|Watchdog digs into use of sex workers and drug rings by security agents and American diplomats
A US watchdog has launched an inquiry into claims that American diplomatic security officials tried to cover up alleged sex-and-drugs charges against agents and diplomats, an official said.
State Department diplomatic security agents are responsible for protecting 275 US embassies as well as the secretary of state.
Now, in a new blow to the agency's credibility, a watchdog has called in outside law enforcement officers to investigate its procedures, amid claims it tried to hush up allegations of the use of prostitutes by agents and even an underground drugs ring supplying contractors, AFP reports.
An internal memo by the State Department's Inspector General found eight cases in which inquiries into alleged criminal activity by diplomatic security agents or contractors were influenced or halted, CBS television reported.
They included allegations that security agents protecting ex-secretary of state Hillary Clinton “engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries,'' CBS said, quoting from the memo, a problem the report says was “endemic.''
It also revealed details of an alleged “underground drug ring'' near the US embassy in Baghdad which was said to supply drugs to contractors working for diplomatic security.
In one case, officials told the inspector general they were told to stop investigating an American ambassador “who held a sensitive diplomatic post and was suspected of patronizing prostitutes in a public park,'' CBS reported.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki did not deny any of the allegations contained in the CBS report, but refused to go into specifics.
“We take allegations of misconduct seriously and we investigate thoroughly. All cases mentioned in the CBS report were thoroughly investigated or are under investigation,'' she insisted.
She dismissed the notion that behavior such as using prostitutes was endemic.
“Last year alone, the detail accompanied then-Secretary [Hillary] Clinton to 69 countries with more than 10,000 person-nights spent in hotels abroad. So I'm not going to speak to specific cases... but it is hardly endemic.''
Psaki also revealed that, following the recommendation of the Inspector General, “diplomatic security has taken the further step of requesting an additional review by outside, experienced law enforcement officers.''