Colombia prostitution scandal fallout widens
Fallout from the Colombia prostitution scandal continues to widen, with the Secret Service announcing that a total of six agents have been ousted from their jobs and another one implicated in goings on in Cartagena, Colombia.
News reports now say the Secret Service investigation has widened to include behavior by an agent days ahead of the night of April 11, when 11 advance agents may have taken prostitutes back to the Hotel Caribe.
That brings the total of federal personnel that have been caught up in the scandal to 12 Secret Service agents and at least 11 military personnel. One Secret Service agent has been partially cleared, while another five remain on leave with their classified information clearances revoked.
Statements by executive and legislative branch officials have emphasized that President Obama's security during his three day trip to the town for a triennial meeting of the Summit of the Americas was not compromised.
During Sunday morning talk shows, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said his committee has begun an investigation and will hold at least one public hearing on whether the behavior caught by authorities in Cartagena is indicative of a wider culture of drinking and carousing in the Secret Service.
"If the Secret Service gets the reputation that when they are off-duty…they're going to be acting like a bunch of college kids on spring weekend, then people who are hostile to the U.S., people who may want to attack the president of the United States will begin to take advantage of that vulnerability," Lieberman said on Fox News Sunday.
Meanwhile in the House, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told Meet the Press that he sent a list of questions to Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan
"Especially based on what we saw in Colombia, there will have to be more oversight," he said.
On ABC's This Week, two female senators said the scarcity of women in the Secret Service may have permitted the incident to occur.
"I can't help but wonder if there'd been more women as part of that detail if this ever would have happened," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), and the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security committee.
"I can't help but keep asking this question, where are the women?" said Sen. Carolyn Maloney, (D-N.Y.). "We probably need to diversify the Secret Service and have more minorities and more women," she added.
The Washington Post has reported that the Secret Service chief of the Miami Office, Paula Reid, set in motion the investigation of the scandal and its public uncovering.