Black and white suit? Check. Reflective sunglasses? Check. Earpiece? Check. These uniformed professionals mean serious business. They are known as the Secret Service. An agency, formed in 1865, employing over 6,500 employees currently. The secret service was formed in order to monitor counterfeit currency. It has evolved into investigating financial crimes and protecting the safety of the current and past national leaders.
We have a certain image in our minds about this elite group of people. Popular television shows and movies emphasize the professionalism, secrecy and power this agency holds. Although this strict sense of security is the agency’s number one priority, perfection has not always guided their paths. Major breaches in protocol have risen and broadcasted for the world to know.
The secret service wants to uphold a strict and professional reputation, the job is serious and there is no leeway for error from the employee. When discrepancies do arise, it is handled immediately and preferably in private. The agency has been around for decades, so it is only natural that some type of mishap will occur at some point. As much as we conceive the operations to be very robotic, its members are human after all and perfection never exists.
The members of this service risk their lives every day in order to ensure protection for the country and its leaders. It is an admirable daily task and lifestyle they choose to swear into. They must always blend into crowds, appearing unrecognizable, and ensure a magnitude of security for the task at hand. A salute to these American heroes and their efforts. On the flip side, the secret service values its reputation and likes to keep many elements involving this agency from the public eye. Just how secret is this SECRET service we speak of? Keep reading to find out 10 things they don’t want you to know…
10. Secret Service Missed Man With A Gun Riding An Elevator With Obama
During a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, a man carrying a gun was able to ride in an elevator with the President. The secret service was not aware of this happening and it caused an uproar in questioning the president’s security measures. There was no immediate threat during the time and the overall experience was minimal in terms of harm. The man turned out to be a security officer for the CDC and began to behave unprofessionally while riding the elevator. He took out his phone and began snapping photos. The man was later interviewed and had his gun removed. It was later discovered he had a criminal record. It is the secret service’s job to know who will have access to the President whenever he travels anywhere. Personnel also needs clearance for a gun if they are within contact with the President. Contract security officers are not allowed to be armed. The man lost his job and is still baffled as to why.
9. Secret Service Agents And Prostitutes In Colombia
In April 2012, 11 agents and personnel from 4 different branches of the US military received a lot of heat from the actions undergone while visiting Cartenga, Colombia. While on a mission to protect the President on a visit for the 6th Summit of the Americas, the agents engaged with prostitutes and the press had a field day. After this incident broke headlines, nine agents either retired or resigned by April 24th, 2012. New regulations were put into place immediately. It is firmly prohibited for agents to be associated with non- reputable establishments. They also are no longer allowed to consume alcohol 10 hours before beginning work. There is now a heavy restriction on who enters and leaves hotel rooms while on leave. The agents could not help themselves as they were tempted in South America, but unfortunately it costed them their entire careers and public shame. This is one secret they probably wish was never revealed.
8. Two Drunk Agents Crashed An Official Government Vehicle
In 2015, two senior agents collided an official government vehicle into a barrier at the White House while inebriated. George Ogilvie and Marc Connolly allegedly spent five hours at a bar racking up an alleged $147.87-bill, which included eight Johnnie Walker Reds, two vodkas, three beers and one glass of wine. Although the duo claims it was not all consumed by them, they definitely were not sober enough to be on the job or driving the vehicle. The officers on duty who interacted with the agents at the time claimed that something wasn’t right and that they were not making sense, but no sobriety tests were ever done at the time. The incident caused Connolly to retire and Ogilvie to be put on administrative leave. The results of the incident caused 18 secret service employees rage and revenge for the ‘injustice’. A threat of leaking private information about the official investigator of the incident, Jason Chaffetz was done in retaliation. The Daily Beast released information in regards to Chaffetz’ unsuccessful 2003 application for employment with the secret service.
7. An Intruder Jumped The White House Fence
On September 19th, 2014 Omar Gonzalez was apprehended for jumping the White House fence in hopes of telling the president that “the atmosphere was collapsing” while he carried a knife. Gonzalez is an Iraq war veteran suffering from PTSD. Gonzalez was later sentenced to 17 months in prison with 3 years probation. He was charged with entering a restricted building while carrying a deadly weapon as well as assaulting a federal officer. He pleaded guilty to both his charges. At the time of the incident, the President and his family were not home. Gonzalez was able to hop the fence and enter the building without being stopped by security. The secret service only apprehended the intruder after he made it past the main entrance with no alarm going on. An off-duty agent leaving for the night saw Gonzalez and tackled him stopping any further harm. The alarm was disabled purposely due to the fact that it was ‘disruptive’, even though the whole point is to alert agents if an intruder is present.
