President Obama was the first presidential candidate to get secret service protection in 2008. The 44th president is often compared to President John F. Kennedy in terms of rhetoric and popularity. But no one wants him to share Kennedy’s fate. As president, the number of threats are substantially higher (nearly 30 a day according to some reports) for Obama compared to past presidents, which means the secret service needs to do right by the president, his family, and the nation. In light of this, the Colombian prostitution scandal gives us all pause.
The Secret Service needs to thoroughly investigate every element of the prostitution scandal involving 11 agents last week in Cartagena, Colombia. While the suspected agents weren’t assigned to the president, the breach of duty is an alarming indicator of potential problems inside the secret service as an organization.
The safety and well being of the president is way too important to have a lapse of judgment and character for a moment of temporary gratification. The shameful nature of the allegations actually have nothing to do with the sex in terms of the moral failing. The secret service, similar to the navy seals, are supposed to be the elite group of selfless agents who put country first.
WATCH NBC NIGHTLY NEWS COVERAGE OF THE SECRET SERVICE SCANDAL:
Many in the black community have long held the safety of the president and his family at a higher level of importance than any debate over public policy. Some African-Americans have feared the worst since the moment Obama announced his candidacy. In the back collective minds of the community there is an acknowledgement that the threats to the president’s safety are very real.
The Secret Service is a trusted and elite group of agents and many Americans simply assumed that they had the president’s back, and would ensure his safety and security. That is the sacrifice they made to join the secret service in the first place. Unfortunately, for 11 agents in Colombia last week, a cheap thrill superseded their call of duty.
Since the scandal broke, three agents have already been forced out of the organization. More resignations are expected as the agency performs lie detector tests on the suspected agents. Those that fail are stripped of security clearance and dismissed; those that pass lie detectors are allowed a more thorough investigation into their individual involvement.
Anyone even tangentially related to this scandal needs to step aside or be fired. The stakes are far too high, and one of the sacrifices for joining this elite agency is that you must at all times resist temptations and anything that might compromise your number one priority, which is the safety of the first family and high ranking U.S. officials.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called the scandal “disgusting.” It’s not only disgusting, it’s dangerous. Agents are tasked with the job of keeping dignitaries, including the president, safe; the least they can do is take their job seriously. They didn’t do this on an off weekend; they did this on an official trip.
This scandal might only be the beginning. Of course the Secret Service is not willing to make the assertion that this type of thing has never happened before, for fear that they might be wrong. And, considering the massive scale of this wild night with Colombian hookers, chances are this wasn’t the first time in the agency’s history.
Is the next time agents have such a severe lapse in judgment going to be a day when they are guarding Sasha and Malia? Or even the president? That hypothetical scenario is terrifying. The agency needs to shine a light on itself and clean house, so that nothing even remotely close to this situation ever happens again.
Follow Zerlina Maxwell on Twitter at @zerlinamaxwell