The Secret Service agents who brought prostitutes back to their hotel rooms in Colombia last week had copies of the president's schedule in their rooms, which raises the issue of a potential security breach, a law enforcement official tells NBC News.
Did they leave the nuclear football on the bed table?
Secret Service personnel were in Cartagena in advance of President Barack Obama's arrival at the Summit of the Americas, a trade conference, over the weekend. At least 11 were placed on administrative leave and flown back to the United States on Saturday when it came to light that they had hired prostitutes. Their security clearances have since been pulled, NBC News has learned.
The story might have been kept a secret had it not been for a disgruntled woman who claimed she had not been paid by one of the agents. She argued with two Secret Service agents and then went to Colombian police. Local police reported the matter to the U.S. Embassy.
It has also been revealed that among the Secret Service personnel involved were full-fledged agents, which further ratchets up the seriousness of the incident. The heavily armed agents play a key role in protecting the president, and their job is to neutralize attacks, according to the agency's website.
It was initially reported that five military service members were also involved, but that they may have only broken curfew. Now officials say that more were involved and that they did more than just return to their hotel rooms too late --- several also paid for prostitutes.
The military service members involved were explosives experts and dog handlers from the Navy, Army and Marine Corps. The military advance team also included linguists and drivers, but they have not been implicated in the Wednesday night incident.
At a press conference Sunday, Obama said he would be angry if the allegations turned out to be true.
"When we travel, we have to observe the highest standards," he said. "We're not just representing ourselves. We're here on behalf of our people."
The Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Secret Service, is weighing whether to launch an investigation into the prostitution allegations.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said they were embarrassed by the allegations.
"What we do know is that several of our members distracted the issue from what was a very important regional engagement for our president," Dempsey said. "We let the boss down because nobody is talking about what went on in Colombia other than this incident, so to that extent we let him down."
But Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., defended agents in the service, calling them outstanding. He received Secret Service protection in 2008 when he was running for president. "I am confident that the overwhelming majority of Secret Service people did not engage in this kind of behavior," McCain said.
They were told to lock the schedules in the room safe--they could have been incapacitated or distracted and the safe compromised, especially when a menage-a-trois is suggested when she wanted $$ after arguing with 2 agents. Endangering POTUS over $47??? Especially in a country like Colombia when the US has gone after FARC and AUC, and ongoing ops against the cartels in league with Hezbollah, etc...is the Secret Service really that assinine??? If I was the Prez, I'd be more than a little distrustful and lay off all travel instead of scouting more vacay spots for Michelle.
Back in ye olden' 1970's, PRE-LARA KROFT = "BRADGELINA" GUAM, myself + classmates in Elementary School made a similar artificial dog out of hangars + colored yarn for our Arts-N-Craft class, albeit of course on a smaller scale.
President Maldives: SPR, what SPR!
Barack Obama pledged to put more "cops on the beat" to oversee the oil market, as he went on the offensive with a range of curbs to stop traders from driving the oil price higher.
His actions will drive the price of oil higher; he's trying to assert control of the market in his thug-socialist way, and that will clearly push prices up.
The US cannot afford to let speculators artificially drive up the price of oil, the US President said on Tuesday, revealing plans to boost supervision of the market and tackle manipulation.
"Rising gas [petrol] prices means a rough ride for a lot of families," President Obama said. "It's like an additional tax that comes right out of your pocket."
And who would know more about higher taxes than a progressive Democrat?
The high oil price and its impact on consumers is underlining concerns about how the market is functioning and how much it is driven by speculation. Brent crude, London's benchmark oil, trades around $118 (£74) a barrel.
The measures from the White House, to be approved by Congress, include an "at least six-fold" increase in the number of staff who scrutinise the trading of oil futures contracts at US market watchdog the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
The Obama administration also wants the maximum penalties for manipulation in oil futures markets to rise tenfold, from $1m and 10 years in prison to $10m plus sentencing which reflects the "seriousness" of the misconduct.
If a 'bet' on future price of oil (or any commodity) was such a sure thing then everybody'd be making it, and the price would come down. Kind of like horse-racing - as more bets flow to one horse, the payout to the winner goes down. If the price keeps rising, then the bet is not a sure thing. The futures price just represents that which it takes to balance the bets (plus the commission). When the contracts expire or are settled the winning and losing speculators balance out. End users who absolutely, positively must have a set supply at a set date pay a lot for that guarantee; sellers who absolutely, positively must have a set income and a set time sell their potential for greater income in return for that guarantee (end users who find themselves more flexible than they had expected to be receive payment for re-selling guarantees they previously bought.) It's not evil at all (unless manipulated by insiders and crooks at protected, 'too-big-to-fail' Wall Street firms), it's just a means for balancing supply and demand and criticality of each.
My problem with speculation is when its done with paper backed by little or no assets, particularly of the person playing the game. About the time the last run on oil [somewhere near 148 barrel] in 2008, the banking system was freezing up, thus curtailing lending [which is the start of the bailout]. As soon as that happened, oil prices dropped. The government already had the ability to call margin well before then to avert that run, but didn't. Make the speculators back their game and put up dollar for dollar for their bids. Let them gamble with their own money.