Politics Wednesday – Bad Apples

You’re on a business trip, well away from home, on a different continent even. The country you’re in offers amenities rarely available at home. You’re with a group of your buds. You have an intense job, adrenaline levels spike all the time, and your job has long been a male bastion of bravado and camaraderie.

What would it hurt to go to a strip club? Who would know? And it’s cheap; you easily hide the cost on your expense account–you get a certain amount for “incidentals,” and you don’t have to explain what they are.

At the strip club, the drinks are cheap, too, and there are plenty of young, willing women. You’re a prime, male specimen, after all. You keep yourself in shape; you work out. Of course you attract their attention. You buy them and you drinks, a lot of drinks, and, well, it’s inevitable that you head back to your hotel with them. It doesn’t matter who suggested it; it’s a chance for a wild, uncomplicated ride. Besides, who’s going to find out? You don’t even care when you return to the hotel that you have to register the women as guests, per local law. You’re special. You’re elite–the elite of the elite with a hugely important job.

It doesn’t really matter when you find out the women want to be paid afterwards. Prostitution is legal in this country, but when one of the women wants more money because there were two of you and one of her, you balk. Why would a whore think she’s worth more money just because she’s serviced two men?

Because prostitution is legal in this country, the woman goes to the police. She’s a business woman, and she’s just been cheated. The policeman comes to your room, demanding entry. You refuse. Don’t the cops know who you are? Local police are beneath you, the elite ones.

But the local cops aren’t so dumb. They check the hotel register and see what country you’re from, then they go to that embassy and let them know what happens. Now, all hell breaks loose. You’ve compromised not just yourself, but your work, the security of your country, and possibly the security of your head of state.

You didn’t stop to think any one of those women could have been a honey-trap to lure you into a compromising situation her handlers could blackmail you with. Her handlers could be anyone from that foreign country’s intelligence service to narco-terrorists to al Qaeda. You didn’t stop to think that in a few weeks you might get a copy of a video in the mail or by e-mail, showing just what you and a strange woman did. The accompanying message might mention your wife and children or your family or your boss and how they’d feel upon seeing this. You want this to go away, just, you know, pass along a code word or two, a secure frequency, where a government official is going to be at a specific time.

This is an old espionage ploy and dates beyond the Cold War or even Mata Hari. The honey trap was a favorite of Soviet intelligence entities, and though the U.S. intelligence services may deny they did the same, they did.

What I’ve outlined above is not the plot for my next book–though, it’s tempting. It’s something that’s under investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Army CID. The people being investigated are members of the uniformed section of the Secret Service and the U.S. Army who were in Colombia to make certain the President’s visit had no security issues. Yet, at the last minute, when the dispute over $40 to $60 became public, those agents and soldiers had to be removed and replaced. Never a good security situation.

If what is alleged is true, I hope the book gets thrown at all the guilty. I hope asses are fired and careers ruined. The sexual aspect of it is not what’s unacceptable to me–just disappointing, but who really cares what consenting adults do or pay for on their own dimes? What bothers me is the potential bullet–perhaps literal–that we dodged. If those Secret Service agents and soldiers did what’s being investigated, they put the President in danger.

And it shouldn’t matter whom that President is. Secret Service agents protect the holder of the office, regardless of political party. (However, if I really wanted to write a good book about it, I’d posit that a right-wing cabal was behind it all, but that would just be fiction. Right?)

From pissing on Taliban corpses, to burning Q’urans, to posing for pictures with the body parts of suicide bombers, more than a decade of war and fear of the next act of terrorism have ripped sensibility from our military and our law enforcement. How else do you explain spying on female Muslim college students five states away from your jurisdiction or leaving your post in Afghanistan to murder civilians in a village in the dark of night?

It’s proper to put our military and police on pedestals–when they deserve it–but, just as with most of life, some in the military and in the police are bad apples who spoil the whole barrel. Other soldiers and police need to distance themselves from those bad apples, or they will lose our respect. In fact, remember respect is earned, and donning a uniform doesn’t automatically imbue it. Right actions gain respect. Right now, my respect for the Secret Service is qualified, as it probably is for most Americans.

It’ll take a lot for that respect to return.

I live for your constructive comments.

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