The United States Secret Service is a federal law enforcement agency with headquarters in Washington, D.C., and more than 150 offices throughout the United States and abroad. The Secret Service was established in 1865, solely to suppress the counterfeiting of U.S. currency. Today, the agency is mandated by Congress to carry out dual missions: protection of national and visiting foreign leaders, and criminal investigations. – United States Secret Service, Who We Are
The vision of the United States Secret Service is to uphold the tradition of excellence in its investigative and protective mission through a dedicated, highly-trained, diverse, partner-oriented workforce that employs progressive technology and promotes professionalism. – United States Secret Service, Vision Statement
The mission of the United States Secret Service is to safeguard the nation’s financial infrastructure and payment systems to preserve the integrity of the economy, and to protect national leaders, visiting heads of state and government, designated sites and National Special Security Events. – United States Secret Service, Mission Statement
History of the Secret Service
The Secret Service had its origins in the Civil War, with the premise of a “secret service” being attributed to Allan Pinkerton. It was through Pinkerton’s meetings with President Lincoln that the establishment of agent’s, were utilized throughout the south during the Civil War in efforts to attain information about the Confederacy.
Following the Civil War, the Secret Service was established on July 5, 1865, with the express purpose of suppressing the counterfeiting of U.S. currency. Today, the agency is mandated by Congress to carry out dual missions: protection of national and visiting foreign leaders, and criminal investigations.
1865 The Secret Service Division was created on July 5, 1865, in Washington, D.C., to suppress counterfeit currency. Chief William P. Wood was sworn in by Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch.
1867 Secret Service responsibilities were broadened to include “detecting persons perpetrating frauds against the government.” This appropriation resulted in investigations into the Ku Klux Klan, non-conforming distillers, smugglers, mail robbers, land frauds, and a number of other infractions against the federal laws.
1870 Secret Service headquarters relocated to New York City.
1874 Secret Service headquarters returned to Washington, D.C.
1875 The first commission book and a new badge were issued to operatives.
1877 Congress passed an Act prohibiting the counterfeiting of any coin, gold or silver bar.
1883 Secret Service was officially acknowledged as a distinct organization within the Treasury Department.
1894 The Secret Service began informal part-time protection of President Cleveland.
1895 Congress passed corrective legislation for the counterfeiting or possession of counterfeit stamps.
1901 Congress informally requested Secret Service Presidential protection following the assassination of President William McKinley.
1902 The Secret Service assumed full-time responsibility for protection of the President. Two operatives were assigned full time to the White House Detail.
1906 Congress passed Sundry Civil Expenses Act for 1907 that provided funds for Presidential protection by the Secret Service.
Secret Service operatives began to investigate the western land frauds. The Service’s investigations returned millions of acres of land to the government.
1908 Secret Service began protecting the president-elect. Also, President Roosevelt transferred Secret Service agents to the Department of Justice. They formed the nucleus of what is now the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
1913 Congress authorized permanent protection of the president and the statutory authorization for president-elect protection.
1915 President Wilson directed the Secretary of the Treasury to have the Secret Service investigate espionage in the United States.
1917 Congress authorized permanent protection of the president’s immediate family and made “threats” directed toward the president a federal violation.
1922 White House Police Force created on October 1, 1922, at the request of President Harding.
1930 White House Police Force was placed under the supervision of the Secret Service.
1951 Congress enacted legislation that permanently authorized Secret Service protection of the president, his immediate family, the president-elect, and the vice president if he wishes. (Public Law – 82-79).
1961 Congress authorized protection of former presidents for a reasonable period of time.
1962 Congress expanded coverage to include the vice president (or the next officer to succeed the president) and the vice president-elect. (Public Law 87-829).
1963 Congress passed legislation for protection of Mrs. John F. Kennedy and her minor children for two years. (Public Law 83-195).
1965 Congress authorized protection of former presidents and their spouses during their lifetime and minor children until age 16.
1968 As a result of 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.
1970 White House Police Force renamed the Executive Protective Service and increased its responsibilities to include the protection of diplomatic missions in the Washington, D.C., area. (Public Law 91-217).
1971 Congress authorized Secret Service protection for visiting heads of a foreign state or government, or other official guests, as directed.
1975 The duties of Executive Protective Service were expanded to include protection of foreign diplomatic missions located throughout the United States and its territories.
1977 The Executive Protective Service was officially renamed the Secret Service Uniformed Division on November 15, 1977.
1984 Congress enacted legislation making the fraudulent use of credit and debit cards a federal violation. The law also authorized the Secret Service to investigate violations relating to credit and debit card fraud, federal-interest computer fraud, and fraudulent identification documents.
1986 Treasury Police Force merged into the Secret Service Uniformed Division on October 5, 1986.
A Presidential directive authorized protection of the accompanying spouse of the head of a foreign state or government.
1990 The Secret Service received concurrent jurisdiction with Department of Justice law enforcement personnel to conduct any kind of investigation, civil or criminal, related to federally insured financial institutions.
1994 The passage of the 1994 Crime Bill Public Law 103-322, in part, revised Title 18 USC Section 470, providing that any person manufacturing, trafficking in, or possessing counterfeit U.S. currency abroad may be prosecuted as if the act occurred within the United States.
1997 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)
1998 Telemarketing Fraud Prevention Act (Public Law105-184) allowed for criminal forfeiture of fraud proceeds for convictions of 18 USC sections 1028, 1029, 1341, or 1344, or of a conspiracy to commit such an offense, if the offense involved telemarketing.
The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act (Public Law 105-318) amends 18 USC section 1028 to establish the offense of “Identity Theft.” Penalties were established for anyone who knowingly transfers or uses, without authority, any means of identification of another person, with the intent to commit an unlawful activity that is a violation of the identity theft provisions of section 1028.
2000 Presidential Threat Protection Act (Public Law 106-544) was passed, which in part, authorized the Secret Service to participate in the planning, coordination, and implementation of security operations at special events of national significance (“National Special Security Event”), as determined by the President.
2001 The Patriot Act (Public Law 107-56) increased the Secret Service’s role in investigating fraud and related activity in connections with computers. In addition it authorized the Director of the Secret Service to establish nationwide electronic crimes taskforces to assist the law enforcement, private sector and academia in detecting and suppressing computer-based crime; increased the statutory penalties for the manufacturing, possession, dealing and passing of counterfeit U.S. or foreign obligations; and allowed enforcement action to be taken to protect our financial payment systems while combating transnational financial crimes directed by terrorists or other criminals.
2002 The Department of Homeland Security was established with the passage of (Public Law 107-296) which in part, transfered the United States Secret Service from the Department of the Treasury, to the new department effective March 1, 2003.
2004 Barbara Riggs, a veteran agent of the Secret Service, became the first woman in the agency’s history to be named Deputy Director.
2006 The network of Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Forces expanded from 15 to 24 nationwide task forces dedicated to fighting high-tech, computer-based crimes through successful public-private partnerships.
2007 Protection began for presidential candidate Illinois Senator Barack Obama in May, the earliest initiation of Secret Service protection for any candidate in history. Presidential candidate New York Senator Hillary Clinton already received protection before she entered the race due to her status as former first lady.
2008 The Secret Service marked five years under the Department of Homeland Security. Since 2003, the Secret Service made nearly 29,000 criminal arrests for counterfeiting, cyber investigations and other financial crimes, 98% of which resulted in convictions, and seized more than $295 million in counterfeit currency. The Secret Service investigated and closed financial crimes cases where actual loss amounted to $3.7 billion and prevented a potential loss of more than $12 billion.
Resources: Secret Service.gov