Secret Service scandal has become a raging controversy. Meanwhile reports suggest that there were 20 prostitutes involved in the scandal
The US Secret Service handed administration leave notifications to all the 11 agents and officers accused of misconduct during a presidential mission to Colombia and barred them from entering Secret Service facilities worldwide unless summoned. It also cancelled their top secret security clearances and their equipment have been taken.
They were sent back to the US through Miami, as many of them were based at the Secret Service’s field office there. They were later interrogated in Washington regarding their alleged hiring of prostitutes and other misconduct.
Among the 11 involved two were Secret Service supervisors. A top official confirms that the group also included three members of the Counter-Assault Teams, a unit which includes snipers and SWAT teams that support the President Barack Obama’s personal protection detail.
According to Pentagon Press Secretary George Little he could not provide a specific number, but military members, who are being investigated, were assigned to support the US Secret Service in preparation for President Barack Obama’s visit to Cartagena. He said they were not directly involved in presidential security.
A defense official was quoted in the media as saying that it looks like more than 10 US military personnel could be involved.
Though the Secret Service did not give the details of the accusations yet it said they did not affect security for the President, who landed in Columbia on Friday for a weekend at the Summit of the Americas.
“It is the biggest scandal in Secret Service history,” said Ronald Kessler, a former Washington Post reporter and author of the book “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect.”
Kessler, one of the first to get the news on Friday last, said he heard of 12 agents being involved—some for allegedly soliciting prostitutes, others for attempting to cover it up. The group includes two supervisors, he also confirmed.
One of the prostitutes complained to police that she was not paid, setting off the investigation, he said.
The journalist-turned-author felt that the incident is so troublesome because it could have put the president’s safety at risk.
The story broke as Obama was preparing to attend a gala dinner with more than 30 leaders gathered for the Summit on Friday.
Incidentally, the news of the scandal broke when security personnel were somewhat on edge on Friday evening due to reports of small explosions in Cartagena, which was hosting the Summit, and Bogota, about 400 miles to the south. The minor explosions in Bogota took place near the US Embassy, but there was casaulty.