Thursday, April 26, 2012

Meet The Knuckleheads!

Source: Agents in El Salvador bragged to strippers they worked for Obama

Thursday, April 26, 2012
A strip club in San Salvador called "Lips"

SEATTLE — "It's not the first time." That’s what our investigative reporter Chris Halsne said when presidential Secret Service agents got caught in Columbia this month hiring prostitutes.

We said, "Go prove it," and put him on a jet to El Salvador -- a place President Obama visited in March 2011.

Over the weekend, Halsne uncovered some stunning new information and witnesses that have congressional investigators seeking out what he knows. A strip club in San Salvador called "Lips" is about to become ground zero in the next Secret Service sex scandal. Even the owner of the enterprise, an American-born citizen named DJ Ertel, tells KIRO-TV's Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne that he’s surprised it took so long for somebody to tie President Obama's Secret Service advance-security team to his club.

Lips offers 40 strippers who get naked on three different stages. That’s not the only draw for men seeking a serious party atmosphere in El Salvador's capital city. The club has a reputation for armed security and the ability to provide discreet privacy to VIP clientele. That appears to make it the favorite hangout for U.S. government employees. Managers at Lips tell Halsne that DEA, FBI and U.S. Embassy staff are regulars here.

In March 2011, just a few days before President Obama and his family flew to visit El Salvador, eyewitnesses with intimate knowledge tell Halsne "vanloads" of his U.S. Secret Service agents (and a smaller number of military security specialists) spent several nights at Lips. Some of the men reportedly drank heavily, paid for sexual favours from the performers, and then procured escorts to go back to their hotels with them.

At considerable risk, Halsne and investigative videographer David Weed went to San Salvador to gather evidence of Secret Service misconduct in a new country and at an earlier time than previously reported.

Inside Lips, the investigative team witnessed acts that would in all likelihood be illegal at strip clubs in the United States.

Outside, guards, managers and other employees verified that President Obama's Secret Service advance team "descended on the club" the week he was in town last year. However, we didn't just count on the word of strippers and bouncers.

Shortly after President Obama toured El Salvador last year, Halsne was in the country pursuing an investigation into a passenger jet repair company. He met a Salvadoran subcontractor who was hired to help the President's Secret Service advance team sweep streets for possible security threats. He also told Halsne about the hard partying he witnessed involving the Secret Service advance team, but refused to go on the record or allow Halsne to confirm details of his story. (See the full backstory.)

Following this month’s international news coverage of up to 20 Presidential Secret Service agents being suspended for drinking and procuring prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, Halsne the source again. He agreed to speak only if Halsne flew to meet him in person. We agreed to keep this eyewitness's identity confidential after first confirming his credentials.

During an on-camera interview with KIRO-TV, the subcontractor says the Secret Service team partied with abandon -- usually at Lips until the early morning hours.

"They're hitting the town, so they wanted to see where the action was, and it just so happen(s) I know a lot of good spots where you can get entertained, let your hair down as we say and basically, that's what I did.

They went and enjoyed themselves," the witness told Halsne.

But he was surprised when the guys used their job titles as bait to attract women.

"They had a good time at the strip joint. They had a good time at the restaurants, always bragging about being a part of the Secret Service crew of Obama. Most of them would brag about it -- 'We're Americans.

We’re the Secret Service of Obama' -- so people took a liking to them."

Source: "They weren't bragging about how good the work was, just bragging about the time off they had."

Halsne: "And it involved, like in Colombia, hookers?"

Source: "Well, at least from my experience, I know they approached several of them at Lips. I don't know at what point because I personally didn't agree with it because it was too risky. So, I suggested to, at least the ones I was close to, that it was not a good idea. Whether they carry on with themselves and the lady, that was worked out between them. At least for me, I was smart enough to tell them it was not a good idea because, knowing how the crime is in this country."

Although our source says he repeatedly warned members of the Secret Service advance security team it was a "really bad idea" to take the strippers back to their hotel rooms, he says several agents candidly stated that they "did this all the time" and "not to worry about it."

Halsne: "Did you get a feeling from your conversations with them that this is something that they did just about everywhere they went -- in a third-world country, anyway?"

Source: "Yeah. Definitely. I mean, like I said, conversations I heard; they bragged about it. How good was the night in 'X' place or country. Yeah, I heard that more than once."

"I know several girls were approached -- one in the military and Secret Service each approached them about getting a special service at the hotel.”

The witness says, in front of him, at least two agents openly offered strippers money to come back to their rooms at the Holiday Inn in San Salvador for "a special service." A friend of our source told him the next day that he witnessed a similar event with agents staying at the Intercontinental Hotel.

To further confirm information provided about behaviours in El Salvador that reportedly occurred in March of 2011, Halsne interviewed the owner of Lips, and American named DJ Ertel. Ertel invited Halsne up to his office inside the club for an on-the-record conversation, but asked that we not videotape him. Ertel confirmed a large number of U.S. Secret Service agents (and some military escorts) "descended on his club" that week prior to President Obama's visit. He claims agents were there at least three nights in a row and it was "no surprise to me."

Ertel told Halsne his club routinely takes care of high-ranking employees of the U.S. embassy in San Salvador as well as visiting FBI and DEA agents. The owner says his reputation for "security" and "privacy" makes him a popular strip club owner with "those who want to be discreet." He told Halsne during a lengthy interview, he doesn't allow prostitution inside the club and that all his "girls" are at least 18 years old. He says the girls can do what they want after work, but he discourages them from making contact with customers at other locations.

Ertel fears that because of the Secret Service mess that started in Colombia, all U.S. government employees will be notified to avoid his club in the future, something he does not believe is necessary.



Postscript

Hasn't President Obama visited Canada a couple times? How say you Knuckleheads?

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