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KIRO: USSS agents bragged about rowdy conduct

5:23 AM, Apr 27, 2012   |    comments
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(CBS News) More details are emerging on whether Secret Service employees hired strippers and prostitutes in advance of President Obama's visit last year to El Salvador, including a U.S. government subcontractor's claim that agents bragged that they "did this all the time," according to CBS affiliate KIRO Seattle.

In El Salvador, KIRO-TV reporter Chris Halsne spoke to a U.S. government subcontractor who claims to have accompanied a group of Secret Service agents to a strip club shortly before Mr. Obama's 2011 trip to the country. The subcontractor, who is not named in the KIRO-TV report, claims members of the Secret Service advance team received "sexual favors" in a VIP section of the club. Additionally, the subcontractor said at least two of the agents took escorts back to their hotel.

In a report that aired on KIRO Thursday, the subcontractor said the agents partied at the club into the early morning. "They're hitting the town, so they wanted to see where the action was, and it just so happen(s) I know a lot of good spots where you can get entertained, let your hair down as we say and basically, that's what I did. They went and enjoyed themselves," he said.

The source said that the agents used their job positions to bait women and that they bragged aout being part of Obama's Secret Service crew. The subcontractor added that he suggested to some of the agents that what they were doing as not a good idea given the crime in the country. Despite his repeated warnings, according to him, the agents said they "did this all the time" and "not to worry about it."

Halsne asked the subcontractor if this was something the agents did everywhere they went based on the conversations. "Yeah," the subcontractor responded. "Definitely. I mean, like I said, conversations I heard; they bragged about it. How good was the night in 'X' place or country. Yeah, I heard that more than once."

The subcontractor then said: "I know several girls were approached -- one in the military and Secret Service each approached them about getting a special service at the hotel."

Earlier, the Secret Service acknowledged Thursday it is investigating the new disclosure. A spokesman for the Secret Service, Edwin Donovan, said the agency was investigating allegations raised in news reports about unprofessional behavior that have emerged in the aftermath of the prostitution scandal in Colombia.

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Prostitution is legal in both Colombia and El Salvador.

On "CBS This Morning" Thursday, Halsne told Erica Hill and Charlie Rose that the subcontractor mentioned the agents' behavior to him last year while he was on assignment for another story in the country. Only after the Colombia scandal broke nearly two weeks ago did the subcontractor agree to talk about the 2011 trip on the record, Halsne said.

CBS News' Cami McCormick spoke with State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland on the El Salvador report.

"We've seen this press reporting. Obviously we will enquire of our Embassy in San Salvador with regard to the conduct of our own employees. But the article alleges that they attended the establishment not that they engaged in any illegal or un-sanctioned conduct. So we will enquire of our Embassy and see what we learn," said Nuland.

Asked about the government's "zero tolerance" policy toward this type of conduct, Nuland said: "... members of the Foreign Service are prohibited from engaging in notoriously disgraceful conduct which includes frequenting prostitutes and engaging in public or promiscuous sexual relations or engaging in sexual activity that could open the employee up to the possibility of blackmail, coercion or improper influence."

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