Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on Thursday that based on what he knows, all 11 Secret Service agents involved in alleged misconduct in Colombia should be fired or resign.
"My attitude is when it gets to things like this, if heads don't roll, you're not going to get any change in the culture of the organization," Grassley said, although he admitted the investigation wasn't over and his position was based on preliminary briefings from Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan.
Eleven Secret Service agents and 10 U.S. military service members are under investigation for allegedly interacting with prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, while preparing for President Obama's recent visit there. The 11 agents were sent home and had their security clearances revoked, and as of Thursday, three have either resigned, retired or were fired from the agency. CNN is reporting that more resignations are expected.
Though prostitution is legal in Colombia, Grassley said that "all of this, as far as I'm concerned, is illegal," and "morally wrong and ethically wrong." But Grassley affirmed that the Secret Service is well-respected and will likely remain so if the investigation reveals the misconduct was confined to just the involved 11 agents, and is not an issue with the culture of the agency.
"But if this goes into the culture of the Secret Service, this will be a tremendous black cloud over the agency," he said.
He later added: "If this runs deeper in the organization than these 11, firing three or eight more, firing all 11, probably won't be enough."
The Judiciary Committee is expecting a briefing on the issue on Friday, and next Wednesday will likely address the incident during a hearing on oversight of the Department of Homeland Security, at which Secretary Janet Napolitano will testify.