Social Question

filmfann's avatar

Does it make a difference that prostitution is legal in Columbia?

Asked by filmfann (47648points) April 17th, 2012

Regarding the news story
Yes, the Secret Service men are representitives of our country, but really, is it that big a deal?
Would it matter if they were from Nevada, where prostitution is legal?

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50 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

It probably wouldn’t matter to the managers / executives in Treasury, since the fact that the men were with prostitutes would be embarrassing to them and their families and for that reason could be used to subvert them. That, and the fact that we’re prudes about anything having anything to do with sex, of course.

Aethelflaed's avatar

No, but I wouldn’t think it was a big deal if it was illegal in Columbia…

Michael_Huntington's avatar

It’s Colombia, not Columbia.

woodcutter's avatar

Well, their job is,was? to be a secret service team and be doing their jobs. Whores are just one way people of ill repute use to gain information on a subject they may be interested in killing. They weren’t on vacation or anything like that so there really is no need for any strange pussy anyway. Why can’t they just beat off if they have the urge? They really let the president down if what the initial reports have shown are true. They are supposed to be the cream of the crop in the president’s safety. They should be doing other kinds of work like…congress, if that is what they like.

ETpro's avatar

Probably it still matters to their wives!

The reason it matters to the Secret Service is that it is a terrible breach of security. They were cavorting with whiskey and chicks when they were supposed to be dedicating their every waking moment to ensuring the safety of the President of the United States. Further, if enemies of this nation know the secret service behaves in this way, it would be a simple matter to compromise security by sending in fake hookers who are actually agents. It opens the door to blackmail. It’s a huge breach of professionalism. Colombian laws may not have been broken, but US laws definitely were.

Coloma's avatar

Probably enjoyed a little Columbian blow with their, er, blowjobs too. lol
When the cats away the mice will play.

woodcutter's avatar

They got b j’s too? Now I’m really pissed!

JLeslie's avatar

No, it doesn’t matter to me if it is legal or not in Colombia or anywhere else they might be. If they were not on the clock I guess they can do whatever they want, but it lacks dignity. They were guests in the country and should be behaving in a respectable way in my opinion. But, I guess that sounds prudish. I wonder how often these guys are in strip clubs in America though?

Jenniehowell's avatar

It doesn’t matter – as a military veteran I can speak to the fact that certain groups of people are preached to and told that they are not permitted to participate in a whole slew of legal things and/or to go to particular businesses and locations etc. etc. It’s a standard that the “uniformed” people are expected to abide by. Whether they do or not is another subject obviously but the reasons for those rules is to prevent situations where people can be taken advantage of or blackmailed in exchange for the information or access they may possess.

As far as it making a difference to me personally as to whether or not prostitution is or isn’t legal in a particular place – I say it matters because in places where it is illegal there are higher instances of potential for folks to get away with abuses to sex workers. Additionally, legalized prostitution both creates a certain level of safety for the sex worker and their patron it also adds to the economy on a different level than illegal prostitution does. My vote is that if a person is gonna partake in the hiring of a prostitute she ought to be a legal worker who one could (in theory) report to the Better Business Bureau in cases where she doesn’t follow through on her contract or give good customer service etc. I think everyone should have access to good, clean, legal prostitutes if they have the budget to purchase the services & no security clearance that they’d be putting in jeopardy.

Blackberry's avatar

There’s no difference, it’s all acceptable. The last time I checked, sex did not break any moral codes.

Edit: between adults.

augustlan's avatar

While it wasn’t illegal where they were, I’m sure it was a security/protocol breach. I’m not saying they should be charged with a crime, but there should be an appropriate consequence.

rooeytoo's avatar

They were not there as vacationers, they were there on an official mission. One is expected to behave in a fashion that will not cause embarrassment. I didn’t like it. If you can’t make it through the mission without the aid of a hooker, you need counseling.

jca's avatar

They were there on a mission, so they do get time to sleep, eat, have a few drinks and enjoy some freedom, they have to remember that they represent another country at all times when they’re there. Also, to be in the position they were in, with access to the President, they are in a very exclusive position in their field and at that Agency, so that in itself should have made them a bit more prudent and made them think twice with regards to hiring prostitutes. They should have used some better judgement and thought that maybe, just maybe, this isn’t something they’d want to get caught doing on an official trip, so maybe, just maybe they should refrain.

