Secret Service chief to testify on scandal

May 14, 2012 at 1:57 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. Secret Service director will offer details to a Senate panel about the agency's Colombia prostitution scandal investigation, the panel chairman said.

Mark Sullivan -- who has not spoken publicly about the April 11 misconduct implicating a dozen agents two days before President Barack Obama arrived for an international summit -- would be called to testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs May 23, committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman, Ind-Conn., told CNN's "State of the Union."

U.S. Department of Homeland Security acting Inspector General Charles Edwards, who is conducting an independent investigation, would also be called to testify, Lieberman said.

The hearing would seek to find out if the inspector general is satisfied with the Secret Service's investigation of the scandal, to determine if warning signs existed beforehand and what steps Sullivan was taking to ensure nothing else like what happened in Cartagena, Colombia, happens again, Lieberman said.

"This is really a heartbreaking incident, and really a dangerous incident, and we really have got to make sure it never does happen again," he told CNN.

Lieberman said he personally thinks the Secret Service "has done a really thorough job in investigating what happened in Cartagena."

A dozen Secret Service employees were implicated in the scandal that allegedly included alcohol, strip-club visits and prostitute payments.

The agency dismissed nine employees and subjected three to demotion or disciplinary action.

Sullivan later imposed stricter foreign-trip rules, including adding more high-ranking chaperons and banning foreign nationals from Secret Service employee hotel rooms, The Washington Post reported.

The agency also began a mandatory training sessions to explain the rules to agents and officers.

House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., told the CNN program that despite allegations of similar misbehavior on other trips, including a presidential visit to El Salvador last year, he believes the matter is not a cultural problem within the Secret Service.

"I feel fairly confident in saying this -- it's not part of the culture," he said, explaining he spoke with people in the Obama administration and previous administrations, as well as with retired Secret Service agents, who were all "very surprised by this."

"I believe this was the exception," he said. "I don't believe it was tolerated."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday the president "feels strongly that inappropriate behavior where it took place needed to be investigated and needed to be dealt with."

"But he has, whenever asked, made the point that he believes that the vast majority of members of the Secret Service, the men and women of the Secret Service perform their job professionally, with great dedication, and do so in order to help protect our democracy, and not just the lives of presidents and their families but, in doing that, they perform a great service for our democracy."

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