Barack Obama names the first woman to head the Secret Service
Washington: President Barack Obama yesterday chose veteran agent Julia Pierson to lead the Secret Service, the first woman to head the agency, a year after its reputation was tarnished by a scandal involving male agents and prostitutes in Colombia.
Pierson will replace Mark Sullivan, who was in charge during the Colombia scandal - one of the worst in the agency's history. He retired as director in February. The Secret Service has been criticized for having an insular, male-dominated culture, and Pierson's appointment also comes as Obama fends off criticism that his second-term picks for high-level posts have not included enough women and minority candidates.
Pierson, a native of Florida, is currently chief of staff at the Secret Service and began her career as a special agent with the Miami field office in 1983. The director's position does not require confirmation by the US Senate. "Julia is eminently qualified to lead the agency that not only safeguards Americans at major events and secures our financial system, but also protects our leaders and our first families, including my own," Obama said in a statement.
Starting in 1988, Pierson served four years with the Presidential Protective Division, and she became deputy assistant director of the Office of Protective Operations in 2005.
South African anti-apartheid hero and its first elected black President Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95 at his Johannesburg home. Although Mandela had been frail and ailing for nearly a year, President Jacob Zuma's announcement of the death of the former President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate shook the nation.
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