WASHINGTON — A dozen U.S. service members brought women, probably prostitutes, to their hotel rooms in Colombia and also allowed dogs to soil bed linens and building grounds shortly before President Barack Obama arrived in the country for an April summit, according to a military investigation that followed the announcement of punishments for the men.
The report provided to the Associated Press on Friday revealed new details about the conduct of the service members in the prostitution scandal that engulfed both military and Secret Service personnel.
Seven Army soldiers and two Marines have received administrative punishments for what the report described as misconduct consisting "almost exclusively of patronizing prostitutes and adultery." Three of the service members have requested courts- martial to contest the punishments.
One Air Force member was reprimanded but cleared of any violations of the U.S. military code of justice, and final decisions are pending on two Navy sailors.
According to the investigator's report, the problems involving the service members came to light when hotel staff complained to U.S. officials that military members had female guests in their rooms after 6 a.m., a violation of hotel policy. The staff also complained that dog handlers had allowed their dogs to sleep in beds, soil hotel linens and soil other public areas around the building. It's not clear, the report said, whether the dog problems were limited to military handlers, but officials said those issues were corrected right away.
The wider scandal involving the Secret Service erupted after a public dispute over payment between a Secret Service agent and a prostitute at a Cartagena hotel. The Secret Service and the military were in the Colombian coastal resort to prepare for Obama's participation in a Latin American summit. Twelve Secret Service employees were implicated. Eight were ousted, three were cleared of serious misconduct and one was recommended to lose his security clearance.
The military report concluded that "the combination of unstructured free time, the prevalence of legalized prostitution and military members' individual choice to commit misconduct" were the primary causes of the transgressions. It also found that there was no evidence that the interaction with prostitutes presented any risk to national security and that no sensitive materials were compromised.