Today's Obama scandal: the Cartagena companion cover-up

Remember the big scandal surrounding the lamentable decision of a Secret Service advance team in Columbia to frolic with hookers?  Turns out the White House took pains to ensure the American people wouldn’t know the details of the case until after the 2012 election.  That’s probably for the best.  If Obama didn’t keep all those confusing facts from the American people, who knows how they might have voted?  Have the President and his Party not made it clear, in countless ways, that you backwards little peons cannot be trusted to make big decisions?

As the Washington Post reports, all those denials of White House involvement in the Cartagena hooker scandal have now become inoperative.  They knew what was going on, and investigators were directly told to keep it all quiet until after the 2012 presidential election.  The asterisk next to that election keeps getting bigger.

The information that the Secret Service shared with the White House included hotel records and firsthand accounts ??? the same types of evidence the agency and military relied on to determine who in their ranks was involved.

The Secret Service shared its findings twice in the weeks after the scandal with top White House officials, including then-White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler. Each time, she and other presidential aides conducted an interview with the advance-team member and concluded that he had done nothing wrong.

Meanwhile, the new details also show that a separate set of investigators in the inspector general???s office of the Department of Homeland Security ??? tasked by a Senate committee with digging more deeply into misconduct on the trip ??? found additional evidence from records and eyewitnesses who had accompanied the team member in Colombia.

The lead investigator later told Senate staffers that he felt pressure from his superiors in the office of Charles K. Edwards, who was then the acting inspector general, to withhold evidence ??? and that, in the heat of an election year, decisions were being made with political considerations in mind.

???We were directed at the time .???.???. to delay the report of the investigation until after the 2012 election,??? David Nieland, the lead investigator on the Colombia case for the DHS inspector general???s office, told Senate staffers, according to three people with knowledge of his statement.

Nieland added that his superiors told him ???to withhold and alter certain information in the report of investigation because it was potentially embarrassing to the administration.???

Remember how the Obama campaign savaged Mitt Romney for keeping the resumes of female job applicants in a binder?  That was fun, wasn’t it?  Part of the excuse proffered by the White House for failing to investigate the behavior of their advance-team member is that he wasn’t technically a government employee at the time – he got paid per diem plus expenses – and prostitution is legal in parts of Columbia.  No, seriously, they really said that.  War on Women, anyone?

Hey, remember when we had an investigative media that sniffed out flimsy cover-ups like this and tore right through them?  I guess they crashed like an IRS hard drive in 2009, and have yet to be rebooted.

The White House advance-team member in question was a 25-year-old Yale law student named Jonathan Dach, who has denied bringing any Columbian hookers to his hotel room. His is a classic Obama Administration tale of big donor cronyism, with a fantastic punch line: he’s currently on contract as a full-time policy adviser to the Office on Global Women’s Issues at the State Department.

Dach???s father, Leslie Dach, is a prominent Democratic donor who gave $23,900 to the party in 2008 to help elect Obama. In his previous job as a top lobbyist for Wal-Mart, he partnered with the White House on high-profile projects, including Michelle Obama???s ???Let???s Move!??? campaign.

He, too, joined the Obama administration this year. In July, he was named a senior counselor with the Department of Health and Human Services, where part of his responsibilities include handling the next phase of the Affordable Care Act.

Richard A. Sauber, who represents both Dachs, said that Jonathan Dach denies any involvement in the prostitution scandal and that no one in his family intervened with White House officials or federal investigators.

???The underlying allegations about any inappropriate conduct by Jonathan Dach in Cartagena are utterly and completely false,??? Sauber said. ???In addition, neither he nor anyone acting on his behalf ever contacted the DHS IG???s office about its report.???

Are we allowed to ask exactly what Dach does at the Office on Global Women’s Issues, or how much he’s pulling down per year?  For that matter, are we allowed to ask if the work product of the Office of Global Women’s Issues is worth the money spent on it?  Probably not – serfs have no business sniffing around the bureaucratic palaces of Washington.  Your place is to shut up, pay your taxes, and take a knee when the aristocracy complains that its endless failures are invariably the result of insufficient funding.  Ask not what they do with the trillions you already give them.

Also expected to shut up and take what the royal court gives it: the Secret Service, which is not happy about getting saddled with all the blame for the Cartagnea companion caper while the White House insists its people were squeaky-clean:

Former and current Secret Service agents said they are angry at the White House???s public insistence that none of its team members were involved and its private decision to not fully investigate one of its own ??? while their colleagues had their careers ruined or hampered.

Ten members of the Secret Service ??? ranging from younger, lower-level officers assigned to rope-line security to seasoned members of a counterassault team ??? lost their jobs because of their actions in Cartagena. The agents were told that they jeopardized national security by drinking excessively and having contact with foreign nationals.

