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The United States Secret Service is a branch of Homeland Security, with two distinct missions. Treasury, investigating counterfeiting and other threats to the national finances.

Its other duty, and the one for which it is better known, is protective services. Protection is provided for sitting presidents and for former presidents, and other major government officials, including viable candidates for a forthcoming presidential election.

Originally, the Secret Service had wider roles, but many of these have been taken over by other federal agencies.


Secret Intelligence Service

The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly known as MI6, is the foreign intelligence service of the United Kingdom, tasked mainly with the covert overseas collection and analysis of human intelligence (HUMINT) in support of the UK's national security. SIS is a member of the country's intelligence community and its Chief is directly accountable to the Foreign Secretary. [4]

Formed in 1909 as the foreign section of the Secret Service Bureau, the section experienced dramatic growth during World War I and officially adopted its current name around 1920. [5] The name "MI6" (meaning Military Intelligence, Section 6) originated as a flag of convenience during World War II, when SIS was known by many names. It is still commonly used today. [5] The existence of SIS was not officially acknowledged until 1994. [6] That year the Intelligence Services Act 1994 (ISA) was introduced to Parliament, to place the organisation on a statutory footing for the first time. It provides the legal basis for its operations. Today, SIS is subject to public oversight by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. [7]

The stated priority roles of SIS are counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation, providing intelligence in support of cyber security, and supporting stability overseas to disrupt terrorism and other criminal activities. [8] Unlike its main sister agencies, the Security Service (MI5) and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), SIS works exclusively in foreign intelligence gathering the ISA allows it to carry out operations only against persons outside the British Islands. [9] Some of SIS's actions since the 2000s have attracted significant controversy, such as its alleged complicity in acts of torture and extraordinary rendition. [10] [11]

Since 1994, SIS has been headquartered in the SIS Building in London, on the South Bank of the River Thames. [12]


A History of the Most Fascinating First Family Secret Service Code Names

By Brett Malec &bull Published January 21, 2021 &bull Updated on January 21, 2021 at 4:57 pm

What's in a code name? A lot of history, that's what.

For over 75 years, U.S. presidents and first families have taken part in a long-honored tradition of going by nicknames symbolic of their personalities or legacies. Dating back to the early decades of the 1900s, the Secret Service originally began using code names for security purposes during times when electronic communications weren't encrypted.

While still used today for purposes of brevity and clarity, the practice has become more symbolic with Presidents and members of their immediate families choosing code names that all start with the same letter but hold individual personal meanings to each person (though they rarely publicly explain their choices).

Former President Barack Obama's code name was Renegade while First Lady Michelle Obama went by Renaissance. Their daughters Sasha Obama and Malia Obama were Rosebud and Radiance respectively.

Former President Donald Trump went by Mogul, a nod to his businessman background, while first lady Melania Trump, a former model, chose Muse.

A Who's Who Guide to Vice President Kamala Harris' Family

A Guide to Joe and Jill Biden's Sprawling Family

As for the country's newest President Joe Biden, who was inaugurated yesterday, Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C. during a star-studded ceremony, his Irish roots inspired his name Celtic while wife and current first lady Jill Biden goes by Capri.

Scroll through the photo gallery below to see some of the most fascinating and intriguing Secret Service code names held by many past presidents and their family members.


Abraham Lincoln Created The Secret Service The Day He Was Shot

On April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. He’d die the next morning.

But also on April 14, 1865, Lincoln signed into law a piece of legislation which created the Secret Service — the law enforcement agency charged with defending the President from, among other things, assassination attempts such as the one that befell Lincoln that evening. Was Lincoln also a victim of bad timing? Perhaps he had ESP? Not really — rather, it’s a strange historical coincidence. While we currently think of the Secret Service as primarily existing to protect the President, that was not its original intent.

During the early to mid-1800s, roughly a third of American money was counterfeit. The solution was something similar to today’s approach to large scale problems — form a commission. On the urging of Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch, Lincoln did exactly that. The conclusion was to form a federal law enforcement division (at the time, there was no FBI), the “Secret Service of Division of the Department of the Treasury.” That Division was born just hours before John Wilkes Booth fatally shot the President.

