Policy & Strategy

Pentagon releases report on sex scandal during Colombia trip

The actions of 12 American soldiers implicated in a sex scandal during President Obama’s state visit to Colombia in April did not jeopardize the president’s safety or pose a risk to U.S. national security, according to a recently-released Pentagon investigation.

The service members, along with members of the Secret Service, brought upwards of 20 prostitutes back to a hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, that was to be used for Obama’s state visit. 

{mosads}The incident created an uproar in Washington, D.C., and on Capitol Hill, with many lawmakers threatening to call congressional hearings on the potential national security implications of the incident.

At the time, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the incident
“embarrassing.” Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley
(R-Iowa) said the incident represented a “black eye” for the Secret
Service, Pentagon and the administration overall. 

Despite the embarrassment, the investigation conducted by Southern Command found that the soldiers’ actions “did not present a risk to either the operational mission or U.S. national security,” according to a redacted version of the investigation’s findings released Friday. 

“The combination of unconstructed free time, the prevalence of legalized prostitution and military members’ individual choice to commit misconduct were the primary causal factors leading up to the misconduct in question,” according to the command’s report. 

Colombian authorities performed a background check on each of the 11 prostitutes brought back to the hotel in Cartagena, subsequently clearing each woman of criminal activity. 

The five military service members with direct involvement in the president’s official security detail implicated in the incident were also debriefed by the Secret Service, “to determine whether military members’ interaction with the overnight guests could have compromised operational security,” the report states. 

Secret Service officials conducting the debriefings found the soldiers’ actions did not constitute an operational security breach. 

While the names were redacted, the report also provided specifics on the particular units and individual jobs the 12 service members attached to the security detail were responsible for. 

Six of the 12 soldiers were Army personnel attached to the Joint Special Operations Task Force out of Southern Command assigned to Joint Task Force—Summit of the Americas, the name of the international meeting Obama was attending during the Colombia visit. 

Two Marines, two sailors and one airman were embedded with the task force’s explosives detection team, working directly with the president’s Secret Service detail.

An Army soldier was attached to the White House’s communications office during the trip.

Six Secret Service members have already resigned from their posts, prior to the completion of the Southern Command’s investigation. 

Nine of the 12 service members were served with non-judicial punishments under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), while one received a lesser reprimand after being cleared of any UCMJ violations. 

Two service members’ cases remain under legal review.

Tags Boehner Chuck Grassley John Boehner

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