Issa: Secret Service may need "soul-searching"
(CBS News) Rep. Darrell Issa, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the Secret Service might be in need of wholesale change.
"Is the whole organization in need of some soul-searching?" Issa asked. He was responding to the scandal that rocked the agency involving at least one prostitute which led to the expulsion of 11 Secret Service personnel from Cartagena, Colombia, where they were working in advance of the president's visit for the Summit of the America's.
On CBS News' "Face the Nation," Rep. Issa said he has not decided if he will hold hearings on the matter, but says there are many more questions that need to be answered.
"We think the number [of Secret Service personnel involved] might be higher, and we're asking for the exact amount of all the people who were involved," Issa said. "How did this happen, and how often has this happened before?
"Things like this don't happen once, if they didn't happen before," he said.
Issa said a situation like this could cause indirect consequences - including blackmail - which is a national security concern.
"We have to ask where are the systems in place to prevent this in the future," Issa said.
In a press briefing from Cartegena on Saturday, White House spokesperson Jay Carney said "the president does have full confidence in the United States Secret Service."
The agency said the incident has not impacted the president's security. Although some of the personnel are said to be agents, none of the men involved are part of the president's personal protective detail.
The incident at Hotel Caribe, involving two agency supervisors in Cartagena, resulted in 11 agents put on administrative leave.
"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 of the Secret Service Office of Government and Public Affairs wrote in a statement.
The Secret Service has not released details, but CBS News confirmed that at least one prostitute was involved with a member of the Secret Service.
The U.S. Embassy was notified of the situation and the personnel were ordered from the country. The Secret Service immediately referred the case to the Office of Professional Responsibility to conduct an investigation.
Prostitution is legal in Colombia, but Secret Service personnel are expected to follow personal behavior guidelines.
- Leigh Ann Caldwell
Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.Follow on Twitter »
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