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Let's get real about the Secret Service 'scandal' and what went on in Colombia

Finally. I’m finally over the shock of learning that men, when away from home and faced with opportunity, might find themselves in the company of booze and hookers. Usually in that order.

Much has been made of the Secret Service and US military personnel availing themselves of local culture during the recent Colombian expedition. I’m not here to pass moral judgment on their actions… that job belongs to their wives and girlfriends. I’m here to point out the odd faux-naivete currently being displayed by everyone from members of Congress to the media in trying to determine if this was simply a one time lapse in judgment or perhaps a regular running of the bulls that just happened to go public.

Anyone who actually believes that this may have been the first time for a little mess around needs to get beaten with a reality stick.

Seriously? Politicians and journalists trying to pretend that they’re not sure if servicemen and Secret Service dudes who are regularly deployed overseas might have done this before? Anyone who actually believes that this may have been the first time for a little mess around needs to get beaten with a reality stick.

Congress, that well known arbiter of upstanding behavior and transparency, is now doing what they love to do more than anything else; hold hearings during which they chastise others and express concern. Concern tinged with palpable outrage.

There’s talk of moral decay…of a culture in decline that has created an environment where fellas consort with gals of the night. 

There’s Republican outrage…demanding to know how the Obama administration could allow such a thing. 

I haven’t done the research yet, but I’ll bet once my crack research staff (admittedly mostly unpaid interns) launches into this, we might find shocking examples of Republicans cavorting with paid ladies, too. 

Soon we’ll be hearing from Congress that it’s outrageous that federal employees go overseas to spend their dollars when we have prostitutes looking for work right here at home. 

Now that’s a jobs program we can believe in. 

Just kidding.

Enough with the self-righteous yammering about how could this happen. 

It happens. 

That’s why it’s the oldest profession. The focus needs to be squarely on the security and counter-intelligence implications in order to ensure a serious response is made.

The Secret Service is conducting an internal investigation, as is the Defense Department. The White House completed their own enquiry into the conduct of the White House advance team over this past weekend. All members of the White House team have been absolved of any interest in hookers. I’m not sure what to make of that.

The Secret Service has already started firing or otherwise letting go personnel, including supervisors. Frankly, the only employees who should lose their jobs over this are the supervisors. Anyone in a management position who was aware of the events of the evening and didn’t take solid steps to prevent it should be let go. Full stop.

Employees not in management positions should be suspended and then sent for mandatory overseas security and counterintelligence training. And then they should be given another chance.

I don’t know, but friends have told me that when you pick up ladies of the night overseas, you often don’t know anything about their backgrounds, their associations, possible involvement with criminal or government organizations or anything else. Yes, most have a heart of gold and are just looking for Richard Gere, but a drunk john doesn’t tend to carry out much due diligence other than occasional price research before plunging into the market.

If you’re with the Secret Service, the US military or any other government organization and are overseas in support of a mission, sleeping with a foreign national is a serious counterintelligence problem. 

You have no idea who this person is and no idea whether you’re being monitored by the host government intel service or nefarious organizations. Here’s a hint, if you’re on an official detail for a State visit, even to an allied nation, you should assume your actions are being monitored.

Aside from the embarrassment that your actions can bring to the US government, you are putting yourself in a position of weakness and possible exploitation by that host government or criminal organization that may be connected to your temporary new best friend. Again, casting aside moral concerns and how our culture is going to hell in a hand basket, this sort of behavior can’t be condoned or tolerated by field supervisors or headquarters management. 

It is a very clear and definite breach of security.

Let’s allow the Secret Service and military to complete their investigations, report their findings to Congress and do some internal housekeeping. Supervisors should be let go, security training needs to be reviewed and improved and internal management oversight needs to be shored up.

Revamping our culture, instilling universal moral values and ending prostitution may have to wait for the day Hell freezes over.

Mike Baker is a former CIA covert operations officer and President of Diligence LLC, a global intelligence and security firm. Follow Mike on Twitter @MBCompanyMan.