Tag: Colombia

The Latest Nobel

Well, this is awkward:

The president of Colombia was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for pursuing a deal to end 52 years of conflict with a leftist rebel group, the longest-running war in the Americas, just five days after Colombians rejected the agreement in a shocking referendum result.

The decision to give the prize to the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, may revive hopes for the agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, with whom the country has been waging the last major guerrilla struggle in Latin America.

Mr. Santos said he was told of the Nobel committee’s decision by his son Martín, who woke him before dawn on Friday. The winner dedicated the prize to his fellow Colombians, especially the victims of the long conflict, and called on the opponents of the peace deal to join him in securing an end to hostilities.

In case you weren’t paying attention, the people of Colombia narrowly rejected the peace deal, mainly because they feel it is too forgiving on FARC for their past terrorist activities and gives FARC a legitimate political presence. I do not know nearly enough about the situation to judge wether these criticisms are fair or not.

However, I can not think of a better illustration of the futility of the Noble Peace Prize than giving it out days after the recipient’s signature achievement failed. I guess next year, they’ll give it to Hillary Clinton, win or lose, just because.

The Latest White House Oops

You may remember the scandal, a few years ago, when Secret Service agents and military personnel in the President’s advance security detail in Colombia hired a few prostitutes. While prostitution is legal in Colombia, it was felt that the agents endangered security by their behavior. They were seeing these women and drinking heavily when they should have been preparing for the President’s arrival; they invited them up to their rooms in a security violation; they tried to cover it up, exposing themselves to potential blackmail*. Worst of all, they refused to pay the women what had been agreed upon. I don’t mind people hiring courtesans; but not when they are supposed to be protecting the President.

(*Using sexual infidelities or behavior as blackmail fodder is not unique to prostitutes and is probably actually less common among professionals. A woman who just wants a few hundred dollars for her time is a lot less likely to blackmail someone than a random stranger they pick up who may not be so random. The infamous 1986 sex-for-secrets scandal involved a Russian civilian, not a prostitute. The big infidelity blackmail scandals — such as Rick Pitino or David Letterman — involved women they’d picked up not women they’d hired. Indeed, this is why a lot of famous people hire women instead of picking them up. The potential danger of US military personnel being blackmailed for hiring a prostitute would be severely lessened if we abandoned the idiotic policy of discharging military personnel who avail themselves of legal sex workers.)

Punishment came down on the men involved but there were rumors that a White House staffer also hired a prostitute and it was covered up or at least punted past the 2012 election.

Boom:

As nearly two dozen Secret Service agents and members of the military were punished or fired following a 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia, Obama administration officials repeatedly denied that anyone from the White House was involved.

But new details drawn from government documents and interviews show that senior White House aides were given information at the time suggesting that a prostitute was an overnight guest in the hotel room of a presidential advance-team member — yet that information was never thoroughly investigated or publicly acknowledged.

The information that the Secret Service shared with the White House included hotel records and firsthand accounts — the same types of evidence the agency and military relied on to determine who in their ranks was involved.

Once again: one rule for the masses; one rule for the elites. It’s Elliot Spitzer all over again. You plebs can’t hire a girl to spend the night with you. But we, the rulers, can do whatever the fuck we like and fuck whoever we like.

It gets better:

Whether the White House volunteer, Jonathan Dach, was involved in wrongdoing in Cartagena, Colombia, remains unclear. Dach, then a 25-year-old Yale University law student, declined to be interviewed, but through his attorney he denied hiring a prostitute or bringing anyone to his hotel room. Dach has long made the same denials to White House officials.

Dach this year started working full time in the Obama administration on a federal contract as a policy adviser in the Office on Global Women’s Issues at the State Department.

Dach, incidentally, is the son of Leslie Dach, a huge Obama campaign contributor. But more importantly, he advises the State Department on women’s issues. This is the same State Department that opposes legal sex work, has issued all kinds of idiotic and factually-challenged statements about sex trafficking and has pressured foreign government into adopting Victorian mores on sex and sex work. Again, this guy has a job telling everyone else not to use hookers while he — allegedly — employs them.

I don’t have a problem with clients working in high places. Depending on which study you believe, something like a third of men have used a hooker at least once. What I have problem with is the absolutely putrid hypocrisy on display here. Secret service agents and military personnel are drummed out of the service; our government pressures other governments to outlaw sex work; it runs nationwide “stings” for underage sex workers which nab thousands of consenting adults; it brands anyone who so much as gives a ride to a hooker as a “pimp”; it shuts down websites that help hookers screen out dangerous clients; it promotes garbage stats like the myth that there are 200,000 underage sex slaves in this country. But when one of their own is alleged to have seen a sex worker, they immediately cover it up.

Apparently no one should be able to pay for sex except the rich, the powerful and the connected.