United States Secret Service

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United States Secret Service
- USSS -

Logo of the United States Secret Service.svg
State level Federal authority
position Federal Law Enforcement Agency
Supervisory authority United States Department of Homeland Security
founding 1865 (as part of the United States Treasury Department )
Headquarters Washington, DC
Authority management James M. Murray, Director
Servants 6500 (if known)
Web presence www.secretservice.gov

The United States Secret Service (or Secret Service for short ; USSS for short ) is an American law enforcement agency at the federal level, which is subordinate to the Department of Homeland Security ; until March 1, 2003, the Secret Service was under the United States Treasury Department . The authority is known to the international public primarily as the protective body of the president .


USSS agents visiting Pope Benedict XVI in Washington, DC on April 17, 2008

The Secret Service is mainly responsible for the fight against financial crime and the provision of personal protection for the president , the vice presidents , their families, former presidents and their spouses, certain candidates for the posts of President and Vice-President and the United States visiting heads of state . He also provides forensic assistance in solving local crimes.

In addition, uniformed Secret Service officers protect the foreign diplomatic missions based in Washington and provide personal protection to foreign diplomats who are at risk.

The area of ​​financial crime primarily includes counterfeiting , financial fraud, check fraud, counterfeiting of currency equivalents (e.g. travelers checks ), certain cases of computer fraud and credit card fraud .


The agency was launched on July 5, 1865 in Washington, DC and was initially only responsible for combating counterfeiting, which is why it was also assigned to the Treasury Department. In 1910, for example, the counterfeit ring around the Sicilians Ignazio Saietta and Vito Cascio Ferro was broken up in New York City . The Secret Service was also the only federal agency authorized to investigate all kinds of criminal cases in the entire United States until the founding of the Department of Justice's Bureau of Investigation (BOI) , later the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). That is why special agents of the Secret Service under the leadership of the Attorney General were also used, for example, in 1870/71 to smash the Ku Klux Klan . In 1908, this "borrowing" by special agents of the Secret Service, which had meanwhile grown to a large extent, was banned, and the Secret Service now limited itself exclusively to financial offenses and the task of protecting the President's personal lives.

After the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, Congress also formally gave the Secret Service responsibility for protecting the President. Secret Service agents had also protected the president since Grover Cleveland's tenure , and three Secret Service agents escorted him on the day of the assassination attempt on McKinley. There was no explicit legal basis for this, however, and the Special Agents had taken on the task - like many other tasks - because they were one of the few civilian federal agents allowed to carry weapons. FBI, CIA , ATF or DEA didn't exist at that time. The US Marshals already existed and in some cases had provided protection for the President for a long time, but in the end the choice fell on the Secret Service, mainly because the US Marshals Service had not yet been established as the central authority. The Secret Service continued to be the only federal agency available. However, such a central body was desired in order to create clear responsibility on the basis of a law.

Since then, he has been protecting the President of the United States and his close relatives. The US agents are heavily armed and work with local police and the military to protect the president while he is traveling.

In 1994, Congress passed a law that only presidents who were elected to office before January 1, 1997, have lifelong protection from the Secret Service. Anyone who took office after January 1st is only entitled to ten years of protection after leaving office. However, this change in the law was reversed in 2013 when President Barack Obama signed a bill to this effect in January 2013. This means that both Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush are entitled to lifelong personal protection. In 1985, however, Richard Nixon, eleven years after the end of his presidency, was the only ex-president to voluntarily renounce personal protection.

The Secret Service today has about 6,500 employees: 3,200 special agents (bodyguards and investigators in financial fraud), 1,300 employees of the "Uniformed Division", who protect some government buildings and foreign missions, and 2,000 technical and administrative employees.

Typically, Secret Service officers use the SIG Sauer P229 as a handgun.

