In service of the president
William Covington and Gregg Reese | 5/9/2012, 5 p.m.
Paula Reid, the 46-year-old African American special agent who reported the recent sex scandal that occurred among Secret Service agents in Cartagena, Colombia, has survived the whistle-blowing in better shape than another African American agent did a little more than 50 years ago.
Reid, the head of the Secret Service detail in Latin America, discovered that at least 11 agents, including two supervisors, had brought prostitutes back to their hotel rooms just days before the president arrived for an international summit. The action posed a significant security risk for the president of the United States Barack Obama.
"She acted decisively, appropriately," Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins, the ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee and one of Congress' lead investigators into this incident, told ABC's "This Week" on April 22.
New York Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney from the House Oversight Committee, added, "I talked to [Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan last night, and he was commending her leadership, too. She really went in there and cleaned up the mess." Maloney's comments were reported in a story from the New Pittsburgh Courier and carried on the National Newspaper Publishers Association news wire.
In the wake of Reid's probe, six agents have been fired, six others are being investigated and 11 military personnel are also under scrutiny. Officials are also examining whether this incident was part of a pattern.
"I recognize that the vast majority of Secret Service personnel are professional, disciplined, dedicated and courageous. But to me it defies belief that this is just an aberration," Collins said.
"There were too many people involved. If it had been one or two, then I would say it was an aberration. But it included two supervisors. That is particularly shocking and appalling."
Former agent Abraham Bolden, who was reportedly handpicked by President John F. Kennedy as the first African American to serve on the Secret Service presidential detail, did not fare as well as Reid. In fact, Bolden said he was told by Special Agent in Charge Harvey Henderson during his tenure on the presidential protective detail: "You're a nigger. You were born a nigger. You're going to die a nigger, so act like a nigger."
As OurWeekly reported in its Aug. 13-19, 2009, edition, Bolden said he "endured racial hostility and alienation from his fellow agents" after he criticized the lax security surrounding the president and some agents' habitual practice of reporting for duty under the influence of alcohol.
"Bolden expressed his concerns about this negligence in his exit interview with director U.E.
Baughman in July 1961, before returning to his regular posting in Chicago. In the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, Bolden tried to go to the newly formed Warren Commission, which was investigating this fatal event; but before he was able to do so, he was accused of attempting to sell confidential information about an investigation against a counterfeiting ring to one of the defendants, Joseph Spagnoli," said the OurWeekly article.
"Spagnoli would later be instrumental in the resulting criminal case against Bolden, though Spagnoli subsequently admitted to committing perjury at the instigation of the prosecution," the article continued.