The Secret Service, Prostitutes and a Presidential visit: Is this a Novel?

Tom Matlack weighs in on the Secret Service’s peccadilloes in Colombia.

I have spent that last few days skipping back and forth between The Expats by Chris Pavone and news about 21 prostitutes brought to a beach side Colombian hotel by two Secret Service supervisors and three counter-assault team members.

Eleven Secret Service members in all are alleged to have participated in the orgy.  All were part of the advance team for President Obama’s trip to the area as part of the Summit of the Americas.  There is some question, from what little I could bring myself to read, as to whether or not the President’s itinerary, as classified a document as you can get, was locked in the hotel room where the prostitutes were brought or kept safely somewhere else.  It does seem that the secret service members were talking loudly in the brothel about just who they were and why they were there.

In Pavone’s novel, a housewife and mother, who is really an undercover CIA agent, ends up investigating her husband, a bank fraud expert with a deep secret involving fifty million euros in a Luxembourg bank account. Some of the action occurs in Amsterdam where the protagonist has to strip inside a legal brothel to prove she isn’t wearing a wire before buying a gun from one of the proprietors.

As you might imagine I enjoyed reading the novel a lot more than the real life reports from South America.  The good guys win in the end and despite the appearance of betrayal there is a reason for everything, even between husband and wife keeping the worst secrets from each other.

The issue with the Secret Service story isn’t just the potential breach of national security, not just the bad behavior on its face, or the embarrassment to our President or our country.  It’s just so damned cliched. In a world beset by real issues do we really need another story of male sexual impropriety on the front page of the newspaper?

I kind of got a sick chuckle out of Dominque Strauss Kahn’s lawyer defending his participation in an orgy with hookers by saying they were all naked so his client was unable to tell which was which.  But only because the parody of men behaving badly had reached yet another nadir…until now.

Was what these guys did wrong?  Of course.  Should they be punished? Absolutely.  Should it wake us up to a deeper problem with how we think about manhood in the United States?  I sure hope so.

But in the meantime I am going to keep reading novels with female CIA agents who kick ass just to titrate the assault of news about guys who can’t keep it in their pants.

Photo by:  srqpix

About Tom Matlack

Thomas Matlack is a venture capitalist.


  1. Tom, I would look forward to reading a novel about this written by you or one of the writers here…I would love to get inside their heads!

  2. So the problem is… what, exactly? Inviting strangers to your hotel room might have been a security breach? Okay I get that. On that basis, what they did may have been wrong.

    But the fact that they had an encounter with prostitutes isn’t even slightly wrong, unless they tried to skip out on paying. Or maybe it’s a national-pride thing: Buy American!

    • Jennifer Companik says:

      Oh, Copyleft. I agree with you in theory–to a point. The men were off duty, prostitution is legal in the part of Colombia where the agents engaged the women’s services, but (and this point is not minor) these were Secret Service agents. The part of their job description that follows them off the clock is the secrecy of their presence. They were boasting about who they were in a foreign country ahead of a presidential visit and then let the situation get so out of hand with the women and the local authorities that they compromised their security clearance. You say, “Inviting strangers into your hotel room might have been a security breach” that that *might have been wrong.” Might have been wrong? What if the women had been spies or aspiring assasins? We should all be grateful they were just prostitutes.

      • Copyleft says:

        OK, as far as a potential security breach goes, I’m with you. That’s the only thing that makes this situation wrong.

        On the other hand, if I learned that my senator or congressman was vacationing in Columbia and hired a gaggle of strippers to visit his room (on his own nickel), I would say “More power to ya.” This whole “sexual misconduct” angle is what’s wrong with the story, because there WAS no sexual misconduct. Rather, there was a violation of security protocols.

  3. John Schtoll says:

    Tom, the problem is that when men can’t keep it in their pants , it seems to make it to the news. Are they doing something terribly wrong…you betcha. When women do something wrong, they seem to become a celebrity for it. Look at the woman who is alleged to have stalked Alec Baldwin, she seems to me be being treated as a celebrity. Articles are written in the “GOOD”, iow, she isn’t called all sorts of nasty names but rather the articles are worried about her privacy etc, about her missing her family etc.

    BTW, After 30 years of military service I can say with all honesty, “WOMEN DON’T KICK ASS”, sorry but they just don’t. There might be one or two here and there that do, but has a general rule, they don’t. So your reading of the female CIA operatives who ‘kick ass’ are just pure fantasy, and there is nothing wrong with fantasy.

    • Tom Matlack says:

      John I am with you on the double standard in terms of bad behavior. Look the whole premise of the Good Men Project is that there are countless untold stories of men who are doing good in their own way that we should be talking about rather than the Tiger Woods gotchas. That’s what I mean when I say the cliche. I am sick of it.

      I don’t agree that women don’t kick ass. I have mine kicked by several and I am no pushover. One of the things I like about the current crop of female protagonists in the Hunger Games, Dragon Tattoo etc is that it breaks against the cliche of women being soft and always the victim. I don’t know about you but I find it attractive when women are portrayed as strong and capable. Besides throwing out a cliche about men and then heaping one on women really isn’t going to get us anywhere.

    • Tom, the problem is that when men can’t keep it in their pants , it seems to make it to the news. Are they doing something terribly wrong…you betcha. When women do something wrong, they seem to become a celebrity for it.
      I recall how things played out with the Elliot Spitzer thing a while back. There were people who had no problem dragging him through the mud but would then treat her like a saint. In fact I remember a few sites that actively refused to name the prostitute he hired with those tax payer funds.

      I’ll be the first to agree that Spitzer was wrong in cheating on his wife and using tax payer funds to do it. But at the same time as far as I can tell he didn’t force her to engage in the stuff they did. But yet and still she was treated like a victim.

      If these Secret Service agents did hire these prostitutes then they should get in trouble (if for no other reason than they shouldn’t have been doing that stuff while they are supposed to be securing the damn president). But let’s not be so quick to going straight to assuming that the prostitutes in question must be poor defenselss women that are the “true victims” in all this (that’s a possibility but not a certainty).

      And I agree with Tom on the women kicking ass thing. Although I do think its worth bearing in mind that we should be mindful not to applaud women doing the things that have been applauded when men do it but are now coming under question. (Take the upcoming Brave for example. It will be great to see a female lead but if that female lead comes at the cost of casting male characters as inept idiots or generic cardboard cutouts, something that’s been happening for a long time with male leads and female characters and has been frequently commented on by people who call it wrong and unfair, then can you really say its progress?)

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