Obama criticises 'knucklehead' sex scandal agents

Hotel Caribe, Cartagena, Colombia 15 April 2012 Military personnel and Secret Service agents were staying in the beachfront Hotel Caribe

Related Stories

The US president has described US Secret Service agents caught up in the Colombia sex scandal as "knuckleheads".

Speaking at a recording of an NBC chat show Mr Obama said the vast majority of Secret Service agents performed their duties with no hint of controversy.

He described the country's Secret Service agents as "incredible".

A total of eight agents have resigned after being involved in a night with alleged prostitutes while working in Colombia for a pan-American summit.

Two other agents will face administrative action after being cleared of serious misconduct and one has had security clearance revoked.

'Will not hesitate'

"These guys are incredible. They protect me. They protect Michelle. They protect the girls. They protect our officials all around the world," Mr Obama said while recording the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon television show.

"A couple of knuckleheads shouldn't detract from what they do. What these guys were thinking, I don't know. That's why they're not there any more."

Start Quote

The Secret Service... will not hesitate to take appropriate action should any additional information come to light”

End Quote US Secret Service

In a statement, the US Secret Service said the latest measures meant that all 12 of the agents involved in the night out in Cartagena, Colombia, had now been disciplined.

"At this point, all 12 have either been cleared of serious misconduct, resigned, retired, been notified of personnel actions to permanently revoke their security clearances, or have been proposed for permanent removal for cause," the agency said.

"The Secret Service is committed to conducting a full, thorough and fair investigation in this matter, and will not hesitate to take appropriate action should any additional information come to light."

As well as the Secret Service men, who were in Colombia as part of an advance team preparing for Mr Obama's visit to the Summit of the Americas, 12 members of the US military are also under investigation.

The White House has probed the actions of its own team in Cartagena and concluded that its own staff were not involved in the night of debauchery.

Twenty women believed to be prostitutes were discovered with American agents or troops at the beachfront Hotel Caribe after one of the men allegedly refused to pay a previously agreed price for sex, sparking a row.

On Tuesday, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said that three US marines and a state department employee had also been punished after an incident involving a Brazilian prostitute in Brazil.

"Those who have been involved are no longer in this country and were severely punished," Mr Panetta said while on a visit to Brasilia.

The woman alleged that in December she broke her collar bone after being pushed from a car by the group of Americans with whom she had left a Brasilia nightclub after a dispute over payment.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More US & Canada stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.