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United States Secret Service
The United States Secret Service is a United States federal government law
enforcement agency originally created as part of the United States
Department of the Treasury. On March 1, 2003, it was moved under the
jurisdiction of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The
Secret Service has primary jurisdiction over counterfeiting of currency and
the protection or bodyguard of the President, Vice President, their
immediate families, past presidents and their spouses, certain candidates
for the offices of President and Vice President, and visiting foreign heads
of state (all called "protectees"). It also investigates a wide variety of
financial fraud crimes and identify theft and provides forensics assistance
for some local crimes.
The Secret Service was commissioned on July 5, 1865 in Washington, D.C., to
suppress counterfeit currency, which is why it was established under the
Department of the Treasury. After the assassination of President William
McKinley in 1901, Congress informally requested Secret Service Presidential
protection. A year later, it assumed full-time responsibility for protection
of the President.
The Secret Service Presidential Protection Detail safeguards the President
of the United States and his immediate family. They are heavily armed and
work with local police and the military to safeguard the President when he
The Secret Service has 5,000 employees: 2100 special agents, 1200 Uniformed
Division employees, and 1700 technical and administrative employees. The
Special Agents are the ones who bodyguard official and investigate financial
fraud. Uniformed officers provide security at the White House and Treasury
building and other sites.
Like other federal law enforcement organizations, the Service has its
critics. Such critics may point, for example, to an incident where Steve
Jackson Games was raided by (perhaps overzealous) Secret Service agents in a
move that was later ruled to be illegal and unjustified. The Secret Service
has also been involved in investigations, arrests, and detentions that were
allegedly motivated by political issues rather than security concerns. For
* The Service as a rule will remove protestors who disrupt events where
the President is speaking. At times the Service has removed persons who
make a show of disrespect even when the behavior is not overtly
disruptive. In one instance, the Service was involved in removing
graduates from the Ohio State University graduation who had organized
to turn their backs on the speaker, George W. Bush. In most cases,
actual arrests are made by local law enforcement.
* The service has statutory authority to detain individuals deemed to be
a danger to protectees, without a court determination that the
individuals in question are mentally ill. This has led to criticism.
In 1968, as a result of Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy's
assassination, Congress authorized protection of major Presidential and Vice
Presidential candidates and nominees. (Public Law 90-331). Congress also
authorized protection of widows of Presidents until death, or remarriage,
and their children until age 16.
Congress passed legislation in 1994 stating that Presidents elected to
office after January 1, 1997, will receive Secret Service protection for 10
years after leaving office. Individuals elected to office prior to January
1, 1997, will continue to receive lifetime protection. (Public Law 103-329)
The Service also investigates forgery of government checks, forgery of
currency equivalents (such as travelers' checks), and certain instances of
wire fraud (such as the so called Nigerian "419" advance fee scheme) and
credit card fraud.
The Service and the FBI each see themselves as the most prestigious and
capable federal law enforcement agency. There is some animosity between the
two organizations, and very few agents have served in both.