Washington (CNN) - Key senators reacted with anger and disappointment Tuesday to allegations that members of the U.S. Secret Service and the military were involved with prostitutes while on a trip to Colombia in advance of President Barack Obama’s recent visit.
The chairman of a key oversight committee said the troubling charges require a “rigorous investigation” to find out what happened.
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Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has partial oversight of the Secret Service, said his staff is looking into the accusations and that he may call hearings to investigate further.
“If a member of the military or Secret Service puts himself in a compromising position (while) off duty, that can create risks that affects our national security or the safety of our most important public officials. History, unfortunately, is full of cases where people in positions of great responsibility, including security, have been compromised by, well, enemies or spies,” Lieberman said.
“I’m not saying that happened here, but once you conduct your self in this way you open that risk. That’s why this really requires rigorous investigation as quick as it can be done fairly. And then people who didn’t live by the code need to be punished severely,” he said.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, said she wants to know if similar behavior has occurred in the past and if there is a “problem with the culture of the Secret Service.”
Collins said she spoke by phone with Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan about the issue Monday night. She said she was told that “20 or 21 women” she referred to as foreign nationals were brought to the hotel and that 11 Secret Service agents were involved. Collins said she was also told members of the military may have been involved as well.
“Who are these women?” Collins asked. “Could they have been members of groups hostile to the United States? Could they have planted bugs, disabled weapons, or in any other way jeopardized security of the president of our country?”
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, similarly said he had spoken with Sullivan about the scandal.
“It sounds like he’s taking the situation very seriously. It was welcome news that he has called on the Inspector General for an independent review. The allegations against a few agents in the Secret Service have given the entire agency a black eye, and a transparent, independent review should help the agency regain some respect from the American taxpayers and from people around the world,” Grassley said in a statement.
The Democratic chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein of California, said she was “profoundly disappointed.”
“I’ve always respected the Secret Service as kind of ‘numero uno’ of our law enforcement community,” she said.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, said he was particularly concerned that those who are responsible for the president’s safety “mess up and don’t do their job and take their eye of their responsibilities.”
Levin said he will consider holding hearings on the conduct of the members of the military involved in the scandal, but wants to learn more before calling a hearing.
Finally, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, John McCain of Arizona, said the whole affair is sad because it tarnishes the image of these “outstanding organizations.”
“I’m sure there will be a full investigation. I’m sure the people who are guilty will be punished but the damage makes me sad because I know the people in these organizations and they are great Americans. A few of them have tarnished the reputations of many,” he said.
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Welcome to the real world. I work in an industry that is treated the same way all of us are blamed for the actions of a small number of us. No sympathy for them they most likely did it on our dime too.
Uh -- reckon they'll go all the way back to 1984 when the head of sec. service first started his job under Raygun? Or will the investigation just cover the years "that one" has been president.
We don't need an oversight committee , Heads have rolled , the secret service is having a house cleaning .
What I would like to know however is who are the 78 communists in Congress Mr. West knows about ?
Anyone NOT in favor of this being investigated fully needs to be removed from office.
Yes yes by all means. Lets plaster the secret service all over the air waves, it will keep the people distracked from our miserable performance.
I wonder how many Secret Service people had such perks during other presidential administrations.
Kennedy's, Roosevelt's... must have had revolving doors....
If anyone says it's Obama's fault, they need to remember that these people were employed to take care of the President, not have the President take care of them. I have been to conferences where people thought it was just a week long party – these people were there to do a job. The President wasn't even in that hotel. They represent the U.S., do it right.
Did they call for an investigation of the NRA – where today a member of the Board of Directors essentially called for these well-armed members to kill Democrats. That's terrorism.
Just another example of just how far down in the gutter America has gone under the Messiah, Supreme Leader, Presidente Obama.
What is the difference in what the Secret Service did and what Clinton and many other elected officials have done nothing.
Look at who is calling the kettle black and before anybody jumps on and tries to place the race card it's just an expression nothing more and nothing less.
Obama stall be happy with fun.
Many refuse to take President Obama's presidency seriously
You expect that from the other side – But the Secret Service – REALLY?
It's a shame and it should be "vigorously" looked into
All of them should be fired before any of us can count to 2!!!!!!
Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward and should be 100% Protected Now!!!