Misconduct alleged against Secret Service agents

The misconduct regarding Secret Service agents reportedly involved prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, site of the Summit of the Americas. A Secret Service spokesman did not dispute that.

President Barack Obama's diplomatic mission to Latin America this weekend threatened to be overshadowed by alleged misconduct by a dozen Secret Service agents sent to provide security for him in Colombia.

On Friday night, a caller who said he had knowledge of the situation, told The Associated Press the misconduct involved prostitutes in Cartagena, site of the Summit of the Americas. A Secret Service spokesman did not dispute that.

The White House had no comment, but also did not dispute the allegations.

A U.S. official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and requested anonymity, put the number of agents at 12. The agency was not releasing the number of personnel involved.

How much do you know about the US Constitution? A quiz.

The alleged activities took place before Obama arrived Friday in this Colombian port city for meetings with 33 other regional leaders. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said the agents involved were relieved from duty and replaced with other agency personnel.

"These personnel changes will not affect the comprehensive security plan that has been prepared in advance of the president's trip," Donovan said.

Still, the allegations were an embarrassment for the president and his delegation while guests of the Colombian government. And the incident threatened to torpedo White House efforts to keep the president's trip focused squarely on the economy and boosting U.S. trade ties with fast-growing Latin America.

Obama was to hold two days of summit meetings with regional leaders before heading back to Washington Sunday night.

The agents at the center of the allegations had stayed at Cartagena's Hotel Caribe. Several members of the White House staff and press corps were also staying at the hotel.

A hotel employee, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, said the agents arrived at the beachfront hotel about a week ago. The employee described the agents as drinking heavily during their stay.

The employee said the agents left the hotel Thursday, a day before Obama and other regional leaders arrived for the weekend summit.

The hotel's public relations chief had no comment.

The Washington Post reported that Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said the accusations related to at least one agent having involvement with prostitutes in Cartagena. The association represents federal law enforcement officers, including the Secret Service.

Adler later told the AP that he had heard that there were allegations of prostitution, but he had no specific knowledge of any wrongdoing.

Donovan said the agency personnel involved had been sent back from Colombia to their permanent place of duty. The matter was turned over to the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility, which handles the agency's internal affairs.

Associated Press writers Libardo Cardona and Pedro Mendoza contributed to this report.

How much do you know about the US Constitution? A quiz.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.