The Obama contagion spreads. Typical of any command atmosphere, the unit personnel will, in most cases, eventually reflect the professionalism and dedication of its main leaders.
Now who can doubt the sagging dedication of Obama to US interests based upon what we have seen thus far?
While not surprised by this breaking news, this should give some few a palpable concern for the President's security. I suspect this is unprecedented in US Secret Service history, however, it tends to fall in line with an also unprecedented US presidency
UK GuardianBy Conal Urquhart and agencies
Spokesman Edwin Donovan said the agents involved were relieved from duty and replaced with other agency personnel. "These personnel changes will not affect the comprehensive security plan that has been prepared in advance of the president's trip," Donovan said on Friday night.
Donovan said the allegations of misconduct were related to activity before the president arrived in Cartagena on Friday afternoon.
The agents at the centre of the allegations had stayed at Cartagena's Hotel Caribe. Several members of the White House staff and press corps were also staying at the hotel.
A hotel employee said the agents arrived at the beachfront hotel about a week ago and drank heavily during their stay. They were sent home on Thursday after they were admonished by a supervisor.
Jon Adler, the president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which represents secret service agents, told the Washington Post the accusations related to at least one agent having involvement with prostitutes in Cartagena.
Ronald Kessler, a former Post reporter and the author of a book about the secret service, told the paper that he had learned that 12 agents were involved, several of them married.
On Friday evening, Obama attended a leaders' dinner at Cartagena's historic Spanish fortress.
He was due to attend meetings with regional leaders on Saturday and Sunday. More than 30 presidents and prime ministers are attending the summit. Obama is expected to be on the defensive over issues including drug legalisation, which his administration opposes, the US insistence on excluding Cuba from the conference and his opposition to Argentina's claim to the Falkland Islands.
Many Latin American leaders have insisted that this is the last summit which Cuba will not attend. The US, supported by Canada, continues to insist on the embargo on Cuba, first instituted after the revolution in 1959.
Obama will have to battle declining influence in what Washington has long considered its backyard. China has surpassed the US in trade with Brazil, Chile, and Peru and is a close second in Argentina and Colombia.
Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based thinktank, noted in a pre-summit report: "Most countries of the region view the United States as less and less relevant to their needs and with declining capacity to propose and carry out strategies to deal with the issues that most concern them."
Juan Manuel Santos, the president of Colombia, told a meeting of business leaders in Cartagena on Friday that the US was distracted by its commitments in Asia. "The United States should realise that its long-term strategic interests are not in Afghanistan or in Pakistan but in Latin America."
Other world news from the Guardian