Lincoln Created The Secret Service On The Day He Died
On April 14th, 1865, Abraham Lincoln signed legislation authorizing the establishment of a governmental protection agency. In a turn of events, that very evening Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth while watching the production of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre.
Secret Service For Counterfeit Money
Despite the Secret Service having an important job of protecting the President today, it was not initially designed to do just that. Due to the rise of counterfeit money in the United States, the Secret Service were designated to halt the production and dispersion of counterfeit money around the U.S. However, their main duties were shifted when William McKinley was assassinated in 1901 and they realized the President was a target. Thereafter, Congress requested the Secret Service solely protected the President himself.
Although they protect the President who is a high target, their job is not as dangerous as some would assume. Only one active duty agent has died protecting the President, ever since the Secret Service was created. In 1950, 2 Puerto Rican nationals attempted to assassinate Harry Truman, shooting Secret Service agent Private Leslie Coffelt in his place. With only one fatality to the Secret Service agents, more presidents have died than the Secret Service themselves.
Drunk Secret Service
The Warren Commission reported that a number of Kennedy’s agents had gone against protocol and had been out drinking the night before until the early hours of the morning. Their slow and tired response may have caused a delayed response from the agents. Secret Service agents are prohibited from drinking while on duty, looking after the President. After an in depth official investigation into the assassination, the agents were not disciplined or charged with misconduct as recommended by the Warren Commission.
The Secret Service Began Protecting All Presidential Candidates
Following Kennedy’s assassination, the Secret Service then realized they needed to provide protection for other government figures. This led them to start protecting Presidential candidates depending on the importance an relevance of the person. The Secretary of Homeland Security determines which presidential candidates are considered major after consultation with an advisory committee. The reason for the protection is so that the US can avoid further tragedies and disruption of the US democratic process.
They’re Much Bigger Than You Think
Although the world only sees a relatively small group of Secret Service agents surrounding the President at all times, the actual organization is much larger than what is seen. The Secret Service has over 6,500 employees holding around 3,200 agents in 150 offices in the United States and abroad. Over 1,300 of those agents are directly responsible for providing protection to the White House while others are given jobs relating to homeland security, counterfeiting and other illegal activities.
H Street HQ
The Secret Service headquarters is situated at H Street in Washington DC. Much like the organization itself, the inconspicuous brick nine story building is unmarked as to not give anything away about what’s inside. The surrounding street has no public trash cans or waste bins to reduce bomb threats or places to leave suspicious packages. It was also the very place the First Lady was hidden away during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, while George W. Bush was taken to an Air Force base in Nebraska.
Secret By Name, Secret By Nature
Throughout almost every Presidency there have been ‘renovations’ at the White House to remove the First Family from the area. These renovations are more specifically recognized as private investigations conducted by the Secret Service. There are always changes at the White House with the Presidents moving in and out as they take or leave office so citing renovations is an unsuspecting way of conducting official government business without the public or press finding out.
The Secret Service are stationed outside the Oval Office maintaining the President’s privacy while standing guard to see who is coming in and out. However, in order to keep contact with the President, they installed weight- sensitive pressure pads under the carpet to know where the President is standing at all times. In case of emergency, the Secret Service are able to swoop into the Oval Office in the most efficient way to get to the President in case he needs protection.
Reagan The Secret Service Agent
Prior to being President, Ronald Reagan played the role of Secret Service agent Brass Bancroft in four films in 1939. The film was entitled Code of the Secret Service with the last three films being Secret Service of the Air, Smashing the Money Ring, and Murder in the Air. The films were part of a late 1930’s effort by Warner Bros. to produce films depicting law enforcement in a positive light under pressure from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Attorney General.
The Young Secret Service
Secret Service agents have a number of categories they must fall within to qualify for the role. They must be within the 21-37 years age bracket at the time of application with at least 20/60 uncorrected vision. The average salary of agents is around $43,000 and out of all the Secret Service agents already in service, only 10% are women. The reason for young applicants is that they come in to the organization young and fit and then grow older within the organization, gaining experience and knowledge.
The Secret Service use code names for Presidents, First Ladies, governmental figures and prominent places. Originally, the use of code names was used for security purposes and dates back to when electronic communication was not encrypted but today they simply serve for clarity and tradition. The President’s family must all have code names starting with the same letter and must be easily pronounced and readily understood. President Obama’s code name was Renegade while Michelle Obama’s name was Renaissance.
Scandalous Secret Service
There have been many scandals surrounding the extracurricular activities of past presidents. The Secret Service have been active agents in these alleged scandals, hiding first ladies and mistresses from the press and getting them in and out of the White House without getting caught. The infamous affair between President Bill Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky was perhaps one of the most notorious with the President having to publicly admit he had an ‘inappropriate relationship’ with her.
The Secret Service have acquired the world’s largest ink library containing the fingerprints of governmental figures, Presidents along with millions of US citizens. The library also contains an extensive collection of high-tech video and audio enhancement equipment so much so that Bill Clinton authorized the unit to assist in finding missing and exploited children cases in 1994. Today, the ink library is commonly used for identifying forged documents. The inks they possess date back to the 1920’s, collected on worldwide travels.
