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posted: 4/23/2012 5:00 AM

Not so Secret Service

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In the 1962 Howard Lindsay-Russel Crouse-Irving Berlin Broadway musical "Mr. President," one of the songs in the production is titled "The Secret Service," which begins, "the Secret Service makes me nervous ..."

If allegations are true that at least 11 Secret Service agents and several members of the U.S. military consorted with prostitutes prior to President Obama's arrival in Cartagena, Colombia, it should make a lot of people nervous. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has pledged that lawmakers will be "looking over the shoulder" of the inspector general as the Department of Homeland Security office investigates the allegations. The accused have been placed on administrative leave and their security clearances have been revoked.

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Self-discipline is more effective than imposed discipline. When a child is disciplined for bad behavior, he can be punished, but punishment doesn't always change his attitude. One who disciplines himself, however, is better able to control his actions and foresee what damage bad behavior would cause to his reputation and family. With such foresight -- and with hindsight to see how bad decisions have caused others to run amok -- he can avoid a personal and professional train wreck.

Was there no one among the Secret Service agents and military service members in Cartagena wise enough to say, "Don't do this"? What about the honor and noble history of the Secret Service, created in 1865 to stop the spread of counterfeit currency, and the reputation of the nation you represent? Has honor gone the way of fidelity and what we once called "morality," before morals became self-defining?

If any of these men are married, shouldn't their wives have an expectation that their husbands will live up to their marriage vows? What if there are children? If these allegations are true, divorces will surely follow, as will the fallout of divorce, which will be brought down on the heads of kids, damaging their lives. Is a one-night stand with a prostitute worth such destruction?

One doesn't have to be Tom Clancy to develop a plot of political intrigue that could actually have taken place in Cartagena. In 2007 an investigation by Telemundo and NBC News found that, "the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia has taken root in South America, fostering a well-financed force of Islamist radicals boiling with hatred for the United States and ready to die to prove it." Suppose one of them masqueraded as a prostitute and lured a Secret Service agent, or a high-ranking member of the U.S. military, into bed. She then threatens the American with exposure unless he reveals the movements of the president of the United States when he arrived at the Summit of the Americas. He does and the president is assassinated. Several reports have indicated that the Secret Service agents had hard copies of the president's itinerary in their hotel rooms.

Boys will be boys, but men should be men; real men, not "Mad Men," or the promiscuous men lauded in "men's" magazines who are always on the prowl for new conquests. I'm speaking about men of honor and integrity who are the same in the dark as they are in the light.

We don't catch virtue as one might catch a cold. It must be taught, even imposed by discipline. In our "anything goes" culture where to claim one form of behavior is superior to another can get you branded a (insert name of offended group), -ist, fewer are willing to risk criticism by standing for something. Instead, they fall for anything, even prostitutes on a taxpayer-funded trip.

You may email Cal Thomas at tmseditors@tribune.com.

2012, Tribune Media Services Inc.

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