WASHINGTON — US troops who caused scandal by sleeping with prostitutes ahead of a visit to Colombia by President Barack Obama also allowed sniffer dogs to sleep in hotel beds and defecate on the premises.
A partially redacted report into April’s incident released Friday by the Pentagon revealed little that was not already known about how 12 soldiers, airmen, marines and sailors had taken prostitutes to their hotel rooms.
The team was in place as part of the security detail for Obama’s visit to the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, and their behavior came to light after nine civilian US Secret Service officers were caught for the same offense.
The report concluded that, while servicemen had breached US military law by consorting with sex workers and in some cases by committing adultery, and had shown bad discipline by drinking, they had not endangered national security.
According to the report, the Cartagena hotel where they were staying, El Caribe, allowed guests to entertain overnight guests — “commonly a prostitute” — and that no Colombian laws appeared to have been broken.
But investigators did receive complaints from local witnesses about the general behavior of the US personnel, including that the dozen suspects had kept “overnight guests” in their rooms after 6.00am in breach of hotel rules.
“Explosive detection dog handlers were allowing their animals to sleep in hotel beds, soil the linens and urinate and defecate in inappropriate locations on the hotel grounds, leaving the waste,” the report added.
“Unidentified hotel guests, thought to be American, were bothering and propositioning college-age female greeters working at El Caribe with the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” it noted.
April’s scandal was embarrassing to the Obama administration and led to allegations that the servicemen and agents might have compromised national security or the president’s safety by consorting with Colombian women.
The report, however, concluded there was no evidence that the women had ties to criminal drug-smuggling groups or terrorist movements, nor were they victims of human trafficking networks.
The redacted version of the report given to reporters did not identify the servicemen, who will be dealt with through administrative procedures.
Photo AFP/File, Manuel Pedraza