Yesterday, Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan testified in front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee about the agency’s prostitution scandal.
Sullivan called his agents’ behavior reckless and dumb, but argued that the scandal has nothing to do with the culture of the Secret Service.
On Starting Point this morning, Ronald Kessler, who broke the Colombian prostitution story, says that the problem in the Secret Service is "management laxness" and a management culture that condones security breaches that could "directly threaten the life of the president."
Kessler says that Secret Service agents see management “cutting corners,” so they figure that they can do the same.
“The real story is that this is a disaster waiting to happen,” Kessler says.
Four Secret Service agents who were dismissed during the prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia are fighting back, saying they are being used as scapegoats to cover up a culture that’s been tolerated for a long time.
Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan will be testifying in front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee about the scandal for the first time today.
On Starting Point this morning, Sen. Ron Johnson calls the Secret Service misconduct a "sad revelation" and says that he's interested in finding out how pervasive this type of behavior is at today's hearing.
While Johnson says that Sullivan seems to genuinely want to get to the bottom of the situation, he asserts that it's important to determine whether or not the scandal is in fact part of a larger, accepted culture in one of the government's most respected agencies.
In a 'TODAY' show exclusive, escort Dania Londono calls Secret Service agents in the Colombia scandal 'stupid brutes.'
Lots of questions this morning about the purpose of President Obama's surprise trip to Afghanistan. Right after Air Force One went wheels up, the Taliban exploded a car bomb in Kabul that killed seven people. That was a fairly tough reminder that there's a long way to go in Afghanistan.
The new agreement between President Obama and the Afghan President Hamid Karzai is called the strategic partnership agreement that promises American support for Afghanistan through 2024, 10 years after the last American combat forces are scheduled to leave the country.
Some felt the speech fell a little short, including "The New York Times" in an editorial this morning. They wrote the speech was frustratingly short on specifics.
This morning on "Starting Point," Soledad talks with Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Peter King (R-NY). She asked him if President Obama made the right case in his speech, and what our purpose in Afghanistan should be.
"I think it's important to know, for instance, will the U.S. have the right to go from Afghanistan into Pakistan to launch drone attacks for instance? Or if we see al Qaeda operations forming in Pakistan, do we have the right to preempt them? That to me is very important," King says.
"Otherwise, I believe you could see al Qaeda forming right outside of the Afghanistan border and whatever troops we have left in Afghanistan in 2014, 2015, 2016, will not be adequate to match up against them. So, that's one issue."
Soledad also asks him to respond to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly's claim from her interview that 14 different plots against New York City have been thwarted since 9/11.
"I think it's largely because of the infrastructure, the international anti-terrorism infrastructure that was put in place after 9/11 by President Bush. There's much more cooperation with our allies. We have the Patriot Act. We have many layers of defense. And quite frankly, I agree with Jose Rodriguez. I think a lot of the information that we obtained from Guantanamo and from the interrogations was extremely helpful in stopping attacks against this country," King says.
King also says he thinks the investigation into the Secret Service scandal in Colombia has been very thorough.
"In a way the Secret Service has ducked a bullet. What happened here really goes against all of the principles of the Secret Service because it was disclosed and there was no long-term security matter involved here, it gives the Secret Service the opportunity to clear up what has happened and do all accounts to make sure it never happens again, or at least minimizes it, to make it very difficult for that to happen again and get the signal out there to all Secret Service members that this conduct will not be tolerated.
See more from the interview below.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) says anti-terror policies and enhanced interrogation helped thwart further attacks in the U.S.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) says he thinks the investigation into the Secret Service scandal has been very thorough.
Carol Leonnig, investigative reporter for The Washington Post, discusses her recent report that states that some Secret Service agents accused of misconduct in the prostitution scandal are "privately contending that their conduct didn't warrant dismissal because senior managers tolerated similar behavior during official trips."
This morning, 11 Secret Service agents have had their security clearances yanked after allegations that they brought prostitutes back to their hotel in Colombia last week, one day before President Obama arrived for the Summit of the Americas.
This rendezvous, which also involves at least 10 military personnel, went sour when an agent allegedly refused to pay one of the women.
According to the Washington Post, Secret Service agents allegedly paid $60 for prostitutes at a strip club, and the dispute began over an additional $170 fee. While prostitution is legal in parts of Colombia, it is still considered a breach of the agency's code of conduct. New York Congressman Peter King tells CNN's Wolf Blitzer this a dangerous offense.
Dan Bongino, former secret service agent serving under three presidential administrations and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland, explains the strains that Secret Service agents face on the job. He says he's not excusing these particular agents' behavior, but goes on to explain the stress of working in the service.