Obama: Reported details of prostitution scandal fall short of Secret Service standards
Published April 15, 2012
President Obama, in his first public remarks on the prostitution scandal involving members of the Secret Service, said Sunday that he will be "angry" if the reported allegations against the agents turn out to be true. He said Secret Service personnel, like the rest of any U.S. delegation abroad, must "observe the highest standards."
"We're here on behalf of our people and that means that we conduct ourselves with the utmost dignity and probity. And obviously what's been reported doesn't match up with those standards," Obama said, on the closing day of his visit to Colombia.
The president, though, said he would wait until the internal investigation is complete before rendering a judgment. He said he expects the probe to be "thorough" and "rigorous" -- and that if the allegations turn out to be true, "then of course I'll be angry."
The president addressed the controversy during a joint press conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. Allegations that a Secret Service unit interacted with prostitutes in Colombia ahead of Obama's visit have overshadowed a trip that was supposed to focus on trade and other pressing issues between the U.S. and its Latin American ally.
Eleven agents accused of misconduct were recalled from their assignment and have since been placed on administrative leave.
Obama cast the incident as isolated, and praised the Secret Service as a whole.
"These men and women perform extraordinary service on a day-to-day basis protecting me, my family, U.S. officials," he said. "They do very hard work under very stressful circumstances and almost invariably do an outstanding job."
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, took a similar position - praising the way the agency's probe has been conducted and voicing confidence in Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan.
King called the incident an "aberration."