Everyone is familiar with the group of people who accompany and protect the President of the United States or presidential candidates. Officially titled The United States Secret Service or USSS, the organization has been around since 1865 and was originally created to handle counterfeit currency that was threatening to affect the US. However, nowadays the USSS handles all sorts of things from:
- Financial crimes,
- Credit fraud.
So it’s definitely a multi-purpose position! The USSS agents are way more than just bodyguards and there are probably a couple things that you didn’t know about them.
Here is a list of the top ten things that you may not have known about the USSS. Looks like it won’t be much of a secret anymore!
1. The USSS was created on April 14, 1865 by the 16th president of the United States. However, at the beginning, they were not responsible for protecting the President.
Ironically, Abraham Lincoln was shot and assassinated by John Wilkes Booth the very same day the secret service was created while he was attending the theater.
2. The original purpose for the USSS was to act as a treasury department. This was considered important because counterfeit currency was a problem that threatened to harm the American economy.
It wasn’t until later when more attacks were made towards the President that it was informally requested that the USSS also handle the President’s protection.
3. USSS agents started to watch over the President at all times after the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901.
When presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was shot by Sirhan Sirhan, they began to look after presidential and vice-presidential candidates as well in 1968. When Barack Obama was running, he received protection a year and a half before election day, which is the earliest in history.
4. Despite dealing with thousands of death threats and still managing to prevent any harm, only one secret service agent has died on the job.
In 1950, the White House was undergoing renovations. During that time, the current president Harry Truman was staying elsewhere. One night, two Puerto Rican nationalists stormed the house to attempt an assassination.
5. Even though this might be hard to believe, the United States has never had a traitor within their USSS.
This is pretty impressive compared to the CIA, FBI, and NSA which have all been infiltrated by foreign spies.
6. The same way it’s usually depicted in movies and television, secret service agents use interesting code names to refer to people and locations such as the president, first lady, and white house.
They refer to the White House as ‘Castle’ and the Pentagon as ‘Calico.’ John and Jackie Kennedy were called ‘Lancer and Lace,’ and Ronald and Nancy Reagan were known as ‘Rawhide and Rainbow.’
7. Even though protection of the president seems to take priority, secret service agents are way more than just body guards. That have a ton of other responsibilities that are split up into two distinct groups.
One of these responsibilities is financial crimes. This job involves monitoring counterfeit currency and also deals with investigations on major frauds. They also deal with identity theft, financial crimes, and credit and computer fraud. The other group focuses on protection of the president and important people.
8. With all those responsibilities, the USSS would need to be more than just a handful of people. In fact, there are over 6,500 employees.
With 3,200 working in offices in the U.S and around the world, and 1,300 agents in the Uniformed Division, they are responsible for security and protection of the White House.
9. There were so many responsibilities and missions that some tasks were eventually taken over and turned into the FBI.
The Department of Justice hired USSS agents to participate in national investigations and the nine agents subsequently formed the Bureau of Investigation which was later named the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
10. The USSS has a long list of people that they are authorized by law to protect. And it’s not only during the time of presidency. Agents can be expected to protect former presidents and their families for up to 16 years after they leave the office.
People are allowed to refuse protection, apart from the President and Vice President. When she first became Secretary of State in 2009, Hillary Clinton was protected by the secret service while she was at home.