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Scandal claims jobs of three US agents

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Three of the 11 US Secret Service employees who are being investigated for allegations of misconduct over an incident in Colombia that involved prostitutes, are leaving, the agency has said.

"Although the Secret Service's investigation into allegations of misconduct by its employees in Cartagena, Colombia, is in its early stages, and is still ongoing, three of the individuals involved will separate or are in the process of separating from the agency," said a statement on Wednesday from Paul Morrissey, the assistant director.

One "supervisory" employee will retire over the allegations that agents consorted with prostitutes, another has been told he will be sacked and a third "non-supervisory" employee has resigned, Morrissey said.

Morrissey said that the investigation into the alleged scandal was still at an early stage, and that eight other agents remained under investigation, in a process which included the use of polygraph lie detector technology.

Eleven agents and at least 10 military personnel are accused of bringing prostitutes to a hotel in the Colombian resort of Cartagena where President Barack Obama was attending a summit last weekend.

"We demand that all of our employees adhere to the highest professional and ethical standards and are committed to a full review of this matter," Morrissey said.

The remaining eight Secret Service employees continue to be on administrative leave with their security clearances
suspended.

'Foreign nationals'

Secret service has been investigating charges that the agents brought prostitutes back to their hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, last week.

It was said that the US agents and military personnel had been with at least 20 women in hotel rooms before President Barack Obama arrived in Colombia for a summit with Latin American leaders.

Secret service director Mark Sullivan, facing questions on Capitol Hill said the 11 secret service agents and 10 military personnel under investigation were telling different stories about who the women were.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, said on Tuesday that "20 or 21 women foreign nationals'' were brought to the hotel. Eleven of the Americans involved were Secret Service, she said, and "allegedly Marines were involved with the rest.''

The growing scandal has become an election-year embarrassment for Obama, who has said he would be angry if the allegations proved to be true.

Obama said on Sunday that he expected a "rigorous" investigation into the alleged misconduct.

"We are representing the people of the United States, and when we travel to another country, I expect us to observe the highest standards," he said.


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