Senator wants 'open and transparent' White House review of Colombia incident

Liz Lynch/National Journal file photo

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is satisfied with the Secret Service response to his inquiries about alleged misconduct of Secret Service agents in Colombia, but wants a better response from the White House.

In an April 20 letter to Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan and Inspector General Charles Edwards, Grassley asked about additional details concerning overnight visitors and the involvement of White House communications and advance staff. Grassley has been one of the most outspoken lawmakers on the issue, which implicated 12 Secret Service members and 12 military service members in alleged misconduct during their stay in advance of President Obama's visit to Cartagena, Colombia last month. Just last week, Grassley said on CBS's This Morning he expects officials to be held accountable, and called for an independent investigation into the proceedings.

"You know nothing's changed in Washington if heads don't roll," he said.

Sullivan's May 1 answer to Grassley's letter said that, as far as the agency was aware, the agents involved had not leaked sensitive information.  Grassley released a redacted version of Sullivan's response today.

"The Secret Service has no information to suggest that sensitive information was compromised during the Colombia trip," it says, but cautions that "we would defer to the Department of  
Defense and the White House on matters related to their respective personnel."

The letter also reveals that the investigation, still under way, found that only one of the officers had an overnight guest -- a significant detail, as Grassley and other lawmakers have raised the possibility of overnight guests potentially drawing sensitive information out of agents and compromising the president's security.

Sullivan has briefed lawmakers on the ongoing investigation over the past few weeks, and Grassley said in a statement that he "appreciate[s] the Secret Service's transparency in response to Congress." But as Sullivan was unable to answer most of his questions surrounding White House personnel, Grassley said he was still hoping for more information from the White House.

"Since the Secret Service did not request the records of the White House personnel, an open and transparent response from the President's Counsel is even more imperative," he said.  "Unfortunately, more than a week after my inquiry, I've yet to hear from anybody at the White House."

An internal investigation at the White House revealed, according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, "no indication of any inappropriate behavior or misconduct" by White House staff.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.