A new alleged sex and prostitution scandal may hurt the reputation of the U.S. Secret Service, after CNN affiliate KIRO-TV exclusively reported that about a dozen agents are being accused of taking strippers back to their hotel in El Salvador last March.
The alleged incident happened ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to the Latin American country.
News of the incident came a day after Department of Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano spoke openly for the first time about the alleged prostitution scandal in Colombia ahead of Obama's trip to the Summit of the Americas earlier this month.
Napolitano said Obama's security was not at risk from that incident. However, she did tell a Senate panel that had the Colombian prostitutes been working for any networks or agencies opposing the United States, there could have been a security risk to the president. The men have been accused of hiring about 20 prostitutes.
In the Colombian scandal, 12 Secret Service agents have been implicated, including supervisors and officers. The agency forced out eight of the accused, stripped one of his security clearance and cleared three of any wrongdoing.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the 12 military personnel implicated in the Secret Service scandal in Colombia had their security clearances suspended.
El Salvador Allegations
KIRO-TV reported that it had learned from an unnamed U.S. government subcontractor that the Secret Service advance team allegedly drank heavily at a strip club in El Salvador, paid extra for a VIP section of the club, and paid cash in return for sexual favors.
The subcontractor is someone who worked extensively with the Secret Service advance team (snipers, K-9 and explosives sweeps) in San Salvador prior to President Obama's trip, KIRO-TV reported.
Additionally, the subcontractor, according to KIRO-TV, said he told the agents that taking prostitutes back to their hotel rooms twas a really bad idea. However, several agents allegedly boasted that they did this all the time and not to worry about it.
The strip club owner also told the Seattle broadcaster he routinely took care of high-ranking employees of the U.S. embassy in the country, as well as of visiting FBI and DEA agents. The club owner also said that a large number of U.S. Secret Service agents and some military personnel descended on his club a week before the Obama visit in 2011. They were there at least three nights in a row, accoridng to KIRO-TV.
The strip club owner also boasted that his reputation for security and privacy is the reason his business is popular with those who want to be discreet. However, prostitutes and underage girls are not allowed in his club, the owner said in what the station described as a lengthy interview. He said that women at the club can do whatever they want after work although they are discouraged from contacting customers at other locations.
On Thursday, KIRO-TV investigative reporter Chris Halsne told CBS' This Morning that the subcontractor mentioned the agents' behavior to him last year while he was on assignment in the country for a different story. The subcontractor decided to speak after the Colombia scandal broke nearly two weeks ago.
The station said Halsne has names of some of the accused agents and that he has viewed records substatianting the subcontractor's account of what happened.