Criticism of missions in Germany

Visit from President George W. Bush

In Germany, when President George W. Bush visited Mainz in February 2005 , the Secret Service was uncomfortably noticed because 150 take-offs and landings were canceled due to massive security measures at Frankfurt Airport . At the G8 summit in Cologne in 1999 , the Secret Service initially wanted the Hohenzollern Bridge , Cologne's busiest railway bridge over the Rhine, to be closed for several hours. Due to the importance of Cologne Central Station as a Western European railway hub, this blockage would have brought large parts of long-distance traffic on the high-speed lines between Paris, Brussels, Cologne and Amsterdam (PBKA) and the neighboring regions in western Germany, the Netherlands , Belgium and northern France to a standstill. The German Bahn AG was able to prevail with an intervention by politicians prevent the blocking.


Furthermore, criticism was voiced when Secret Service employees allegedly arrested a suspected criminal at Frankfurt Airport in March 2008 without the permission of the German authorities, for whom no arrest warrant was available in Germany.

The federal government , on the other hand, stated that the Secret Service officials in Germany only have advisory powers and are not allowed to detain anyone for longer without the involvement of the federal police . The government also said that, contrary to what some witnesses said, a federal police officer was always present when arrests were ordered. According to a contract dating from 2007, the use of US agents at German airports to counter terrorism is expressly desired.

In German-American extradition traffic on the basis of the extradition contract between the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States of America of June 20, 1978 in the version of the supplementary contract of October 21, 1986 (US-AuslV), a suspicion check is carried out on the German side according to the case law generally does not take place. The government further emphasizes that the United States of America are not obliged to give reasons for the arrest, despite the information contained in Article 16, Paragraph 2, Clause 3 of the US-AuslV; an informal arrest warrant is sufficient.


James M. Murray has been Director of the USSS since May 1, 2019.

Previous leaders were:

  1. William P. Wood (1865-1869)
  2. Herman C. Whitley (1869–1874)
  3. Elmer Washburn (1874–1876)
  4. James Brooks (Interim) (1876-1888)
  5. John S. Bell (Interim) (1888–1890)
  6. AL Drummond (1891-1894)
  7. William P. Hazen (1894–1898)
  8. John E. Wilkie (1898-1911)
  9. William J. Flynn (1912-1917)
  10. William H. Moran (1917-1936)
  11. Frank J. Wilson (1937-1946)
  12. James J. Maloney (1946-1948)
  13. UE Baughman (1948–1961)
  14. James J. Rowley (1961-1973)
  15. H. Stuart Knight (1973-1981)
  16. John R. Simpson (1981-1992)
  17. John Magaw (1992-1993)
  18. Eljay B. Bowron (1993-1997)
  19. Lewis C. Merletti (1997-1999)
  20. Brian L. Stafford (1999-2003)
  21. W. Ralph Basham (2003-2006)
  22. Mark J. Sullivan (2006-2013)
  23. Julia Pierson (2013-2014)
  24. Joseph Clancy (2014-2017)
  25. Randolph Everything (2017-2019)
  26. James M. Murray (since 2019)

Media reception


TV Shows

Web links

Commons : United States Secret Service  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Frequently Asked Questions - "Quiet Beginnings". (No longer available online.) In: secretservice.gov. Archived from the original on March 23, 2010 ; accessed on June 11, 2010 (English). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.secretservice.gov
  2. Leadership. In: secretservice.gov. Retrieved September 6, 2019 .
  3. ^ Careers Built on Integrity. From SecretService.gov, accessed December 13, 2019.
  4. cf. Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones: The FBI. A history . New Haven 2008, pp. 17-56.
  5. ^ Careers Built on Integrity. In: secretservice.gov. Retrieved December 13, 2019 : "The Secret Service employs approximately 3,200 special agents, 1,300 Uniformed Division officers, and more than 2,000 other specialized administrative, professional and technical support personnel."
  6. Holger Stark: Hunt for "Jonny Hell" . In: Spiegel Online . June 30, 2008.
  7. US agents check German airports. In: T-Online.de . November 18, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2017 .
  8. Dresden Higher Regional Court, decision of December 2, 2008 - OLG Ausl 117/08 = BeckRS 2009 03648
  9. With regard to the judgment, further judgments and reasons: extradition to the USA. In: aus Lieferungsverfahren.de. Defense lawyers Rademacher & Horst, accessed on July 26, 2017 .
  10. Leadership. In: secretservice.gov. Retrieved September 6, 2019 .