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Secret Service scandal becomes diplomatic embarrassment

The prostitution scandal involving Secret Service agents and military personnel seems not to have caused security breaches. But it is an embarrassment to both institutions, which may be just as serious an offense.

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Prostitutes walk in front of the Hotel Caribe in Cartagena, Colombia. As many as 21 women were brought back to the hotel by US Secret Service and military personnel in an incident involving alleged misconduct with prostitutes.

Stringer/Reuters

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The prostitution scandal involving some two dozen US Secret Service agents and military personnel seems not to have caused any security breaches during President Obama’s visit to Colombia for the Summit of the Americas.

But it is an accelerating embarrassment to both institutions, which may be just as serious an offense judging by the response so far.

As of Saturday morning, six Secret Service agents had lost their jobs, either fired or forced to resign, and more can expect to be let go or reprimanded.

Lawmakers are pushing to broaden and deepen the investigation beyond last week’s episode, and Sen. Charles Grassley (R) of Iowa added a political dimension to the affair Friday when he urged Secret Service investigators to check the hotel records for White House advance staff and communications personnel who were in Cartagena for the summit.

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The scandal took another political turn when Sarah Palin weighed in after pictures from ousted Secret Service supervisor David Chaney's Facebook profile emerged. He had joked about "really checking her out" after a friend commented on a picture of Palin, with Chaney standing in the background during the 2008 campaign when Palin was the Republican vice-presidential candidate under Secret Service protection.

Palin said the scandal was a sign of "government run amok."

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