PUBLISHED:23:00 EST, 19 October 2012| UPDATED:12:28 EST, 20 October 2012
Claim: Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan testified before Congress in May that prostitute solicitation is not a widespread problem within the agency
An investigation into the U.S. Secret Service has found a widespread ‘culture of acceptance’ toward hiring foreign prostitutes, despite agency director Mark Sullivan’s insistence to the contrary.
The investigation by the Homeland Security inspector general has uncovered instances in which Secret Service agents have hired foreign nationals for sex in Panama City, El Salvador, China and Romania, according to lawmakers who have reviewed the report, which has not been released because the investigation is ongoing.
Homeland Security opened the investigation after 12 agents were accused of drinking and cavorting with prostitutes during President Obama’s trip earlier this year to Cartagena, Colombia.
Sullivan testified before Congress in May that the Colombia incident was isolated and not indicative of a broader ‘culture’ problem within the Secret Service.
‘This just is not part of our culture,’ he said.
Sullivan also testified, based on his own internal investigation, that U.S. national security was never put at risk by the agents’ contact with the foreign prostitutes.
But the inspector general’s report reveals that both women who were identified as being involved in the Cartagena incident raised red flags when their names were run through the national security and law enforcement databases.
The report also suggests that Sullivan knew when he testified before Congress that the girls’ names raised red flags, according to Wisconsin Sen. Rob Johnson, a ranking Republican on the Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management.
Johnson said he spent two days reviewing the inspector general’s report.
‘Unfortunately, there are discrepancies between the statements made and the information’ in the report, Johnson wrote in a memo released Friday.
Johnson said the report concludes that the ‘solicitation of prostitutes may be more prevalent than Congress was led to believe, and that there may be a culture of acceptance’ inside of the Secret Service.
Leaked: Republican Sen. Rob Johnson leaked details of a Homeland Security investigation into the Secret Service, which detailed a ‘culture of acceptance’ toward hiring prostitutes within the agency
Other Republican members also chimed in:’It looks like the inspector general’s report confirms our fear that there is a broader history of inappropriate action by personnel within the Secret Service,’ said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
‘Even worse, the IG report casts doubt and suspicion on the statements that national security wasn’t at risk,’ he added.
On the other hand, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, said Republicans were jumping to conclusions based on an investigation that was still ongoing.
‘This unauthorized leak of sensitive, selective information from the IG’s report is unfair to the United States Secret Service and its director, Mark Sullivan,’ he said. ‘Both have served our nation honorably and ably for a long time and deserve the benefit of a presumption of innocence unless real evidence leads to a different conclusion. I will await the Inspector General’s finished report before making any judgments.
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