If they really have an urge for a hooker, wait till they’re on vacay with the boys on a long weekend to Las Vegas or something.

filmfann's avatar

I know a lot of ex-servicemen, and all the navy boys who were in Bangkok left with a social disease.
Should they be written up for such behavior?

JLeslie's avatar

@filmfann I thought of Asia as soon as I read about this. Do you view secret service the same as soldiers deployed? The same rules?

I don’t think they should be written up, but I think they should be spoken to.

GladysMensch's avatar

This was a huge breach of security. They brought these women back to their suites… suites that contained information and tools for the mission. The rooms contained computers, handsets, briefs (no pun), maps, routes and itineraries of where the SS (and thereby, the President) would be located. Allowing anyone into the vicinity of this info would be a breach. Bringing people in, getting drunk, and having sex meant that the SS knowingly let these people in and completely let their guard down while doing so.

GladysMensch's avatar

Also, this is not the same as soldiers on R & R. When a soldier gets a hooker in Bangkok he doesn’t bring the hooker back to the barracks, because that would be a breach of security.

JLeslie's avatar

I think it is a good point that it is different once the men bring the girls back to their hotel rooms.

CWOTUS's avatar

Although I tend to agree in large measure with @GladysMensch‘s opinion, I wonder if it’s just the fact that “they were hookers” that makes it such a security breach.

That is, assuming the men have information, gear and other mission-critical hardware and software in their rooms, is it a breach of security for them to have anyone else in the rooms without full security vetting? What about the cleaning staff? Does the Secret Service provide room service and make up the rooms each morning, too?

I think it’s the fact that “they were with hookers!” that has most of the country in such an uproar. I’ll bet if they were found, say, having some drinks and Cuban cigars and playing cards with some of the locals, there would be no story here. But it would be the same nominal “security breach”, wouldn’t it?

Jenniehowell's avatar

@filmfann I was in the Navy for 8 years & actually according to both the general rules passed down to a Navy enlisted from their supervisors such things are actually a punishable offense. Additionally, it is against the UCMJ Article 34 (if not other articles). Most of the time supervisors will look the other way with that sort of thing but in a case where it interferes with your job then it becomes a technicality that they of course will enforce. So the answer to your question is Yes – on a technical level per the regulations of the UCMJ etc. your friends should have been written up. Personally, I think that the social disease is enough of a punishment, but if we go by the technical letter of military regs they would be written up & if any of them had a security clearance that went above a particular level it would be potentially lost.

Additionally, we must keep in mind the difference between the average soldier/sailor and the Secret Service. Those with particular levels of secret clearances have an even higher expectation of behavior when on a mission/on duty even when they are in their after work hours.

jca's avatar

I would presume that the salary alone for the Secret Service agents who are high up enough to work for President’s detail would make them realize they’re held to a higher standard (in addition to training and things they’ve probaby had to sign showing that they understand). I wouldn’t be surprised if, with overtime, hazardous duty and special detail pay, they get $200,000 per year.

Jenniehowell's avatar

@jca it would be a blessing if salary was enough all by itself to make someone abide by a particular standard or to make others hold them to higher standards. Unfortunately, as I have heard and as Henry Ford was quoted as saying, ”Money doesn’t change men, it merely unmasks them. If a man is naturally selfish or arrogant or greedy, the money brings that out, that is all.

The point being – money merely magnifies what already exists in a person & others with money are not likely to restrict that freedom in their fellow passengers on the privilege train because it would then mean that they would in turn have to restrict themselves as well.

Money has nothing to do with any particular standard of behavior – if it did then we’d see Kid Rock in a suit and tie having political discussions using proper English on NPR or something such as that. LOL

jca's avatar

@Jenniehowell: Agreed, but I also previously talked about their training. It was not news to them that they were held to a higher standard.

