Secret Service

Posted: Oct 02, 2014 12:01 AM

The United States Secret Service (USSS) is in a slump.

The Secret Service used to be part of the Treasury Department. That was because, when the Service was established in 1865, "one-third to one-half" of all currency in circulation in the United States was counterfeit. What with this being just three months after the end of the Civil War, and all, the Secret Service's job was to put a stop to that.

Presidential protection began as an "informal" part of the Service's duties in 1894 in President Grover Cleveland's second (and, as you remember, non-consecutive) term.

The Secret Service got into the Presidential Protection business in earnest after the assassination of President William McKinley, when it assumed full-time responsibility for Presidential protection by assigning two (2) agents to watch over the 42-year-old Theodore Roosevelt who had been McKinley's Vice President.

In 1922, President Warren Harding asked that a special force - the White House Police Force - be created to protect the Executive Mansion. That force was folded into the USSS and in 1970 was renamed the Executive Protective Service. Seven years later it was renamed, again, to its current Uniformed Division of the Secret Service.

In March, 2003 the USSS was officially transferred from the Treasury Department to the newly created Department of Homeland Security. Although the new Department didn't have much to do with Presidential protection or counterfeiting, it did get responsibility for cyber-crimes which had been put into the USSS' portfolio as part of the U.S. Patriot Act in 2001.

The Secret Service is currently under enormous pressure - and rightly so. For my entire life the Service has been a highly respected corps of trained investigators and admired - revered, even - protectors of Presidents and their families.

Now there seems to be a daily torrent of articles detailing dangerous - potentially deadly - mistakes.

In light of the Director Julia Pierson's resignation, if I were the President here's what I'd do. Today.

I would tape a video message for every one of the "3,200 special agents, 1,300 Uniformed Division officers, and more than 2,000 other technical, professional and administrative support personnel."

Here's what such a message might say:

Thank you for agreeing to spend a few minutes with me today. At the top, I want to assure each and every one of you that Michelle and I, over the past seven years, have come to not just appreciate, but to stand in awe of, the dedication, the professionalism, and the loyalty that you show on behalf of our family and on behalf of our nation every minute of every day.

I wanted to talk to you today to make certain that you understand that even the best hitters on the best teams sometimes get into a slump. That doesn't make them any less accomplished a hitter, nor their team any less fearful an opponent. You and I have read, since we were small children, that when you are in a slump you just have to keep grinding: Show up for work every day, get a good look at the ball, and work your way through it.

Michelle, our children, and I know how hard being on a protective detail can be on you and YOUR families. Do not think for one second that we take you - or them - for granted.

The current theory is that moving the Secret Service from Treasury to DHS is responsible for this slump. I don't know if that's correct or not, but I have appointed a committee of Cabinet Department Secretaries:

-- Secretary Lew at Treasury,

-- Attorney General Holder at Justice,

-- Secretary Johnson at DHS and

-- Secretary Hagel at Defense

As he has already announced his impending retirement, I have asked the Attorney General to chair this committee.

The committee will convene immediately and report back to me within 30 days with their recommendation(s) as to what I can do, as the head of the Executive Branch, to make your job more precise; your role more focused; your home life more stable.

The Secret Service has a long and proud tradition of being among the most elite law enforcement units on the planet. That still is, and will continue to be, the case.

The Secret Service is still a fearful team of accomplished hitters and I am asking you - on behalf of every American - to keep grinding.

Thank you and stay safe.

"Keep grinding." Good advice for all of us.

On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the history of the USSS and to the Washington Post's look back at Secret Service issues since 2009. Also a Mullfoto that might get me on the "No Fly" list.