Super-Punitive Partisans Beware: Secret Service Is No Patsy

Here’s what’s likely to occur next regarding the Secret Service prostitution scandal that continued to unfold over the weekend.

U.S. politicians and pundits will continue to profess horror regarding the 23 now-tainted Secret Service agents and military men who reportedly partied with prostitutes in Colombia while preparing for President Obama’John Edwardss visit. Those involved will be fired and scapegoated, and the national media will keep the story going with sexy photos and ponderous reflections.

What’s unlikely, however, is any kind of comprehensive investigation that ever becomes public regarding other agents and supervisors at other locales and years.

That’s because the agents have acquired vast amounts of highly embarrassing information about White House occupants of both parties, including their families and friends. Agents also know many things about Presidential candidates and foreign leaders receiving protection.

The trial of 2008 Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards, right, began April 23 in North Carolina on charges that he violated federal campaign finance law by covering up his affair with onetime campaign aide Rielle Hunter while they were on the road. But that’s only a tiny sample of what’s occurred through the years. And it’s not just Democrats, much as GOP partisans point to the affairs of President Kennedy (with a new column and book described below) and President Clinton.

An appendix of books chronicling other scandals, includng those of much of the GOP House leadership during the Clinton impeachment, is appended to this column. News articles, blogs and word-of-mouth descriptions too numerous to mention highlight other scandals.

The miscreants on this month's trip to the historic resort city of Cartagena will pay the price. Yet if a politician is inclined to go much further in mud-slinging at the institution of the Secret Service he or she better be squeaky-clean -- and with no friends, past or future. That’s because the agents know many secret things about scandal, and far more politicians are directly implicated than even cynical voters back home might imagine.

Those agents and military advancemen targeted will have their hands full trying to wheedle favorable terms of suspension or termination. But their colleagues, especially retirees, could cause a lot of damage to political reputations if ever affronted sufficiently by political hypocrites attacking their agency. There used to be a procedure known as "dropping a dime" back in the era of pay phones and anonymous calls to reporters. The concept still works, albeit via different transmission systems today.

In sum: It’s one thing for an agent to take a bullet. But not so many may be willing to take a fusillade.


Contact the author This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Related News Coverage


Washington Post, Secret Service agents tell confidants that bosses tolerated past behavior, Carol D. Leonnig and David Nakamura, April 24, 2012.  Some Secret Service employees accused of misconduct in the Colombian prostitution scandal are privately contending that their conduct didn’t warrant dismissal because senior managers tolerated similar behavior during official trips, according to people familiar with the employees’ thinking.  Several of the men who agreed to resign under pressure last week are also considering reversing their decisions and fighting to keep their jobs, said the people knowledgeable about the case. The prospect of Secret Service agents sharing embarrassing tales about rank-and-file employees and superiors partying to the hilt could bring more anguish to an agency reeling from scandal.

Washington Post, The John Edwards trial: A final public flogging, Chris Cillizza, April 23, 2012. The trial into allegations of campaign finance wrongdoing by former North Carolina senator John Edwards opens today in Greensboro, a sort of final public flogging for a man who twice sought the highest office in the country. “This is the end for John Edwards in public,” said one former Edwards strategist of the trial. “He is not the type to do a TV show like [Elliot] Spitzer and can’t do anything with voters.”  What Edwards is, ostensibly, charged with is accepting more than $900,000 in illegal campaign contributions from two wealthy donors — cash that was designed to keep his mistress (and the mother of his child) quiet during the presidential campaign. But, the truth of the matter is that what’s really on trial — at least in the court of public opinion — is Edwards himself, the one-time golden boy of the Democratic party who rose quicker and fell faster than almost anyone in modern politics.

Daily Mail, The inside story of the Secret Service rising star who busted agents over Colombian prostitute scandal as investigators probe claim that call girls were underage, Staff Writer, April 21, 2012. Agents were investigated by 46-year-old Paula Reid, head of Miami office. Six Secret Service agents quit the force over scandal. Congressman predicts most of the others will be forced out too. President personally briefed on state of the investigation. Colombian prostitute at the hear of affair has gone into hiding and claims to fear retaliation by the U.S. government. The female Secret Service officer responsible for disciplining 11 agents caught in a fight with Colombian prostitutes has been revealed as one of the agency's rising stars. Paula Reid, 46, recently became the Secret Service's South American chief after 21 years on the force. Her crucial role in uncovering the scandal came to light as a senior congressman predicted that nearly all the agents implicated in the embarrassing incident would have to leave their jobs.

