Report: Secret Service Agents Say Similar Misconduct Was Tolerated
A few of the latest developments in the so-called Secret Service scandal, which involves alleged cavorting with prostitutes by agents and U.S. military personnel in Cartagena, Colombia, earlier this month:
-- "Some Secret Service employees accused of misconduct in the Colombian prostitution scandal are privately contending that their conduct didn't warrant dismissal because senior managers tolerated similar behavior during official trips, according to people familiar with the employees' thinking," The Washington Post reports. It adds that "in a statement Tuesday, Assistant Director Paul S. Morrissey said the service 'is committed to conducting a full, thorough and fair investigation in this matter, and will not hesitate to take appropriate action should any additional information come to light.' "
-- "The Secret Service announced late Tuesday that all 12 [agents who were] implicated had been dealt with ... all within two weeks of the night in question," The Associated Press reports. Another 12 members of the U.S. military also were allegedly involved in the incident, which happened in the days before President Obama was to be in Colombia for a summit with Latin American leaders.
-- Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is due at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this morning during which she's expected to face many questions about the scandal. It starts at 9:30 a.m. ET and is to be webcast here.
-- As Eyder reported Tuesday, President Obama told NBC-TV's Jimmy Fallon that the Secret Service is "incredible" and that "a couple of knuckleheads shouldn't detract from what they do. What these guys were thinking, I don't know. That's why they're not there anymore.
Update at 10:50 a.m. ET. "We Are Looking To See" If It's Ever Happened Before:
Napolitano, while repeating that there's nothing in Secret Service records going back the past 2 1/2 years to suggest such behavior has happened before, just said "we are looking to see and make sure this was not some kind of systemic problem."
Update at 10:40 a.m. ET. Why Have Records Been Checked For Only Past 2 1/2 years?
As we reported earlier, Napolitano told senators that there's nothing in records from the past 2 1/2 years to suggest similar misbehavior by Secret Service personnel. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, just asked why records have been checked only that far back.
"I use that time frame because we're going back now through all of the records," Napolitano said. "We've gone back that far, probably further at this point."
Update at 10:02 a.m. ET. "Nothing In The Record" To Suggest It's Happened At Other Times In Recent Years:
Asked by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., if this kind of behavior by Secret Service personnel has happened in the past, Napolitano said that "over the past 2 1/2 years the Secret Service office of professional responsibility has not received any such complaint." During that time, she said, the agency has "provided protection to 900 foreign trips and 13,000 domestic trips" and there is "nothing in the record" to suggest that sort of activity has happened.
Update at 9:50 a.m. ET. Three Have Been Cleared Of Serious Wrongdoing:
Earlier, we passed along word from the AP about the status of the 12 Secret Service personnel. Napolitano just gave slightly different figures in her opening statement before the Judiciary Committee.
She said that "eight individuals are now separated from the agency," and that one other member of the Secret Service has had his "clearance" permanently revoked. Three personnel, she said, have been cleared of serious wrongdoing "but will face appropriate administrative action."
Earlier, the AP said it had been told by the Secret Service that "nine [personnel had been] forced out, one stripped of his security clearance and two cleared of wrongdoing." Because of Napolitano's updated information, we've removed that line from the AP from the post above.
Napolitano also told the committee that "the allegations are inexusable and we take them very seriously." The investigation into what happened will be "complete and thorough and we will leave no stone unturned," she added.