Prostitution scandals involved U.S. officials or servicemen in Colombia and Brazil have now spread to El Salvador.
Wire service reports say that the latest allegations came in a report Wednesday by Seattle television station KIRO-TV. The report quotes an unnamed U.S. government subcontractor who claims to have joined Secret Service agents and U.S. military specialists at a strip club in El Salvador ahead of President Barack Obama’s trip there in March of last year.
The subcontractor said members of the Secret Service paid for sexual favors in a VIP section of the club. He is also quoted as saying that at least two of the agents took escorts back to their hotel rooms, and claimed several agents bragged that they “did this all the time” and “not to worry about it.”
The report also quotes the owner of the San Salvador strip club as saying his club routinely takes care of high-ranking employees of the U.S. embassy in the capital, as well as agents from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The U.S. Secret Service says it is aware of reports that there were other times agents allegedly paid for sexual services while traveling abroad to protect the president.
So far Costa Rica, where prostitution is legal, has not figured in the international wire service reports. There have been any
number of U.S. dignitaries and their protective escorts here in the last 10 years, but most official visitors are housed outside the downtown San José area and most U.S. Embassy workers admit they never have been to the more popular nightspots.
Although many members of the U.S. military end up in Costa Rica on leave or for vacation, there have been no public scandals of the sort that happened in Colombia.
The Brazilian allegation was that at least three U.S. Embassy Marine guards were involved in a physical altercation with a prostitute in December.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano addressed the Colombia prostitution scandal Wednesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, calling the allegations inexcusable. But she said the actions of a few would not be allowed to tarnish the proud legacy of the Secret Service.
Appearing on an NBC television talk show Tuesday, President Obama called the agents caught in the scandal knuckleheads. But he also said they should not detract from what the Secret Service does. The president called the majority of the agents incredible guys, protecting him and his family, as well as U.S. officials all over the world.
The Pentagon is also investigating 12 military members who were allegedly involved in the Cartagena incident.
Prostitution is legal in Colombia, but off-limits for many U.S. government employees because of the possible security risks.