Three of the 11 U.S. Secret Service agents who were involved in a prostitution scandal around U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Colombia last week are leaving the elite security force.
Secret Service Assistant Director Paul Morrissey said on Aprill 18 that one of the men is retiring, one will resign, and the third will be dismissed.
None of the agents was identified. The eight others remain on administrative leave pending further investigation.
The 11 members of Obama’s Secret Service detail allegedly consorted with some 20 prostitutes at a hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, during a trip to prepare for Obama's visit to attend the Summit of the Americas. At least 10 members of the U.S. military are also being investigated in connection with the incident.
Obama has ordered a full probe into the scandal. U.S. officials are in Cartagena trying to interview the women about the incident.
"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," Obama said.
U.S. media outlets have quoted witnesses as saying that the agents were drinking heavily and partying at a strip club and that cocaine might have been involved. Other reports say the agents boasted to the women about their work protecting the president.
Reaction in the United States has been swift, with opinion leaders saying that the incident is, at best, deeply embarrassing to the country and, at worst, potentially dangerous if any of the women involved were acting on behalf of a U.S. enemy.
"We let the boss down because there’s no one talking about what went on in Colombia other than this incident," the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, said.
Members of Congress alarmed by the scandalous conduct of the agents -- elite officers trained to anticipate and eliminate any threat to the U.S. president at home or abroad -- have vowed to hold hearings into whether the incident compromised national security.
The Secret Service has insisted Obama's security was not jeopardized by the incident, which occurred before the president's April 13 arrival in Colombia.
Based on reporting by dpa, "The New York Times" and the BBC