0

Official: 20 or 21 women involved in Secret Service incident

Daniel Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and U.S. Senate candidate in Maryland, speaks during an interview at the Associated Press on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 in New York.  Bongino said that the agents under investigation for hiring prostitutes in Columbia while preparing for President Obama's visit "will pay for this forever." (AP Photo/ Peter Morgan)

Daniel Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and U.S. Senate candidate in Maryland, speaks during an interview at the Associated Press on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 in New York. Bongino said that the agents under investigation for hiring prostitutes in Columbia while preparing for President Obama's visit "will pay for this forever." (AP Photo/ Peter Morgan)

WASHINGTON -- At least 20 foreign women and as many Secret Service and military personnel met at a hotel in Colombia in an incident involving prostitution, and lawmakers are seeking information about any possible threat to the U.S. or to President Barack Obama who arrived for a conference soon after, congressional officials said Tuesday.

In briefings throughout the day, Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan told lawmakers that 11 members of his agency met with 11 women at a hotel in Cartagena and that more foreign females were involved with American military personnel.

Obama and some key congressional Republicans, meanwhile, said they continued to support Sullivan.

"The president has confidence in the director of the Secret Service. Director Sullivan acted quickly in response of this incident and is overseeing an investigation as we speak in to the matter," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Sullivan shuttled between meetings with lawmakers Tuesday, outlining what his investigators in Washington and in Colombia have found about the incident.

"Twenty or 21 women foreign nationals were brought to the hotel," Sen. Susan Collins, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, said Sullivan told her. Eleven of the Americans involved were Secret Service.

Additionally, a U.S. official in Washington said Tuesday that 10 military members are being investigated in the matter. While the facts have yet to be fully sorted out, those 10 are from more than one service and none are officers, the official said.

A defense official said on Monday that at least some of the military are members of the Army.

Meanwhile, Sullivan told the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee that the 11 Secret Service agents and officers were telling different stories to investigators about who the women were. Sullivan has dispatched more investigators to Columbia to interview the women, said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.

"Some are admitting (the women) were prostitutes, others are saying they're not, they're just women they met at the hotel bar," King said in a telephone interview. Sullivan said none of the women, who had to surrender their IDs at the hotel, were minors. "But prostitutes or not, to be bringing a foreign national back into a secure zone is a problem," King said.

The scandal overshadowed Obama's visit to a Latin America summit over the weekend and embarrassed the U.S.'s top military brass.

Pentagon press secretary George Little said that military members who are being investigated were assigned to support the Secret Service in preparation for Obama's official visit to Cartagena. He said they were not directly involved in presidential security.

The Secret Service sent 11 of its members, a group including agents and uniformed officers, home from Colombia amid allegations that they had hired prostitutes at a Cartagena hotel. The military members being investigated were staying at the same hotel.

The Secret Service personnel were placed on administrative leave, and on Monday the agency announced that it also had revoked their security clearances.

Lawmakers in both the House and Senate are looking into the allegations, with King's committee devoting four investigators. He said it's not yet clear whether he'll call hearings on the matter. He, too, said he's standing behind Sullivan.


AP National Security Writer Robert Burns contributed to this report.

Comments

kevin 2 years, 4 months ago

Why taxpayers aren't screaming to fire those involved? Just like the Fast & Furious screw ups, the Las Vagas spending conference, and others during Obama's culture of rif-raf crimes. The whole Liberal culture is screw the taxpayer and go out and spend, spend. Are people that quick to forget that for every $ spent, 60% is borrowed from China and your kids will be stuck with high taxes the rest of their lives?

0

kevin 2 years, 3 months ago

Nice to know our tax money, while millions are out of work and not looking for jobs, went to pay for an orgy for our Federal workers. The media is trying so hard to kill this from hitting the news every day. Guess the Democrats can't turn anywhere without hitting a brick wall nowadays. Well, when you have done nothing but divide this country like a racist, you have nothing to brag about that is good so you attack everyone else to get the heat off of you. Nice try old boy.

0

kevin 2 years, 3 months ago

This is a nice diversion from the Fast & Furious fiasco to get the heat off of top officials. The U.S. should be tried in the World Courts for breaking international law; allowing guns across its borders without permission from their President. The media sure don't talk about that law that this country broke. Wish Mexico would start this indictment, starting at the top.

0

Sign in to comment