The Secret Service is moving fast to extinguish its prostitution scandal but an onslaught of lies, lawsuits, and investigations guarantee that the media frenzy isn't going anywhere. In short: The story has lots of loose ends.
This morning, former Secret Service Director Brian Stafford tells CBS News that the ouster of three agents last night less than a week after the scandal broke shows the agency is hellbent on putting out the media firestorm. "This attention is negative, and it's not good," he said. "The Secret Service wants to get it behind them probably more than anybody else does at this point." Unfortunately for the agency, a series of new threads are popping out of this giant yarn ball, and there's a lot that remains unresolved:
The lawsuits This morning, a Congressional aide tells Norah O'Donnell at CBS News that one of the ousted secret service agents plans to sue the agency for, what you would presume, is wrongful termination. It's not clear which agent is suing but, in a statement, the Secret Service said one agent is resigning, another intends to retire and the third has been "recommended for firing but will have an opportunity to appeal." Any one could plan on suing though you'd suspect that the retiree is the least likely. Either way, you can expect that litigation of this sort will protract the scandal.
The lies Like the high school football team getting busted on a trip to state finals, the agents are scrambling to cover their asses and the lies are beginning to be exposed. Immediately following the scandal, some agents said they had no idea the Colombian women were prostitutes and described the trysts as spontaneous. But this morning, Mary Bruce at ABC News reports that the party was pre-planned. "Secret Service officials planning a wild night of fun in Colombia did some of their own advanced work last week, booking a party space at the Hotel Caribe before heading out to the night clubs," hotel sources told her. "ABC has learned that, when booking the party space, the men told hotel staff that they anticipated roughly 30 people." Those guests were invited from Colombia's "Pley Club" brothel following a night of pricey whisky swilling. Now the agents are being forced to take lie detector tests to get at the truth.
The investigations In what might be the lengthiest process, a whole slew of congressional investigations are just getting underway. "It's certainly not over," said Rep. Peter King, chairman of committee that oversees the Secret Service. The AP's Alicia Caldwell reports that King assigned four congressional investigators to the case. "The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., sought details of the Secret Service investigation, including the disciplinary histories of the agents involved." Additionally, the "Secret Service's Office of Professional Responsibility, which handles that agency's internal affairs, is investigating, and the Homeland Security Department's inspector general also has been notified." One thing is clear, this story isn't over yet.