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Prostitution scandal claims more US Secret Service agents

United States America,Defence/Security, Wed, 25 Apr 2012 IANS

Washington, April 25 (IANS) The US Secret Service Tuesday announced the fate of five remaining agents implicated in a scandal involving agency personnel and prostitutes during a presidential visit to Colombia. Two of the agents have decided to quit.


According to a statement from the agency's assistant director Paul Morrissey, two of the agents have chosen to resign, while two others have been cleared of misconduct and will face appropriate administrative action, reported Xinhua.


Morrissey said one other agent had his security clearance stripped, and can now appeal that decision. If the appeal is unsuccessful, he will lose his job because all agency personnel must have a security clearance.


Eleven agents were alleged to have engaged in misconduct in Cartagena, where President Barack Obama attended a weekend summit of American countries.


According to US media reports, the allegations involved prostitutes before Obama's arrival April 13.


Six of the implicated agents were forced to leave last week in the wake of an internal investigation into the scandal.


In addition to Secret Service agents, a dozen military personnel were also implicated in the scandal and are being investigated.


Leon Panetta, the US defense secretary currently visiting Brazil, told reporters that in an unrelated incident, three Marines on a US embassy security team and one embassy staff member were punished for allegedly pushing a prostitute out of a car in Brasilia late last year after a dispute over payment.


Obama Tuesday called the Secret Service agents caught in the prostitution scandal "a couple of knuckleheads" who did not reflect the overall professionalism of the agency, during the taping of an appearance for Jimmy Fallon's late night show on NBC, according to the White House.


"The Secret Service", Obama told Fallon on the campus of the University of North Carolina before heading for Colorado, "they protect me, they protect our girls. A couple of knuckleheads shouldn't detract from what they do. What they were thinking, I don't know. That's why they're not there anymore."


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