Lawmakers support Congressional investigation into Secret Service scandal

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - FEBRUARY 04: A US Secret Service agent looks on as republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally at Colorado Springs Fabrication on February 4, 2012 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. On the day of the Nevada caucus, Mitt Romney traveled to Colorado for a campaign rally ahead of the Colorado primary. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Justin Sullivan

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
(CBS News) Members of Congress with oversight of the Secret Service are seeking additional information in the incident involving a prostitute while the president was visiting for the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia.

"My committee is going to be investigating exactly how this happened, why it happened, how to prevent it from happening in the future," Rep. Peter King, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, told CBS News.

The Secret Service said 11 personnel have been placed on administrative leave because of the "nature of the allegations, coupled with a zero tolerance policy," according to Secret Service Assistant Director Paul S. Morrissey of the Office of Government and Public Affairs.

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. Two of the personnel involved are supervisors and after the U.S. Embassy was notified of the situation, the personnel were ordered from the country.

Although he hasn't announced a Congressional hearing, on CBS New's "Face the Nation," Rep. Darrell Issa, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the Secret Service might need to make changes.

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"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? Is the whole organization in need of some soul-searching?"

On NBC's "Meet the Press," Democratic New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, "We need a very full investigation."

Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann agreed with Gillibrand that an investigation is necessary. "Americans should be outraged.... I think the White House clearly was embarrassed by this. This is not good and we have to make sure this never happens again," she said.

King, who was briefed on the incident, said it could have been a serious security breach.

"Bringing in prostitutes, or even women you don't know, into a security zone" is dangerous, King said, noting FARC is active there, which the U.S. labels a terrorist organization.

There could have been women "working for FARC inside a security zone mingling with secret service agents, finding out information they shouldn't have," King said. "So no matter how you look at it, putting any personal morality aside, it could have jeopardized any president of the United States if this type of conduct is tolerated."

Although prostitution is legal in Colombia, Secret Service personnel are expected to follow personal behavior guidelines.

The agency said, and observers and sources familiar with the incident agree, that the president's security was not threatened. 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 men were replaced with personnel stationed in Miami and Puerto Rico before the president arrived in Colombia last Friday, King said.

Five Department of Defense service members were also alleged to be involved in an incident of misconduct.

A statement released by the U.S. Southern Command said the service members "violated the curfew established by the United States Senior Defense Official in Colombia and may have been involved in inappropriate conduct."

"They really overall have a great record for integrity and professionalism," King said of the Secret Service.

He added: "The president bears no responsibility for this."

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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