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U.S. Secret Service issues new behavior guidelines to remedy tarnished image

(Xinhua)

11:58, April 29, 2012

WASHINGTON, April 27 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Secret Service, disgraced by the prostitution scandal in Colombia, promulgated on Friday a set of new conduct guidelines for its agents in an attempt to remedy its tarnished image.

The new guidelines, which will apply to agents even when they are off duty, prohibit them from drinking alcohol within 10 hours of working and visiting "non-reputable establishments," Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said in a statement.

The Secret Service agents, tasked with protecting the president, are also required to attend standard-of-conduct briefings upon entering a country, where the U.S. ambassador may impose "country-specific rules," it added.

The agents should abide by the U.S. laws even when they are traveling abroad, and receive ethics training before they are allowed to make foreign trips. In some cases, a supervisor from the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility will accompany the agents during their foreign trips, according to the new rules.

Mark Sullivan, director of the Secret Service, also urged his employees to reflect on their own conduct through the scandal that occurred in Cartagena, Colombia, ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to attend the Summit of the Americas earlier this month.

"All employees have a continuing obligation to confront expected abuses or perceived misconduct," Sullivan said.

The promulgation of the new behavior guidelines is regarded as an attempt by the Secret Service to remedy the damages to its image after the prostitution scandal in Cartagena, which has aroused widespread criticism and scrutiny from the U.S. Congress.

The sex scandal was exposed on April 12 when Cartagena police intervened in a dispute over payment between a prostitute and a Secret Service agent at a local hotel. The agent was one of the U.S. advance team to prepare for Obama's visit to the city.

So far eight Secret Service officers have been forced out, and three others are facing administrative discipline. Another dozen military personnel have also been disciplined by the Defense Department for similar misconduct.

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