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National Security and Blackmail

You're probably following the story of President Obama's Secret Service advance team and the Colombian prostitutes. One of the arguments for firing the men involved is that this sort of behavior makes them potential targets for blackmail, which in turn endangers the President. But if blackmail is a risk, wouldn't the smarter play have been to treat it as a personal matter? That way, if another agent someday gets involved with a prostitute in a foreign country, which seems 100% likely, it won't create as much of a blackmail risk. Think of it like a limited version of diplomatic immunity. You can disapprove of the crime and still make a practical argument for not prosecuting.

Prostitution is legal in Colombia. But let's agree that there are plenty of reasons to question the judgment of the agents involved. They embarrassed the country and supported an industry that victimizes women. One of them allegedly tried to bully his way to a freebie. Each of them made bad decisions. If you ignore the Big Picture, those are good reasons to dole out some career punishment to the agents involved. All I'm suggesting is that doing so might make this President, or some future President, less safe. Is doing the right thing worth the risk?

Another situation that strikes me as unsafe for a president is a bunch of disgruntled ex-Secret Service guys. I think I've seen that movie a few times. I hope none of them get fired for reasons they perceive as unfair. I'd like to keep them on our side.

I don't know the full facts in this case. And I don't know if excusing this sort of behavior makes the President any safer. I just get nervous when I see morality and political correctness influencing security.

Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +51
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+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 29, 2012
I agree wholeheartedly with Phantom II and if the thumbs up are accurate so do a number of other readers. I would like to add to his assertions regarding poor judgement that is exactly why I've been totally disillusioned with certain Presidents and other high ranking officials in positions of power and to a lesser extent highly paid influential figures in business and entertainment. A vast number of them have shown alarmingly poor judgement in their personal affairs and it makes me pause and cringe because to quote Phantom II, these people whose decisions have a direct and indirect impact on the rest of us have displayed a horrible and dangerous show of bad judgment and abrogation of responsibility. Frankly, I think citizens have been too soft on them, too willing to justify it all away and this disconnect costs society dearly.
Apr 23, 2012
Some would say the SS agents had to get h**kers because the president travels too much, preventing them from filling their needs at home so to speak.

Others would say bring your own wives/gfs/s*x service healthcare attendants with you so "that" isn't an issue.

Still others would say don't try to rip off a h**ker and give her reason to draw attention to your activities.

Take your pick.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 22, 2012
Why are women getting paid to have sex being "victimized"? If she gets paid to be a lawyer is she still being victimized? I get paid to fix computers. Am I being victimized? I would rather get paid to have sex, but I wouldn't earn enough to pay the bills...
Apr 22, 2012
I fearlessly predict that at least one former agent will end up on Fox News, peddling "inside tales" of presidential irresponsibility and incompetence (limited to this administration), and claiming to be the fall guy for same. A backup version of Dick Morris.
Apr 21, 2012
I understand your point, but I think it's a little off the mark. Part of this has to do with the level of security clearances they have. One of the things you have to continue to show when you have a high-level clearance is good judgment.

I formerly held a TS-SI (Top Secret with access to Special Intelligence) clearance. An SI clearance means you have access to sources. Compromise a piece of intelligence, and you have lost an item. Compromise a source, and you've lost all access to whatever that source could have provided you. Nothing short of treason is worse than being the person who compromised a source.

Because of the sensitivity of the level of information to which those with high-level clearances have access, there are a number of criteria to obtaining and keeping such a clearance. One real big criterion is that you continue to demonstrate good judgment.

I recall a young enlisted man who worked in USN Atlantic Fleet intelligence. He was walking around a mall one day and went up to a young woman and squeezed one of her nipples. He said that that kind of thing was how young people where he was from greeted each other. The young woman involved did not agree; she called mall security, and they in turn called the Shore Patrol.

The upshot of this action is that the young enlisted man lost all of his clearances and was transferred out of intelligence. He had demonstrated to the Navy's satisfaction that he lacked the good judgment required to continue to have access to classified information.

Segway to the Secret Service. Access to the president, and to details of his schedule, require that the agents involved use good judgment. These people did not. They can no longer be trusted to show good judgment in other areas. Because of this, they need to be relieved of duty. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) was spot on when he made just this point during hearings on the matter.

Another consideration is the seemingly endless stories of government waste, fraud and abuse. We see billions lost in choosing winners in green energy; we see the GSA employees spending a million to party in Las Vegas; now, we see members of one of our absolutely top law enforcement agencies acting like a bunch of frat boys on Spring Break. Only these frat boys have guns, authority and the responsibility to protect the President of the United States.

There comes a time when we all have to demand, and I mean DEMAND, accountability on the part of those to whom we entrust our hard-earned money. We need to remind those we hire to work for us in government that they are our employees, spending our money, and that we expect them to work in our best interests.

What's happening to these agents is the result of neither excessive morality nor political correctness. It's simply taking appropriate action to punish a horrible and dangerous show of bad judgment and abrogation of responsibility.
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 21, 2012

Warning: This comment is written for fun. It should not be mistaken for a political commentary, or lead to the presumption that my brain is AWOL.


