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Panel reviews 'sordid story' of Secret Service scandal

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on May 23 heard testimony from top U.S. government officials concerning the investigation of the Colombian prostitution scandal.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on May 23 heard testimony from top U.S. government officials as part of  its examination of the Secret Service prostitution scandal.

Now that the world knows the “sordid story,” Committee Chairmen Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) noted, the next task is to “learn the truth – as best we can – not to diminish the U.S. Secret Service, but to restore its credibility …”

Beyond collecting facts on what happened after 11 members of the Secret Service arrived in Cartagena, Colombia, the morning of April 11 — the panel also is looking for any warning signs of potential misconduct among traveling agents in the years before the April incident, and examining reforms the Secret Service can put into place to prevent future occurrences.

The committee heard testimony from Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, as well as from Department of Homeland Security Acting Inspector General Charles Edwards, who provided an update on his office’s three-phase effort to review and monitor the Secret service’s investigation of the incident.

The IG said a report on his office’s first-phase findings — which includes interviews from nearly 200 Secret Service employees and 25 hotel staff — is slated to be complete by July 2.

“Immediately after we issue that report, we will begin phase two of our review, during which we will determine whether certain workplace conditions and issues have promoted a culture within the Secret Service that could have contributed to the Cartagena incident,” Edwards told the panel. Edwards also credited the Secret Service for its transparency during the investigation, and noted his regard for the service's efforts to address the situation.

The third phase of the review -- which Edwards said likely will be conducted concurrent with the second phase -- will involve reexamination of a 2003 memorandum of understanding between the Secret Service and the OIG to determine whether any changes are necessary.


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