Jenniehowell's avatar

@jca No it definitely was not news to them that they were held to a higher standard – my comments were only to say that their salary has nothing to do with it. There are soldiers out their risking their lives for between 12–25k per year and they fall under the same standards, rules and expectations of behavior as those who make much much more and who hold high positions and secret clearances.

JLeslie's avatar

Does anyone think this is an isolated incident? Or, just a time when they were caught and it gained media coverage?

Jenniehowell's avatar

@JLeslie It is an isolated incident in that it happens to be the only incident where they got caught in such a way as to highlight the situation in front of the world.

These sorts of activities are not rare among our uniformed service personnel. As a person who was in the military for 8 years this is standard operation. The problem is that they got caught and/or it now affects their ability to complete the requirements of their job. Not just because of the potential for them accidentally passing on secret information but also because of the potential for the public view of them to be so vastly different that it in turn makes their jobs more difficult.

As often as the secret service has screwed up under this particular administration whether it be getting cars stuck in places where they should never even get them stuck, running over pedestrians with the vice president’s group or crashing the vehicles etc. etc. the list goes on with the dumb shit this particular batch of secret service guys has done and with that growing list it is no wonder someone hasn’t figured out that these dipshits are such ignoramouses that it would likely be much easier than perceived to do something to the president or anyone else they are protecting.

This incident is just one of many that shows the decline of the secret service to a point where it may pose dangerous in the future if they don’t get their acts together. I just hope this incident gets them back in gear before something tragic happens because of some wackjob who realizes the half assedness of the current group of secret service folks & decides to target their weaknesses.

jca's avatar

This might be not rare among uniformed service personnel but the Secret Service on Presidential detail are above uniformed service personnel.

CWOTUS's avatar

The president, on the other hand… we haven’t all forgotten “what the definition of ‘is’ is”, have we?

JLeslie's avatar

@Jenniehowell I would not say military service men are the same as secret service who are out on a detail. They also have different requirements for becoming secret service, I think they are all college educated, but not sure, high GPA, over 21, and other requirements I don’t remember. Not that our military does not have men who fit that description, of course we do.

The only incident where they got caught means nothing. So? As @CWOTUS reminds us Clinton fooled around and because the media decided to start telling, that is why we all knew, but many Presidents before him were fooling around however the rule was stay hush. The media did not report it even when they knew. I still have no idea if the secret service did this sort of thing all the time or not. I would never assume with a bunch of testosteroned up men away, I think it is possible. Men, on alert, always having to watch out for a bad guy, willing to put their life down, very physically fit, probably a little cocky. It’s a stereotype, granted. Not that I assume they all would be doing it, but a percentage would not surprise me.

I have never heard a $200k salary for secret service, I thought it was between $50k and $100k?

Jenniehowell's avatar

@JLeslie I do not mean that the requirements to enter the secret service & military are the same – I’m saying that much of the behavior is the same after they are accepted and additionally the requirements and standards of behavior are much the same as well. The codes of conduct are the same in general for the military and secret service and especially in cases of military personnel who happen to have various levels of secret clearance. I know that from having my own secret clearance while I served my 8 year stint in the military.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jenniehowell Ok, and you are saying the guys did not partake in strip clubs and alike?

Jenniehowell's avatar

@JLeslie I am saying that it is very common for those who are members of the military, police, secret service etc. (both male and female, married and non, gay and straight) to participate in a plethora of activities that are both against the standards and regulations handed to them by their superiors and through the UCMJ and other written codes of conduct. I am saying that it is common for all of those people to partake in activities whether home or abroad that may include but not be limited to sexual encounters with random citizens in whatever nation they visit, prostitution and/or strippers, porn and a variety of other sex worker involved activities.

That behavior is common among our uniformed personnel (perhaps because it is such an easy relief from an obviously stressful job) & it is also a punishable offense in their codes of conduct in cases where it is determined that the activities affected the execution of their duties.

