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Intro: "Tired of yet one more political prostitution scandal caused by men who can't keep it in their pants? ... Most interesting is what has and has not been said by authorities when asked about the US secret service and military personnel's use of women in prostitution."

Secret service agents walk around Cartagena. Agents have been fired over alleged misconduct in Colombia. (photo: Fernando Llano/AP)
Secret service agents walk around Cartagena. Agents have been fired over alleged misconduct in Colombia. (photo: Fernando Llano/AP)

Secret Service Prostitution Scandal About More Than National Security

By Janice Raymond, Guardian UK

23 April 12


Given what we know about the sex trade in Colombia, the US has a responsibility to investigate possible trafficking of women.

ired of yet one more political prostitution scandal caused by men who can't keep it in their pants? And now, the elite guard of the US president's secret service detail.

Most interesting is what has and has not been said by authorities when asked about the US secret service and military personnel's use of women in prostitution. Embarrassed by allegations that ten military men were involved in the Colombian scandal of buying women for the sex of prostitution, the US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Martin Dempsey, seemed most concerned that "We let the boss down." He also added, "We're embarrassed by what occurred in Colombia, though we're not sure exactly what it is."

We're not sure exactly whether the general knows that the Department of Defense (DoD) has a zero tolerance policy opposing the purchasing of persons in prostitution, recognizing that it contributes to sex-trafficking. Readers learn that prostitution is legal in certain areas of Colombia called "tolerance zones". We don't learn that patronizing prostitution by US servicemen is illegal anywhere. Since 2006, patronizing prostitution is a crime when committed by service members under article 134 of the US military's criminal law (the uniform code of military justice).

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the ranking member of the homeland security and governmental affairs committee, is worried that the prostituted women might be members of groups hostile to the United States - agents of terrorists, perhaps - who might have planted listening devices and jeopardized presidential security. This followed revelations that 20-21 of the women are foreign nationals, who were brought to the hotel after US officials spent the night boozing and buying women through the "Pley Club" in Cartagena. Senator Collins wants the women tracked down to find out who they are and with whom they might be affiliated.

Those working against the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children know that "tolerance zones" in countries that have legalized prostitution - which is actually legalization of brothels and pimping - are magnets for traffickers. The "Pley Club" is a strip club and brothel. Worldwide, such clubs provide cover for the recruitment and use of women and girls for commercial sexual exploitation.

The secret service detail didn't simply take a stroll to an isolated brothel. There are rows of sex clubs and brothels in the Cartagena prostitution zone, where many women from different countries also walk the streets in search of "customers" seeking sexual services. The US officials were among the hundreds of US sex tourists who, every year, visit these sex clubs and brothels. Pimps control many of the women in the legal tolerance zones. The woman who set the secret service scandal in motion sought more money from the secret service agent than the puny $30 he'd paid her because she had to pay her (legal) pimp.

Teresa Ulloa Ziaurriz, regional director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, says that many women in the brothels of Cartagena are victims of sex-trafficking. Women displaced as a result of the internal armed conflict in Colombia were trafficked into prostitution in places like Cartagena. Sex-trafficking became prevalent not only in Cartagena, but in other parts of Colombia when members of the drug cartels used their criminal networks to take over the prostitution trade.

As for the men who are prostitution-users, many come to Cartagena on official business. Teresa Ulloa states that Cartagena has also become a paradise for tourists who seek sex with children.

President Obama said that he "would be angry" if allegations were true that these US officials had bought women for prostitution in Cartagena. Obama, who seldom gets angry, though he tends to do so more in pre-election periods, should translate these words into action. He should apply his own words spoken in Colombia - where he took a strong stand against legalization of the drug trade - to the prostitution trade:

"The capacity of a large-scale drug trade to dominate certain countries if they were allowed to operate legally without any constraint could be just as corrupting, if not more corrupting, than the status quo."

The US government has a responsibility to probe whether these women might be victims of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. Of course, the women won't immediately tell their truths to another branch of the same authorities that used them sexually, nor to inquiring journalists. However, the US Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking should be brought into the investigation, and local authorities and NGOs should be enlisted who are experienced in assisting women who are victims of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.

There's more than national security involved in the secret service prostitution scandal. If the US military code of justice means what it says, buying women in prostitution anyplace is a crime for US servicemen. It should also be a crime for other federal agents. If our US Trafficking Victims Protection Act means what it says, the presumption should be that the women used for commercial sexual exploitation in Cartagena may have been trafficked for prostitution.

