Secret Service agents bragged ‘we work for Obama’ while inside Colombian brothel: report
Agents and Marines brought up to 21 women back to hotel; New Secret Service team in Colombia conducting background checks, looking for hooker terror ties
NY Daily News -- by Larry Mcshane, Joseph Straw, and Alison Gendar
Here's a recipe for disaster: Colombian hookers mixed with President Obama’s schedule and a Secret Service agent’s BlackBerry.
Investigators are looking into whether prostitutes picked up by Secret Service agents in Cartagena last week may have had access to the President’s schedule, maps and one or more of the agents’ BlackBerry phones in the hotel rooms where they cavorted, the Daily News confirmed.
The agents who picked up the women at the Pley Club strip club and brothel were publicly bragging that “we work for Obama” and “we’re here to protect him” as they swilled pricey whiskey, ABC reported
The Secret Service is conducting belated checks on the women’s backgrounds and phone records to ensure they have no connections to terrorists or drug traffickers, sources said.
They are tracing the women from IDs they were required as guests of guests to leave at the front desk of the posh Hotel Caribe, where 11 agents and nine U.S. servicemen in the presidential entourage brought as many as 21 hookers.
The Secret Service agents will all be given lie detector tests, said former Homeland Security adviser Frances Townsend.
Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) said he doubted there was a security breach.
“So far, we have no evidence that there was a breach in President’s security,” King said.
“There were no schedules lying around in the room. All agents’ BlackBerrys are encrypted. All were turned over when they got back here in Washington and all BlackBerrys are accounted for.”
But, he said, prostitutes or not, “to be bringing a foreign national back into a secure zone is a problem.”
“This could have been disastrous,” King said.
Eleven agents have been stripped of their security clearance after their bad behavior came to light when Colombian police broke up an argument at the Hotel Caribe over payment.
Sources tell The News one of the women accepted $60, then demanded $160 more the next morning. The agent she was with refused to pay. Cops reported the matter to the U.S. Embassy.
“There is no information coming out so far to show that this was anything but what it appears on the surface — a bunch of men picking up a bunch of women. But it is all being looked at. Very, very intently,” King said.
Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan is “furious,” King said after meeting with him Tuesday.
“His life is Secret Service. It’s what he lives and breathes and he is furious that this kind of thing has happened,” King said.
As calls for his resignation began, the White House made a point of reiterating support for Sullivan.
“The President has confidence in Director Sullivan. The director acted swiftly in response to this incident,” White Houses spokesman Jay Carney said.
Five of the agents were members of the elite unit charged with protecting the presidential motorcade. Two were senior supervisors. Three were snipers.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), ranking member on the Senate committee that oversees the Secret Service, revealed that as many as 20 or 21 women — twice the previously known number — were brought to the hotel. She said 11 Secret Servicemen and nine U.S. Marines were under suspicion.
The Pentagon began its own probe into the conduct of servicemen on the trip, including Marine bomb-sniffing dog handlers, Army soldiers, Navy sailors, and an Air Force airman.
Officials initially said five military service members were being looked at for breaking curfew. Now they say more were involved and that they also paid for prostitutes.
Some of the military men are claiming they did not know the women were hookers, despite picking them up at a well-known and legal brothel, King said.
None of the identities of any of the men have been revealed.
Former agent Daniel Bongino — who is running as a Republican for Senate in Maryland - told the Associated Press that his brother, also an agent, was on duty in Colombia and is “cooperating” with the investigation. Bongino said his brother was not a target of the probe.