New twist reported in Secret Service sex scandal

(CBS News) WASHINGTON - A group of Secret Service agents let go because of the Colombian prostitution scandal reportedly said the alleged misconduct is nothing new to the agency.

The Obama administration and the Secret Service were hoping to put a swift end to the story that surfaced before the president's trip to Colombia last month. But published reports may be opening a whole new chapter as the agency's director plans to tell Congress Wednesday that the scandal did not endanger President Obama and was an isolated incident.

Secret Service boss: No Colombia security breach

Four Secret Service employees who either resigned or were fired after being accused of having sex with prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, are fighting their dismissals, according to The Washington Post.

The four say they have been made scapegoats for behavior that had always been tolerated in the past.

Some of them are arguing that they did not pay for sex, others that they did not know the women were prostitutes.

The rowdy behavior is said to have been known inside the agency as the "secret circus," referring to what happened any time a large group of agents descended on a city.

Last month, former Secret Service Director Brian Stafford told CBS News the Cartagena incident painted a much different picture.

"I have never heard the words agent and prostitute mentioned in the same sentence until this saga unfolded," he said.

And in April, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told the Senate Judiciary Committee such behavior is inexcusable.

"Every mother of a teenager knows that a common defense is, 'Well, everybody else was doing it, so I get to do it.' First off, not everyone else was doing it, and, second, this behavior is not part of the Secret Service way of doing business," Napolitano said.

Members of Congress have said the Cartagena incident calls into question the ability of the Secret Service to carry out its primary mission.

On "CBS This Morning" late last month, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, asked, "Is the national security of the United States protected and is the president's life properly protected?"

In testimony prepared for his first public account since the scandal erupted, Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan states, "At the time the misconduct occurred, none of the individuals involved ... had received any specific protective information, sensitive security documents, firearms, radios or other security related equipment in their hotel rooms."

To see Bill Plante's report, click on the video in the player above.

  • Bill Plante

    Bill Plante is a CBS News Senior White House Correspondent

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