WASHINGTON — A dozen U.S. service members brought women, likely 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, which would give them a public trial 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, whose cases remain under legal review.
According to the investigator's report, the problems involving the servicemen 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. They also complained that dog handlers 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 of them ousted, three cleared of serious misconduct and one is being stripped of 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.
Prostitution is legal in Colombia but is a violation of the U.S. military code of justice. Hotels in Cartagena require that any guests, including prostitutes, must be signed in, must pay a guest fee and must arrive after 11 p.m. and leave by 6 a.m. The time constraints, the report said, are largely because the hotel doesn't want families or other guests to witness the prostitutes' presence.
U.S. Southern Command, headed by Gen. Douglas Fraser, conducted the investigation into the military members' involvement in the April incident, which brought shame to the elite presidential protection force and unearthed revelations of other episodes of misconduct within the Secret Service.
The military contingent included seven Army soldiers – including six special operations forces, two Navy Explosive Ordinance Disposal technicians, two Marine dog handlers and an Air Force airman. All of the military had behind-the-scenes roles and were not directly involved in presidential security.
The report said that 12 military members brought women to their rooms – 11 in the Hotel Caribe on April 11 and one in the Hilton Hotel the previous week.
The investigation also concluded that there was no broad coordinated effort to commit the misconduct or to cover it up later, although there were some instances where military members may have made misleading or "factually unlikely" statements when questioned about the matter. It said that all of the women were over the age of 18, were not criminals or terrorists or part of any human trafficking network.
The report said evidence substantiating the wrongdoing came from statements from the military members, eight of the prostitutes, hotel log books and security video.
The report also discounted leadership problems, saying that military and civilian leaders "did not create or foster an atmosphere of tolerance for prostitution or marital infidelity."
Urinating On Corpses
In January, a video surfaced on YouTube that purportedly showed four U.S. Marines <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/11/marines-urinate-corpses-video-afghanistan_n_1200513.html" target="_hplink">urinating on the bodies</a> of three dead Taliban fighters. The Marine Corps launched an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/13/marines-urinating-on-taliban-identified_n_1204653.html" target="_hplink">internal investigation</a> in addition to the criminal probe started by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called the incident "utterly despicable." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/11/afghanistan-marines-urinating-video_n_1200324.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here.</a> <em>Photo: This image made on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012, from an undated video posted on the Internet on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, purports to show men in U.S. Marine combat gear standing in a semi-circle over three bodies, urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters. (AP Photo) </em>
Nazi SS Symbol
In February 2012, a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/09/us-marines-nazi-ss_n_1265930.html" target="_hplink">photo of a U.S. scout sniper team </a>posing in front of a flag that bore a logo resembling the Nazi SS symbol in 2010 surfaced. The <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16973868" target="_hplink">U.S. Marine Corps condemned the photograph</a>, but did not take any disciplinary action. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/09/us-marines-nazi-ss_n_1265930.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here.</a> <em>Photo: This Sept. 2010 photo posted recently on the Titiusville, Fla.-based arms manufacturer Knight's Armament's Internet blog shows members of Charlie Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif. in Sangin, Helmand province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/knightarmco.com)</em>
In February 2012, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/21/afghanistan-quran_n_1290098.html" target="_hplink">burning of Qurans</a> on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan ignited massive protests and resulted in <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/22/afghanistan-protests-turn-violent_n_1292935.html" target="_hplink">multiple deaths and injuries</a>. Senior Pentagon officials <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/24/quran-burning-apology_n_1299971.html" target="_hplink">apologized for the incident</a>, calling it an accident. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/21/afghanistan-quran_n_1290098.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here.</a> <em>Photo: Afghan demonstrators show copies of Quran books allegedly set alight by U.S. soldiers, during a protest against Quran desecration at the gate of Bagram airbase on February 21, 2012, at Bagram about 60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Kabul. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
Secret Service Prostitute Scandal
According to the Associated Press, U.S. Secret Services agents were sent home after allegedly bringing back <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/19/secret-service-prostitute-scandal-sex-cartagena-colombia_n_1437845.html" target="_hplink">prostitutes to their hotel</a> in Cartagena, Colombia. The officers were in the Colombian city preparing for a visit by President Barack Obama for the Summit of the Americas. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/19/secret-service-prostitute-scandal-sex-cartagena-colombia_n_1437845.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here. </a> <em>Photo: General view of the 'Pley Club' night club in Cartagena on April 18, 2012, where U.S. Secret Service bodyguards would have hired a group of prostitutes earlier this month. (MANUEL PEDRAZA/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
In March, U.S. Staff Army Sgt. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/29/robert-bales-lawyer-smell-human-bodies_n_1387719.html" target="_hplink">Robert Bales allegedly massacred Afghan villagers</a> while they slept, the AP reports. He has been charged with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/robert-bales-to-be-charged-17-counts-of-murder_n_1373983.html" target="_hplink">17 counts of premeditated murder</a>, as well as a number of other offenses, the AP added in a separate story. Nine of his victims were children. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/robert-bales-to-be-charged-17-counts-of-murder_n_1373983.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a>. <em>Photo: In this Sunday, March 11, 2012, file photo, Anar Gul gestures to the body of her grandchild, who was allegedly killed by a U.S. service member in Panjwai, Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan, File)</em>
Posing With Suicide Bomber Remains
In April, the <em>LA Times</em> published photos of <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/post/la-times-publishes-photos-against-pentagon-wishes/2012/04/18/gIQAdfVORT_blog.html" target="_hplink">U.S. soldiers posing with the remains of Afghan corpses</a>. The Pentagon <a href="http://www.isaf.nato.int/article/isaf-releases/comisaf-condemns-actions-in-photos-showing-u.s.-service-members-posing-with-insurgent-remains.html" target="_hplink">opposed the publication </a>of the photos, stating that they might incite retaliative violence. The photos show more than a dozen soldiers purportedly posing with the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/world/asia/us-condemns-photo-of-soldiers-posing-with-body-parts.html?hpw" target="_hplink">mangled limbs</a> of dead Taliban fighters. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/us-soldiers-suicide-bomber-photo_n_1433785.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here.</a> <em>Photo: This photo illustration taken in Los Angeles shows the April 18, 2012, edition of the Los Angeles Times newspaper showing a picture of US soldiers and Afghan policemen posing with the mangled remains of a suspected Taliban suicide bomber in Afghanistan. The Los Angeles Times building is seen in the background. (JOE KLAMAR/AFP/GettyImages)</em>