Secret Service agents get clearances revoked amid prostitution probe
The United States Secret Service has revoked the security clearances of 11 members accused of bringing prostitutes to a hotel in Colombia ahead of last week’s Summit of the Americas, government officials with knowledge of the investigation reported on Monday. The probe also involves at least 5 and possibly 10 U.S. military personnel, who were working with the Secret Service ahead of President Barack Obama’s arrival to the country. The men are accused of bringing prostitutes to their Cartagena hotel on Wednesday night of last week.
The Secret Service agents and officers involved in the prostitution investigation range in experience from relative newcomers to nearly 20-year veterans, and all have been interviewed at least once, according to two government officials with knowledge of the probe. The official said while the investigation is under way, their security clearances have been yanked, but could be reinstated if they are cleared. Representative Peter King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told CNN that he believed 11 prostitutes were brought back to the hotel and one of the women refused to leave a hotel room because “they owed her money.” At least one woman brought back to the hotel spoke with police, and complaints were filed with the U.S. Embassy, sources reported. Although prostitution is legal in some parts of Colombia, it could lead to a man exposing himself to blackmail, posing a security risk for the president and the United States. The Secret Service scandal has diverted attention from the importance of President Obama’s engagement in Colombia. General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “So we let the boss down, because nobody’s talking about what went on in Colombia other than this incident.”