What if...

What if we could turn back the clock such that we can still be in 2012, living with this security scandal, and yet have all the original characters playing their roles of 1953 - the days of Dwight 'Ike' Eisenhower?

Imagine, Vice President Richard Nixon discovers that his secret service men have been inside public places.

He promptly reports to the President...

Nixon: Ike, we've a problem!

Ike: What?

Nixon: Our Secret Service is doing it in the Public.

Ike: You mean 'to' the public.

Nixon: No, inside.

Ike: How do you know, Dick? I mean Richard.

Nixon: One of them left a bug somewhere that is sending panic signals on my office PC.

Ike: We can't afford another war. Tell CIA, MI6, Mossad, KGB. We are in a recession you know.

Nixon: Aye, Sir. It doesn't matter if this is 2012 or 1958.

Ike: Or may be we let McCarthy do it on China?

Nixon: No. Better you could reconsider not to nuke China. Less expensive.

Ike: Yes. And call Somerset Maugham in Moscow. Ask him if he'd write a sequel to Razor's Edge

Nixon: Jesus! We'll change the history of the United States!

Ike: For good or for bad?

Nixon: Doesn't matter. Imagine, no watergate!

Ike: And I'll go back to Columbia University. Remind me to rename it Colombia.

Nixon: Why?

Ike: That's for a guy called Scott Adams. He's not sure which one is which.



Apr 21, 2012
I think the blackmail risk involves the wife at home finding out. This is still a risk even the government tacitly approves of what happens, as per your idea.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 21, 2012
@WeaselOne - I guess I'm picturing it similar to how in California, you can get a doctor's note that lets you legally use marijuana, and most people don't care. You're just expected to not also be operating a car or heavy machinery while under the influence. But you're right, it's not just a legal issue, it's a moral one. And if I'm being honest, my biggest complaint about prostitution is the same one Scott mentioned - that it relies on the victimization of women. Maybe it's different where it's legal, but I doubt it. And that's a very serious moral issue to me. I can understand why they did it (who doesn't like sex?) but still be extremely bothered by it, and the existence of an official form wouldn't change that. And if I, liberal guy that I am, am morally bothered by it, I can only fathom what the conservatives of the country would make of such a policy.

Guess the President and the Secret Service should just get used to being frustrated and easily blackmailed.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2012
I can see the plot for the movie. A Secret Service agents stiffs a prostitute. In retaliation the pimp kills the agent, the woman and of course the POTUS...just to show how extensive his power really is. The US retaliates with drones dropping scads of bombs on Colombia. China moves into the resulting power vacuum and takes over the drug trade. Thus establishing a foothold on another continent. And that is how Asians came to populate the Americas without need of an ice bridge. Where is James Bond when you need him?
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2012
Both Egypt and India lost leaders to disgruntled "security" guards.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2012
Please stop saying "Columbia"!
Apr 20, 2012
@Dooby: That would be great, but it isn't just the family, it is Congress, church, neighbors and the press most especially the press, enforcing these morals. Even with such permission there is still potential for blackmail, because it is politically damaging in a society that advocates monogamy to have this sort of behavior condoned by leadership in any way.

Like I said before for Scott's solution to work you have to change society. This is the American Puritan Ethic at its strongest.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2012
Maybe there should be a form that agents can fill out ahead of time, making it clear what they're doing, and that they have permission from their spouse, if married, and that the actions themselves are legal under the laws of the local jurisdiction. Once you get an official piece of paper, it's ok, right?

Get it on record, and then there's no coverup and no blackmail risk.

I wonder that form would be called? Perhaps "Notice of Intent to Engage in Moral Turpitude"? Or maybe a more specific one like "Notice of Intent to Solicit Prostitutes". Those would remain sealed in their personnel files, of course, but I imagine they'd make interesting reading for the more voyeuristically-inclined.
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2012
We can't afford to let the world think that Americans don't pay their John bills! Off with their heads!
Apr 20, 2012
I'm not sure how their actions make them potential targets for blackmail. Blackmail requires a person doing something they don't want anyone to find out about and we already know about the prostitutes. EVERYONE knows about the prostitutes. I would go so far as to say that right now those men are probably the least blackmailable people on the planet, so probably they really ought to be the ones guarding the president because there is no leverage there.

Making a policy about it though is pretty much impossible because of our social mores being pro monogamy and anti prostitution.
Apr 20, 2012
"Each of them made bad decisions. "

I think that is the real issue, why they should be fired.
Apr 20, 2012
Even if they handled it the way you say to in this post, it still wouldn't help with their wives, so they would still be subject to blackmail, nice try Scott, but the strategy won't work.

You would need to change the morals of society to fix the security problems here.
+13 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2012
Scott, the country is called "Colombia" and its citizens "Colombian" :P "Columbia" is a university.
Apr 20, 2012
True, it does seem that having a group of individual that are immune from punishment because of their position would be a good thing. Right in line with the principles on which America was founded.
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2012
What would a floating corporate country do?
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