Janice Raymond is professor emerita of women's studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the author of a forthcoming book on prostitution, trafficking and the global sex industry. Janice is a former director of the International Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. your social media marketing partner


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+5 # nirmalandhas 2012-04-23 10:11
Is there any other organism that uses its reproductive behavior in this way?and is'nt this part of the American dream...?
+2 # Texas Aggie 2012-04-24 08:12
Actually, yes. Some other primates have been seen where a female goes into a sexual pose to stop getting beat up by a male. They also have been seen going into the same position in exchange for food.
0 # shraeve 2012-04-29 21:05
Go into a sexual pose in order to stop getting beat up? That is called rape.
+17 # jbkenley 2012-04-23 10:11
WE THE PEOPLE have let ourselves down again. Sex seems to be our weakest link. Many Americans must be starved for true close companionship and real love.
+12 # dick 2012-04-23 11:49
There will always be a sex trade. Eventually, more hookers will be clever males providing monied women with a BFE. However, truly radical means need to be applied to dramatically reduce EXPLOITIVE rather than mutually consensual sex transactions. Sex slavery, including child sex slavery, is the vilest form of an institution that the world allegedly eliminated long ago. Obama should use this opportunity to launch a national & global campaign to crack down vehemently on trafficking, etc.
+8 # Regina 2012-04-23 12:21
Yes, and there will always be bastards who are married to wives and have families, but fool around on the side, especially in distant locations. They should get the full brunt of the law, both political and marital. Besides crime-based fines, they should suffer the full domestic rejection, including big alimony, at home. Strip them of the ability to pay for flings, between criminal fines, punitive alimony, and full family support.
+5 # John Locke 2012-04-23 12:56
FYI THe CIA uses Prostitutes in third world countries and has them on their payroll at about $500 a month USD, each.
+8 # readerz 2012-04-23 12:06
Given that nobody should be exploited for sex or drugs, it seems a logical conclusion that we should be upset that Secret Service should go to a foreign country and use women that way.

But this sentence is disturbing: "The US government has a responsibility to probe..." At the same time that Pres. Obama was seeking to speak to some of the problems facing South America, we are also "probing" him, and letting his Secret Service "probe." I saw an almost hidden agenda when this scandal broke. Romney will play this to his advantage, and do you think he is going to stop brothels, when Nevada's laws allow it, and Las Vegas is owned by the mob and some churches including the Mormons?

As much as I do not want national security compromised (etc. etc.), I am tired of us playing police to the whole world, while we are undercut on major manufacturing (etc. etc.). The new electric cars that have been developed by GM are being undercut by India's Tada Corp., while we spend trillions of dollars policing everywhere. And eventually, the only jobs left in the U.S. will be prostitution.
+5 # Nel 2012-04-23 13:14
The SS association with sex workers is just a small symptom of the big problem: The SS has been corrupted, most likely infiltrated for the purpose of getting to the top guy. Senator Susan Collins seems to be in the right track. Hope she and other get to the bottom of the cancer.
+4 # CreativeBlue 2012-04-23 14:52
The sex business exists because people want to have sex. That's just a natural fact. The slavery part enters the picture because religious dogmatists want to outlaw sex in the United States and have made it a crime to engage in sex for renumeration, and thus criminals have taken over the business, just as they have taken over the drugs business.

When these otherwise pleasurable activities are decriminalized, the criminals have to turn to other activities, and the sex slave trade dries up and the criminals go away.

Note that Obama uses the phrase "allowed to operate legally without any constraint."

This is where he's talking disingenuously - nobody is suggesting that the trade not be constrained; there are health laws, labor laws, minimum wage laws, all of which are applicable to the sex trade, and excise and import taxes that can be applied to the drugs trade, all of which would remove criminals from the picture entirely, or nearly so.

Obama, on the other hand, wants you to believe that decriminalizing an activity automatically makes it "unconstrained."

Both Ms Raymond and president Obama take us for children and fools.
+3 # Gar2 2012-04-23 17:48
'You can't legislate morals', and it would be nice if more men didn't think with the small brain!

Having said that.

If you haven't watched it or read it, JFK's Secret Service detail in Dallas spent the night before the shooting cavorting with 'local talent' in an era when the Presidents personal activities were kept off the table.

And if these women are pawns for drug cartels then war on drugs isn't going very well either.

Do we need to make a stand here - YES
Do we need to make an example - YES
Can we punish 'those on the payroll' yes, even if it was 'off duty time', they are d-facto ambassadors of this country albeit silent ones.

It would appear these acts were done by the 'advance party which is intended to get the lay of the land' (OK I couldn't resist, it was right there ripe for the picking).

By the way, these men 'are' the very definition of 'testosterone with a gun', but who else would be guarding the President, like another writer commented 'They look the part'.

There was a time (or at least a belief in the hearts of the naive) that those that lived and worked around the President (who is included in this thought) were of the Highest Personal, Ethical and Morale conduct, and above reproach by any test or standard!

Alas they have only humans to choose from and there in lies the rub.
+2 # Rick Levy 2012-04-23 19:13
Maybe the Secret Service should hire only eunuchs.
-3 # shraeve 2012-04-24 00:47
There is no evidence whatsoever to back up the allegations of pimps and trafficking. Trafficking is almost entirely a myth, invented by people who have always been determined to abolish all prostitution between consenting adults. For example, where has it been confirmed that the woman who was short-changed needed the money to pay a pimp? This is the only article that alleges that.

I wondered who could be writing this nonsense. Then I saw that the author was Janice Raymond, a well-known nutcase. Janice Raymond believes that all transgender women are rapists. It's in her book - Google it and see for yourselves.

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