It didn’t take too long for KIRO-TV to confirm what the Washington Post suggested yesterday — that the Secret Service scandal in Colombia was not a unique event. CBS picked up on the report this morning, and reporter Chris Halsne tells what he found when he traveled to El Salvador this week:
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.
These alleged incidents in El Salvador occurred a full year prior to recent revelations that secret service agents used prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, on a presidential trip this month.
To further confirm information provided about behaviors in El Salvador that reportedly occurred in March of 2011, Halsne interviewed the owner of the San Salvador strip club in which the subcontractor said they visited. The strip club’s owner confirmed a large number of U.S. secret service agents (and some military escorts) “descended on his club” that week prior to President Obama’s visit. He claims agents were there at least three nights in a row. “No surprise to me.” The owner told Halsne his club routinely takes care of high-ranking employees of the U.S. embassy in San Salvador as well as visiting FBI and DEA agents. The owner says his reputation for “security” and “privacy” makes him a popular strip club owner with “those who want to be discreet.” He told Halsne during a lengthy interview, he doesn’t allow prostitution inside the club and that all his “girls” are at least 18-years-old. He says the girls can do what they want after work, but he discourages them from making contact with customers at other locations.
Once again, this involves an advance team sent ahead to determine security risks and map out routes for the President. The advance teams are critical for security, since the President’s protective detail cannot leave him to make those determinations for themselves. Security depends on having a professional advance team focused on the job, and not on the strip clubs and hookers — and certainly not on allowing the hookers to stay in rooms where sensitive information about the visit and travel plans might be accessible.
Halsne says the Secret Service hasn’t contacted him yet to hear about his information on the El Salvador trip, but they will soon enough. CBS reports that Halsne has the names of at least some of the agents involved:
Halsne reportedly has names of some of the agents allegedly involved in the partying and has viewed records which add credibility to the subcontractor’s eyewitness account.
Perhaps the House and Senate committees on Homeland Security will be interested in talking with Halsne, too.