The Secret Service may now be trying to figure out how to improve security at the front door of the White House (rumor has it, they’ve put one of those ADT signs out front and put the porch lights on a timer), but their current malfeasance is only the latest in a line of scandals. It all started when the Secret Service were in Columbia on assignment and decided to taste the local fare. By which I mean they hired a bunch of Columbian prostitutes.
Two dozen White House aides, military officers and Secret Service officials were fired over the incident that the White House swore it knew nothing about and none of their staff was involved in. Today, the Washington Post begs to differ. It seems at least one White House official knew that at least one White House volunteer aide, the son of major Democratic donor Leslie Dach, was allegedly getting busy in Cartagena, and did next to nothing about it.
But new details drawn from government documents and interviews show that senior White House aides were given information at the time suggesting that a prostitute was an overnight guest in the hotel room of a presidential advance-team member — yet that information was never thoroughly investigated or publicly acknowledged.
The information that the Secret Service shared with the White House included hotel records and firsthand accounts — the same types of evidence the agency and military relied on to determine who in their ranks was involved.
Apparently, the White House counsel at the time, Karen Ruemmeler, did a “thorough investigation,” which consisted primarily of asking the volunteer, Jonathan Dach, how he spent his evenings during his time in Columbia. Dach, it seems, failed to acknowledge that he might have been paying a local to have sex (he maintains, through statements to the Post, that he did not hire the prostitute), and Ruemmeler considered the case closed. After all, Dach was a volunteer, even if the White House paid his expenses, and prostitution isn’t illegal in Cartagena. Ruemmeler also complained, according to the Post, that she didn’t want to send a full team of investigators back to Cartenga just to investigate a volunteer over something “that’s not a criminal act,” because she thought the investigation would bring too much attention to something she didn’t consider a scandal.
The Post (and a DHS official tasked with investigating the matter) both found that a cursory search of hotel records revealed enough information to at least require a substantive White House investigation into the incident – hotel logs, first hand accounts from hotel staff – but you can probably guess why it took a while for the story to get attention.
The lead investigator later told Senate staffers that he felt pressure from his superiors in the office of Charles K. Edwards, who was then the acting inspector general, to withhold evidence — and that, in the heat of an election year, decisions were being made with political considerations in mind.
“We were directed at the time . . . to delay the report of the investigation until after the 2012 election,” David Nieland, the lead investigator on the Colombia case for the DHS inspector general’s office, told Senate staffers, according to three people with knowledge of his statement.
Lawyers representing the fired Secret Service agents are understandably upset. The Secret Service, itself, notified the White House of Dach’s potential involvement as early as September 20, but the White House insisted that there were no White House officials involved in the alleged misconduct, only military and Secret Service officers. The Secret Service and military members lost their jobs. Dach remains employed on a federal contract with the Obama Administration, serving as – I am not making this up – a policy advisor of the Office of Global Women’s Issues for the State Department.
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