To answer your question more directly – if there is anyone who qualifies as a sex worker on any level whether a legal one or not – it is likely that a good # of his/her clientele have been a part of our uniformed government employees from the federal down to the city level – especially in cases where the location of that sex worker happens to be in a military/government town or a town where military/government officials work. Sex work is one of (if not the) oldest profession in the world and as far back as history goes there is evidence that government officials on a multitude of levels and in a multitude of pay grades have patronized those sex workers for the services they offer. Not only does history show this pattern but as I mentioned before all one must do to see it happen in real time is to join one of the services in question and it will be a matter of time before you are witness to it just as I was in my time in the military & when I worked with high level government VIP’s from Washington DC.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jenniehowell That’s what I thought.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: It’s got to be at least $100k, I would think. $50k they could make in any police force in the country (definitely in NYPD and Westchester, plus way more added to that in OT). I would think with the training that the Secret Service has to have, it would be at least $100k plus extra pay for overtime and special assignments for the guys who work for the Pres. Not all Secret Service agents work for the Pres, which is why I am saying these guys are the elite of their elite.

jca's avatar

I just googled it and they start at between $43 and $74k, (that’s starting, remember), and they have to qualify by having at least a Bachelor’s degree at Honor’s level, or one year of Grad school, and they have to pass extensive screening, interviews, drug screening, firearms tests, all kinds of stuff. It says they usually work 2 hours extra per day and get extra pay for special assignments. They also get 25% hiring bonus if they pass a test for a high proficiency in a foreign language. This is from their website. I would link it if I could but I am not technically proficient!

filmfann's avatar

If the Secret Service makes $200K a year, why can’t they pay a prostitute $47 to shut the fuck up?

JLeslie's avatar

@jca I saw it too, I googled it. I could not find average salaries or top salaries. I assume from @Jenniehowell answer they have commissioned officer ranks? But, really not sure. If so the salary ranges would be public record I think. That is a pretty good salary if it is $200k. I find that number high honestly, the President makes $400k a year, and that was changed 10 or 15 years ago, I don’t remember exactly, I think it was below $300 before then. I think my dad was making in the low $100’s as a Captain in the Navy 06 (he was not Navy, but that was his equivalent. I think that is Colonel in the Army).

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: we have county cops making $150k a year – half overtime and half base pay. I think for the top agents, guarding the Pres, $200k seems around right.

Jenniehowell's avatar

@filmfann I’m just guessing based on the reports I’ve heard regarding the details but my assumption is that it was more related to the curfew than the money. The hotel they were at has a policy that any visitors must leave their picture ID at the front desk & that they must be out of the hotel by 7am. When 7am came the hotel still had one ID left and they ended up calling the police to get the “visitor” to leave the room because they got no response from the people in the room when attempting to contact them etc. When the police arrived the guy whose room it was attempted to deny that he owed the woman money or that she was a prostitute. The main reason for that is because of their rules of conduct. The guy was an idiot clearly but his refusal to pay her was not because of price – it was due to his attempts to deny he had broken his code of conduct.

@JLeslie with regard to pay grades there are different pay levels within the federal government. Generally, FBI & Secret Service types can range anywhere from the rank of a GS-10 (the basic starting point for federal law enforcement) to GS-15 which is generally reserved for supervisory, management & executive level ranks. GS-10 is a salary near 48k per year but with various duty assignments and special availability pay etc. a GS-10 law enforcement officer can make up to around 60k per year. Non-supervisory people can advance up to GS-13 which has a base salary of about 75k/year & with the additional special duty pay etc. they can make up to around 94k or so. In supervisory positions & management (GS-14 & GS-15) the base salary is 89k & 105k per year and with special duty pay etc. can go up to around 111k & 131k per year. Consider that these are general minimum/base salary and mid range salaries because in special cases service agents can make even more than is mentioned here, but those numbers aren’t as readily available because they are related to even more detailed sorts of assignments.

jca's avatar

@Jenniehowell: Good analysis. Don’t forget overtime, which for the guys guarding the Pres, must be substantial.

CWOTUS's avatar

Don’t you mean “If they can put a man on the Moon, ... and so forth”, @filmfann? You could use the answer over there, too… and probably get more GAs for it, as well.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca Cops make over $150 a year? Wow, I used to always say stop ticketing so much and charge me a little more in my taxes so cops can make a decent salary, but now that I know that, I am not feeling so badly for cops. That is much higher than I would have guessed.

