August 22, 2014
FIRST-PERSON: Alcohol isn't to blame for the Colombia scandal
Kelly Boggs
Posted on May 25, 2012

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) -- Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan appeared before the Senate Homeland Security Committee May 23 to answer questions about the scandal involving agents partying with prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia.

"On this particular trip, we had individuals who made very bad decisions," Sullivan told the committee. "Between the alcohol and I don't know, the environment, these individuals did some dumb things."

The cavorting in Cartagena has resulted in the dismissal of nine Secret Service members. Even with the dismissals and the investigation, I find troubling that Sullivan would blame something other than the men involved for their behavior.

While watching Sullivan before the committee via television, his body language seemed to reinforce his testimony that he believes booze and an exotic locale are as much to blame, if not more so, than the agents themselves.

I get the feeling if it were not for public pressure and the scrutiny of some in Congress who still have a modicum of common sense, the agents may not have been dismissed. After all, if not for the intoxication both from the booze and the environment, the escapades with the escorts would likely not have occurred.

Let me ask: If they were crazy enough to get drunk and party all night with prostitutes, thus putting their careers in jeopardy, is it in the realm of possibility they could have been drunk enough to disclose sensitive information?

Have we really come to the place in American culture where men in leadership are now excusing out-of-control, immoral behavior -- behavior that could compromise the safety of the president of the United States -- and blaming it on alcohol and an exotic venue?

Mr. Sullivan seems to fail to realize that the agents in question chose to imbibe intoxicating beverages to excess. While that choice may have affected the subsequent choices, they did, of their own volition, secure the services of prostitutes. They did spend the better part of the night with these escorts. Their choices placed them in position of compromise.

The agents alone are responsible for their actions. Some have been dismissed, as they should have been. Perhaps others will be.

Because of the nature of the Secret Service, an investigation is necessary. If there is a culture that chooses to look the other way when agents play while they are away, it must be stopped. The very life of the president is in their hands.

If America ever needed to return to the biblical mandate of personal responsibility, it is now. Every citizen is responsible for his or her actions and ultimately accountable to God. The Apostle Paul wrote, "Don't be deceived: God is not mocked. Whatever man sows he will also reap."

The following has been attributed to several people. It seems the original source is unknown. That said, it is worthwhile food for thought for the times in which we live.

"We sow a thought and reap an act.

We sow an act and reap a habit.

We sow a habit and reap a character.

We sow a character and reap a destiny."

Alcohol may have contributed to the Secret Service sex scandal; however, it is not to blame. In spite of what some may want to believe, the agents themselves are totally and completely responsible for the choices they made that resulted in the embarrassing and potentially dangerous situation in Colombia. You reap what you sow.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention's office of public affairs, and editor of the Baptist Message, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook ( and in your email (
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