Wednesday, April 15, 2015
The DEA Sex Scandal
Last night on CSPAN, I watched DEA administrator Michelle Leonhart being browbeaten by House members on both sides of the aisle over the DEA sex scandal in Colombia. As a retired DEA agent, It was painful to watch in many respects.
Ar one point, I wanted Leonhart to pound her fist on the table and tell those florid-faced, bulbous-nosed Congressmen (watch the tape), "Damn it! How many times do I have to tell you that because of Civil Service laws, I don't have the power to dictate punishment? I can't summarily fire anybody!" They didn't seem to be listening. And how interesting is it that that smug FBI official was sitting there weighing in that the FBI knows how to handle these things. Of course. Under Title V, they are not subject to the same limitations DEA is. They can fire someone summarily for violating rules. Hell, under J Edgar Hoover, he used to fire agents because he didn't like the way they parted their hair. (And that's no exaggeration.) Why is the FBI so different?
This is not to defend DEA. Leonhart, who is a former street agent who worked her way up the ladder appears to be in over her head. Maybe this is why the pols put her there as opposed to somebody who knows how to play the political game and has some clout.
In addition, I am very interested to know the details of how these sex parties were funded by drug cartels. That is the most damning charge of all.
Since I spent two tours of duty with DEA overseas, including Bangkok, Thailand, of all places, traveled to Colombia on DEA business, and also traveled to numerous other countries while in DEA's International Training section, I would like to offer some perspective here.
It was mentioned last night that these sex parties were arranged by corrupt Colombian cops. That doesn't surprise me. In working in other countries, DEA agents unavoidably come into contact with cops of all stripes, especially in certain countries where corruption is rife. It is not unusual for cops in certain countries to try and gain favor with American agents (and leverage) by compromising them with women. This requires strong judgment by the concerned agents lest they find themselves in a position of owing favors to unscrupulous cops. These favors may be in the form of helping a cop get a free trip to the US to attend a DEA training course. If an agent wants to find sex with prostitutes in these countries, he hardly needs the help of some cop. And good luck trying to track down and discipline every agent who sampled the fleshpots of Thailand. But that agents would find themselves in sex parties where the money came from people they are supposed to be investigating is very serious even if they were unaware of the source of funding.
This is a big black eye for DEA and for Colombian law enforcement. There are a lot of honest and brave cops and prosecutors in Colombia who have put their lives on the line to fight the cartels.They don't need this scandal either. I would suggest to the Congressmen who are beating up on Ms Leonhart that they consider changing the Civil Service laws that are tying her hands.