No Traitors In The Secret Service
The Secret Service has been around since 1865 with thousands of agents of coming in and out of the government agency. Throughout its active service, not once has the Secret Service been infiltrated by spies or been subject to any traitors from within. This is an accomplishment for the Secret Service as the FBI, CIA and the NSA have all had information leaked by spies which has been detrimental to their intelligence and security systems.
More Than A Bodyguard
Although the Secret Service have the crucial job of protecting the President, they also investigate financial crimes, identity theft, counterfeiting and computer fraud. Agents who are assigned to tasks including monitoring credit card fraud, identity theft and electronic crimes of federal interest have jobs which take up a lot more of their time rather than a Presidential agent who is given the responsibility of following around head’s of state. These secondary tasks are reminiscent of the legislation Lincoln signed in creating the agency.
Number 1 Target
Throughout US history, four Presidents have been assassinated including Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy. They have not been the only ones targeted. In fact, there have been over 17 assassination plots and attempts thwarted. Most recently, in April 2013 an attempt was made to kill President Obama through a letter laced with deadly poison ricin. Plots against Trump were also foiled during his campaign trail when Michael Steven Sandford attempted to assassinate Trump by seizing a police officer’s gun at a rally in Las Vegas.
The Roosevelt Protection
During Roosevelt’s Presidential term, the Secret Service were over-protective of President Roosevelt due to his disability. Roosevelt’s battle with polio took away the use of his legs, and in some situations the secret service would carry the President when his wheelchair was not available for use, making paparazzi shots highly sought after. The Secret Service had been known to confiscate or destroy cameras of the press taking vulnerable pictures of Roosevelt as it was an invasion of his privacy.
The FBI Was A Product Of The Secret Service
The Department of Justice broke away from the Secret Service in 1908 as they needed agents to conduct investigations on a national level. The new organization was created by Attorney General Charles Bonaparte during the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. Starting with a small team, nine agents became the Bureau of Investigation and as they grew the ‘Federal’ title was included. Initially, the organization of Special Agents had neither a name nor an officially designated leader.
Calling For Backup
Air Force One is the Presidents private plane which is regularly seen taking off and landing in different locations around the world, taking the President from place to place. However, Air Force One is only one of the President’s fleet of planes and is the only one which is seen by the public. The Secret Service ensure Air Force One is backed up with another plane which lands in a secret location in case of emergency for the President.
Government Figures Can Deny Secret Service Protection
The Secret Service’s main duty is to protect the President Vice President and their families but also foreign governmental figures on official state visits. The President and Vice President cannot deny their protection, however the families of former Presidents and specific governmental figures have the right to deny their services upon request. When other President’s or world leader’s visit, they can bring their own security or use the Secret Service, the choice is left to them.
Agents Behave Badly
In 2012, two Secret Service agents became embroiled in a scandal surrounding their contact with a Colombian prostitute prior to the Presidents arrival for the Summit of the Americas. An agent had slept with tan escort but then refused to pay her the fee agreed upon. 11 agents were sent home and the escort at the center of the fallout started speaking to the press thus causing severe embarrassment. Following an investigation, agent David Chaney was forced to retire while agent Greg Stokes was removed from the agency without explanation.
Work Is Life
Divorce rates among Secret Service agents are relatively high in comparison to other government sector occupations. The job demands long hours, extensive traveling and a very limited private life meaning personal relationships are a struggle. This is in direct contrast to the relationships between the agents themselves who maintain lifelong friendships with their coworkers. Although relationships in secret service is thought to be forbidden, it is actually the opposite and many agents have relationships with each other.
The Death Car
Ever since the assassination of Kennedy in his car, the Secret Service now have what’s called the ‘death car’ following behind the Presidential vehicle with cameras for surveillance and weapons for protection. In JFK’s assassination it was difficult for the authorities to discover exactly what happened so they decided to avoid past mistakes and place cameras in surrounding vehicles. The Secret Service makes sure to cover the President from all angles when he is traveling outside of the White House.
3 Stages In a Secret Service Career
Similar to careers in protection and security at the top level, it takes a member of the Secret Service 3 stages to get to the top level. In the first stage, an officer will be stationed at an office for anything from six to eight years. The second stage will see them placed on protective detail for another four to seven years and finally the officer will be transferred back to a field office or HQ in a high position.
First Female Takes Charge
The Secret Service is known to be predominantly male with only about 10% of agents being women. However, in May 2013 a shift in the agency saw Julia Pierson take charge as the first female director of the Secret Service, aiming to balance out the gender difference. Although Pierson’s arrival was received well, her departure came just after a year later following a string of security breaches which led to a lack of confidence, culminating in her resignation.
Little Black Shades
It is widely believed that the Secret Service all wear black sunglasses so that any potential threats or assassins can’t tell where their eyes are as to divert from their gazes or that the glasses have special James Bond type technology showing x-rays and night vision. However, the real reason is much more simple and far less exciting. The secret service need to shield their eyes from the sun too, so use sunglasses to do so, just like the rest of us!
