Entries in Cartagena (4)


More Secret Service Agents Fall in Colombia Scandal

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Secret Service will announce Tuesday night that two more agents are resigning under pressure as a result of the Cartagena, Colombia, prostitute scandal, and that the process has begun for a third employee to leave, ABC News has learned. Two others have been cleared.

Six Secret Service employees, including two supervisors, have already been forced out of the agency as a result of an investigation into a night of partying in Cartagena before President Obama's arrival, in which they allegedly drank heavily and mingled with prostitutes.

The Secret Service had said 12 employees were being investigated, and the military said another 12 of its service members were being looked at, too.

Republicans have tried to tie Obama to the scandal by arguing that he oversees government operations. White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan didn't offer to resign when he briefed Obama recently on the investigation.

In an effort to cleanse itself from the scandal, Carney also announced that a White House lawyer conducted an internal and official review of Obama's "advance team" in Colombia over the weekend, and that the review found nothing improper to report. But Carney declined to discuss any details of the process, such as how many people were interviewed.

"I don't think it's useful to get into the details of how the review was conducted," Carney said.

The press secretary's refusal to talk about the review he himself announced sparked indignation among Capitol Hill Republicans, some of whom are already busy investigating the General Services Administration for a spending scandal.

Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tuesday called for an investigation of White House staff members to be done by someone not in the White House.

"I'm not going to be satisfied until we get some independent look at this," the Iowa senator said.

Carney said Tuesday that he hadn't seen a letter from Grassley asking for details of the White House's review.

"I have no response to that letter," he said.

Obama called the agents who were implicated "knuckleheads" in an interview with the late-night comedian Jimmy Fallon.

"The Secret Service -- these guys are incredible," Obama said. "They protect me. They protect our girls. 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."

The Defense Department confirmed Monday that the latest military member to be investigated in the scandal works for the White House Communications Agency, a military group that gives information to the president and his staff members.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Secret Service Scandal: Soldier Is Latest Military Member Under Investigation

Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The 12th military service member under investigation for links to the the prostitution scandal in Colombia is an Army soldier working for the White House Communications Agency (WHCA), Defense Department officials confirm to ABC News.

The agency is staffed by military members who provide technical and communications support at the White House as well as on domestic and international presidential trips.

“A military service member attached to the White House Communications Agency is under investigation related to the incident in Cartagena,” a Defense official said. “The individual has been relieved of his duties pending the outcome of the investigation. The White House Communications Agency provides information services to the executive branch, Secret Service and others as directed, but it reports to the Defense Information Systems Agency.”

The Secret Service is investigating 12 of its agents and officers regarding allegations of misconduct with prostitutes in Colombia before President Obama’s arrival in Cartagena for the Summit of the Americas two weekends ago. Six Secret Service members have resigned or been asked to step down from their posts.

The military service members now under investigation for their activities in Colombia include seven Army soldiers, two Marines, two Navy sailors and an Air Force airman.

White House spokesman Jay Carney confirmed earlier Monday that a WHCA employee was now under investigation.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday that several service members under investigation have had their security clearances suspended while the investigation’s underway.  Several officials said the soldier working for WHCA is assumed to be one of the ones referred to by Panetta.

Panetta made the comments while en route to Colombia for a previously scheduled trip to meet with defense officials there.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


More Secret Service Resignations Amid Colombia Scandal

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Three additional Secret Service agents involved in the Colombian prostitution scandal have resigned, ABC News has learned.

The identities of two supervisors who lost their jobs were reported on Thursday, and another agent was reportedly leaving the agency voluntarily. The Washington Post reported that one of the supervisors, David Chaney, joked about Sarah Palin on his Facebook page during the 2008 campaign.

The other ousted supervisor, Greg Stokes, an agent in the K-9 unit, plans to come forward early next week to publicly challenge his dismissal from the Secret Service, a source tells ABC News.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said at his briefing with the press on Friday that he was not "in a position to answer questions" about whether the prostitutes came into contact with confidential information. He also said he's "not prepared to address" whether Secret Service director Mark Sullivan's oversight has been insufficient.

Chaney reportedly once posted on Facebook a photo of himself on the job behind Palin during the 2008 campaign and wrote next to it, "I was really checking her out, if you know what i mean?"

Palin, always quick to fire back, used the friendly atmosphere on Fox News to rib the ex-agent.

"Well, this agent, who was kind of ridiculous there in posting pictures and comments about checking someone out -- well, check this out, bodyguard. You're fired," Palin said on Greta Van Susteren's show Thursday night.

Chaney's Facebook posting was reported by The Washington Post, which said the 48-year-old Secret Service veteran is married and has an adult son.

"It's our ultimate position that nothing they may or may not have done in Colombia negatively impacted the efficiency of their mission," the agents' lawyer, Lawrence Berger, told the paper. "Nothing that has been reported to have been done has impacted negatively their mission or the president's visit."

ABC News has learned that some of the prostitutes who allegedly met with the agents in Colombia have been interviewed by investigators, but American officials are still looking for others.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radi


Military Personnel Caught Up in Secret Service Scandal

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The scandal surrounding Secret Service personnel allegedly drinking excessively and having women — possibly prostitutes — in their rooms in a Colombia hotel where they were preparing for President Obama’s visit has widened to include five members of the military who may also have been involved.

The military announced Saturday that five personnel who were assigned to assist the Secret Service have been restricted to quarters and will be sent home to face questions on their alleged participation.

According to the Secret Service, the allegations were made Thursday against 11 special agents and Uniformed Division officers, none of whom are assigned to the Presidential Protective Division.

“The nature of the allegations, coupled with a zero tolerance policy on personal misconduct, resulted in the Secret Service taking the decisive action to relieve these individuals of their assignment, return them to their place of duty and replace them with additional Secret Service personnel,” Assistant Director Paul S. Morrissey, U.S. Secret Service Office of Government and Public Affairs, said in a statement Saturday.

“These actions have had no impact on the Secret Service’s ability to execute a comprehensive security plan for the President’s visit to Cartagena,” he said.

All 11 were interviewed Saturday and have been placed on administrative leave, he said.

Two government sources familiar with the situation told ABC News that the allegations against the agents include excessive drinking and contact or attempted contact with prostitutes in their rooms at Cartagena’s Hotel Caribe.

If the allegations are proven true they could face reprimands and firing potentially.

In addition, the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) announced Saturday that five U.S. service members assigned to Joint Task Force Summit of the Americas in support of the Secret Service violated curfew and may have been involved in inappropriate conduct. The conduct is alleged to have occurred in the same hotel where the recalled Secret Service agents were staying.

The personnel are currently in Colombia but confined to quarters and under orders not to have contact with other individuals. They will return to the United States with the rest of the support contingency at the conclusion of the mission.

USSOUTHCOM Commander Gen. Douglas Fraser said he is “disappointed by the entire incident and that this behavior is not in keeping with the professional standards expected of members of the United States military.”

He went on to say that after a thorough investigation, punishment, if appropriate, will take place in accordance with established policies and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The White House declined comment, confirming only that it was informed of the allegations of misconduct before President Obama arrived in Cartagena.

“The president has had, does have confidence in the Secret Service, and the Service has said, and I would point you to those reports,  this incident had no impact on the president’s security,” Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

It appears that agents directly protecting the president were not involved.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio