BY MICHAEL BOWMAN – U.S. lawmakers continue to express dismay and outrage over twin scandals in the federal government: one that has consumed the Secret Service, the other involving the agency that provides supplies and equipment for federal operations.
No evidence has emerged that a prostitution scandal involving Secret Service agents compromised security for President Barack Obama earlier this month in Cartagena, Colombia. But that is little consolation to independent Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
“I do not think we want our Secret Service agents drinking bottles of vodka and carousing with women before they are going on duty to protect the president of the United States.”
Lieberman spoke on the Fox News Sunday television program.
Eleven Secret Service employees are alleged to have taken prostitutes to their hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, before President Obama’s arrival at the Summit of the Americas. Several agents have been fired or voluntarily left federal service amid ongoing investigations.
Senator Lieberman says the potential security risks posed by such behavior are unacceptable.
“It is more serious than just a frolic. History is full of cases where enemies have compromised people in security or intelligence positions with sex.”
Lawmakers of both parties have expressed confidence in Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan. But the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, Senator Susan Collins, says many questions still need to be answered.
“To me, it defies belief that this was just an aberration. There were too many people involved. It included two supervisors. That is particularly shocking and appalling.”
President Obama added his voice to the chorus of outrage in the wake of the episode, one of two scandals gripping the federal government.
The other involves the General Services Administration, accused of wasteful spending on lavish conferences and executive travel to exotic locations. Speaking on ABC’s This Week program, Senator Collins noted government inspectors had uncovered a pattern of wasteful GSA spending and brought it to the attention of the Obama administration.
Probes of both scandals are ongoing. Last week saw congressional hearings on the GSA. Similar hearings on the Secret Service are expected in coming weeks.