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Entries in Cartagena (3)

Sunday
Apr222012

More Secret Service Firings Likely, Former Director Denies Cultural Issue

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A former director of the Secret Service says events of the caliber of the Colombian prostitution incident didn’t occur during his tenure at the agency.

“I don’t believe in the past these types of things have happened,” said W. Ralph Basham. “They certainly didn’t happen on my watch.”

Basham, who headed the service from 2003 to 2006, denied allegations of wider misconduct within the body charged with protecting the president and other governmental officials. On CBS’ “Face the Nation” this morning he said that while it was not unheard of for disciplinary action to be taken against agents, he could not remember ever removing one from duty.

“This is not the character of the men and women who serve every day in the Secret Service,” he said.

Six agents have been fired or resigned since news broke that members of the agency and a military advance team had hired prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, ahead of a trip by President Obama to the country. Some lawmakers now question how such a blatant break of professional decorum could occur without the support of a larger culture.

Today the chairman of a House committee charged with investigating the incident confirmed that more firings were likely as the full scope of the event becomes clear. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said he expected more firings in the “near future.”

“I would say anyone we have found to be guilty will [lose their job,]” he said. “What they were thinking is beyond me.”

King emphasized that the investigative focus should not be on the moral conduct of the accused, but rather the national security vulnerabilities presented by the incident.

While expressing his support for the current head of the Secret Service, Mark Sullivan, this morning the congressman sent a 50-question letter to the director requesting answers for specifics of the investigation.

Meanwhile on CNN Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., suggested the House Oversight committee would send a similar letter to the Pentagon this week regarding the military’s involvement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Apr152012

Argument About the Bill Alerted Hotel Authorities to Secret Service and Prostitutes Cavorting, WH Official Says

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A senior administration official briefed on the accusations against the Secret Service agents pulled from duty in Colombia tells ABC News that a heated argument between at least one of the alleged prostitutes and at least one of the Secret Service agents first alerted authorities of the Hotel Caribe in Cartagena to the cavorting between Secret Service agents and prostitutes.

The argument was a dispute over the bill for services rendered, the administration official said.

Hotel Caribe authorities went to investigate the ruckus and learned that there had been some activity between Secret Service agents and prostitutes, the senior administration official said.

Hotel authorities then went down to the reception desk to see who else of the American guests may have signed in female guests — call girls — for the evening.

Initially, this official said, that inspection led the hotel authorities to have questions about 22 Americans — 17 Secret Service agents and five special operations soldiers who were there to assist the Secret Service. Their names were reported to the lead U.S. military official on the ground.

That is not to say that all 22 men had hired prostitutes, the administration official underlined. Some of those about whom the hotel raised questions may merely have been attending a party and violating curfew. Eleven Secret Service agents have been sent back to the United States. The five U.S. Special Forces members remain in Colombia, per the request of the Secret Service.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr142012

Secret Service Officials Sent Home From Presidential Trip for Alleged Misconduct

Hemera/Thinkstock*UPDATE: An American official who is not authorized to speak about the incident tells ABC News the officers were not agents tasked with guarding President Obama.

The incident may have only involved one or two individuals, the American official said.  It’s likely an entire unit was pulled while an investigation is underway. The officers were sent home and a new unit was brought in to replace them.

While prostitution is legal in certain parts of Colombia the Secret Service said it takes allegations of any soliciting seriously.

The alleged misconduct happened before President Obama arrived in Colombia on Friday afternoon for the Summit of the Americas. Secret Service said that the security surrounding the president was never compromised.

 

(CARTAGENA, Colombia) — U.S. Secret Service officials were sent home from President Obama’s trip to Colombia because of allegations of misconduct, apparently involving prostitution.

While the Secret Service would not confirm the number of personnel involved, the allegations make this an acutely embarrassing incident for the elite security tasked with protecting the president.

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“There have been allegations of misconduct made against Secret Service personnel in Cartagena, Colombia, prior to the president’s trip,” spokesman Ed Donovan, a special agent, told ABC News this evening. “Because of this, those personnel are being relieved of their assignments, returned to their place of duty, and are being replaced by other Secret Service personnel.

“The Secret Service takes all allegations of misconduct seriously. This entire matter has been turned over to our Office of Professional Responsibility, which serves as the agency’s internal affairs component. These personnel changes will not affect the comprehensive security plan that has been prepared in advance of the President’s trip,” Donovan added.

The beach-resort city is hosting the Summit of the Americas this weekend. The president left Washington on Friday to attend the series of meetings with his Latin American counterparts. He is scheduled to return home Sunday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio