Panetta: Military security clearances suspended

Apr 23, 2012, 6:25 PM

Associated Press

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (AP) – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the Defense Department has suspended the security clearance of military members under investigation for possible roles in the Secret Service sex scandal that took place in Colombia earlier this month.

And in Washington, a senior defense official said Monday that another U.S. military member is under investigation, raising to 12 the number of service members being questioned about allegations of soliciting prostitutes in Colombia. The defense official discussed the additional person Monday on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still unfolding.

The senior defense official said the additional person is a male enlisted service member and is assigned to the White House Communications Agency, which provides the president with secure communications. The official had no additional details.

President Barack Obama’s chief spokesman, press secretary Jay Carney, went to lengths to say that agency “is staffed entirely by military personnel, not by White House staff.”

Panetta told reporters Monday about the disciplinary action against the service members first embroiled in the scandal en route to Colombia, where he was making a long-scheduled visit to meet with defense officials there. It was not clear how many of the service members had security clearances.

“My biggest concern is the issue of security and what could possibly have been jeopardized by virtue of this kind of behavior,” Panetta said.

___

AP National Security Writer Robert Burns contributed to this report from Washington.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Panetta: Military security clearances suspended