Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said today he has deep concerns about the competence and integrity of the Secret Service.
The questions arise as President Obama will visit Iowa City tomorrow, while the nation’s First Lady is scheduled to be in Des Moines today.
In light of the recent sex scandal involving agents on a presidential detail, Grassley said he’s not 100% confident the first family – or national security – is safe. “For the first time in 150 years of the Secret Service and my years in Congress, I’d have to say that I can now have doubt,” Grassley said this morning during a telephone conference call with reporters.
About a dozen agents are being disciplined and several have already left the agency after allegations arose that a Secret Service advance team in Columbia was caught with a number of prostitutes. At least two Congressional panels are launching investigations, including the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Grassley is the ranking Republican.
“The issue here isn’t just people messin’ around with prostitutes,” Grassley said. “The issue is the security of the president of the United States and the issue is any national security implications that it might have because of the secrecy and the documents and things of that nature.”
Tomorrow, Grassley will take part in a Washington, D.C. hearing that will include the Secretary of Homeland Security who will be asked questions about the Columbia incident. According to Grassley, there’s a question of whether this is an ethical/moral issue or an act of espionage.
“We’re looking at something that is very, very serious when national security might not be protected properly,” Grassley said. “Who knows who might be using prostitutes? The Russians are famous for that to get information out of us. You want to know that the president is protected.”
Over the years, Grassley has spearheaded several investigations of federal agencies, including the FBI and the FDA. “You find a lot of problems come from a culture within the agency,” Grassley said. “Now, I don’t think the Secret Service would have that sort of a culture but this may be the tip of an iceberg.”
Grassley is asking the White House Counsel for details regarding the “quick weekend internal investigation” about any White House personnel being involved in the Colombia prostitution scandal. The internal review reportedly found no indication of any misconduct by the White House advance staff.
Audio of Grassley discusses Secret Service scandal. 3:30