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El Salvador Secret Service Scandal Allegations Have 'No Basis'

By NICK PERRY 05/ 2/12 02:07 AM ET AP

El Salvador Secret Service
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, left, is greeted by New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key at parliament house in Wellington, New Zealand, Wednesday, May 2, 2012. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Mark Mitchell)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the Secret Service has found no basis to allegations its agents hired strippers and prostitutes in El Salvador last year.

The allegations were made by an anonymous source on a Seattle television station. They emerged after the service was embroiled in a prostitution scandal involving agents' conduct in Cartagena, Colombia, last month.

Napolitano, speaking with The Associated Press on Wednesday during a trip to New Zealand and Australia, said the service has found no basis to the El Salvador claims after interviewing some of the agents who were in that country at the time.

While the interviewing likely was to continue, she said, "to date, nobody has been able to substantiate that anonymous story."

Twelve agents and 12 other U.S. military personnel were implicated in the scandal in Cartagena, which involved a night of heavy drinking ahead of a visit by President Barack Obama. Some were accused of bringing prostitutes back to their hotel rooms.

Napolitano said she retains faith in Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan and doesn't believe there's a broader problem with the agency's culture.

"I must say, I'm very surprised by what happened in Colombia," she said. "We don't want it to happen again, and we don't want it to besmirch the reputation of the men and women of the Secret Service, who do an incredible job."

She said there were no other similar incidents reported to an oversight office over the past two-and-a-half years.

On her trip, Napolitano signed agreements between the U.S. and New Zealand. She said they will ensure the two countries increase intelligence-sharing on international criminal organizations, improve the flow of passengers and cargo between the two countries, and better identifying threats to air safety.

At the signing, Napolitano said there were emerging threats to airline security.

"There are a number of ways that our adversaries have explored getting explosives aboard airplanes," she said, including "actually implanting explosives inside an individual."

She said she wasn't aware of any evidence of a specific credible threat at the moment.

Earlier on HuffPost:

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  • Urinating On Corpses

    <em>This image made on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012, from an undated video posted on the Internet on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, purports to show men in U.S. Marine combat gear standing in a semi-circle over three bodies, urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters. (AP Photo) </em> In January, a video surfaced on YouTube that purportedly showed four U.S. Marines <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/11/marines-urinate-corpses-video-afghanistan_n_1200513.html" target="_hplink">urinating on the bodies</a> of three dead Taliban fighters. The Marine Corps launched an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/13/marines-urinating-on-taliban-identified_n_1204653.html" target="_hplink">internal investigation</a> in addition to the criminal probe started by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called the incident "utterly despicable." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/11/afghanistan-marines-urinating-video_n_1200324.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here.</a>

  • Nazi SS Symbol

    <em>This Sept. 2010 photo posted recently on the Titiusville, Fla.-based arms manufacturer Knight's Armament's Internet blog shows members of Charlie Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif. in Sangin, Helmand province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/knightarmco.com)</em> In February, a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/09/us-marines-nazi-ss_n_1265930.html" target="_hplink">photo of a U.S. scout sniper team </a>posing in front of a flag that bore a logo resembling the Nazi SS symbol surfaced. The <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16973868" target="_hplink">U.S. Marine Corps condemned the photograph</a>, but did not take any disciplinary action. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/09/us-marines-nazi-ss_n_1265930.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here.</a>

  • Quran Burning

    <em>Afghan demonstrators show copies of Quran books allegedly set alight by US soldiers, during a protest against Quran desecration at the gate of Bagram airbase on February 21, 2012, at Bagram about 60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Kabul. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)</em> In February, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/21/afghanistan-quran_n_1290098.html" target="_hplink">burning of Qurans</a> on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan ignited massive protests and resulted in <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/22/afghanistan-protests-turn-violent_n_1292935.html" target="_hplink">multiple deaths and injuries</a>. Senior Pentagon officials <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/24/quran-burning-apology_n_1299971.html" target="_hplink">apologized for the incident</a>, calling it an accident. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/21/afghanistan-quran_n_1290098.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here.</a>