In the military part of the “salary” is the perks. Free medical care, great pensions, additional money for housing or on base housing. The military is not paid much compared to the private sector.

Did it say selective service gets OT on that site?

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: If you google it, it’s the first thing that comes up- the actual government site.

I just looked at it again and they get a Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) of 25% which seems to cover 2 extra hours per day. It’s unclear whether they get OT on top of that, or that is in lieu of OT.

The salaries quoted were 2010 salaries.

Yes, in Westchester County, there were cops making 85k plus close to that in OT. There was a corrections officer at the jail making 150k – obviously not his base pay – it was his base plus OT. That particular corrections officer was the highest paid employee in the County at the time, higher than the County Executive. This was about two years ago and it was reported in the paper with salaries for all the public employees.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca I just was not sure if their job would be eligeable for OT. I never remember the exact rules for OT being required. Some employers pay it even when not required. Some employers think if they pay a salary, rather than an hourly wage, they don’t have to pay OT, but that is not true, the law on who is exempt or not from OT is what matters. Many employers do tend to pay exempt workers with a salary though.

Jenniehowell's avatar

I don’t believe they get OT pay (at least not in the same sense as we understand it in the civilian world) – the LEAP pay (which is the higher ends in the pay descriptions I put earlier) covers that as well as the different additional special situation pay that they may get. But a salary is a salary which is different than an hourly job. There may be different additional benefits such as COLA pay and so forth for some folks too so it all depends, but OT is not generally something that we see in the same way one would expect in the civilian world. Also, I’m not sure about the civilian type govt workers like FBI and SS who get GS-10 etc. salaries but military definitely gets the benefits mentioned above such as free medical, dental etc. plus in some cases hazardous duty pay, cola pay, housing allowance, additional pay for dependents etc. much of which is not taxed. Even still (& I know this from experience) most enlisted military people who are not serving in war time are not making much money at all & those medical benefits are really the only bonus when it comes down to it.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: If the Secret Service does or does not receive OT would be in their employment contract. I am going to speak to someone at work and try to find out some more details and let you know.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jenniehowell One of the best perks for the military is in retirement. Good pay, short amount of years to earn retirement benefits, great health coverage, and can take advantage of space A flights if you live in a city near a base that has them, stay inexpensively on bases, shop commissary and PX. My parents have been to Hawaii twice, Italy, Crete, and some other places space A. They often stay on base when on vacation even if they did not utilize space A.

Jenniehowell's avatar

retirement is a great benefit but still not nearly as great as the average civilian thinks it is. It’s amazing how many civilians think that military pay/benefits/retirement are these amazing amounts of money when in fact they are not. It’s amazing the difference in salary between military and civilian who are doing the exact same job. Granted it’s all about saving the taxpayer money but damn sometimes military folks get screwed if you think about it. Back in the day military retirement could be up to 75% or more – now it’s definitely not that much. Not sure what it is but I am pretty sure it’s less than 75%

JLeslie's avatar

@Jenniehowell Military pensions are great. I am pretty sure it is 50% salary for the rest of your life if you were at the last rank for minimum three years. Something like that. Is it still 20 years in and you get retirement? Nothing like that is in civilian lif, not that I know of, and many companies have stopped offering retirement. Once retired they can start a new career, many able to retire in their 40’s if they want, and start a new career still earning money. I agree private sector jobs can have much higher salaries while working. My father said a few years ago that he feels wealthy now. It’s not like he has millions of dollars, very far from it. But, he says he feels secure, his house is paid, his retirement can cover his expenses and he has almost free heath care including medication. He does work in his retirement, all that money is for fun and savings. Having a secure retirment is liberating, especially when you are retired.

Other perks are having great insurance through USAA, I have it, can’t think of anything else right now.

jca's avatar

The advantage of working in any government position is the pension and the medical benefits. Having a pension is a wonderful benefit when a lot of private companies do not offer any pension. Having medical benefits (often free or very cheap) is a wonderful benefit and that often extends to retirement. Paying privately for medical benefits can be $1500 per month and up for a family.

Unfortunately, now with the economy, many government workers are painted as greedy and municipalities are cutting benefits, which takes away the advantage of working for the lower salary.

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