The Secret Service carried out their Treasury duties, primarily, for the next 35 years. While Lincoln’s assassination sparked a discussion about the need for a permanent security detail for the President, this need went unfulfilled for decades. In the interim period, both James A. Garfield (1881) and William McKinley (1901) were assassinated. The latter caused Congress to work toward a solution, and, informally, Presidential security became a duty of the Service starting with McKinley’s successor, Theodore Roosevelt.

The Service’s mission still includes “investigations into crimes against the financial infrastructure of the United States.”

Bonus fact : During the American Revolution, then-General Washington had a security detail which traveled with him, called the “Command-in-Chief’s Guard.” The Guard was disbanded in 1783, after the War. But it was not free of controversy. One of the Guardsmen, Thomas Hickey, was caught counterfeiting (another coincidence!) and incarcerated. While incarcerated, he confessed to another inmate that he was plotting to defect to the British. He was executed in June of 1776.

From the Archives : The One Hundred Trillion Dollar Bill: The story of a real — that is, non-counterfeit — bill, in the denomination stated, but in reality, worthless.

Related : “The Life of Abraham Lincoln” by Henry Ketcham, a classic in its own right. Also available on Kindle, for free.


Secret Service History: Protecting the President

The following article on Secret Service history is an excerpt from Mel Ayton’s Hunting the President: Threats, Plots, and Assassination Attempts—From FDR to Obama. It is available for order now from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

President Roosevelt, the only president elected four times, who led America during the Great Depression and through World War II, was the target of would-be assassins who threatened to bomb his train, blow up the White House, and simply shoot him. Most of these threats against the president were the rantings of mentally ill individuals, drunks, or attention-seekers, but even they can be assassins, and some of the threats were considered extremely dangerous by FDR’s protectors.

Secret Service history began when government officials realized that the president required his own special security detail. Roosevelt received an average of forty thousand letters a month at the White House. Five thousand of those were threatening. According to the chief of the White House Secret Service detail, Michael Reilly, the greatest threat to the president came not from the foreign agents or American traitors, but from people who were just “plain nuts.” Reilly singled out Los Angeles as the most dangerous city for the president, as it had “more nuts per acre than any other American city.”

In 1937, President Roosevelt appointed Frank J. Wilson as Secret Service chief. In the annals of Secret Service history Wilson is sometimes called the “father of the modern Secret Service” because of the way he improved the president’s security after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Wilson’s security procedures remained the Secret Service standard until the 1980s.

But in Secret Service history, its origins go back to the beginning of the Roosevelt administration. The need for such protection became clear very soon.

Franklin Roosevelt was elected president in November 1932. In the three months he spent as president-elect, FDR was the target of an Italian anarchist and another deranged bomber.

On February 15, 1933, while on a fishing trip with Vincent Astor, Roosevelt gave an impromptu speech at Miami’s Bayfront Park. FDR was in a green Buick convertible, the lead car of a three-car motorcade. With Roosevelt in the Buick were Secret Service agent Gus Gennerich, press aide Marvin H. McIntyre, and Miami mayor R. B. Gauthier.

FDR did not leave his car but stood addressing the crowd. He spoke less than two minutes. In the audience was Chicago mayor Anton Cermak, who stepped over to shake Roosevelt’s hand. Someone then handed Roosevelt a telegram, and as the president reached to take it, an Italian immigrant named Giuseppe Zangara stood on a chair amidst the crowd and opened fire with a nickel-plated .32 caliber double-action revolver. Although the shots missed FDR, a bullet came within two feet of his head. Mayor Cermak was hit along with four others in the crowd. Roosevelt told his Secret Service agents to put Cermak in the presidential car and held the fatally wounded mayor on the way to the hospital.

Zangara pleaded guilty to four counts of assault and was sentenced to eighty years in prison. When Mayor Cermak died on March 6, Zangara was tried a second time. He again pleaded guilty and received the death sentence. During his trial Zangara said he thought he had the “right to kill him. . . . I see Mr. Hoover, I kill him first. Make no difference who go get that job. Run by big money . . . I sorry Roosevelt still alive. . . . I want to shoot Roosevelt.” Zangara’s self-proclaimed mission was to “kill kings and presidents first and next all capitalists.”

