Military embarrassed by Colombia scandal
Monday, April 16, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. military officer said Monday the nation’s military leadership is embarrassed by allegations of misconduct against several U.S. military members at a Colombia hotel on the eve of President Barack Obama’s weekend visit.
“We let the boss down,” Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon news conference. He said he regretted that the scandal, which also involved 11 Secret Service agents accused of cavorting with prostitutes at the hotel, diverted attention from Obama’s diplomacy at a Latin America summit.
“I can speak for myself and my fellow chiefs: We’re embarrassed by what occurred in Colombia, though we’re not sure exactly what it is,” Dempsey added.
Pentagon officials said earlier Monday that the number of military members involved in the scandal may be greater than the five originally cited.
Pentagon press secretary George Little said that he could not provide a specific number, but that military members who are being investigated were assigned to support the Secret Service in preparation for Obama’s official visit to Cartagena. He said they were not directly involved in presidential security.
“We believe that there may be more than five involved in this incident,” Little said.
The Secret Service sent 11 of its agents home from Colombia amid allegations that they had hired prostitutes at a Cartagena hotel. The military members being investigated were staying at the same hotel, Little said.
The U.S. Southern Command had announced on Saturday that five service members assigned to the presidential mission in Colombia had violated curfew and may have been involved in “inappropriate conduct.”
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