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Column: Americans Have Little Reason to Trust Secret Service After Recent Blunders

secret service photo

By Glenn Harlan Reynolds
USA Today Column

There’s a connection between the Secret Service’s Colombian hooker scandal and Americans’ increased worry about Ebola. Both have to do with trust.

Until recently, if you’d asked Americans to pick government institutions characterized by efficiency and professionalism, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Secret Service would likely have been at the top of the list. In both cases, recent evidence now suggests otherwise. And that’s especially destructive because both agencies depend on trust to do their jobs.

In the case of the Secret Service, the story comes in two parts — first, the 2012 scandal involving Secret Service agents boozing and carousing with prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, ahead of a visit by President Obama, and second, the apparent coverup that gave favored treatment to a White House worker who was the son of an Obama donor.

Prostitution is legal in parts of Colombia, but Secret Service agents aren’t supposed to be getting drunk and cavorting with hookers while on official business, as that poses an obvious risk to security. When the scandal broke, nearly two dozen Secret Service agents and members of the military on the advance team were fired or punished. Butone person got a pass — a White House advance team employee who had a woman, who advertises herself as a hooker, overnight in his room. According to investigators, they got pressure from the White House to delay the report until after the 2012 election, and to “withhold and alter certain information in the report of investigation because it was potentially embarrassing to the administration.”

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