Lawmakers will grill Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano about the US Secret Service next week, as the Senate’s top Democrat blasted the “stupid” agents at the heart of the scandal Thursday.
And furious Republicans said President Barack Obama should be held responsible for reasserting the necessary discipline in the elite presidential protection agency.
“There will be committees of jurisdiction that will hold hearings on this,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters a day after the Secret Service said three employees were being forced out or retiring over the sex scandal at a hotel in Colombia that has badly tarnished the agency’s image.
“But there is not a committee hearing that’s going to… stop people from being stupid.
“People that are here to protect the president will go to Colombia and have a fight with a prostitute over how much she should be paid? That’s either very stupid or a total lack of common sense,” he added.
A total of 11 agents and at least 10 military personnel are being investigated over the incident, which reportedly came to light when a prostitute got into a dispute over payment with one of the agents.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will convene on April 25, and a Senate official told AFP it was “pretty certain” that Napolitano will receive questions about what went down in Colombia.
Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, who serves on the panel, said he had yet to formulate questions for Napolitano, but he was “surprised” at the agents’ “unacceptable” behavior.
“I think it is important that we look into it and we determine what happened,” he said.
“The president needs to assert discipline, and management direction throughout the executive branch, and presidents ought to be held responsible.”
Two leading congressmen meanwhile revealed in a Wednesday letter to Secret Service chief Mark Sullivan that the agents accused of consorting with prostitutes may have been careless with “sensitive security information.”
Representatives Darrell Issa and Elijah Cummings also called on Sullivan to provide in-depth details about exactly what happened, including a timeline of events and accounts by all personnel involved, and details of any misconduct by agents on overseas trips dating back to 2007.
[Photo of Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano via the Center for American Progress / Flickr]