They were treated ???radically differently by different parts of the same executive branch,??? said Larry Berger, a lawyer who represented many of the agents, who were union members of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

So why does the Secret Service think Dach, despite his copious denials, took someone up to his room?

[Secret Service Director Mark] Sullivan informed Ruemmler that agency investigators had obtained copies of the Hilton hotel records, which listed Dach???s room number and showed an additional overnight guest had been registered to his room on April 4. The information was now based on investigators??? interviews with the hotel???s director of business development, front-desk manager and security chief, who explained how guests must personally register their overnight visitors and how they determined that U.S. personnel had done so.

Many hotels in Colombia, for security reasons, maintain detailed records of additional overnight visitors. At the Hilton, prostitutes are required to show identification to ensure they are not underage. That identification is photocopied by the hotel and stored with the records of the guest staying in the room.

The Post reviewed copies of the hotel logs for Dach???s stay, which showed that a woman was registered to Dach???s room at 12:02 a.m. April 4 and included an attached photocopy of a woman???s ID card. Through his attorney, Dach declined to discuss these details as well.

Hotel staff members in Cartagena told federal investigators that they had determined Dach was one of three guests at the Hilton who had additional overnight guests registered to their rooms, federal records reviewed by The Post show. The other two were a military staffer stationed at the White House and another Secret Service agent.

The records reviewed by The Post list three names ??? one of which is redacted and identified only as a White House travel-team member. Two government officials who have seen an unredacted version separately confirmed that Dach is the travel-team member listed.

The room number provided next to the redacted name, 513, matches the one listed for Dach on a bill and hotel registration records that administration officials shared with The Post.

“The new information did not change the White House’s position,” the Post notes archly.  In other news, the White House thinks the economy is doing great, ObamaCare is a big success, global warming is real, and ISIS is under control.

What will the fallout from all this be?  This Administration is very, very good at locking scandals in closets until they die of old age and crumble to dust, with the help of an extremely compliant media.  (Note to Republican presidential hopefuls: the media will not, repeat not, do this for you.  If you ever dare to pressure an investigator to sit on a damaging report until after an election, it will be front-page news by the end of the week.  Bank on it.)  If nobody in the White House or its pet media have declared this an irrelevant “old story” yet, they’ll do it by the end of the day.  If things get really bad, Obama will send out a spokesman to say he’s more angry about this than anyone else and he vows to get to the bottom of it, the same way he’s handled every other scandal.

Maybe the tried-and-true Obama scandal protocols will work one more time, or maybe the general sense of exhaustion suffusing these lame-duck years will make the press a bit less willing to carry the President’s water.  Obama’s popularity is already in the pits, but this is the kind of story that could actually make it worse; that business about investigators told to sit on their reports until after the election is the sort of detail folks tend to fixate upon.  I can’t imagine the endangered Democrats who have been trying to distance themselves from Obama will find this story encouraging.

The Weekly Standard muses that this scandal might punch well above its weight, because it fits neatly into the narrative of growing public distrust for the government in general, and this Administration in particular:

As is often the case, we’ll hear a lot in the next few days about how the cover-up here is worse than the crime. Prostitution is, after all, legal in Cartagena. Still, the episode is more telling than White House would like. It speaks to this White House’s extraordinary lack of professionalism and competency, and it’s yet another example of how hollow and nakedly political the White House’s “war on women” rhetoric really is.

But most importantly, it says a lot about what this White House is capable of. The White House is willing to hush up an investigation of a 25-year-old volunteer’s dalliance with a prostitute because of concerns about electoral consequences, and yet we’re supposed to believe that the White House has such integrity they wouldn’t lie about, say, what happened in Benghazi, regardless of the election fallout?

That aspect of the story will also make it tough to use this as a teakettle tempest to distract the public from the last hideous Obama story, only to be swept aside by the next hideous Obama story in a few weeks.  That’s worked for this Administration in the past because the media refuses to string all the horrible stories into a running narrative.  Each teakettle boils in isolation, and is dumped from memory as soon as the next one whistles.  But people have been weaving that narrative for themselves, without media direction, and this little mess fits very neatly into the theme of arrogance, dishonesty, and ineptitude.  It won’t matter if the President himself can’t be looped in, or if he runs out and pronounces himself outraged, because people are weary of listening to him distance himself from his own Administration, and even his own White House.  It does not speak well of the American people that such a ploy ever worked, but I think we’ve hit rock bottom in terms of accountability and responsibility.

The media’s tired of running interference for Obama, the people are tired of being lied to, Obama’s failures are piled up in bloody mountains all around us, and Hillary’s team is beginning to dump on Obama as they position her to be the smarter, less radical Democrat who can clean up his messes.  Looks like a perfect storm might be brewing.