So much for the sex scandal involving Secret Service agents and supervisors in Cartagena, Colombia being an “isolated incident.” Just days after administration officials told Congress that they have no indications of a pattern of misbehavior, CBS News now says that there are at least four incidents over 12 years involving Secret Service details and sex workers — including two Bill Clinton trips:
The Secret Service is looking into that report and some others, including accusations that Secret Service personnel traveling in 2009 with former President Clinton partied at strip clubs on a visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and that agents and White House staffers went to a Moscow night club known for its sexually charged atmosphere prior to Mr. Clinton’s trip to Russia in 2000.
The new allegations come soon after a hearing Wednesday in which senators were assured that the Colombia scandal was an isolated incident.
“That’s why we need thorough investigation not just by the White House, not just by DHS (Department of Homeland Security), but by Congress; that’s part of our oversight responsibilities,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. “It’s an obligation we owe the American people.
Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said the agency was taking a preliminary look into the new reports. “Any information brought to our attention that can be assessed as credible will be followed up on in an appropriate manner,” he said in a statement.
This is now getting to the point of becoming a competence crisis for the White House. The first reports of the Cartagena scandal didn’t reach that level, as few would have blamed Barack Obama for the misdeeds of a few agents. However, the White House rushed to give Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan a public vote of confidence, and then rushed to Capitol Hill to insist that they had no evidence of further scandals in the agency. It took CBS and other media outlets just days to prove them wrong, and now it looks as though the problems go back for twelve years and possibly more. How could the people in charge have vouched for the agency’s performance so publicly and be so wrong?
It looks very much like the White House did an incompetent job of investigating the Secret Service, and that raises questions about its investigation of White House staff. They gave themselves the same clean bill of health they gave the Secret Service, after all. Congress will now have to put its own investigators into this scandal, and it may well end up blowing up in Obama’s face after all. They will probably regret the “heckuva job, Sully” moment.