Obama: New Secret Service head Pierson "breaking the mold"

President Obama on Wednesday swore into office the first female to head the U.S. Secret Service - 30-year veteran agent Julia Pierson - noting that she "now probably has more control over our lives than anyone else, except for our spouses."

"I couldn't be placing our lives in better hands than Julia's," Mr. Obama said in the Oval Office, after Vice President Joe Biden administered Pierson's oath of office.

Lauding her "extraordinary qualifications" including dedication, professionalism and commitment, the president went on, "I have to say that Julia's reputation within the service is extraordinary. She's come up through the ranks; she's done just about every job there is to do at the Secret Service.

"Obviously she's breaking the mold in terms of director of the agency, and I think people are all extraordinarily proud of her," the president continued, nodding to her status as the first woman to oversee the male-dominated agency. "We have the greatest confidence in the wonderful task that lies ahead, and very confident she's going to do a great job."

Pierson most recently served as the agency's chief of staff, and will take the director reins from Mark Sullivan, whose tenure remains stained by last year's prostitution scandal.

During preparations for the president's trip to Cartagena, Colombia last year, 13 Secret Service employees engaged in a night of heavy drinking, at the end of which they brought women - including prostitutes - back to their hotels. As a result of that ordeal, which unraveled publicly, eight of the employees were forced out of the agency.

Duties of the Secret Service include protecting the president and vice president, as well as their families, and investigating financial crimes. Biden applauded the president's choice of Pierson to run the agency.

"My agents are excited as heck that you picked her, Mr. President," the vice president said.

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