Congress to probe sex parties for possible leaks of US drug agents’ secrets

21 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

CBS News: DEA Head Expected To Resign Following Prostitution Scandal.

Michele Leonhart is expected to resign her post as the chief of the US Drug Enforcement Administration amid a “sex party” scandal that has rocked the agency and caused the US government to doubt her leadership, the Associated Press reported. Agents working abroad took part in “sex parties” with prostitutes that were funded by the drug cartels they were meant to be battling, according to a Justice Department report. DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart had a rough outing in Congress last week, when she was questioned by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The DEA agents have denied knowing that the prostitutes were supplied by the cartels, but the department determined that “case files suggest they should have known the prostitutes in attendance were paid with cartel funds”.

In that hearing, Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and others were left aghast when Leonhart said she had no power to fire anyone related to the scandal, and failed to indicate that she even tried to fire the agents involved. “When we have bad apples who repeatedly do the same type of behavior, compromise our national security, then they need to lose their national security clearances, and they need to be fired,” Chaffetz said. Leonhart came under fire after an internal report said government money was used to pay prostitutes at a farewell party for a high-ranking DEA official in Colombia. The hearing came just a few weeks after an Inspector General report revealed the prostitution scandal, and said DEA agents routinely held “sex parties” down in Colombia. Excerpts of the report were released last week by the oversight panel, which is investigating questionable behavior highlighted in a March report by the Justice Department’s inspector general that examined sexual harassment and misconduct allegations from 2009 to 2012. The parties allegedly took place at the leased living quarters provided to the agents, meaning that laptops, phones and other devices that contained sensitive state materials could have been compromised.

At one specific “sex party” two DEA agents allegedly solicited prostitutes for a party bidding farewell to a senior DEA agent, the report said, adding that this party likely was paid for by operational funds. The report came after a separate 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia involving the Secret Service drew attention to questionable behavior by law enforcement officers while stationed overseas.

Leonhart, who was confirmed as DEA chief in 2010 after three years in an acting role, responded that civil service protections make it difficult to fire DEA agents. As administrator, she is powerless to step in during disciplinary proceedings and in some cases cannot even revoke an agent’s security clearance, Leonhart said. Mark Walker, R-N.C., said he was appalled at the actions identified in the Justice Department and DEA reports. “From what we’ve heard, this reflects a ‘spring break frat party’ mentality for the last 15 years at the DEA,” he said. Lawmakers from both parties said they were dumbfounded that Attorney General Eric Holder found it necessary to send a memo last week reminding department employees not to engage with prostitutes. Walker said he also was surprised at the memo — calling it “ludicrous” — but said the message from Holder did not specify how officials will be punished if they violate the directive.

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