Washington Post, Secret Service prostitution scandal: Lieberman calls for wider investigation, Ed O'Keefe, April 22, 2012.  A U.S. senator who caucuses with Democrats joined a Republican colleague Sunday in calling for an expanded probe of the Secret Service prostitution scandal, saying the investigation should also include a look at White House personnel assigned to prepare for President Obama’s trip to Colombia. There is no evidence that White House employees knew about the misbehavior. But Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) urged the Obama administration to conduct an investigation “just to make sure that none of them were involved,” echoing demands from Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).

Tom FittonJudicial Watch, A Trifecta of Waste, Fraud and Abuse, Tom Fitton (left), April 20, 2012. Colombian hookers, mind readers and luxury travel -- this is how government officials have been "investing" your hard earned tax dollars, if press reports are to be believed regarding three massive scandals now rocking the Obama administration. First, take a look at how the president's Secret Service agents decided to run "advance" for the president in the lead up to an economic summit in Colombia. According to ABC News: A prostitution scandal involving the Secret Service has grown in scope, with the disclosure that U.S. agents and military personnel had been with at least 20 women in hotel rooms before President Barack Obama arrived in Colombia for a summit with Latin American leaders.

Associated Press / Huffington Post, Secret Service Agents Out Following Colombia Prostitution Scandal, April 18, 2012. Laurie Kellman, Julie Pace, Ken Thomas and Steve Peoples in Washington and Frank Bajak in Colombia. Moving swiftly, the Secret Service forced out three agents Wednesday in a prostitution scandal that has embarrassed President Barack Obama. A senior congressman welcomed the move to hold people responsible for the tawdry episode but warned "it's not over." The agency announced three agents are leaving the service even as separate U.S. government investigations were under way. The Secret Service did not identify the agents being forced out of the government or eight more it said remain on administrative leave. In a statement, it said one supervisor was allowed to retire and another will be fired for cause. A third employee, who was not a supervisor, has resigned. The agents were implicated in the prostitution scandal in Colombia that also involved about 10 military service members and as many as 20 women. All the Secret Service employees who were involved had their security clearances revoked.

New York Times / Huffington Post, Woman Recounts Quarrel Leading to Agent Scandal, William Neuman and Michael S. Schmidt, April 18, 2012. A Secret Service agent preparing for President Obama’s arrival at an international summit meeting and a single mother from Colombia who makes a living as a high-priced escort faced off in a room at the Hotel Caribe a week ago over how much he owed her for the previous night’s intercourse. “I tell him, ‘Baby, my cash money,’ “ the woman said in her first public comments on a dispute that would soon spiral into a full-blown scandal. The disagreement over her price — he offered $30 for services she thought they had agreed were worth more than 25 times that — set off a tense early morning quarrel in the hallway of the luxury hotel involving the woman, Colombian police officers arguing on the women’s behalf and American federal agents who tried but failed to keep the matter from escalating.

Huffington Post, Mary Pinchot Meyer, JFK Mistress, Assassinated By CIA, New Book Says, Christina Wilkie, April 19, 2012. Conspiracy theorists who question President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963 have, over the years, become obsessed with another murder. On Oct. 12, 1964, socialite and artist Mary Pinchot Meyer, a longtime Kennedy mistress, was shot execution-style in broad daylight while walking along the Georgetown canal towpath. Within hours, police charged day laborer Ray Crump Jr. with murder. They never found the gun, however, and a jury acquitted Crump after an eyewitness described the killer as much bigger than the diminutive defendant. In the ensuing years, the case has become one of Washington's most infamous unresolved murder cases. In his new book, "Mary's Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision of World Peace," author Peter Janney lays out a complex web of high society and high crimes that implicates some of the nation's most respected intelligence agents, journalists and government officials in what Janney contends was a massive cover-up spanning three decades. At the center is a shadowy, all-too-familiar villain, the Central Intelligence Agency of the early-1960s.


Appendix: Political Sex Scandal Books

Amann, Joseph Minton, and Tom Breuer. The Brotherhood of the Disappearing Pants: A Field Guide to Conservative Sex Scandals. NationsBooks, 2007.

Bryant,Nick. The Franklin Scandal: A Story of Powerbrokers, Child Abuse and Betrayal. TrineDay, 2009.

Burke, Richard E., with William and Marilyn Hoffer. The Senator: My Ten Years with Ted Kennedy, St. Martin’s, 1992.

Edwards, Elizabeth. Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities. Broadway, 2010.

Garrison, Webb. Love, Lust and Longing in the White House: The Romantic Relationships of America’s Presidents. Cumberland House, 2000.

Greenwald, Glenn. Great American Hypocrites. Three Rivers, 2008.

