‘More than 10' – Pentagon says prostitute scandal could be bigger than first thought
Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters on Monday that the US Department of Defense believes that even more members of the country’s military may be tied to the sex scandal that erupted over the weekend in Cartagena, Colombia.
Eleven members of the Secret Service were relieved of their duties after reports that they had visited prostitutes while on assignment in Colombia in recent days. The president’s personal security force was scouting locations to prepare for Obama’s upcoming trip when the news broke. In addition to those involved in the security of the president, however, early reports suggested that five US military personnel also at the sight were being investigated. On Monday, the Pentagon confirmed that that number may in fact be larger.
"We believe there may be more than five," Little told reporters early Monday in referring to the military’s role in the scandal. The spokesperson also confirmed that the military members in question were staying at the same hotel as those with the US Secret Service, but could not "tie particular individuals at this point to alleged prostitution."
"We are still putting together all the facts," added Army Col. Scott Malcolm, chief spokesman for U.S. Southern Command. Malcolm was organizing the team of military personnel that were assigned to support the Secret Service’s operation in Colombia . He would not comment on which brand of the Armed Forces the servicemen in question belonged to.
According to preliminary reports, an investigation was opened up into “inappropriate conduct” involving the military agents that were on the commander-in-chief’s mission in Colombia , although they were not directly involved in the president’s security. Those members of the military have not been specifically linked to prostitution, unlike the investigation dealing with the Secret Service, and are believed to — at this point — being probed for violating curfew and perhaps more. Although prostitution is legal in parts of Colombia , US President Barack Obama commented don the issue Sunday by saying, regardless of the laws abroad, representatives of the administration 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 added on Sunday from Colombia . The president was abroad to participate in the Summit of the Americas, which wrapped up this weekend.