Joint Chiefs chairman on Colombia scandal: ‘We let the boss down’

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said Monday the U.S. military was “embarrassed” that U.S. service members are involved in the Colombian Secret Service scandal.

“We let the boss down,” Dempsey said at a Pentagon press conference Monday.

While Dempsey said the Defense Department still doesn’t know exactly what occurred in Colombia, he said that the incident — in which 11 Secret Service agents have been placed on leave  — distracted from the substance of President Obama’s trip to Colombia. Five U.S. service members were also involved in the incident.

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“Several of our members distracted the issue from what was a very important regional engagement for our president,” Dempsey said. “Nobody is talking about what went on in Colombia other than this incident.”

Eleven Secret Service agents who were in Colombia ahead of Obama’s trip were sent home on Saturday over allegations of involvement with prostitutes, and the Pentagon said five service members are also suspected of being tied to the misconduct.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he didn’t want to prejudge what had happened in Colombia, but said the Defense Department is launching a full investigation.

“Obviously if violations are determined then individuals will be held accountable,” Panetta said Monday.

Obama said at a news conference in Colombia Sunday that he expects a rigorous and thorough investigation of the allegations.

"If it turns out that some of the allegations that have been made in the press are confirmed, then of course I'll be angry," Obama said.