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Amidst ongoing questions concerning the potential cover-ups by the Obama Administration of Fast and Furious and the Benghazi attack, another scandal is coming back to light for the White House. The U.S. Secret Service made the news last April when a number of agents were suspended after being accused of consorting with prostitutes while in Cartagena, Columbia for the Summit of the Americas attended by President Obama. As he did with the latest scandals surrounding his administration, the President called for an investigation into the incident:
What happened here in Colombia is being investigated by the director of the Secret Service,” Obama said. “I expect that investigation to be thorough and I expect it to be rigorous,” the president told reporters in his first public reaction to the controversy. If it turns out that some of the allegations that have been made in the press are confirmed, then of course I’ll be angry.
In the days following, the news from officials was (as we’ve come to expect) conflicting. Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) stated on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that “wheel-up parties when the president leaves,” were not unheard of, but these kinds of activities before the President even arrives on the scene was news to him. Political Analyst David Gergen, who has worked for four Presidents, also confirmed that incidents such as the prostitution scandal were known to happen. Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) called for White House personnel who were also in Cartagena at the time to account for their activities as well. The day after Lieberman’s statements, White House Secretary Jay Carney stated:
There have been no specific, credible allegations of misconduct by anyone on the White House advance team or the White House staff. Nevertheless, out of due diligence, the White House Counsel’s office has conducted a review of the White House advance team, and in concluding that review, came to the conclusion that there’s no indication that any member of the White House advance team engaged in any improper conduct or behavior. So, simply out of due diligence, over the last several days that review was conducted, and it produced no indication of any misconduct.
As reported by Jake Tapper of ABC News, Secret Service director Mark Sullivan testified soon after in May before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that the disgraceful behavior of the Secret Service members was “not part of our culture” and “we have not found this type of behavior was exhibited by any of these individuals before.” Still, members of the Senate investigating the incident persisted that the current scandal was just the newest in a pattern of behavior exhibited consistently behind the scenes in the Secret Service agency. Sen. Lieberman maintained that allegations and complaints of sexual misconduct aimed at Secret Service employees had been made 64 times in the last 5 years.
Later, after the Secret Service completed their internal investigation and reported to the Senate committee on it, the Department of Justice (DOJ), according to a memo released today by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), refused to work with the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General (DHS OIG) to complete an independent investigation.
Additionally, when the DHS OIG completed their report and gave it to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano September 26th, she failed to take any actions to follow up on it.
As the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Sen. Ron Johnson was able to review the DHS OIG report and expressed concerns about discrepancies between public statements by administration officials and information contained within the report. He also found that Secret Service agents involved in the scandal may still be on the government’s payroll. When Johnson’s office requested additional information regarding what they’d found, DHS, the DOJ and the White House ignored their inquiries.
The inspection by Johnson has revealed that prior to Sullivan’s testimony before the Congressional committee, the Secret Service director was informed of previous incidents by Secret Service agents involving prostitution. Further, although Sullivan testified that the names of the prostitutes had been run through U.S. national security and law enforcement databases and hadn’t raised any red flags, the inspector general’s report claimed otherwise. In fact, two of the women’s names had initially been found to be potential security concerns and one is still being investigated. According to a FoxNews.com source, Sullivan blatantly lied to Congress in his testimony. Sullivan has also potentially misled Congress in his written responses and conspired with those around him to “manipulate, falsify, or edit records to downplay past problems.”
The DHS OIG report also uncovered hotel records that seem to indicate, contrary to White House Secretary Carney’s statement, that one officer with the Department of Defense and one member of the White House staff and/or advance team checked prostitutes into their rooms in Cartagena. Unfortunately, because the DOJ wouldn’t cooperate with the DHS OIG, the investigation was limited in assessing whether additional White House personnel were involved in the scandal. In his letter to White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew, Johnson assessed:
The national security risks associated with this type of misconduct threaten the very safety of the President of the United States and creates and environment where sensitive information may be stolen, accessed, or otherwise extracted from U.S. personnel. Further, this type of disappointing behavior creates an opportunity for blackmail.
Former undercover FBI operative Brandon Darby, who has worked in both counterterrorism and human trafficking investigations, has expressed concerns previously about cases of prostitution being covered up within the FBI, with help from the DOJ. Darby stated to RedState:
The men and women of the FBI and DOJ as a whole are great patriots. The politically appointed leadership has exhibited a tendency under Eric Holder to neglect the needs of trafficked women and minors, for that matter, involving cases of sex and prostitution.
For the past month, the DOJ has claimed they are “busy” and have been unable to provide an attorney to receive the report from DHS. Considering the information from Darby, however, it may be the case that the DOJ is fine allowing this scandal to go unreported until after the election.