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President Barack Obama surrounded by Secret Service agents walks away after a visit to the Port of Tampa on April 13, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. The president, on his way to the Summit of the Americas in Colombia, used the visit to emphasize small business trade with countries in Latin America.
A dozen Secret Service agents tasked with providing security for President Obama at a summit in Colombia have been sent home for alleged misconduct involving prostitution, The Washington Post reports.
The allegations related to at least one agent's involvement with prostitutes, Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, told The Post. When Adler spoke with The Associated Press later, he said that though he had heard there were prostitution allegations, "he had no specific knowledge of any wrongdoing."
Former Washington Post reporter and author Ronald Kessler was more specific, however. "One of the agents did not pay one of the prostitutes, and she complained to the police," as CNN quotes him:
"Calling it 'clearly the biggest scandal in Secret Service history,' Kessler said the 12 agents are accused of involvement in the incident 'in one degree or another,' from allegedly interfering in the investigation to participating in other alleged misconduct.
"Kessler did not identify to CNN who provided him with details of the investigation."
All 12 agents have been replaced, and the Secret Service says its security plan for the two-day Summit of the Americas has not been compromised, NPR's Scott Horsley tells our Newscast unit. President Obama arrived for the summit in Cartagena, Colombia, on Friday.
It was Kessler who alerted The Post to the incident, the paper says. He told the Post that while soliciting prostitution is legal in certain parts of Colombia, the Secret Service considers it inappropriate.
Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told the AP that activity that prompted the allegations preceded the president's arrival.
Politico has more on the role of Secret Service agents:
"Whenever the president travels, a contingent of agents precedes him to map out routes, check venues and assure that Obama can be guarded appropriately. The 'advance team' can be composed of dozens of agents who perform all manner of roles, from IT specialists to threat and munitions detection."
The summit, which includes more than 30 leaders, already laid out some challenges for Obama.
"The most delicate issues include the U.S. war on drugs and U.S. policy toward Cuba," NPR's Juan Forero tells the Newscast unit.
Forero reported on the debate about the drug war for All Things Considered Friday.
As the AP reports, the Secret Service recall could make things even more difficult:
"The incident threatened to overshadow Obama's economic and trade agenda at the summit and embarrass the U.S."
The White House had no comment for the AP.