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- Thursday, April 26, 2012 - From Print Edition


WASHINGTON: Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano told US lawmakers on Wednesday that she and President Barack Obama had "full confidence" in the Secret Service director and pledged a thorough investigation into the scandal.


"We will leave no stone unturned," she told a Senate hearing on the activities of the Homeland Secretary Department, which oversees the Secret Service, led by Mark Sullivan.


"Director Sullivan has the president's and my full confidence as this investigation proceeds," Napolitano said.


A panel of senators grilled her on the misconduct by agents who are reported to have brought prostitutes back to their hotel in Cartagena, Colombia while preparing for President Barack Obama's attendance at a summit of the Americas.


Eight Secret Service agents have been dismissed so far. "The Secret Service is moving to permanently revoke the security clearance of another, and three of the employees involved have been cleared of serious misconduct," Napolitano said.


But she stressed that "the allegations are inexcusable, and we take them very seriously."


Senator Patrick Leahy, who chairs the committee that oversees the Homeland Security Department, said utmost rigor was needed to ensure the protection of top American officials, including the president and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.