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Secret Service sex scandal: Congressional members call for wider probe, more female agents

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People walk past Hotel El Caribe in Cartagena, Colombia, April 14, 2012. (Fernando Vergara/AP)

As you would expect, the Secret Service sex scandal was a big topic of discussion on the Sunday morning talk shows, where several members of Congress called for a broader probe in the wake of prostitution allegations that have rocked the agency.

Rep. Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, told "Meet The Press" that "anyone who is found to be guilty" of misconduct ahead of President Obama's trip to Colombia last weekend will be fired.

"As you know, there was one of [the 12 Secret Service members who] has been partially exonerated and he will probably not be terminated--we will face administrative action," King said. "But I would expect within a very near future to have several other Secret Service agents leaving the agency."

Six Secret Service staffers have left in the wake of the escort scandal; the others have been placed on administrative leave, their security clearances revoked.

"There are many, many agents in Colombia interviewing the women involved, interviewing the hotel employees," King said. "There [are] hundreds of Colombian police assisting the Secret Service in this.  So it's going all out and from every indication I've seen from the moment this scandal broke until now, there's no attempt to cover anything over. Everything--every lead--possible lead is being examined."

On "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Joe Lieberman said his committee would be broadening its investigation of the Secret Service to determine whether there has been a pattern of misconduct within the agency.

"[We will be] asking whether this was an exception, or is there anything in the records that show this is a pattern of misconduct that has gone on elsewhere by Secret Service agents on assignment [or] off-duty?" Lieberman said. "What's the Secret Service going to do to make sure it never happens again?"

Lieberman said that while sensitive information could have been compromised while the agents were with the Colombian prostitutes, there is no evidence that was the case here.

Despite the scandal, both Lieberman and King expressed confidence in Secret Security director Mark Sullivan.

"Director Sullivan, from the moment this broke, has moved effectively and this investigation is going full speed ahead," King said, adding: "In the next day or so, I think you're going to see more Secret Service agents leaving."

Meanwhile, Obama campaign chief strategist David Axelrod said on CNN's "State of the Union" that he didn't think the problem within the agency was widespread.

"In any organization things can go wrong," Axelrod said. "I must say that in my experience the Secret Service has been completely professional, so impressive. I always felt like they were ... willing to do anything to protect the president and the people around the president."

But chances are there were previous instances of misconduct, Rep. Darrell Issa told "Meet The Press."

"Nobody believes that something with 11 or 12 people involved couldn't have happened before," Issa said. "The real point is will we have confidence that it'll never happen again, particularly foreign nationals having access to our men and women in, in, in the Secret Service. That's the important part that the director is working on.  Yes, these were prostitutes, which is awful and salacious, but they were also foreign nationals.

Sen. Susan Collins, ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney of the House Oversight Committee suggested having more female agents could help avoid such scandals.

On ABC's "This Week," Sen. Susan Collins, a ranking member of the Senate's Homeland Security Committee, wondered aloud whether more female agents within the Secret Service's ranks would deter such bad behavior.

"I can't help but wonder if there'd been more women as part of that detail if this ever would have happened," Collins said, calling for the agency to recruit more women and minorities.

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