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US names first female Secret Service chief

Obama administration appoints Julia Pierson as director of agency which was marred by prostitution scandal last year.

Last Modified: 27 Mar 2013 03:11
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Pierson's appointment signals President Obama's desire to change culture at the male-dominated service [Reuters]

Barack Obama, the US president, has named Julia Pierson as the first female chief of the Secret Service, the elite protection branch which was marred by a prostitution scandal in Colombia last year.

In Depth
   Profile: Julia Pierson

Pierson, who most recently served as the agency's chief of staff, will take over from Mark Sullivan, who announced his retirement last month.

She joins a notably male team around Obama, who had been criticised for bringing in several men advisers for his second term, which started in January.

"Over her 30 years of experience with the Secret Service, Julia has consistently exemplified the spirit and dedication the men and women of the service demonstrate every day," Obama said in a statement.

Pierson's appointment as director of the Secret Service, which protects the president and his family and investigates currency counterfeiting and fraud, does not require Senate confirmation.

New code of conduct

Last year the agency scrambled to contain fallout from an affair which involved prostitutes and its agents in the Colombian city of Cartagena, where Obama attended the Summit of the Americas.

The Secret Service employees brought women, including prostitutes, to the hotel where they were staying.

The incident became public after one agent refused to pay a prostitute and the pair argued about payment in a hotel hallway.

More than two dozen Secret Service agents and military personnel, tasked with preparing security for Obama's high-profile visit, were sent home as a result.

  Petraeus is expected to offer his 'deep regret' for affair that led to his resignation as CIA director [Reuters]

Eight employees were forced out of the agency, and three were cleared of serious misconduct.

Secret Service director Sullivan apologised for the drama, which prompted the agency to change some of its rules.

According to the new code of conduct, employees were banned from drinking within 10 hours of starting a shift or bringing foreign nationals back to their hotel rooms.

Meanwhile, former CIA director David Petraeus was scheduled to make his first public speech since resigning in November over an extramarital affair at a University of Southern California event honouring the military on Tuesday night.

A prepared text of his speech, obtained by The New York Times, indicates that Petraeus will apologise for the affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell and talk about his plans for the future.

His affair with Broadwell, was discovered during an FBI investigation into emails she sent to another woman she viewed as a rival for his attention.

The 60-year-old famed Iraq and Afghan war general retired from the military in 2011 and went on to lead the CIA before he resigned over the scandal last November.

"I join you keenly aware that I am regarded in a different light now than I was a year ago," The New York Times quoted from Petraeus’s speech.

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