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Lawmaker: No 'bad acts' for Secret Service

April 27, 2012 at 6:06 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, April 27 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, said Secret Service agents can no longer take foreign nationals to hotel rooms and must avoid places of "bad acts."

Jackson Lee told CNN after speaking Thursday with Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan the new rules were meant to address the recent prostitution scandal in Colombia involving an advance team of agents protecting U.S. President Barack Obama.

"If this is the culture, then they want to immediately put it to rest," Jackson Lee said.

"More importantly, we're going to be saying that no foreign national will be allowed in your room, it will be absolutely illegal in terms of your job for you to in essence attend or be associated with any place of bad acts, and then finally a professional development officer or personnel officer is going to go along on every trip that the agents take out of the country," she said.

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, called Friday for a thorough investigation of the Secret Service.

Grassley, in an interview with CBS News, said the investigation should be carried out by the inspector general of the U.S. Homeland Security Department, The Hill reported.

Obama, after stories of agents partying with prostitutes on a trip to Colombia, said he trusts the Secret Service and Sullivan. However, new reports have come up of possible misconduct by agents on other presidential trips going back more than a decade.

"If it was just the 12 knuckleheads that were involved, as the president said, then I'd say [Sullivan has] no problems," Grassley said. "But if it goes much deeper, you know nothing happens, nothing's changed in Washington if heads don't roll."

Twelve Secret Service employees were pulled from duty following reports that some took prostitutes to their hotel rooms in Cartagena, Colombia, April 11, two days before Obama arrived for the Summit of the Americas.

The Pentagon said Thursday it added a 12th individual to the list of military personnel who also are under investigation. As many as 21 women were involved, the lawmakers say.

The Secret Service and the Pentagon are conducting parallel investigations.

The Secret Service said Thursday there are reports of agent misbehavior during a trip to El Salvador 13 months ago. The acknowledgment came a day after U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano assured a Senate committee a Secret Service investigation, under her Cabinet-level department, indicated this month's prostitution scandal in Cartagena was an isolated incident.

Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest, speaking to reporters while traveling to Georgia with Obama, stressed that no White House staff members were involved.

"No credible allegations or even un-credible allegations have been made about the conduct of White House staffers in other countries," Earnest said.

The Secret Service sent a memo to lawmakers investigating the Colombian incidents Thursday saying it was also looking into the allegation -- aired by KIRO-TV, Seattle, Wednesday -- that agents were involved in similar activity in El Salvador before a March 22-23, 2011, visit by Obama.

The KIRO report quoted an unnamed government contractor who said he was with the Secret Service and military men who were preparing for Obama's visit.

The contractor said some men took prostitutes to their hotel rooms and some paid for sex from strippers in VIP sections of a Salvadoran strip club.

The agents were "bragging about being a part of the Secret Service crew of Obama," the contractor said.

"Most of them would brag about it -- 'We're Americans. We're the Secret Service of Obama' -- so people took a liking to them."

The owner of the Salvadoran strip club alleged to KIRO he saw Secret Service and military visitors, as well as employees of the FBI, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Embassy.

The State Department, FBI and DEA said they would look into the report.

"It doesn't mean that there's any validity to it," House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., was quoted by The Washington Post as saying Thursday. "They're looking into all allegations."

Napolitano told a Senate committee Wednesday the investigation by the Secret Service had turned up no other reported incidents similar to the one in Cartagena in the past 2 1/2 years.

"I think part of our investigation is confirming that this was an aberration," she said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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