Kelley, Kitty. The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty. Doubleday, 2004

McEwen, Lillian. DC Unmasked and Undressed. TitleTown, 2011.

Sibley, Montgomery Blair. Why Just Her: The Judicial Lynching of the D.C. Madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey. Full Court Press, 2009.

Smith, Amanda, Newspaper Titan: The Infamous Life and Monumental Times of Cissy Patterson, Knopf, 2011.

Young, Andrew. The Politician: An Insider's Account of John Edwards's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down. Thomas Dunne Books, 2010.


Catching Our Attention on Justice & Integrity Issues

OpEd News, Rupert Watch...Apocalypse When? Michael Collins, April 14, 2012. Rupert Murdoch has new worries. He may face phone hacking charges in the United States and cable TV piracy charges around the world. His son lost his job as chairman of the board at the lucrative British cable operation and Delaware court is hearing a shareholder sit to oust Murdoch for malfeasance. The perfect storm is forming.

Professors Blogg, News update from Washington, Andrew Kreig, April 21, 2012. Excerpts from the noteworthy news coverage, at the JIP, Washington,  updated by the scholarly American journalist, attorney and author Andrew Kreig. Andrew is Director of the Washington-based Justice Integrity Project and  a regular guest columnist in the Professors blogg. He publishes also a column in the Huffington Post and a sample of his important work related to the Swedish case against Julian Assange, is listed in the Resource section of the Justice For Assange site. His latest article in these columns was the must read piece  WikiLeaks Claims Secret U.S. Charges Against Assange.

Daily Mail (United Kingdom), “Breast cancer survivor handcuffed and thrown in jail over a mistaken $280 medical bill as 'debtor's prisons' return to the U.S, Staff Report, April 20, 2012. Increasing numbers of American citizens are being thrown in debtors prisons for failing to pay back debts as low as $25 a month. A breast cancer survivor who was sent to prison over a mistaken $280 medical bill has highlighted the return of debtor's prisons in the U.S. Illinois resident Lisa Lindsay had received the medical bill in error and was told she did not have to pay up. However, the bill was turned over to a collection agency and state troopers arrived at her home and took her away in handcuffs. Lisa Lindsay testifies before officials from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Wednesday during a hearing on 'debtors' prisons' Lindsay, a breast cancer survivor, was jailed due to a unpaid $280 medical bill. The Illinois teaching assistant eventually had to pay more than $600 to escape prison, as legal fees were added to the bill.

'I paid it in full so they couldn't do it to me again,' said Lindsay whose plight has alerted law-makers in Illinois to the growing problem. The case of Lindsay as well as others suggests that more people than ever before in the U.S are being thrown in 'debtor's prisons' for not being able to pay back loans.

OpEd News, BP Cover-up Part 2: Bribery, George Bush and WikiLeaks, Greg Palast,  April 20, 2012. Evidence now implicates top BP executives as well as its partners Chevron and Exxon and the Bush Administration in the deadly cover-up ---- which included falsifying a report to the Securities Exchange Commission. Yesterday, revealed that, in September 2008, nearly two years before the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP rig had blown out in the Caspian Sea----which BP concealed from U.S. regulators and Congress. Had BP, Chevron, Exxon or the Bush State Department revealed the facts of the earlier blow-out, it is likely that the Deepwater Horizon disaster would have been prevented. Days after the Deepwater Horizon blow-out, a message came in to our offices in New York from an industry insider floating on a ship in the Caspian Sea. He stated there had been a blow-out, just like the one in the Gulf, and BP had covered it up.

Associated Press / Huffington Post, Jeb Bush: I'd Consider Vice Presidency, April 20, 2012. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says he'd consider running as vice president with Mitt Romney, but doubts he'll ever be asked. Bush tells the conservative website Newsmax that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is "probably the best" choice to share the ticket with Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. Bush said he hopes the freshman senator is offered the No. 2 slot and accepts it. Rubio has said repeatedly that he isn't interested in leaving the Senate. Bush said he'd consider running if Romney were to ask him. But the former governor added that he's not sure running for vice president is the right thing for him and said he's doubtful he'd even receive the call.

Wayne Madsen Report, NSA spying operation targeting journalists focused but massive, April 20, 2012. (Subscription required.) National Security Agency (NSA) sources have reported the following to WMR: The NSA has conducted a targeted but massive surveillance operation against certain journalists who have routinely exposed NSA's illegal domestic communication surveillance program, code-named STELLAR WIND.

