A 12th military official is now under investigation in the Cartagena, Colombia prostitution scandal. NBC's Kristen Welker reports.
The Secret Service scandal involving members of President Barack Obama's security contingent consorting with prostitutes widened on Monday amid several parallel investigations.
NBC News learned that another military member is now implicated in the incident, bringing the number of Defense Department staff who are under investigation to 12.
Six Secret Service employees have already lost their jobs and others are suspended as a result of a night out in Cartagena in which agents and other security personnel partied with prostitutes before President Obama's arrival on April 14 to attend the Summit of the Americas. Twelve Secret Service members are implicated in addition to the 12 military members.
"I think we can expect in the next day or so to see several more agents being forced to leave the agency," Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said Monday, speaking on NBC's "Today" show. King is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, which oversees the Secret Service program.
The 12th person, attached to the White House Communications Agency, has been relieved of his duties pending the outcome of an investigation, according to a U.S. defense official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The Secret Service has launched an internal probe — interviewing prostitutes, hotel personnel and others in cooperation with the Colombian police.
The Secret Service agents under scrutiny have been tested for drugs and those tests came back negative, NBC reported on Monday citing a source close to the investigation. This source said the polygraph tests were very helpful in the investigation and may have helped clear the one Secret Service employee last week.
In a letter to Mark Sullivan, director of the Secret Service, King demanded written responses by week’s end to 50 questions about agents’ alleged drinking and mingling with prostitutes on the eve of Obama’s trip.
King said his committee also had a parallel investigation under way.
He said the most important question was whether "any of those foreign nationals (prostitutes) had access at any time to any data or information that could have compromised the president of the United States or made an enemy force aware of the practices and procedures of the Secret Service."
King also said he wanted to find out whether the incident was part of a pattern. "Was it an aberration — something that happens once every 1,000 times — or something that is condoned?" King asked.
Meanwhile Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, speaking to reporters en route to Colombia for meetings with defense officials, said the Defense Department has suspended the security clearance of military members who are being investigated in the incident, the AP reported.
"My biggest concern is the issue of security and what could possibly have been jeopardized by virtue of this kind of behavior," Panetta told AP.
U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, which oversees the Secret Service, weighs in on the Secret Service sex scandal, which has already resulted in six agents leaving the agency.
The White House also did an investigation to find out if any of its advance staff were involved in improprieties, but said Monday that they found no evidence that these personnel were involved, and said it was merely doing "due diligence."
Reuters contributed to this report.
More content from msnbc.com and NBC News:
- Zimmerman released on bail in Martin shooting case
- Five big questions as the John Edwards trial starts
- $60 light bulb cut for Earth Day — to $25
- Triple digit temps in Southwest — in April!
- Tsunami sign: Soccer ball washes ashore in Alaska