The Secret Service’s Locker Room Mentality

This is a story about two kinds of “employees.”

One is a Colombian woman, 24, who considers herself to be a high-class prostitute – an “escort” – who can command more than a street prostitute because she can dress up and go out to dinner without embarrassing her clients.

The other is a highly-paid  member of the U.S. Secret Service who was in Columbia as part of an advance team prepping for a visit by President Barack Obama to attend the Summit of the Americas. He allegedly agreed to pay the woman $800 one evening but only anted-up $28 the next morning, inciting a fracas of international proportions.

According to the New York Times, the “escort” was eventually paid about $225 – though she told them that she has to pay her pimp $250. If this is true, she lost money on the deal.

Three members of the Secret Service fared even worse. They lost their jobs, which reportedly paid salaries in excess of  $75,000 a year.  One was fired; one retired; and one resigned.  Eight employees remain under investigation and may follow their former co-workers out the door.

The real importance of this scandal involves the negative impact it will surely have on the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama, and the light that it sheds on the seemingly troubled culture of the Secret Service.

Jeffrey Robinson, co-author of “Standing Next to History: An Agent’s Life Inside the Secret Service,” told NPR this week that the agency prefers to hire ex-football players because “they understand how to play their positions in situations where teamwork is essential.”

Of course, football players are not particularly noted for their diplomatic skills or their sensitivity to women.

It all goes to show that sometimes working as a team is not such a good thing – like when testosterone-infused peer pressure kicks in and the team gets drunk, carouses with prostitutes, and then treats them with disdain and disrespect.

That may be what got them in the end – this “escort” thought she was better than that. She was insulted by the pittance proffered in payment.   She also claims to have been offended when the agent allegedly became aggressive and angry with her when she sought more money.

It’s time for the Secret Service to rethink the team concept. It’s 2012, not 1950. That “boys will be boys” locker room mentality is no longer acceptable.

And, while prostitutes may be the most exploited and reviled workers on the face of the earth, it is still wise to still treat them with  dignity and respect. They are being hired to perform a service for money, not unlike the members of the U.S. Secret Service.

Comments

  1. The point of what I said on NPR, and elsewhere, is that what happened in Colombia is not indicative of the culture of the Secret Service. These were idiots who forgot that what is so deeply imbedded into the culture of the Secret Service is dedication to duty, proper conduct and pride. There is no locker room mentality. This was the rarest of occasions when a few men were stupid enough, through alcohol and testosterone, to violate those highest of standards.

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