The Washington Post broke the story yesterday that nearly a dozen Secret Service agents and military officers have been removed from the President’s security detail in Colombia for misconduct involving prostitutes. The Post’s inside track was provided by Ron Kessler, who’s written a behind-the-scenes book about the Secret Service:
Kessler said he was told that a dozen agents had been removed from the trip. He added that soliciting prostitution is considered inappropriate by the Secret Service, even though it is legal in Colombia when conducted in designated “tolerance zones.” However, Kessler added, several of the agents involved are married.
Gosh, what on earth could a married man possibly want with a prostitute?
Today CNN has more details on the eleven agents and officers who have been recalled:
They are under investigation after preliminary findings revealed that they brought back several prostitutes to the Hotel Caribe in Cartagena, sources told CNN on Saturday…
Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, was briefed on the matter and told CNN that the government personnel brought prostitutes back to their rooms Wednesday night and “one of the women did not leave the room in the morning.”
A hotel manager tried to get in the room, and eventually the woman emerged and said “they owed her money,” according to King. Similarly, U.S. government sources said there was a dispute between at least one Secret Service member and a woman brought back to his hotel over a request to be paid.
At least one of the women brought to the hotel talked with police, and complaints were filed with the U.S. Embassy, the sources said.
Predictably, the comment threads attached to all these articles are full of the usual nonsense about how only prudes and godbags could possibly have a problem with prostitution, which all good liberals recognize as a fun and empowering career choice for women everywhere.
The reality, of course, is grimly different. Colombia is a nightmare world of child and teenage prostitutes, and most adult women in the business started out underage. From a report by the Women News Network in 2007:
A volatile country, if anything. A colorful country. Colombia is attracting increasing numbers of tourists as well, as the World Tourism Organization, which is having its November 2007 conference in Colombia, can attest. And underneath it all, in the shadows of the cartels, the syndicates, the beauty and the wars, are more than 1 million girl-children earning a living by selling their bodies.
Children become prostitutes for a variety of reasons. Poverty is often at the core: families prostitute out their girls in order to have enough income to survive; others sell their children to brothels and trade networks for the same reason. Other children independently flee abusive domestic situations for the promise of a better life and find themselves in the sex industry; still others were soldiers or otherwise affected by one of Colombia’s wars and, now displaced, find themselves with few options for surviving. Still others are kidnapped, or refugees from other regions.
Prostitution takes on different guises here. Some children end up in local brothels; others are placed into regional and international prostitution trade networks. These networks are often run by bigger syndicates also involved in narcotics, weapons, and counterfeiting. Children may be traded to neighboring countries like Venezuela, or to markets in countries as distant as Spain or Germany.
Colombia is a world leader in child enslavement, displacement, rape, war crimes against women, sexual and domestic violence, unwanted pregnancy, and death from botched back-alley abortions—all of which are connected via both cause and effect to the huge numbers of prostituted girls and women.
But hey! Prostitution is a victimless crime!
5 Responses to “Secret Service johns”
tinfoil hattie says:
Don’t worry. Any moment now, President Obama will speak about the horrors of prostitution and how it disenfranchises women and children. He will detail how horribl the life is and grimly assure us all that prostitution is not fun and games.
Haw haw haw! (clutches aching sides)
I wonder if he’s going to at least make some sort of apology to the summit. Sorry we decided to come to your country and engage in sexual exploitation and then try to keep it a secret even though your delegations were apparently aware that the agents were out openly looking for victims before we knew about it.
Irritating that Kessler seems completely hung up on the old school, cold war, ZOMG married agents could be blackmailed and that’s a security risk instead of the horribleness of this behavior, but what else is new.
As with the Spanish slavery story deemed too insignificant for paid feminist bloggers to mention much less consider critically, at first I was a bit peeved this front page New York Times story has been so adamantly ignored.
Then I thought of a Feministing contributor trying her hand at a post explaining why US Secret Servicemen being johns to Columbian hotel hookers is actually pro-woman, pro-job creation, pro-right to work, and pro-sex feminism. Then I was grateful for their silence.
I have always thought of the Secret Service as the men and women who would take a bullet for the president, the ultimate dedicated “good guys”.
Oh well, another indication that we are in the end days of Rome and some one is due to start playing the fiddle any time now.
The opinion at Feministing is that legalization is good for prostituted women because this woman felt safe enough to call the cops when she didn’t get payment. Cops are prostituted women’s heroes only in this telling and not actually paid thugs for Cartegena’s pimps like anyone who knows anything about prostitution in Columbia would think.
As if the woman felt empowered and safe when calling the cops instead of feeling so thoroughly terrified of not meeting her pimp’s quota that she started an argument with several American Secret Service men. Legalization didn’t get her the money she was owed, she was robbed of 3/4 of the payment and the cops didn’t help her get the full amount she supposedly had a right to by Columbian law.
The reality of prostitution is so much further away from thirdwavers’ ideology-driven imaginations than it is for the rest of the entire world it’s embarrassing. Years ago an American delegation showed up to a South African conference on violence against women with research proposing that women are as violent as men. Delegates from the rest of the world looked at their own data, looked at each other’s data corroborating men’s greater violence, then decided to ignore the American delegates and their uniquely inconsistent evidence.