WASHINGTON — A twelfth Secret Service employee has been implicated in the agency's prostitution scandal, a government official told The Associated Press on Friday. Two agents were resigning Friday and another has been fired, said the official.
That would bring agency departures to six from the events at a hotel late last week in Colombia before President Barack Obama arrived for a summit meeting.
Eleven Secret Service employees had been noted earlier. The 12th has been placed on administrative leave.
The official, who has been briefed on the investigation, spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation
Two supervisors and another employee were forced out of the agency earlier in the week. All of the agents being investigated have had their top-secret clearances revoked.
Meanwhile, the lawyer for two Secret Service supervisors said that Obama's safety was never at risk, and he criticized leaks of internal government investigations in the case, signaling a possible strategy for an upcoming legal defense.
The Secret Service briefed about two-dozen congressional staff members Friday, mainly from the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to one individual who was there but was not authorized to be quoted by name.
The person said investigators have photo ID's and names from a Cartagena, Colombia, hotel registry for all the women who stayed overnight and are in the process of conducting interviews. Investigators have interviewed maids and said no alcohol or drugs were found in the rooms.
Those under investigation were offered polygraphs and drug tests. It is unclear whether anyone accepted, the person said.
Eleven Secret Service employees were initially put on administrative leave following an incident in Colombia that involved at least some agency personnel bringing prostitutes to their hotel rooms. News of the incident, which involves as many as 20 Colombian women, broke a week ago after a fight over payment between a prostitute and a Secret Service agent spilled into the hotel hallway. A 24-year-old Colombian prostitute told The New York Times that the agent agreed to pay her $800 for a night of sex but the next morning offered her only $30. She eventually left the hotel, she told the newspaper, after she was paid $225.
The scandal now involves 12 officers and supervisors and at least 11 military members who were working on security before Obama arrived in Cartagena for the Summit of the Americas. The Pentagon acknowledged Friday that the 11th military person, a member of the Army, was implicated.
Pentagon press secretary George Little said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was getting regular updates on the investigation.
"He understands the level of interest in this issue," Little said. "He has serious concerns about the alleged misconduct."
Little said members of Congress have not yet been briefed on the military investigation but would be "in the near future."
In a letter to Secret Service employees Monday and obtained by the AP, Director Mark Sullivan said the agency had moved in a "swift, decisive manner immediately after this incident was brought to our attention." He praised "the overwhelming majority" of employees who he said had acted with the "highest levels of professionalism and ethical behavior."
"Our job, our mission, our responsibility is to the president, the American people and the individuals we are entrusted to protect," Sullivan said. "This is not just a matter of honor, although this is critical. It is imperative, as part of our sworn duties, to always act both personally and professionally in a manner that recognizes the seriousness and consequence of our mission."
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