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Will Infamous Secret Service Agents Now Have Clearance Issues?

Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

The news has been flooded with coverage of the secret service agents and military personnel who allegedly engaged prostitutes and indulged in drunken debauchery as a part of an advance team sent to prepare for President Obama’s trip to Colombia for the Summit of the Americas.

Secret service agents are required to obtain top secret security clearances as a part of their work. As a law enforcement body with a vital connection to national security and the safety of the president, they’re also held to personal conduct standards.

Prostitution is legal in Colombia, but violated the standards of the secret service as well as opening up the agents for possible blackmail. While this incident is spread all over the news, the question security clearance investigators and supervisors will be asking is whether or not this has happened before. (And the agents might as well start preparing for their polygraph examinations now…)

Foreign intelligence agents use every tool in their arsenal – including sex – as a means to coerce, and possibly blackmail targets for information and access. One need look no further than the Russian spy ring’s ‘red hot’ Anna Chapman as a demonstration of how sex, or sex appeal, is used to tease out information. Engaging in prostitution – even in countries where it is legal – also raises “lack of discretion” and “poor judgment” concerns.

It’s likely that if the charges against the agents are verified they will lose their jobs, most definitely. Whether or not they would be able to maintain a security clearance would likely depend on how egregious the behavior was and whether or not it was an isolated incident or a pattern of untrustworthy and potentially harmful behavior. News reports are saying that the accused agents have already had their clearances revoked pending the investigation. This should come as no surprise, and is a standard response in an investigation where issues of blackmail and access to sensitive information are concerned.

For the average security cleared professional, without such close access to the White House and with little risk to blackmail, it’s unlikely that visiting a prostitute in a country where it was legal would result in clearance issues. But you’d have to be so sure you wouldn’t succumb to blackmail or foreign influence and that you’d be okay with the story being told across the evening news.

Comment Archive

  1. Avatar

    Blackmail: the #1 disclaimer we all ask Subjects and place in our reports. What a story.

    Who conducts background investigations on the Secret Service? Are they done internally by that agency?

  2. Avatar

    It would be awesome to ask them, “who is aware of the incident?”

    Answer: the whole country.


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    With more than a dozen secret service agents and members of the military implicated, I’d have to believe this isn’t the first time something like this has happen. Lots of winking and nodding going on.

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    I don’t know the answer to your question, but would be interested to know myself. Anybody know who does background investigations for USSS or FBI? Do they contract them out or have their own 1811s do it?

  5. Avatar

    Far as I know the FBI does them. The FBI contracts their own for BI.

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    The military troops in this scandal should know this: They are only allowed to k ill, not have sex with law abiding women who just happen to charge.

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    They the media will dig just far enough but not too far into this issue. How many Secret Service agents have gotten other VIPs companionship at the White House or while traveling? I seem to remember State Troopers getting a certain individual companionship on an occasion or two. Have read and heard about wild sex parties during one presidential term in office. Most had a girlfriend or two which has come to light after years of secrecy, yes secrets kept by the secret service which is now in the headlines. I would say business as usual, what say you?

  8. Avatar

    The secret service conducts their own backround investigations. It may be current agents or retired agents working as backround investigators.

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    As far as I know the secret service do their own investigations with support from others. I went for a job as a uniformed division officer about 9 years ago and a uniformed division security officer did my esi and a FBI polygrapher did my polygraph. I failed the medical so after that it was discontinued so I do not know who would have gone door to door for the rest of it.

    And I bet they all wish the one guy had just paid the $800 the girl was extorting.

  10. Avatar

    This is ridiculous. Do we as tax payers….really have to sit here and listen to this garbage? So what they paid for sex! Its sex! SEX! Who cares!? We have drugs…..murders……poor economy…..all kinds Adults killing innocent kids……and we are focused on these people paying for sex???

    I say….let them them off……and stop paying attention to stupid stuff. As long as they admit it during there security interviews…..whats the problem??

    So ridiculous!

    My gawd…..everyone is acting like this is some act of treason or something!

    Colombian women are extremely beautiful and sexy…..and its very unrealistic to tell a bunch of grown man….not to mess with the local LEGAL hookers.

    I think we as Americans have better things to focus on….like what to do about North Korea…and Iran for starters.

  11. Avatar

    As repoted today by the Washington Post:

    “Three more employees of the U.S. Secret Service are out of a job as part of the brewing Colombia sex scandal, according to congressional officials familiar with the investigation.

    Two employees have chosen to retire, two others have been cleared of the most serious charges, but will face administrative action and be removed from their current positions; A FIFTH WILL BE RELIEVED OF HIS SECURITY CLEARANCE, meaning he can no longer work for the Secret Service, but could be employed by other federal agencies.

    The decision means the Secret Service has determined the fates of the 12 employees implicated in the scandal. Last week, six other employees either resigned, were fired, or permitted to retire. Another agent was cleared of wrongdoing but will face administrative action.”

  12. Avatar

    Internally. USSS conducts their own security clearance investigations.

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    The Washington Post reported that 1 of the 12 SS folks involved had his security clearance revoked.

  14. Avatar

    Blues Clues,

    You have to pay for services rendered 🙂

  15. Avatar

    In lieu of this scandal, I wonder if USSS will now rely on another agency to do their background investigations? Then again, that seems to be presuming that those who do background investigations on those involved in this scandal had any involvement in it themselves.

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    I thought about that as well. I’d say that seems unlikely unless it’s found that agents and retired agents were someone purposefully leaving things out of their BIs.

  17. Avatar

    OPM investigations for all!

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    I’ll do them–I am a subject matter expert 🙂

  19. Avatar

    BW –

    That’s one hell of a high price to pay! When will people learn not to sh-t where they eat?

  20. Avatar

    BTW – the company that shall remain nameless continues to push the $10,000 investigator referral bonus and double overtime VERY hard…doesn’t sound like things are going so well over there. Mass exodus!

  21. Avatar

    Not much chatter about the mass exodus. We did just get another $10,000 recruitment bonus e-mail. We get them a few times a month. I will be going on detail soon to DC or the Norfolk area because of the mass exodus. Not looking forward to it but if I get OT and my per diem I will be making some good money.

  22. Avatar

    Is the $10000 bonus for recruiting current credentialed investigators or brand new investigators? I know a few people looking to get into this line of work but they are untrained…

  23. Avatar


    The 10K bonus is only for investigators who bring in currently credentialed OPM investigators with final TS clearance. Basically, you’d have to steal someone away from OPM itself or from one of OPM other contractors.

    As far as I know, there is NO bonus for referring untrained/uncredentialed/uncleared investigators.

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    You can expect the detailing to continue!

  25. Avatar


    I hadn’t heard (or perhaps simply ignored) the $250 bonus thing. It’s a far cry from the 10K!

    Thanks for the article link…seems that investigator worked out of the Washington DC area.

  26. Avatar

    Blue’s Clues,
    The $250 is nothing, not even worth trying to recruit anyone for this job.

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    My sentiments exactly.

  28. Avatar

    This means that visiting a brothel in Nevada is not an issue for clearance holders…is that right? Esp. for single cleared holders who aren’t susceptible to blackmail or if one went with a spouse to a brothel?