The Secret Service says it’s looking into a new report that a group of its agents and U.S. military specialists partied hard at a strip club in El Salvador, with some hiring prostitutes, prior to a visit by President Barack Obama last year.
The report Thursday by Seattle’s KIRO-TV comes on the heels of an agency scandal involving allegations that Secret Service employees hired prostitutes and took them back to their hotel rooms earlier this month in Cartagena, Colombia. Twelve agency personnel who were investigated in that incident have been dealt with: eight were forced out, the agency is trying to permanently revoke the security clearance of one, and three others have been cleared of serious wrongdoing but will face administrative discipline, according to The Associated Press.
In the KIRO-TV report, investigative reporter Chris Halsne said he interviewed a government subcontractor who worked with a Secret Service advance team in the El Salvadoran capital, San Salvador, prior to a March 2011 visit by Obama to meet with the new president of the Central American country.
The subcontractor, who was not named, said he joined about a dozen Secret Service employees and a few U.S. military specialists in a visit to a strip club a few days before Obama’s arrival.
According to the KIRO report:
This source witnessed the majority of the men drink heavily ("wasted," "heavily intoxicated") at the strip club. He says most of the Secret Service "advance-team" members also paid extra for access to the VIP section of the club where they were provided a number of sexual favors in return for their cash. Although our source says he told the agents it was a "really bad idea" to take the strippers back to their hotel rooms, several agents bragged that they "did this all the time" and "not to worry about it." Our source says at least two agents had escorts check into their rooms. It is unclear whether the escorts who returned to the hotels were some of the strippers from the same club.
The strip club’s owner confirmed that Secret Service agents and some military members visited the establishment the week prior to Obama’s visit, KIRO reported. The owner reportedly also told Halsne that FBI and DEA agents and U.S. Embassy employees in San Salvador also frequented the club.
The Secret Service said Thursday it is looking into the report.
“The recent investigation in Cartagena has generated several news stories that contain allegations by mostly unnamed sources. Any information that is brought to our attention that can be assessed as credible will be followed up on in an appropriate manner,” the agency said in a statement.
FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said in a statement: "We always take any allegation of employee misconduct seriously and, if proven to have merit, we will take swift and appropriate action." A spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said it had no comment.
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