FireDogLake, The Ever-Expanding Surveillance State That Has Grown Under Obama, Kevin Gosztola Friday April 20, 2012. The surveillance state in the United States has only grown in America since the September 11th attacks. It has increasingly been used to spy and intrude on the lives of journalists and activists. And, during a Democracy Now! special, a full hour was spent delving into the National Security Agency’s evolution into an entity that illegally collects and sifts through private emails, cell phone calls and possibly Internet searches and other personal data of Americans. The special also looked closely at the stories of two individuals that have been targeted by the Homeland Security Department—journalist Laura Poitras, who has directed documentaries on the Iraq War and Yemen, and computer security researcher Jacob Appelbaum, who once served as a stand-in for Julian Assange at a hackers conference.  NSA whistleblower William Binney, in his first television interview since he resigned from the NSA, explains that the fact a telecommunications company, AT&T, was now providing approximately 320 million records—long distance data from citizens’ billing records—to the government led him to leave the agency. This was a violation of the Constitution, the pen register law, the Stored Communications Act, the Electronic Privacy Act, the Intelligence Acts of 1947 & 1978 and other federal laws governing telecommunications.  Binney talks about going to the Intelligence Committee to raise concern before he resigned. Porter Goss, who was chairman of the committee at the time, essentially shrugged off an effort to look into what the NSA was doing. He thought any questions should be taken to Michael Hayden, then-head of the NSA. It was the Intelligence Committee’s job to “do the oversight on all this domestic spying.” The Committee was setup to provide “oversight over the intelligence community to make sure they didn’t monitor US citizens.” It was setup in the “fallout of the Church Committee back in the 70s.” But, nothing was really being done about the illegal operations of the NSA. And then, on July 26, 2007, about twelve FBI agents raided his home with their guns drawn. Binney was in the shower. His son answered the door. They pushed past him and, when they found him in the bathroom, pointed a gun at his head to make sure he was “duly intimidated.”

Democracy Now! Whistleblower: The NSA is Lying–U.S. Government Has Copies of Most of Your Emails, Amy Goodman, April 2012. (Video interview.)  National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney reveals he believes domestic surveillance has become more expansive under President Obama than President George W. Bush. He estimates the NSA has assembled 20 trillion "transactions" — phone calls, emails and other forms of data — from Americans. This likely includes copies of almost all of the emails sent and received from most people living in the United States. Binney talks about Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and challenges NSA Director Keith Alexander’s assertion that the NSA is not intercepting information about U.S. citizens. This interview is part of a 4-part special. Click here to see segment 1, 2, and 4. [Transcript to come. Check back soon.]  William Binney, served in the NSA for over 30 years, including a time as director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, he has warned that the NSA’s data-mining program has become so vast that it could "create an Orwellian state."

USA Today, Misinformation campaign targets USA Today reporter, editor, Gregory Korte, April 19, 2012. A USA Today reporter and editor investigating Pentagon propaganda contractors have themselves been subjected to a propaganda campaign of sorts, waged on the Internet through a series of bogus websites. Fake Twitter and Facebook accounts have been created in their names, along with a Wikipedia entry and dozens of message board postings and blog comments. Websites were registered in their names.

USA Today, U.S. 'info ops' programs dubious, costly, Tom Vanden Brook and Ray Locker, Feb. 29, 2012. As the Pentagon has sought to sell wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to often-hostile populations there, it has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on poorly tracked marketing and propaganda campaigns that military leaders like to call "information operations," the modern equivalent of psychological warfare.

New York Times, The Courage of Dieu Cay and Natalya Radzina, Editorial Board, April 19, 2012. The Committee to Protect Journalists has named 12 countries — including Iraq, Russia, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Mexico — to its annual “impunity index” because they allow deadly violence against the press to go unpunished. The threats to journalists are also highlighted in a welcome, new State Department initiative. From now until World Press Freedom Day, May 3, the department’s Web site will tell the stories of people who have been killed, jailed or otherwise blocked from reporting the news and exercising the fundamental right to free speech.

Jennifer RobinsonGuardian (United Kingdom), Julian Assange's lawyer 'prevented from boarding flight at Heathrow,' April 19, 2012. A lawyer for the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has said she was stopped at Heathrow airport and told she was on a watch list requiring official approval before she could return to her native Australia. Jennifer Robinson, right, said a member of airport security told her she "must have done something controversial" and that they would have to contact the Australian high commission in London before letting her on her flight. The Australian human rights lawyer was later allowed on to a plane bound for Sydney, where she is due to speak at the Commonwealth Law Conference on Friday.

