Sunday, 22 April 2012

US Colombia prostitution scandal, politically embarrassing

The involvement of US Secret Service agents in a controversial prostitution scandal is to say the least “politically embarrassing” for the US administration, a former senior CIA analyst tells Press TV.

The comment comes as a number of US military personnel members and Secret Service agents accompanying President Barack Obama in his visit to Colombia for the Sixth Summit of the Americas are accused of involvement in “inappropriate conduct.”

The Colombian police authority said that -- while on duty -- the US personnel took prostitutes into their hotel rooms.

The police said the instances of misconduct had caused the Secret Service to send 11 of its agents back to the US.

To analyze the issue farther Press TV has talked to former senior CIA analyst David MacMichael from Washington. What follows is a rough transcript of the interview:

Press TV: Many thanks for joining us here on Press TV sir. Despite this scandal still growing the Obama administration continues to put weight behind the director of the Secret Service. Is that a wise move, considering many are now questioning if the practice is more widespread than meets the eye?

MacMichael: Well, I think so far the director of the Secret Service Mark Sulivan has been commanded by the administration as having the situation under control but of course and as you indicated one of those things which is a considerable political embarrassment to the administration simply because it raises questions about who is minding the store.

Also interesting in this affair is the fact that one of the secret Service agents who have been fired is a man named David Cheney who was formally on the Secret Service security detail in 2008 for Sarah Palin who was the Republican vice presidential candidate and who posted jokes about her on Facebook.

So this is also something of an embarrassment and I think we should also point out here that there has been a total of 11 US military personnel also involved, including 5 Special Forces, 2 navy explosive specialists and 2 marines and an airport person and I had not been aware myself as a former military officer that back in 2006 the uniform code of military justice had been changed.

Now it is a criminal military offence to use the services of a prostitute and that carries a penalty of dishonorable discharge and as much as a year in prison so, you know, whether this is very serious, everyone involved declares there was no security violation and so forth, there is still a worry about this.

And speaking as a former security officer I can tell you and I hope you are not shocked to hear this that a standard procedure in all countries that I know about are to try to involve people in other governments in illegal sexual relations. This is called a honey trap and then to use this to blackmail them in order to get information from them or other actions.

So whatever it is, it raises a lot of anger and worry about this and it is as I said politically embarrassing for the administration if nothing else.

Press TV: Well, then it does bring us to the next question, where several top Republicans have reasonably pointed out that this scandal is a sign indeed of a lack of authority within the Obama administration. Would you agree with that assessment based on what you’ve just said?

MacMichael: Well, I think, you know, to an extent of course I would. The question has come up for me in various aspects of what I think is administration operating and I have been a supporter of the administration that in fact there has been a lack of control just within the last two months.

It has been revealed that the general services administration held a conference in Chicago in which literally hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on payments of questionable value and unusually expensive dinners and the renting of night clubs and so forth.

So all of these things, it’s no news to you I’m sure or to your listeners, they do have a political impact.

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