Napolitano: Secret Service Incident Did Not Put Obama at Risk

Posted April 25th, 2012 at 11:40 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says there was no risk to President Barack Obama as a result of the prostitution scandal involving Secret Service agents in Colombia earlier this month.

Napolitano addressed the scandal at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday. She called the allegations of misconduct “inexcusable” and said a “full and thorough investigation is under way.”

A total of eight Secret Service agents have either left or lost their jobs because of the incident, which took place in Cartagena, Colombia days before President Obama arrived for the Summit of the Americas.

“Thus far, the investigation has implicated 12 Secret Service personnel. Eight individuals are now separated from the agency. The Secret Service is moving to permanently revoke the security clearance of another, and three of the employees involved have been cleared of serious misconduct, but will face appropriate administrative action.”

Napolitano emphasized that the scandal should not reflect the entire agency.

“Let me be clear. We will not allow the actions of a few to tarnish the proud legacy of the Secret Service, an agency that has served numerous presidents and whose men and women execute their mission with great professionalism, honor and integrity every single day. I have nothing but respect for these men and women, many of whom put their own lives at risk for the president and many other public leaders. We expect all DHS employees in the Secret Service and throughout the department to adhere to the highest professional and ethical standards, and we will continue to update the committee as the investigation proceeds and more information becomes available.”

The Pentagon is also investigating 12 military members who were allegedly involved in the incident.

During the taping of his appearance on an NBC television talk show Tuesday, Mr. Obama called the agents caught in the scandal “knuckleheads.” But he also said they should not detract from what the Secret Service does. The president called the majority of the agents incredible guys, protecting him and his family, as well as U.S. officials, all over the world.

Prostitution is legal in Colombia, but off-limits for many U.S. government employees because of the possible security risks.