A former director of the Secret Service says events of the caliber of the Colombian prostitution incident didn’t occur during his tenure at the agency.
“I don’t believe in the past these types of things have happened,” said W. Ralph Basham. “They certainly didn’t happen on my watch.”
Basham, who headed the service from 2003 to 2006, denied allegations of wider misconduct within the body charged with protecting the president and other governmental officials. On CBS’ “Face the Nation” this morning he said that while it was not unheard of for disciplinary action to be taken against agents, he could not remember ever removing one from duty.
“This is not the character of the men and women who serve every day in the Secret Service,” he said.
Six agents have been fired or resigned since news broke that members of the agency and a military advance team had hired prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, ahead of a trip by President Obama to the country. Some lawmakers now question how such a blatant break of professional decorum could occur without the support of a larger culture.
“To me it defies belief that this is just an aberration,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “There were too many people involved.”
Collins, the ranking member of Senate’s Homeland Security committee, said she was “shocked and appalled” to learn two agents were supervisors.
Today the chairman of a House committee charged with investigating the incident confirmed that more firings were likely as the full scope of the event becomes clear. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said he expected more firings in the “near future.”
“I would say anyone we have found to be guilty will [lose their job,]” he said. “What they were thinking is beyond me.”
King emphasized that the investigative focus should not be on the moral conduct of the accused, but rather the national security vulnerabilities presented by the incident.
While expressing his support for the current head of the Secret Service, Mark Sullivan, this morning the congressman sent a 50-question letter to the director requesting answers for specifics of the investigation.
Meanwhile on CNN Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., suggested the House Oversight committee would send a similar letter to the Pentagon this week regarding the military’s involvement.