The United States Secret Service, often abbreviated as USSS, is a federal law enforcement agency. Currently it is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The USSS was founded on July 5, 1865 under the Johnson administration. It was created to combat the widespread counterfeiting of U.S. currency at the time. Originally, the Secret Service was a part of the U.S. Treasury department and known as the Secret Service Division. In 2003 the agency was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security. The USSS was the first U.S. domestic intelligence and counterintelligence agency. The Secret Service is no longer a member of the U.S. Intelligence community. In the early years of the Secret Service the agency would often investigate crimes from murder to bank robbery, as part of its federal duties. Previously the U.S. Marshall Service would investigate murders, bank robberies and other federal crimes, however they lacked the man power to conduct such investigations and transferred said responsibilities to the USSS. Until 1901, the Secret Service would only investigate federal crimes and counterfeiting, this changed after the assassination of president McKinley. After the assassination, congress formally requested that the Secret Service provide presidential protection. Today, the U.S. Secret Service has a dual mission.
The Secret Service maintains an investigative mission and a protective mission. The investigative mission of the agency is “to safeguard the payment and financial systems of the United States from a wide range of financial and electronic-based crimes.” The protective mission of the agency is “to ensure the safety of the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, the President’s and Vice President’s immediate families, former presidents, their spouses, and their minor children under the age of 16, major presidential and vice presidential candidates and their spouses, and foreign heads of state.” The Secret Service, being an agency, is headed by a Director. Under the Director is the Deputy Director (DD) and Chief Operating Officer (COO). Under the DD and COO are Assistant Directors (AD) and Deputy Assistant Directors (DAD). The ADs and DADs are responsible for the leadership and operation of the organizational offices and divisions of the agency.
Under the ADs and DADs are a slew of further ranks and positions. In order from highest ranking to lowest ranking they are: “Special Agent in Charge (SAIC), Deputy Special Agent in Charge (DSAIC), Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAIC), Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge (ATSAIC), Administrative, Professional & Technicial (APT), Special Agent (SA), Special Officer (SO), and Uniformed Officer (UD). “ The Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer are both in charge of different areas of the Secret Service. The COO serves as the “principal administrator responsible for planning and directing all business and programmatic activities for the Secret Service.” While the DD “executes oversight of the agency’s daily operations…[and] develops and implements policy as it relates to the agency’s investigative and protective [missions].” The U.S. Secret Service possesses many similar powers to other federal law enforcement agencies.
The powers and authority the secret service has is listed in Title 18, Section 3056, of the United States Code. The U.S. Code stipulates that Secret Service Agents can: Carry firearms, Execute warrants issued under the laws of the United States, Make arrests without warrants for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony recognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed such felony, Offer and pay rewards for services and information leading to the apprehension of persons involved in the violation of the law that the Secret Service is authorized to enforce, Investigate fraud in connection with identification documents, fraudulent commerce, fictitious instruments and foreign securities and, and Perform other functions and duties authorized by law.
The U.S. Secret Service has also assisted in and has been involved in the controversial arrest and internment of Japanese civilians and community leaders during World War 2. Many of these civilians were U.S. citizens. The internment included whole families, including women and children. The camps were crowded, overpopulated, unsafe, and inhumane. They remained in these camps until the end of the war. The USSS has, as a result of their protection duties, been involved in many assassinations and assassination attempts on U.S. presidents. Some of the most well recognized being the assassination of president John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the attempted assassination of president Harry S. Truman in 1950. In total, 36 Secret Service agents have died or been killed on duty. Only 1 of which had been killed as a direct result of protecting the president.
The USSS maintains a network of 28 ETCFs, or Electronic Crimes Task Forces. They are housed in cities throughout the United States. One of these ETCFs was located at 7 World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks. Secret Service personnel were among the first to respond. They provided first aid and relief to victims in the ensuing chaos and terror. Additionally they assisted in the evacuation of the towers. As a result of the attacks, one Secret Service agent was killed during the rescue efforts. Almost a year later Director Brian L. Stafford awarded the Director’s Valor Award to employees who assisted in the rescue attempts.