U.S. President Barack Obama says he expects the investigation of Secret Service misconduct in Colombia to be thorough and rigorous, and says he will “be angry” if the allegations turn out to be true.
The scandal involving Secret Service agents and prostitutes overshadowed Mr. Obama’s diplomatic work at a major summit. The alleged misconduct took place before the President arrived.
Eleven Secret Service agents were placed on leave Saturday and the agency’s internal watchdog opened an investigation into the allegations. Five U.S. military service members were also alleged to have been involved.
Details about the episode, which took place Wednesday night and involved at least two Secret Service supervisors, were coming into focus Saturday night, though there were still some conflicting details in accounts of what happened.
In a phone interview, Representative Peter T. King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, which oversees the Secret Service, said he was told in a briefing that the 11 agents and officers were suspected of bringing women back to their rooms.
While prostitution is legal in designated areas in Colombia, such behaviour would violate agency rules of conduct, in part because it could expose the agents to blackmail or facilitate espionage, help an enemy get inside a security perimeter and otherwise distract agents when they are supposed to be focused on protecting the President, he said.
Mr. Obama said the men and women of the Secret Service perform extraordinary service for him, his family and U.S. officials. He never directly mentioned the prostitution allegations but alluded to them, saying, “Of course I’ll be angry” if they are proven true.