There has been lots of hoopla over the last week surrounding the not so secret shenanigans of the Secret Service advance party for President Obama’s trip to Columbia.  It has been blowing up the news, blogs and other online resources on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.  For those so inclined as to fore go the daily inundation of irrelevant information (such as Sara Palin’s claim the government is running amok, here is a breakdown of events:

11, now possibly 12 Secret Service agents assigned to the advance party of the President’s travel detail and anywhere from 8 to 12 members of the military were involved in the procurement of purveyors of the worlds oldest profession while staying at the Hotel Caribe in Cartegena, Columbia.  Supposedly, this was a pre-planned adventure and involved upwards of 20 different prostitutes.  The controversy began with an altercation one of the “patrons” and the business person as to what the actual “fee” should be.  It seems the “service provider” felt the fee settled upon was in the neighborhood of $800 American, while the “serviced” individual felt it was more along the lines of $30 or so.  Quite a disparity in fees and accommodations if I may say so.  Allegedly, this was not the first instance of the evening in which there was some discrepancy of fees and negotiated verbal contracting. It is believed several of the agents were thrown out of a couple of bars and possibly a brothel during the course of the evening as they made their way through the Cartegenan night life in attempt to make their planned trip of debauchery turn into a reality.  Ah, the best laid of plans and all that.

Before I dissect this escapade and identify the numerous things that went wrong in this nightmare of gigantic proportions, I must pass on a little wisdom I have learned along the way.

I was once relayed a very simple, yet important life lesson from a wise old former Sergeant Major.  I will give my interpretation for the female population immediately after.  When it comes to men, married or single, almost all of the trouble they get themselves into can be traced back to three things, Booze, Boobs, and Bucks (the 3 B’s of the title).  Trace back to the root of any trouble a man has gotten into and you can find one or any combination of those three things involved in it.  This wisdom was imparted because many of us in the military have found career choices which have afforded us the opportunities to travel overseas or even around the country, either by ourselves or in small groups.  Sometimes there could be the responsibility of carrying large sums of money, important documents, or just simply the heavy burden of being a responsible representative of the U.S. Army (or other service or agency).  The person who stays within the bounds of their task and professionally discharges their duties, never, ever runs afoul of the 3 B’s.  The person who allows themselves to be distracted by the pull of any of those three seductive, will eventually fall victim to the trouble that always, eventually come from such a lapse in professional discharge of duties.

Now before we move on, lets address  the fairer sex and their version of the 3 B’s.  Yes ladies, you can be just as susceptible to the seductive qualities of being on your own as men, but in your case, I call it the three D’s; that would be Drinks, D!@K, and Dollars.  Now granted, men and women are generally susceptible to their respective vices for differing reasons, but this is just a demonstration of the roots of all evil so to speak for scandals and other troubles that may follow us through life.

So now that we have identified what the root cause to all ills affecting people of any gender or proclivity while they perform their services away from home, what exactly went wrong in this endeavor?

Ok, first of all, this was not a group of guys that got together for one last escapade of carnal delights (a la The Hangover), this was an assigned detail to go and conduct the business of security for protecting the President of the United States.  They failed in this mission in a multitude of ways.  They did compromise the security of the President, whether they are found to have done so or not by the investigative body.  They allowed local nationals into a secured area that they were living in, not only did they do that but they allowed prostitutes into their rooms.  They performed what is considered an illegal act by engaging the prostitutes in the first place, thereby putting their own good names on the line, possibly compromising their standing and integrity.  Not to mention, at least a few of the 11 were more than likely married, so they did the same thing on a personal level as they did on their professional.

Now, the President was not staying in the hotel where the “alleged” debauchery took place, and this was not the agents directly charged with his personal protection.  Protection is however a carefully crafted art form, which relies on numerous things to work in concert to guarantee the safety of the principle.  Any potential chink in the armor that is each and every element, is a risk to the life of that principle.  This includes compromising yourself to exploitation from a lack of discipline in your personal afflictions.

Lets take a look at some of the precursors to this whole scenario.  Someone involved in this whole thing, actually thought it was a good idea to talk everyone into partaking in the activity, thereby compromising the whole group.  The news was broken by a series of arguments, broken security rules at the hotel and a Columbian cab driver who sold one of the prostitutes out to the media.  Nowhere has it been reported that someone of conscious and integrity on the Secret Service detail spoke up about the activities that were going on.  We are talking about approximately 20 or more people between the agents and military, and no one thought this was wrong, particularly since it involved the security of our PRESIDENT!  I do not say this as a prude or as someone who has absolutely no skeletons in his closet.  I say this as someone who would take being charged with some part of the security of the U.S. President with a little more professionalism than was demonstrated in this case.  Like him or not, he is the leader of the free world and it is your JOB to make sure nothing can happen to him.  That means putting your proclivities and desires on hold, especially in a country that not so many years ago saw the deaths of politicians, judges and other public figures, simply for speaking out against the drug cartels.

This is probably not the first time something like this has happened.  You just do not simply gather 11 of your closest buds and just convince them it is a good idea.  It has probably happened in smaller, closer knit groups and been somewhat successful.  Presidents visit a lot of third-world countries and places where the sins of the flesh can be found in a much more publicly accepted manner.  There is almost always and advance team, anywhere you have a team, there is going to be someone to try and sample the local cuisine.  This can be found in almost every career in which travel, especially international travel is involved.  And again, yes ladies, you are just as inclined to experience the varieties out there as men are.

I am not going to condemn the folks involved for their obvious lapses in judgement.  There are going to be plenty more repercussions for this than have come out so far by the time this is all said and done.  Beside the individual punishments that will come out of this, there will be things like budgetary scrutiny, additional training requirements, new rules, mandatory contacts with supervisors and a litany of other things that come alongside of a public relations debacle.  A significant portion will be window dressing to prove to the general public that tax dollars are not being wasted and they should maintain their faith in the afflicted agency.  Some of it the public will never see, but will have far flung and reaching consequences for the professionals who do actually take their duties seriously.

After close to two decades in the Army I can look back at every major incident that has affected he government, either the military or some politician or agency, and I can say there is always evidence of the Three B’s rearing their ugly heads.  You may have to look a little below the surface, but they are always there at the root.  No matter how true you think your moral compass points, we are all simply human.  Eventually, our burdens and responsibilities will weigh heavily enough on us that given the proper amount of application of any of the Three B’s we will violate our boundaries we have set for ourselves or come close enough to doing so that we need to relook our lives a little bit.  Especially, how those burdens and responsibilities affect us and what compromising our own boundaries can mean to them.  This is not purely a sexual thing I talk about either.  It could be addiction, debts, and a host of other things.

No matter your gender, recognize when the Three B’s or D’s have placed you in a position where you can no longer maintain your responsibilities.  Chances are someone already has recognized it in you and it is just a matter of time before you are confronted with it, either as a consequence of your actions or as a helping hand.

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Comments
  1. scintillatebrightly says:

    Well written. Thanks for the breakdown of what’s been happening.

    Like

  2. […] already discussed in my earlier posting about the 3B’s, there were many personal and professional lapses for all the parties involved.  The authorities […]

    Like

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