A preliminary investigation into the night of alleged debauchery involving members of President Obama’s advance security team in Colombia has revealed that additional military personnel may have been involved in the prostitution scandal, Pentagon officials said Monday.
The U.S. Southern Command initially reported that five members of the U.S. special forces had participated in the partying, but preliminary reviews of hotel security tapes indicate that the number was likely much higher. A senior defence official told the AP that “at least 10 military members may have been involved.”
defence Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday that the agency is conducting a “full investigation” into the incident,” and emphasised that he expects a strong response.
“I don’t want to prejudge it, but obviously, if violations are determined to have been the case, then these individuals will be held accountable, and that’s as it should be,” Panetta told reporters Monday.
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added:
“We’re embarrassed by what occurred in Colombia, though we’re not sure exactly what it is, but what we do know is that we distracted — that several of our members distracted the issue from what was a very important regional engagement for our president. So we let the boss down, because nobody’s talking about what went on in Colombia other than this incident.”
Separately, the Secret Service announced today that it has revoked the top security clearances for all of the 11 agents suspended for allegedly hiring prostitutes in Colombia. CBS News reports that two of the agents involved were supervisors and three were members of the commando Counter-Assault teams. None of the agents served on Obama’s personal security detail.
The scandal appears to have prompted some soul-searching within the Secret Service, although the agency denies that the incident indicates a widespread “wheels up, rings off” culture among its agents. President Obama has demanded a “thorough” investigation into the incident, and several high-ranking members of Congress have demanded a broader probe of the agency as a whole.
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