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Entries in Rep. Elijah Cummings (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

Thursday
Apr192012

Secret Service Agents Brought Prostitutes in 'Contact with Sensitive Info'

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The partying U.S. Secret Service agents and officers who allegedly brought prostitutes into their Cartagena, Colombia, hotel rooms brought the call girls “into contact with sensitive security information,” the Chair and ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform wrote to Mark J. Sullivan, the director of the U.S. Secret Service on Wednesday.

Sources tell ABC News that this was a reference to Sullivan, in a Monday meeting with congressional investigators, expressing concern that there was sensitive information in one or more of the rooms at the Hotel Caribe.

The charge is contained in a letter from Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who wrote to Sullivan on Wednesday that the “nation’s capacity to protect the President, the Vice President, and visiting foreign leaders, among others, is dependent on the character and judgment of the agents and officers of the U.S. Secret Service.  The actions of at least 11 agents and officers in Colombia last week showed an alarming lack of both.”

[ CLICK HERE TO READ THE LETTER ]

“The facts as you described them raised questions about the agency’s culture,” the two congressmen write.  “The incident in Cartagena is troubling because Secret Service agents and officers made a range of bad decisions, from drinking too much, to engaging with prostitutes, to bringing foreign nationals into contact with sensitive security information, to exposing themselves to blackmail and other forms of potential compromise.”

In addition, the committee leaders asked for detailed information about the incident, including a “description of the Secret Service’s current understanding of possible agent misconduct that occurred on the evening of Wednesday, April 11 and the morning of Thursday, April 12″; a “complete description and account of all U.S. Government personnel who were involved in or had contemporaneous knowledge of misconduct by agents and officers”; a timeline; summaries of all disciplinary actions since 2002 that have been taken against the 11 agents and officers involved in the Colombian incident; and a determination as to whether “all women involved in this incident were at least 18 years of age.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan262011

Feisty Issa Spars with Committee Members in First Oversight Hearing

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- After Tuesday night’s show of civility across party lines at the State of the Union, Rep. Darrell Issa’s first Oversight Committee hearing on bailouts and the foreclosure crisis started with a bout over procedure.

At the start of the hearing, chairman Rep. Darrell Issa announced the committee members would waive their opening statements and instead would have seven days to place them into the record.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the committee’s ranking Democrat, immediately fought back questioning this deviation in traditional procedure, but Issa held his ground.

“I recognize that tradition is we hold the members, the witnesses here for sometimes an hour through opening statements.  That is a tradition that I intend to break,” Issa said.  “That doesn’t mean there won’t be opening statements in the future.”

Issa’s decision to omit opening statements at the hearing stems from his desire to hear from the witnesses, Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for TARP, and Tim Massad, a Treasury official, first instead of from the committee members.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich later interrupted and stated, “I’ve been in the Congress for 14 years, and I’ve never - it’s just unprecedented that the ranking member not be permitted to give an opening statement.”

Issa shot down Kucinich and continued to stop Rep. Stephen Lynch from voicing his opinion on the issue as well.

When Cummings and Kucinich were given their opportunities to question the witnesses, they went after Issa for not inviting members of the industry to testify at the hearing.

“Mr. Chairman, We cannot do a comprehensive examination of the foreclosure crisis without hearing from the industry,” Cummings said.

Issa insisted he intended this hearing to focus only on government officials and that a later hearing including industry witnesses would occur.

Issa started the hearing by asking that people excuse him for any mistakes he might make in the first hearing, but despite this mea culpa, it’s apparent that some members are unhappy with the break in tradition. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio