WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said Sunday that he wants the investigation of the prostitution scandal that led 11 U.S. Secret Service agents to be returned home from Cartagena, Colombia, where they had been sent to provide protection for him, to be thorough and rigorous.
During a news conference yesterday at the conclusion of the Summit of the Americas, Obama made his first remarks about the scandal, saying he expects all agents to conduct themselves with "dignity and probity" and all U.S. personnel to "observe the highest standards" when serving abroad.
If the allegations that the men brought prostitutes to their hotel rooms on Wednesday prove to be true, Obama said, "then, of course, I'll be angry. . . . We're representing the people of the United States."
The Secret Service placed the men on administrative leave pending an internal investigation. The agents -- who were removed from Cartagena on Thursday and replaced with a new team shortly before Obama's arrival Friday -- were interviewed by the Office of Professional Responsibility, the agency's internal affairs unit.
Meanwhile, the Defense Department has ordered its own inquiry after determining that five of its personnel, who were staying at the same hotel as the Secret Service agents, violated curfew on Wednesday night. All of the U.S. personnel were part of the team preparing logistics and security for Obama's arrival.
The alleged misconduct came to light after one of the agents became involved in a dispute with a woman Thursday morning over a payment, and Colombian police reported the matter to the U.S. Embassy.
The controversy has overshadowed Obama's trip to the economic summit, at least in the United States, where the media have focused on the accusations of heavy drinking and womanizing.
At the joint news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Obama praised the Secret Service in general, emphasizing that the agency does "very hard work under very stressful circumstances. . . . I will wait until the full investigation."
Lawmakers were pressing for more details about the investigation.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday: "We think the number might be higher, and we're asking for the exact amount of all the people who, quote, were involved."
Issa did not elaborate on that statement, and his office did not respond to follow-up questions from The Washington Post.
Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said an attorney representing the 11 accused agents did not want to discuss the matter.