When news of a prostitution scandal broke ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to Columbia in April, the administration let the Secret Service–and especially the military–take the fall. Now, however, Fox News reports that an investigation may reveal the involvement of two members of President Obama’s advance team.
According to Fox:
…[M]ultiple law enforcement and congressional sources tell FoxNews.com that investigators also discovered two White House advance team members checked in prostitutes as overnight guests at a Cartagena hotel in the days before President Obama’s April 13 visit.
“Three U.S. delegation members that stayed at the Hilton brought prostitutes back as overnight guests. One of them was ours (Secret Service) and the other two were White House staffers,” a high-ranking Secret Service official told FoxNews.com. “We knew very early that White House staffers were involved.”
The initial report is more than two months overdue, fueling speculation that it is being withheld–or possibly altered–to protect Obama administration staff.
Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who lead the Senate’s homeland security committee, wrote to the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General last week asking about the status of the delayed report.
If true, the report would contradict White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s April 23 comments that nobody on the White House staff had been involved in the incident, in which members of the U.S. advance team had hosted local prostitutes in their taxpayer-funded hotel rooms.
FoxNews.com also reports a “high-ranking Secret Service official” admitted that two White House staffers had brought prostitutes to their hotel. Sources also told FoxNews.com that Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan “publicly skewered agency employees who were involved” to cover up the involvement of White House aides in the scandal.
The Secret Service suffered a huge blow to its image, and struggled to reassure Congress and the public that the security of the President had never been endangered by the misconduct of its members. Most of the 13 Secret Service members suspected of involvement have been disciplined, with some leaving the Service.
No answers have yet been received about the publication of the Inspector General’s report, or what may have happened to the report along the way between the draft and final stages to delay its publication by so long.
“Have any changes been made to the report in response to comments received from the Secret Service or the Department?” Collins and Lieberman ask in their letter to the Inspector General, dated Sep. 14.
According to FoxNews.com, “a congressional source” said the report “includes information that two members of the White House advance team had prostitutes overnight,” and a Secret Service agent said, “obviously we’re worried the draft version of the report — what the DHS IG investigators found on the ground in Cartagena — is going to get changed and edited before the final version gets out.”
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said the Inspector General had completed the independent review and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and Congress would be briefed in the “next few days.”