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GOP lawmaker to monitor probe of alleged Secret Service scandal

April 15, 2012|By Matea Gold
  • Republican Rep. Darrell Issa says he will monitor an investigation into allegations that Secret Service agents and members of the military may have been involved with prostitutes during work in Colombia.
Republican Rep. Darrell Issa says he will monitor an investigation into… (Michael Conroy / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said Sunday that he will monitor an investigation into allegations that Secret Service agents and members of the military may have been involved with prostitutes while in Colombia last week to prepare for President Obama's participation in the Summit of the Americas.

“We will participate in over-the-shoulder investigation,” Issa told CBS’ Bob Schieffer on Sunday, saying it was too soon to say whether hearings would be called.

Eleven Secret Service agents were placed on administrative leave and five military personnel with the U.S. Southern Command were confined to their quarters after the alleged incident, which occurred early Thursday morning at the Hotel Caribe, a historic beachfront hotel in Cartagena.

Issa said he believes the number involved may be higher.

“We’re asking for the exact amount of all the people who quote were involved,” he said. “This kind of a breach is a breach in the federal workforce's most elite protective unit, and they don’t just protect the president, of course -- they protect the Cabinet members, the vice president, the first family, candidates. So when you look at this, you realize if you can have this kind of breakdown, one that could lead to blackmail … we’ve got to ask where are the systems in place to prevent this in the future?”

“Things like this don’t happen once if they didn’t happen before,” he added. “The question is, is the whole organization in need of some soul-searching, some changes … before the president, the vice president, members of the Cabinet are in danger?”

The Secret Service said Saturday that the employees involved were both special agents and members of the Uniformed Division, none of whom are assigned to the president's protective detail. All of the agents were sent back to the U.S. before Obama arrived in Colombia and officials said the president’s security was never compromised.

"This incident is not reflective of the behavior of our personnel as they travel every day throughout the country and the world performing their duties in a dedicated, professional manner," Paul S. Morrissey, a Secret Service spokesman, said in a statement Saturday. "We regret any distraction from the Summit of the Americas this situation has caused."

matea.gold@latimes.com

Original source: Issa says he will monitor investigation into Secret Service scandal

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