Investigators probing the Secret Service prostitute scandal are looking into whether any of the girls involved were underage, Ronald Kessler, the journalist who broke the story, tells Newsmax.TV exclusively.
Kessler warned that more scandalous details of the Colombian cavorting are still to come, including the age of the prostitutes.
Kessler, Newsmax’s chief Washington correspondent, broke the story of the scandal over the weekend. The details have since been confirmed by the Secret Service, and President Barack Obama has called for an investigation.
Newsmax chief Washington correspondent Ronald Kessler broke the story of the Secret Service scandal. Read his best-selling book, “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect.
Up to a dozen agents were sent home from Cartagena, Colombia, where the president was attending the Summit of the Americas.
Kessler, whose reporting partly led to the dismissal of FBI Director William Sessions in 1993, said Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan also needs to be fired, especially as this is the second major scandal he has presided over. He was also in charge when three intruders wormed their way past security to attend a 2009 White House dinner in honor of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“These are not just little errors,” Kessler said, adding that consorting with prostitutes could easily lead to blackmail, which could put the president at risk.
Meanwhile, NBC News reported Monday that a law enforcement source told the network that all Secret Service personnel had been given copies of Obama’s schedule, which they were told to lock in their hotel room safe — raising the possibility of a security breach. The source spoke on condition of anonymity.
Kessler believes that Sullivan, who has been in charge of the service since 2006, has presided over corner-cutting and a general atmosphere of laxness.
He says the Singh dinner, when Tareq and Michaele Salahi and Carlos Allen got through security, was, until now, the biggest scandal the service has faced.
“Most of the agents are dedicated and brave,” he said. “They’ll take a bullet for the president.
“They don’t go ’round going to bars and partying – they don’t even have time to, and that’s part of the problem. They’re so overworked because there are not enough agents, that they don’t have time to have a real life.”
Kessler’s best-selling book on the Secret Service, one of a series in which he has chronicled the nation’s spy and security services over the course of a decades-long career, hit the New York Times best sellers’ list in 2010. He has since written “The Secrets of the FBI.”
He blamed pressure from politicians, campaign staff and even some of the people whom they protect, citing former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter, Mary, as a prime example.
“She would demand that her agents take her friends to restaurants. They’re not taxi drivers and they refused, as they should. But she threw a fit and because of that, she got her detail leader removed.
“The management, instead of backing the guy who is doing his job, doesn’t support him, and, of course, that sends a message to all agents – cheat, no need to enforce security, we might get in trouble if we do. That is part of the culture that I’m talking about.”
Kessler said the fact that the agents involved in Colombia were not part of the president’s protection detail is of little comfort. “Any agent could give access to an individual,” he said.
“Some of these agents were going to be involved in the actual protection of the president, others were on the counter-sniper team or the counter-assault team, but any of them has access to all the information that would be needed to gain access to the president.”
He said the prostitutes could have blackmailed the men and that could have led to a foreign power such as Russia being able to plant bugging devices in presidential limousines or even the White House.
“This is the way things work,” said Kessler. “It doesn’t have to be something that is carried out right away. It could be carried out six months later. But that’s why you have requirements that they conduct themselves appropriately and when someone wants top-secret clearance, they never get into a compromised position.”
He said it is possible that there could even be an upside to the whole scandal.
“If it leads to reform of the Secret Service, it would be a plus, but I doubt that will happen. I’m afraid that it will take another assassination before the proper steps are taken to reform the Secret Service.”
Kessler said he has no doubt that the agents involved will lose their jobs.
“They will be fired, and there is no question that that is the proper punishment,” he added. “To embarrass the president like this and to put themselves in jeopardy of being blackmailed is so over the line.”