  • Secret Service Prostitute Scandal

    <em>General view of the 'Pley Club' night club in Cartagena on April 18, 2012, where US Secret Service bodyguards would have hired a group of prostitutes earlier this month. (MANUEL PEDRAZA/AFP/Getty Images)</em> According to the Associated Press, U.S. Secret Services agents were sent home after allegedly bringing back <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/19/secret-service-prostitute-scandal-sex-cartagena-colombia_n_1437845.html" target="_hplink">prostitutes to their hotel</a> in Cartagena, Colombia. The officers were in the Colombian city preparing for a visit by President Barack Obama for the Summit of the Americas. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/19/secret-service-prostitute-scandal-sex-cartagena-colombia_n_1437845.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here. </a>

  • Secret Service Scandal Deepens

    <em>General view of the Hotel Caribe in Cartagena, Colombia on April 19, 2012, where US Secret Service agents stayed earlier this month and would have taken hired prostitutes. (MANUEL PEDRAZA/AFP/Getty Images)</em> The Cartagena <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/15/secret-service-prostitution-summit-of-americas_n_1426744.html" target="_hplink">sex scandal deepened</a> as 11 agents were placed on leave for misconduct. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/15/secret-service-prostitution-summit-of-americas_n_1426744.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here.</a>

  • Civilian Massacre

    <em>In this Sunday, March 11, 2012, file photo, Anar Gul gestures to the body of her grandchild, who was allegedly killed by a U.S. service member in Panjwai, Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan, File)</em> In March, U.S. Staff Army Sgt. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/29/robert-bales-lawyer-smell-human-bodies_n_1387719.html" target="_hplink">Robert Bales allegedly massacred Afghan villagers</a> while they slept, the AP reports. He has been charged with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/robert-bales-to-be-charged-17-counts-of-murder_n_1373983.html" target="_hplink">17 counts of premeditated murder</a>, as well as a number of other offenses, the AP added in a separate story. Nine of his victims were children. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/robert-bales-to-be-charged-17-counts-of-murder_n_1373983.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a>.

  • Posing With Suicide Bomber Remains

    <em>This photo illustration taken in Los Angeles shows the April 18, 2012, edition of the Los Angeles Times newspaper showing a picture of US soldiers and Afghan policemen posing with the mangled remains of a suspected Taliban suicide bomber in Afghanistan. The Los Angeles Times building is seen in the background. (JOE KLAMAR/AFP/GettyImages)</em> In April, the <em>LA Times</em> published photos of <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/post/la-times-publishes-photos-against-pentagon-wishes/2012/04/18/gIQAdfVORT_blog.html" target="_hplink">U.S. soldiers posing with the remains of Afghan corpses</a>. The Pentagon <a href="http://www.isaf.nato.int/article/isaf-releases/comisaf-condemns-actions-in-photos-showing-u.s.-service-members-posing-with-insurgent-remains.html" target="_hplink">opposed the publication </a>of the photos, stating that they might incite retaliative violence. The photos show more than a dozen soldiers purportedly posing with the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/world/asia/us-condemns-photo-of-soldiers-posing-with-body-parts.html?hpw" target="_hplink">mangled limbs</a> of dead Taliban fighters. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/us-soldiers-suicide-bomber-photo_n_1433785.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here.</a>

  • Marine Sex Scandal

    <em>A marine on an armored personnel carrier patrols Rio de Janeiro's Morro da Mangueira shantytown early in the morning of June 19, 2011 in a pre-announced operation. (VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)</em> Last year, three marines were involved in a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/24/marines-prostitute-attack_n_1450447.html" target="_hplink">sex scandal in Brazil</a>. The marines allegedly <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/24/marines-prostitute-attack_n_1450447.html" target="_hplink">pushed a prostitute</a> out of a car after a dispute over payment. Two of the marines had their ranks reduced, while another was removed from his post. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/24/marines-prostitute-attack_n_1450447.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here.</a>

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Filed by Clare Richardson  |