The Secret Service keeps tabs on the president 24/7. Even when he is in private areas they know where he is from floor pads and sensors. If he is speaking in public there are snipers posted on rooftops and secret service agents placed within the crowds and when touring the White House crowds more than 10 are not allowed to reduce the security risk. When it comes to security the Secret Service must be at the top of their game and must take every precaution to secure the area.
Secret Service Go Back To College
During Bill Clinton’s Presidency, First Daughter Chelsea was a normal young woman attending college but her name and status earned her more attention that your average college student. Chelsea’s personal Secret Service agents went undercover as college kids wearing normal clothes and living in her dorm at Stanford for four years. Her dorm room windows were replaced with bulletproof glass and her agents would follow her to class and social events. Another dorm room was taken over to provide 24 hour surveillance.
First Daughters, Twice The Trouble
George W. Bush’s twin daughters regularly became trouble for the Secret Service. It was reported that Jenna would try to sneak away from her Secret Service by jumping in unknown cars to her team or running red lights to get away from them. However, there was an incident whereby the twins’ Secret Service agents allowed them to drink underage using their fake ID’s in Austin, Texas and whisked them away from the scene before the police could arrive to catch them.
Secrets of the Super Bowl
The Secret Service are also responsible for one of the world’s greatest annual sporting events the Super Bowl. As one of the longest lasting American traditions which is broadcast and watched by millions globally, it is potentially a high-risk target for terrorists. With thousands of people and prominent figures in one stadium, potential attackers have the ability to cause mass hysteria with one attack. For this reason, the Secret Service are assigned to secure the event, conducting over 11,000 background checks on attendees, performers, and vendor.
The President’s car is known as ‘The Beast’. The car itself is closer to a tank than a car with 8-inch armored plating and the bodywork made from hardened steel, aluminum, titanium and ceramics. The doors are 20 centimeters thick which is heavier than a door of a Boeing 757. The interior of the beast has a re-circulation system protecting against biochemical attack the windows are bulletproof and the doors contain weapons. The President’s blood is also kept on board in case of an emergency blood transfusion needed.
There Have Been Breaches In Security
In September 2014, an armed felon in Atlanta rode in an elevator with Obamal. The security lapse occurred when Obama visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to discuss the US response to the Ebola epidemic. The man was a security contractor and displayed strange actions in the elevator. After Obama had left the elevator, the agents stayed behind for questioning and later found the individual’s status as a felon on the national database.
White House Intruder
In 2014, an Iraq war veteran named Omar J. Gonzalez jumped over the White House’s fence and walked through the front entrance, into the main hall and then the East Room before being stopped by the Secret Service. The veteran had post-traumatic stress disorder, and a small knife was found in his back pocket when searched. Gonzalez stated his reasons for entering as he needed to tell the President of the ‘atmosphere collapsing’ so he could disperse the message to the public.
Secret Service Shake Up
Security breaches in 2014 until 2015 saw Obama make the decision to have the Secret Service force out its most senior officials. The Secret Service was relatively fair in the way they conducted their changing of management by reportedly giving officials the option to report for a new assignment with the Secret Service of the Department of Homeland Security. This also allowed the press not to catch on to the shake-up and make it look like Obama was forcing them out.
Secret Service to Investigate Madonna
In January 2017, following Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Women’s marches were held across the United States and over 2.6 million attendees with many celebrities speaking to show their support and garner attention. In her rallying speech showing her disdain for Trump, Madonna exclaimed that she has “thought an awful lot about blowing up the white house.” Her outrageous remarks were not taken lightly by the Secret Service as threatening the President is a class E felony. Madonna apologized saying she was taken out of context.
Ex-Agent Warns About Hillary Clinton
Former Secret Service Gary Byrne claimed that Clinton was feared by her staff and her yelling was regularly heard around the White House. Byrne also stated that her temperament was widely known and he had been on the receiving end of her anger. He said that due to this, she does not have the correct attitude to be inside the Oval Office as the President, saying Clinton is a dishonest woman and that “she is not a leader.”
Secret Service Won’t Protect Trump
Special agent Kerry O’Grady was a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential Election and in a series of social media posts claimed she would rather go to jail than take a bullet for Donald Trump. Federal Law named The Hatch Act prohibits Secret Service agents from posting political comments on personal social media accounts. Following her comments, the Secret Service placed her on administrative leave showing that their agents must abide by their President and their country.
Ex Secret Service Runs For Congress After Being On The Inside
Ex-Secret Service agent Dan Bongino was a Secret Service agent for Presidents including President Obama and warned of the future of the country after overhearing Oval Office conversations. Bongino has now decided to run for Congress in an attempt to help take back America from power and money hungry leaders at the expense of American citizens. He specifically cited that it is not about being Republican or a Democrat but rather about upholding American civil liberties.
Ex-Agent Explains Obamagate
The scandal surrounding Donald Trump accusing Obama of wiretapping his phone and offices at New York’s Trump Tower have been discussed by ex-Secret Service agent Dan Bongino. He stated that the Secret Service regularly does ECM sweeps, electronic countermeasures where they frequently look for listening devices and radio devices to make sure the President is not being listened to or surveilled. Trump’s protection from the Secret Service on the campaign trail could be the explanation for it.