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(WASHINGTON) — As the Secret Service scandal grows, President Obama still has confidence in Director Mark Sullivan, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday.

“The president has confidence in the director of the Secret Service. Director Sullivan acted quickly in response to this incident and is overseeing an investigation as we speak into the matter,” Carney said.

“The Secret Service performs admirably in its number one mission, which is to protect the president of the United States, to protect the family of the president, to protect those who travel with him or her,” he continued. “And the president, as he said in Cartagena, feels very strongly that the work the Secret Service does, the men and women who protect him and his family and those of us who work with him, is exemplary as a rule.”

Obama is receiving regular updates on investigators’ progress, Carney said, but is “not being updated on the process itself or day-by-day information gleaned.”

The prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Columbia involved about 11 U.S. Secret Service employees when “twenty or twenty-one women foreign nationals were brought to the hotel,” about nine of whom were allegedly involved with Marines, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said in a written statement Tuesday.

Collins’ knowledge of the incident comes from a 30-minute briefing she said she received Monday night from Sullivan about the accusations of misconduct in Cartagena, before President Obama arrived there Friday to attend a conference.

“Director Sullivan is rightly appalled by the agents’ actions and is pursuing a vigorous internal investigation,” Collins said.  “He ordered all the agents to return to Washington immediately, and all have been interviewed.”

Collins is the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security and is the Senate’s chief oversight committee. She said she raised the following questions at the briefing:

“1. Who were these women?  Could they have been members of groups hostile to the United States?  Could they have planted bugs, disabled weapons, or in any others jeopardized security of the president or our country?

“2. Is there any evidence of previous misconduct by these or any other agents on other missions?

“3. Given the number of agents involve, does this indicate a problem with the culture of the Secret Service?”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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