The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, praised the Secret Service as "wise, very professional men and women" and called it shocking that so many of the agency's employees were implicated in Colombia.
At the same hearing, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said there was no evidence of similar behavior, based on a review of complaints during the past 2.5 years to the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility. She said that if there was a pattern of such behavior, "that would be a surprise to me."
The Colombia scandal erupted the morning of April 12, when a fight over payment between a prostitute and a Secret Service officer spilled into the hallway of the Hotel Caribe.
Eight of the Secret Service officers have been forced out, and the agency is trying to permanently revoke the security clearance of one. Three others have been cleared of serious wrongdoing but face administrative discipline. One of the Secret Service officers was staying at the Hilton hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, the same hotel where President Barack Obama later stayed for the Summit of the Americas.
Another dozen military personnel also were implicated. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said this week that all have had their security clearances suspended.
The Defense Department briefed senators on Wednesday about its investigation, but Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said Thursday he was unsatisfied with what the Pentagon told lawmakers. Unlike for civilian U.S. government employees, soliciting prostitutes is a criminal offense for U.S. military personnel even in countries where prostitution is otherwise legal.
"Secretary Napolitano and especially the director of the Secret Service has been pretty forthcoming in many aspects of this, unlike the Pentagon, which has completely stonewalled, using the excuse that a Uniform Code of Military Justice - as you know, that's the military law - somehow is a barrier to us receiving information," McCain said Thursday on the CBS program "This Morning."
Intellpuke: You can read this article by Associated Press writer Alicia A. Caldwell, reporting from Washington, D.C., in context here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/10214585