Huffington Post, Phone Hacking Charges May Be Brought Against News Corp. In U.S., Michael Calderone, April 19, 2012. The News of the World phone-hacking scandal that exploded in England last summer with a spate of arrests, resignations and several ongoing investigations has remained mostly on that side of the Atlantic.  But that could change if Mark Lewis, the British lawyer who has represented several phone hacking victims in the U.K. and who recently teamed up with two Manhattan-based attorneys, decides to file suits stateside on behalf of clients who believe their phones were hacked while on U.S. soil. On Thursday, Lewis, sitting alongside New York attorneys Norman Siegel and Steve Hyman, discussed the possibility of bringing hacking-related suits against Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. in the U.S., the headquarters of a worldwide media juggernaut. Lewis, who gained prominence for his pursuit of high-profile hacking cases across the pond, arrived in the U.S. for the Monday meeting with Siegel amid some media fanfare, including a New York Times profile. As a result of that meeting, Siegel said Thursday that there's "a reasonable basis for the proposition that three of [Lewis's] clients may have been victims of telephone hacking while they were in the United States." Lewis later confirmed he has a fourth client who may also opt to file suit in the U.S.

Institute for Political Economy, Unplugging Americans From The Matrix, Paul Craig Roberts, April 19, 2012. China is often a country about which Washington’s moralists get on their high horse. For some time I have had in mind a realistic comparison of the two countries instead of the standard propagandistic comparison, but Ron Unz has beat me to the task (see, China’s Rise, America’s Fall and Chinese Melamine and American Vioxx: A Comparison). Unz provides a chance for an education. Don’t miss it....Americans associate lawlessness with unaccountable governments and view China’s government as unaccountable. However, Unz points out that it is the Bush/Obama Regime that has declared itself to be unaccountable to both US and international law. The demise of the War Powers Act and the Geneva Conventions, and the asserted power of the executive to imprison without trial or charges or to assassinate any American whom the executive thinks might be a “national-security threat” are indicative of a total police state masquerading as an accountable democracy.

EcoWatch, Exclusive: BP Cover-up 'They Knew;' BP Covered Up Blow-out Two Years Prior to Deadly Deepwater Horizon Spill, Greg Palast, April 19, 2012. Two years before the Deepwater Horizon blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP off-shore rig suffered a nearly identical blow-out, but BP concealed the first one from the U.S. regulators and Congress. This week, located an eyewitness with devastating new information about the Caspian Sea oil-rig blow-out which BP had concealed from government and the industry. The witness, whose story is backed up by rig workers who were evacuated from BP’s Caspian platform, said that had BP revealed the full story as required by industry practice, the eleven Gulf of Mexico workers “could have had a chance” of survival. But BP’s insistence on using methods proven faulty sealed their fate.  One cause of the blow-outs was the same in both cases: the use of a money-saving technique—plugging holes with “quick-dry” cement. By hiding the disastrous failure of its penny-pinching cement process in 2008, BP was able to continue to use the dangerous methods in the Gulf of Mexico—causing the worst oil spill in U.S. history. April 20 marks the second anniversary of the Gulf oil disaster.  There were several failures in common to the two incidents identified by the eyewitness. He is an industry insider whose identity and expertise we have confirmed. His name and that of other witnesses we contacted must be withheld for their safety. The failures revolve around the use of “quick-dry” cement, the uselessness of blow-out preventers, “mayhem” in evacuation procedures and an atmosphere of fear which prevents workers from blowing the whistle on safety problems.

Salon, America’s drone sickness, Glenn Greenwald, April 19, 2012. There are many evils in the world, but extinguishing people’s lives with targeted, extra-judicial killings, when you don’t even know their names, based on “patterns” of behavior judged from thousands of miles away, definitely ranks high on the list. Although the Obama White House has not approved of this request from CIA Director David Petraeus, these so-called “signature strikes” that “allow the agency to hit targets based solely on intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior” are already robustly used in Pakistan — having been started by George Bush in 2008 and aggressively escalated by Barack Obama.

There is much to say on this new report, but in order for me to focus on three discrete points, permit me to highly recommend two superb articles that highlight other vital aspects of this policy: (1) this article from my Salon colleague Jefferson Morley this morning on why this form of drone-targeting is pure American Terrorism, and (2) this essay from Chris Floyd about a recently published Rolling Stone article by Michael Hastings on Obama’s love of drones and secret wars and how the military’s slang for drone victims — “bug splat” — reflects the sociopathic mindset that drive them.  Initially, it’s critical to note how removed all of these questions are from democratic debate or accountability, thanks to the Obama administration’s insistence that even the basic question of whether the CIA has a drone program is too secret to permit it to publicly acknowledge, even though everyone knows it exists — especially in the countries where it routinely kills people.