Additional Secret Service, Millitary Advance Team Scandals Uncovered

There are two stories out today that would suggest that the events in Cartagena, Colombia involving members of the a Secret Service Advance Team and members of the U.S. military soliciting prostitutes may not have been an isolated isolated at all.

First up,  Jeff Quinton passes along a report from a Seattle television station that uncovers an incident very similar to what happened in Colombia when President Obama visited El Salvador in March 2011:

Seattle-based Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne (KIROTV- CBS- COX MEDIA GROUP)  just returned from El Salvador, where he interviewed a U.S. government subcontractor who worked extensively with the Secret Service advance team (snipers, K-9 and explosives sweeps) in San Salvador prior to President Obama’s trip there in March of 2011.

The eyewitness says he joined about a dozen Secret Service agents and a few U.S. military specialists at a strip club in San Salvador a few days before President Obama and his family arrived in El Salvador to meet with its new president, Mauricio Funes.

This source witnessed the majority of the men drink heavily (“wasted,” “heavily intoxicated”) at the strip club. He says most of the Secret Service “advance-team” members also paid extra for access to the VIP section of the club where they were provided a number of sexual favors in return for their cash. Although our source says he told the agents it was a “really bad idea” to take the strippers back to their hotel rooms, several agents bragged that they “did this all the time” and “not to worry about it.” Our source says at least two agents had escorts check into their rooms. It is unclear whether the escorts who returned to the hotels were some of the strippers from the same club.

Also, on Tuesday Defense Secretary Panetta revealed an incident involving three marines and a State Department employee at some undisclosed time in the past in Brazil:

Three US Marines and a State Department employee were punished over their involvement with a Brazilian prostitute in December, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Tuesday.

The admission came as officials were still reeling from the fallout of a prostitution scandal implicating Secret Service agents and military personnel working on a visit to Colombia by President Barack Obama.

“Those who have been involved are no longer in this country and were severely punished,” Panetta told the Brazilian news media. “That kind of behaviour is not acceptable.”

He referred to an incident involving three US Marines and an embassy staff member in Brasilia, a US official said on condition of anonymity.

The men allegedly brought a prostitute into their car but later threw her out of the vehicle in a dispute over payment, the source said.

The US Embassy paid the woman’s medical expenses after “she broke her collar bone” falling from the car, the source said.

What this suggests, quite obviously, is that the Cartagena incident is far from being an anomaly and that there may be more incidents like this lurking out there to be uncovered, and to further tarnish the image of the Secret Service and the military.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Hey Norm says:

    Military personel went to a strip club? And then went into the VIP room?
    Prostitutes…oh my.
    Andd they were drinking?
    Shocking. Outrageous.

    The most ridiculous aspect of this whole kerfuffle is Republicans damned and determined to identify the strippers as Russion spys. Chuck Grassley should be commited.

  2. Norm,

    I don’t necessarily care what these guys do in their off hours, until issues of whether or not their private lives might be compromising security come into question.

    You are familiar with the Honeypot, right?

  3. Jeff Quinton says:

    That’s the exact reason security clearances were suspended for the military personnel involved in Colombia.

  4. walt moffett says:

    then there’s that notion they are unofficial but still ambassadors of the United States, the always popular issue of human trafficking=prostitution and abusive treatment of the locals. Howeer, I guess for some, they never outgrow Spring Break

  5. Tillman says:

    I still don’t care.

    This falls into the kind of news that provokes outrage until you consider this has likely been the case for so, so long.

  6. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    Cartagena through a shot glass and a buffalo squeeze…

  7. @Tillman:

    Again, it’s not the activity as so much as the potential security risk.