The Washington Post

U.S. Secret Service agents recalled from Colombia

The U.S. Secret Service is investigating allegations of misconduct by agents who had been sent to Cartagena, Colombia, to provide security for President Obama’s trip to a summit that began there Friday.

Edwin Donovan, an agency spokesman, said that an unspecified number of agents have been recalled and replaced with others, stressing that Obama’s security has not been compromised because of the change. Obama arrived in Cartagena on Friday afternoon for this weekend’s Summit of the Americas, a gathering of 33 of the hemisphere’s 35 leaders to discuss economic policy and trade.

Donovan declined to disclose details about the nature of the alleged misconduct. But Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said the accusations relate to at least one agent having involvement with prostitutes in Cartagena.

In a statement, Donovan said the matter has been turned over to the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which serves as the agency’s internal affairs unit.

“The Secret Service takes all allegations of misconduct seriously,” Donovan said. “These personnel changes will not affect the comprehensive security plan that has been prepared in advance of the President’s trip.”

Adler said the entire unit was recalled for purposes of the investigation. The Secret Service “responded appropriately” and is “looking at a very serious allegation,” he said, adding that the agency “needs to properly investigate and fairly ascertain the merits of the allegations.”

The Washington Post was alerted to the investigation by Ronald Kessler, a former Post reporter and author of several nonfiction books, including the book “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect.”

Kessler said he was told that a dozen agents had been removed from the trip. He added that soliciting prostitution is considered inappropriate by the Secret Service, even though it is legal in Colombia when conducted in designated “tolerance zones.” However, Kessler added, several of the agents involved are married.

There have been other incidents involving Obama’s security detail over the past year.

In November, Christopher W. Deedy, a federal agent with the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, was charged with second-degree murder after shooting a man during a dispute outside a McDonald’s in Hono­lulu. Though Deedy was off-duty at the time, he was on the island to provide advance security arrangements for Obama’s trip to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

In August, Daniel L. Valencia, a Secret Service agent, was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in Decorah, Iowa, where he was helping arrange security for Obama’s bus trip through three Midwestern states. Valencia, who was off-duty at the time of the arrest, was recently sentenced to two days in jail with credit for time served, and a fine of $1,250.

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.
Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.