- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 22, 2012

Military personnel sent to Cartagena, Colombia, to set the stage for President Obama’s recent visit violated a strict 11 p.m. curfew, a Pentagon official said.

The official told The Washington Times the confirming evidence comes from eyewitnesses and possibly from security cameras at the Hotel Caribe.

The military contingent stayed in the hotel with a Secret Service detail that now is under investigation for purported excessive drinking and engaging with prostitutes.

The official said it is still to be determined if the military enlisted personnel, which includes Army Green Berets, committed any other serious offenses. The source called curfew violation “a failure to follow instructions, which is a relatively minor offense. There is still a lot to be known.”


Congress made soliciting a prostitute illegal for military personnel in 2005. The law states that paying for sexual intercourse violates “good order and discipline in the armed forces and [is] of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.”

If convicted, military members face a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pay and confinement up to one year.

The source said the number of military personnel now under scrutiny by an investigating officer, an Air Force colonel, is now 11. At first, five were under investigation, and then the number climbed to 10 last week as the colonel collected more information.

“As they find somebody that might be involved, the number goes up,” the Pentagon official said.

The Secret Service agents are subject to a separate investigation.

Army Col. Scott Malcom, chief spokesman for U.S. Southern Command in Miami, said all personnel under investigation were on temporary assignment in Cartagena. None is in SouthCom’s permanent Colombian military group, which advises the police and army on counternarcotics operations.

“All 11 were from stateside military ‘orgs’ brought to Colombia to be part of Joint Task Force Summit of the Americas,” Col. Malcom told The Times.

The special detail works directly for the Secret Service.

“Our support to law enforcement and Secret Service for presidential travel — it can be anything from communication support to specialties like explosive ordnance protection, security, those types of missions,” the Pentagon official said.

The colonel’s report will be submitted to Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser, who heads SouthCom. The report can lead to nonjudicial punishment, such as a letter of censure, or to a broader investigation.