Characteristics and Activities of the US Secret Service

Characteristics and Activities of the US Secret Service

Agnieszka Piekarz (Independent Researcher, Poland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1031-4.ch017


The United States Secret Service is one of the world's oldest and most elite security agencies protecting the most important people in the country such as the President and Vice President, among others. However, this is not the agency's only responsibility. This chapter covers the organization's other duties such as locating counterfeit money, discovering fake documents such as passports, fraud, and intelligence / counterintelligence. Furthermore, the chapter explains how the Secret Service was established, how its responsibilities have changed over the years, and major historical events which highly influenced the entire agency. Finally, the chapter examines the agency's international cooperation with the Polish security agency, Biuro Ochrony Rzadu (BOR), and domestic cooperation with the US Diplomatic Security Service (DSS).
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Since ancient times, nations have had leaders or other heads of ruling institutions. All of them have had opponents and supporters as well as people protecting them who are normally referred to as special agents. Although their roles and responsibilities have changed over time, their primary aim has remained the same – protection. In 1865, the United States formed the US Secret Service that today is one of the most elite government units in the world. The agency has achieved its current reputation over the past 140 years by fulfilling two missions: protection and investigation. Headquartered in the nation’s capital of Washington, DC, the agency current has over 150 field offices stationed throughout the USA and abroad.

Originally established solely to suppress the counterfeiting of US currency, the agency today is led by Joseph P. Clancy who became the 24th Director on February 18, 2015 after being nominated by US President Barack Obama. Clancy and his deputy, Craig Magaw, oversees more than 7,000 employees worldwide working on a nearly US$2 billion budget. The following sections discuss how the agency was established and how its role and structure have changed over the years (US Secret Service, 2016).

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