Secret Service Prostitution Scandal Widens

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A senior Republican on the Homeland Security Committee now says at least 20 women were involved in a prostitution incident in Colombia that preceded President Obama's weekend visit for the Summit of the Americas.

Sen. Susan Collins said Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan told her that 20 or 21 foreign women were brought to the hotel where Secret Service agents and U.S. Marines were staying.

The case involves 11 Secret Service agents accused of heavy drinking and soliciting prostitutes during the trip. A Defense Department official has said that at least 10 military personnel may have been involved in the scandal as well.

"The president has confidence in the director of the Secret Service. Director Sullivan acted quickly in response of this incident and is overseeing an investigation as we speak into the matter," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

The Washington Post reports Secret Service agents have been known to joke during take-off that their motto is "wheels up - rings off."

The scandal has raised concerns about the president's security, and members of Congress are planning hearings to investigate the incident.

"It will be about, 'How did this happen' and 'How often has this happened before,'" Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said. "Things like this don't happen once."

The Defense Department is also promising to hold their personnel accountable for their role in the controversy.

"Several of our members distracted the issue from what was a very important regional engagement, so we let the boss down," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said. 

"Because no one's talking about what went on in Colombia other than this incident, so to that extent we let him down," he said.

Eleven Secret Service personnel were sent home before the president arrived Friday.

"If it turns out that some of the allegations that have been made in the press are confirmed, then of course I'll be angry," President Obama said.

The alleged incident happened last Wednesday but only came to light after an argument between the agents and a prostitute.

"Police had to come to ask her to leave," Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said. "She wouldn't leave until the Secret Service paid money she said was owed to her."

The 11 Secret Service staffers were placed on administrative leave. While none of the agents involved were assigned directly to protect the president, some still believe their behavior threatened his safety. 

"The security was compromised by the fact that these agents were in this compromised position where they could be blackmailed," Ronald Kessler, author of In the President's Service, said.

The Secret Service said despite the embarrassing incident, the president's safety was never at risk.

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