The U.S. Congress will investigate alleged misconduct by Secret Service personnel while in the Colombian city of Cartagena ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to the country.
According to Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), the House of Representatives’ investigate panel will be “looking over the shoulder” of the Secret Service to make sure that the agency’s method for training and screening agents isn’t endangering the nation’s VIPs, he told television network CBS’ Face the Nation.
“Things like this don’t happen once if they didn’t happen before,” said Issa, who leads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, implying that more Secret Service officials may have been involved in inappropriate behavior in previous foreign visits.
Eleven Secret Service employees are on administrative leave for misconduct and five service members assigned to work with the agency are confined to quarters amid allegations that a group of personnel partied with local prostitutes prior to Obama’s arrival in Colombia for the weekend summit with Latin American leaders.
Obama, who hasn’t address the scandal publicly, could make his first comments about it during a late afternoon news conference Sunday in Cartagena with Colombia’s president.
White House spokesman Jay Carney has dismissed suggestions that the incident had distracted the president.
“I think it’s been much more of a distraction for the press,” Carney said Saturday. “He’s here engaging in the business that he came here to do with the assembled leaders of the Americas.”
The scandal caused public indignation in Colombia where sex tourism is an increasingly inconvenient byproduct of the country’s tourism boom.