A major overhaul of the Secret Service working environment is in the works, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) told CNN's Erin Burnett on Friday.
Jackson Lee says Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan has given her details of a few large-scale changes being planned.
"The agency will be saying right now no foreign nationals will be allowed in your room, it will be absolutely illegal, in terms of your job, for you to, in essence, attend or be associated with any place of bad acts. And then, finally, a professional development officer or personnel officer will is going to go on every trip that the agents take out of the country," Rep. Jackson Lee said.
"Right now Director Sullivan will be implementing, as we speak, a working group that is going to deal with this issue of culture." Jackson Lee added the agency was also looking into recruitment, specifically targeting women for positions in the service.
Cultural issues in the agency came under fire this month after an advance team of Secret Service agents and military personnel in Cartagena, Colombia allegedly attended strip clubs and brothels and invited prostitutes back to their hotel rooms. Eight agents have retired or been fired since the incident.
The information presented Friday by Rep. Jackson Lee comes as the agency is expanding its probe into allegations of misconduct by agents ahead of presidential trip to El Salvador last year. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) told reporters Sullivan updated him this week, saying "he had not found anything credible, but he's still looking into it."
State Department Spokesman Toria Nuland confirmed the embassy in El Salvador is looking into any misconduct by its own staff, adding the Secret Service's current code states its members cannot engage in "notoriously disgraceful conduct" under the Foreign Affairs Manual. "So the degree to which any employee requires investigation, that's the standard that they're held to," she stated. If the alleged behavior is proved true and frequent, the problem is more of implementation of existing code.
Anger over these incidents has been bipartisan and widespread. Several Congresspeople believe an investigation into agency culture need to happen outside of the agency itself. Rep. Lieberman (I-CT) has called for hearings, saying this behavior is endemic and typical to agency culture.
Meanwhile, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said he believes the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General can handle the investigation, as long as he remains independent from the agency and the executive branch.
"You know nothing's changed in Washington if heads don't roll," he said.
by RTT Staff Writer
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