Pentagon to brief lawmakers on Secret Service sex scandal

Defense Department officials will brief the heads of the Armed Services Committee on what role U.S. military officials played in the ongoing Secret Service sex scandal that has rocked the Pentagon and White House. 

The briefing with Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) and will be held Wednesday, DoD spokesman Capt. John Kirby told The Hill. The briefing on the incident was set up last Friday, Kirby said. 

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will not conduct the briefing, according to Senate aides. 

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Up to 12 American soldiers, along with members of the Secret Service, brought upwards of 20 prostitutes back to a hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, that was to be used for President Obama's state visit. 

On Tuesday, McCain slammed the department and Panetta for not briefing the committee sooner. 

“Secretary Panetta doesn’t, I think, sufficiently understand the role of the Armed Services Committee,” McCain said. 

Other committees overseeing the Secret Service have already been briefed by Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, according to McCain. 

Levin told reporters Tuesday he didn’t know why the Pentagon briefing hadn't occurred yet. 

One explanation was that the military members involved were in a “supporting role, versus a principal role” for the Secret Service protecting the president, he said. 

Lawmakers are hoping to get the full story on what exactly happened in Colombia. But one senator says that explanation won't be enough to quell congressional concerns. 

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee, plans to call congressional hearings into incident in the coming weeks. 

Lieberman's announcement comes a day after Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) pressed the White House for details of a recent review it conducted clearing administration staff of any misconduct in the run-up to the Colombia visit. 

“Declining to provide details of the internal review conducted [by the White House] contradicts that goal set by President Obama,” Grassley said in a letter to the White House on Monday.

That said, the upcoming hearings will not focus solely on agents' behavior in Colombia, Lieberman said. Rather, they will drill into the culture and environment inside the Secret Service and DOD that allowed the incident to happen, he told reporters Tuesday. 

"The focus will be what happened before" Colombia and what actions the White House could have taken then to prevent that kind of behavior, Lieberman said. 

The panel will also weigh in on what changes need to be made within the Secret Service to ensure something like the Colombia scandal does not happen again. 

Eleven Secret Service agents have been implicated in the prostitution incident alongside military personnel tied to the scandal. So far, six agents have resigned their posts as a result of the ongoing investigations. 

Lieberman said he fully expected more Secret Service officials to resign, due to their knowledge or involvement in the sex scandal. 

When asked when those resignations could take place, Lieberman shot back, "Well, it is only Tuesday."