Lieberman: White House should probe its own staff’s behavior in Cartagena
posted at 2:00 pm on April 22, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
Could the sex scandal in Colombia spread to the White House? Joe Lieberman is worried enough to suggest that the White House start an investigation of its own staff’s behavior in Cartagena:
In the midst of an investigation into alleged misconduct by Secret Service agents and U.S. military members in Colombia, the head of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs said the White House should launch its own internal investigation into its advance staff on that same trip.
“The White House ought to be conducting its own internal investigation of White House personnel who were in Cartagena, just to make sure that none of them were involved in this kind of inappropriate behavior,” Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said on Fox News Sunday.
The expanding scandal has implicated 12 Secret Service agents and 10 U.S. military members in misconduct involving prostitutes while preparing for President Obama’s trip to Cartagena, Colombia. All 12 of those agents had their security clearances revoked and, as of Friday, six had resigned, retired, or been fired.
Be sure to watch the entire interview with Chris Wallace. I was struck by the caution Lieberman employed in making statements about potential compromises in security; apparently, even after several days, the Senate Homeland Security Committee that Lieberman chairs and which has oversight over the Secret Service does not have enough information on what happened to know for certain that security was not compromised. He’s also unclear on what rules of conduct are in place for advance Secret Service teams, or if the agents even knew for certain what those rules require. Even without that, Lieberman says he still has confidence in Director Mark Sullivan — although he says that confidence is limited to “today,” and might change when they find out more of the details about Cartagena:
Regarding the Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia, Lieberman says he takes this very seriously. “They’re charged with the protection of the life president and vice president of the United State and their families. … History is full of cases where enemies have compromised people in security or intelligence positions with sex.”
Chris Wallace asked if there was any evidence that these women had access to classified information. Lieberman said from everything he’s heard so far there is no evidence that information was compromised, but, “If Secret Service gets the reputation that when they’re off duty, not when they’re on duty, when they’re on assignment and off duty, they’re going to be acting like a bunch of college kids on spring weekend, then people who are hostile to the U.S., people who may actually want to attack the president of the United States may begin to take advantage of that vulnerability.”
He said he’s begun an investigation of not just this particular instance but also a broader investigation to whether this is an exception or a pattern of misconduct among agents while they’re on assignment and off duty. If it is found to be a repeated behavior, Lieberman says he will follow up on why wasn’t it noticed prior to this instance and what’s going to be done to ensure it never happens again.
Chris Wallace starts off asking Lieberman about the Iranian claim that they have reverse-engineered a drone aircraft based on the one captured from the US. Lieberman says to take that claim with a huge grain of salt: