Monday, April 23, 2012

Sometimes it takes a woman!

Secret Service agent in charge, Paula Reid, corralled randy agents in Columbia and sent a dozen home

Several other agents will be leaving Secret Service in the 'very near future," Representative Peter King says

By Alison Gendar
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Secret Service Agent Paula Reid (right) walks alongside President Bush's limousine after his inauguration January 20, 2001

IT WAS A woman — the highest-ranking black female in the Secret Service — who swooped in to “clean up” the debacle in Colombia after drunken agents hired a bunch of prostitutes, it was reported Sunday.


Paula Reid, considered a rising star in the largely white, male-dominated agency, was newly in charge of the South American region when she heard that an unpaid hooker was causing a kerfuffle at a hotel in Cartagena, The Washington Post reported.

Reid, who was staying in a different hotel in the Colombian seaside city, rounded up a dozen of her colleagues — including two who were in charge of supervising the rowdy group — and ordered them shipped back home.

“She really went in there and cleaned up the mess,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) said on ABC Sunday.

The Secret Service’s macho culture was getting extra scrutiny in the wake of the scandal.

“Where are the women?” questioned Maloney, who said only 11% of agents are women. “We probably need to diversify the Secret Service and have more minorities and more women.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) agreed. “I can’t help but wonder, if there had been more women as part of that detail, if this ever would have happened,” she said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said more Secret Service agents will join the six who have already been forced out.

“I would suspect within the very near future to have several other Secret Service agents leaving the agency,” King told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

Twelve secret service agents and 11 military personnel have been identified for allegedly having brought prostitutes back to their hotel rooms prior to President Obama’s arrival for a regional summit earlier this month.

King and Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, both told NBC that Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan was doing an admirable job getting to the bottom of the scandal, and still had their support.

But even with that endorsement, the lawmakers still have a laundry list of questions they want answered.

On Friday, King sent Sullivan a letter with 50 questions that he wants addressed, including a “minute-by-minute” breakdown of the actions of the agents and military personnel.

The congressman has also asked for a tally of how many times the agency has investigated agents for hiring prostitutes in the past five years — a question that gets at the heart of whether the shenanigans in Colombia were a one-time mega-blunder or a more common transgression for the famed agency.

Former Secret Service Director Ralph Basham said on “Face the Nation” Sunday that the Colombia sexcapades were an “aberration.”

“This sort of thing does not happen in the Secret Service,” he said.

But Collins wasn’t buying that. “It defies belief that this is just an aberration. There were too many people involved,” she told ABC.

To date, no evidence has surfaced that Obama’s security was compromised, or that the women involved were connected to any type of conspiracy targeting the Commander in Chief, King and others briefed on the investigation have said.

Nor has evidence come to light showing that any of the prostitutes were underage — contrary to a recent report.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman told Fox News Sunday that he wanted answers as to how agents could have thought they would get away with such egregious off-duty behavior while on an overseas assignment.

“They were not acting as Secret Service (agents), they were acting like a bunch of college students away on spring weekend,” Lieberman said.

agendar@nydailynews.com

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