White House and Treasury Department sources tell Capitol Hill Blue that the prostitution scandal involving members of President Barack Obama’s Secret Service detail is not the first time the elite protective force has bedded down members of the world’s oldest profession while on the road with the nation’s leader.
“It happens more than you think,” says a retired Secret Service Agent who asked not to be identified. “There were whores involved with the agents who went out and got drunk in Dallas the night before President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963.
However, the current scandal where agents bedded prostitutes in Columbia while traveling with Obama has cost 11 agents their badges, guns and security clearances.
The 11 were placed on a “Do Not Admit” list that denies them access from any and all Secret Service facilities, according to Special Agent in Charge Edwin Donovan.
They have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
Military personnel working the trip also sampled the prostitutes’ wares, causing Army General Martin Dempsey to tell a press conference that the military is both “embarassed” and “shocked.”
“We let the boss down,” Dempsey said.
But sources close to the investigation say the practice of partying while on the road is a long-standing tradition with the Secret Service.
“There’s an old saying: Wheels up, rings off,” said one Department of Homeland Security investigator, referring to agents and other members of the President’s entourage who remove their wedding rings once Air Force One and other support planes take off.
“Most of the time, those charged with safeguarding the President just wink and look the other way,” says another retired agent. “This time, however, what happens in Columbia is not staying in Columbia.”
Both the Pentagon and DHS, which oversees the Secret Service, have promised a “full and complete investigation.”
In 1963, excessive partying by Secret Service agents traveling with President Kennedy to Dallas was cited as a breakdown in security protocol by the Warren Commission. The Treasury Department promised to tighten rules on agent behavior.
“They did for a while,” says one retired agent. “Then things got loose again.”
DHS and the Pentagon did not respond to requests for comment on this story.