NewsNation | April 16, 2012
>> nbc news white house correspondent mike viqueira joins us. we're up to 20. it was a dozen before. as many as 20 now. what else can you tell us?
>> you can add military personnel who were allegedly involved in this. as a matter of fact, the military in the form of the southern command based in miami has an investigator winging their way to to the hotel in colombia where these incidents allegedly took place. as many as five military personnel could be more than that. the secretary of defense and the chief of staff will be briefing on this in a very short time. one wla a distraction for the white house this has been over the weekend. they're loathe to make these trips any way. it wasn't going to make news domestically. the president and the staff doing all they can to turn this around to talk about the american economy in the context of the western hemispheric economy at large. and then this incident that happened before the president even got there. overshadowed everything that they were trying to do. a lot of frustration on the part of the white house . the president arriving late last night. early this morning in the wee hours . we haven't had any briefings from the white house at all. we should point out that a lot of the criticism being directed at the secret service at this point, even from people who are normally very partisan or strident or outspoken of the president and this west wing , it has largely been confined to the secret service and their conduct. you mentioned after the initial reports of the 11 members of the secret service , it was mentioned they were only the uniformed secret service now. we learned from others, we've got a whole team of report orders this story now. that they included some of the counter assault team . a very elite, highly skilled unit. they're an ubiquitous presence here. we haven't heard the end of this story. new details have been emerging throughout the day.
>> thank you. this scandal is certainly prompting talk of possible hearings on capitol hill . it is also raising questions of whether there are bigger problems within the agency's culture. listen to what congressman darrell it issa, the cheryl of the overhouse had to say.
>> we've got to ask, where are the systems in place to prevent this in the future. it is the reason the investigation will not be about the 11 to 20 or more involved. it will be about how did this happen and how often has this hampden before? things like this don't happen once.
>> w. ralph basham headed the secret service . you heard congressman issa say if this happened once, it's happened before . what's your take?
>> if he has information that this has occurred in the past, which i'm not aware of, then i would suggest he contact the proper authorities of the secret service for an investigation on this. i don't believe, i do not believe this has been a problem within the service. otherwise we would have seen this before.
>> we just revealed, nbc news has learned as many as 20 secret service personnel now involved in this investigation. initially the number was around 11. why do you think it has nearly doubled? is it perhaps a chain of command? they're bringing in everyone, any and everyone to get to the bottom of what was going on there and who was involved.
>> i can assure you, they are going to get to the bottom of this. and first of all, all of the facts on this particular incident, that's why they're doing an investigation and they will be doing, i would suspect, a lot of people regarding this including those in colombia. the staff in the hotel. the others involved, that were involved down there. i don't think we should rest on this until we have the facts. i don't think we should rush to judgment. i'm sure the white house and secretary napolitano as well as congress will demand their own investigation.
>> to your point no, rush to judgment. we are learning more about the individuals who are being talked to or questioned in this investigation. three of them were members of the elite counter-assault team. what does that team do?
>> well, they are a support element. they are uniformed division officers and their responsibility is do counter assault. and they go wherever the president goes.
>> are you confident, the information you know and the history that you've had with the agency, are you confident again that this is a single issue to be investigated? many people have brought up, for example, one of those reality tv people were able to get past security into the state dinner .
>> right. that was an isolated incident. and i don't think the two should be compared in making a judgment with a systemic problem within the secret service . have their been individual situations where individuals have gotten themselves into situations where they have to be brought back? yes. that's happened. certainly not in my memory has it been one of this magnitude but it will be treated as seriously as all these cases are treated seriously.
>> w. ralph basham . form he head of the secret service . thank you.