists the issue was more a distraction for the media than President Obama, it seems everyone is talking about the scandal in Cartagena. “I had a breakfast meeting to discuss trade and drugs, but the only thing the other delegates wanted to talk about was the story of the agents and the hookers,” a Latin American diplomat tells Reuters.
Obama must be particularly frustrated because it marked yet another instance in which his foreign trips “get overshadowed by distractions,” writes the Associated Press.
Saturday, April 14: A regional summit meant to boost U.S. efforts to increase trade ties with Latin America was rocked by a scandal involving prostitutes Friday night. The Washington Post was the first to report that a number of Secret Service agents were relieved of their duty after allegedly having contact with prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia. A total of 12 agents have been recalled, reports the New York Times.
The allegations of misconduct took place before President Obama arrived in Colombia Friday night, so officials insist the president’s security was never compromised. But they are a clear embarrassment for Obama and threaten to take attention from efforts to improve relations with Latin America, notes the Associated Press.
This marks the first major scandal for the Secret service since agents allowed gate-crashers into a state dinner at the White House in 2009, writes Politico.
The Post credits its scoop to a tip from Ronald Kessler, a former reporter at the paper. Although prostitution is illegal in Colombia, the country has designated “tolerance zones,” but Kessler points out that any contact with prostitutes is considered inappropriate for the Secret Service.