6. They Have A Hidden Headquarter
The secret service has a major building in Washington, DC for its headquarters. Obviously, it is difficult to mask a huge building in the middle of the street, but they try as many methods to do so. There are probably many other underground or severely hidden buildings that the general public really does not know about. If the secret service really wants to keep things hidden, they find a way. This building is located on H street in Washington. It is a nine-story unmarked, tan-bricked building. The public does not know anything about what is inside. They do not even leave trash cans outside in order to protect itself from potential bombings. What we do know about the interior is that it has multiple armories, a joint operations center, a silver star cafe and thousands of agents within. The first lady was hidden within these walls on 9/11.
5. A White House Maid Corrects Secret Service Mistake
The White House is one of the most famous buildings in the entire world. It holds an astonishing 132 rooms, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases and 3 elevators. With such a large house comes 24/7 maintenance and security. The trusted employees maneuver around the house providing their duties. The housemaid staff is trained to be alert of any signs of unusual or suspicious activity. In 2011, while cleaning, a maid noticed a broken window and broken concrete on the floor coming in from a balcony. She immediately found this peculiar and alerted those in charge. The FBI conducted an investigation and found that the damage was actually seven gunshots fired directly at the White House. The secret service had dismissed this activity prior to the FBI investigation as a gang shooting that was completely unrelated to any presidential harm. Fail.
4. The Secret Service Never Stops Training
Sure, once you’ve gone through the gruesome interviews and completed a background check, you think you’re out of the wood, landing the job and are good to go. Wrong. When you are an agent you continually have to prove your status and maintain and or improve your training to keep your job. Every 8 weeks, there is a refresher course that is mandatory for all agents to instill alertness. Training involves practicing the use of revolvers, shotguns and uzis. One must also be able to jump in and out of a moving car with ease. Knowledge of emergency medicine as well as water survival skills need to be upkept. In the beginning, an agent must complete a 10-week program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia, following a 17-week secret service academy course in Washington. Alongside physical requirements, the agents must master financial fraud detection and intelligence techniques.
3. There Is Death Car In Every Presidential Motorcade
It sounds quite morbid, we know, but when it comes to the President, every unexpected detail is accounted for. There have been many assassinations in the past allowing security to improve and prepare to the best of their ability if an attack arises yet again. After President Kennedy was shot in 1968, many security operations were revised. Before 1901 the President was not even properly secured. It took the assassination of William McKinley for proper protocol to begin to take place. A special car called “the death watch” was added to the lineup of cars in the motorcade that films the Presidential car the entire route. If anything happens, it is caught on camera. There was no full footage of what happened when JFK was shot, so this was incorporated for better protection from the secret service to prevent past blunders. We hope it is never used.
2. The First Lady Used To Ask For Cigarettes From Agents
The job of a secret service agent is security, primarily, but also to protect the privacy of the President and his family. In the past, it has been reported that the Jackie Kennedy liked to keep her smoking habit a secret, but would ask the agents for cigarettes to bum. Jackie Kennedy use to smoke with agents along their drives and Laura Bush was reported to enjoy the smoking habit in private from time to time. It is not certain that all First Ladies continued this habit, but it has been noted in the past.
1. They Don’t Always Wear The Classic Suit
Contrary to popular belief, secret service agents are not always dressed in the impeccable black and white attire. The most important thing is to blend in at any costs and at some functions or every day tasks, they must resemble normal-looking people. During President Clinton’s reign, his agents would often have to dress in jogging wear to jog alongside him in public. Clinton refused to use the Presidential track, so the agents definitely got their exercise and fashion change during the term. Agents even accompanied the Kennedy’s to Palm Beach, where they would sport polo shirts and khakis to blend in with the crowd as much as possible. Keep your eye out, because security is always watching whether it is from behind sunglasses or building a castle on the beach. T