Zangara was electrocuted with 230 volts from Raiford Prison’s “Old Sparky” surging through his body at 9:27 a.m. on March 20. His last words were “Viva Italia! Goodbye to all poor people everywhere! Pusha da button! Go ahead, pusha da button.”

This article on Roosevelt assassination attempts is from Mel Ayton’s Hunting the President: Threats, Plots, and Assassination Attempts—From FDR to Obama.. Please use this data for any reference citations. To order this book, please visit its online sales page at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

You can also buy the book by clicking on the buttons to the left.


Artful Fakes

U.S. Secret Service

Left: A counterfeit note by Emanuel Ninger, nicknamed "Jim the Penman." He prospered faking bank notes for nearly 20 years (telling his neighbors that his wealth derived via a pension from the Prussian army) until he was captured by the Secret Service in March 1896.

Supporters testified at his trial that Ninger's bills were works of art, worth more as collectors' items than the bills' stated value.


Abraham Lincoln established the Secret Service for a different reason

It wasn't as though there was no danger. There had been attacks on presidents before, and Lincoln's life was in danger from the time he was elected. Allan Pinkerton and his team helped stop a Lincoln assassination plot when the newly-elected president was on his way to take office in Washington D.C.

However, when Lincoln formed the Secret Service, the problem on his mind was counterfeiting. By April 1865, as Time tells us, anywhere from a third to half of American currency was fraudulent. In mid-19th Century America, counterfeiting was surprisingly easy, and it was threatening to ruin the nation's economic system.

It was Treasury Secretary Hugh McCulloch who suggested the President establish a "regular permanent force whose job it [would] be to put these counterfeiters out of business." These were the days before the FBI, and his idea was to form a federal law enforcement division, says Mental Floss, called the "Secret Service Division of the Department of the Treasury." Lincoln created the agency on Good Friday, April 14, 1865. That same evening, he attended the theater with his wife, where he was shot by actor John Wilkes Booth, and died the next day.

Over 150 years later, the Secret Service still investigates "crimes against the financial infrastructure of the United States."


Secret Service - History

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MI6, formally Secret Intelligence Service, British government agency responsible for the collection, analysis, and appropriate dissemination of foreign intelligence. MI6 is also charged with the conduct of espionage activities outside British territory. It has existed in various forms since the establishment of a secret service in 1569 by Sir Francis Walsingham, who became secretary of state to Queen Elizabeth I. It was constituted in its present form in 1912 by Commander (later Sir) Mansfield Cumming as part of Britain’s attempt to coordinate intelligence activities prior to the outbreak of World War I. In the 1930s and ’40s it was considered the most effective intelligence service in the world. Following the rise to power of Adolf Hitler in Germany, MI6 conducted espionage operations in Europe, Latin America, and much of Asia. (The name “MI6” label originated during this period, when the agency was “section six” of military intelligence.)

When the United States entered World War II, MI6 helped to train personnel of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services it has since cooperated with the OSS’s successor, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In the mid-1950s, the British public reacted with consternation when it was revealed that MI6 had been penetrated by British double agents who had served the Soviet Union since the 1930s. Details of MI6 operations and relationships seldom appeared in the British press until the 1990s, when the previously secretive organization publicly named its head for the first time. Nevertheless, information about MI6 is still much more closely guarded than that about MI5, which carries out internal security and domestic counterintelligence activities. The agency has the power to censor news accounts of its activities through the use of “D” notices under the Official Secrets Act. MI6 reports to the Foreign Office.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor, Reference Content.


Secret Service and the Presidents

A plainclothes guard at the White House east gate during the Civil War.

A White House policeman standing at the North Entrance of the White House, c. 1890.

Secret Service Chief John Wilkie in his office, c. 1910.

U.S. Secret Service agents Edmund Starling (left, directly behind First Lady Grace Coolidge) and James "Jim" Haley (right, behind President Calvin Coolidge) as they leave Congregational Church in Washington, D.C.

Library of Congress, National Photo Collection

A military guard directs pedestrian traffic away from the Northwest entrance of the White House during World War II.

Military guards march outside the White House gates during World War II.

The White House Police Force was created in 1922, placed under the supervision of the Secret Service in 1930, and later renamed the Executive Protective Service in 1970. It was renamed the Secret Service Uniformed Division in 1977. President Barack Obama addresses officers before a group photo at the South Portico of the White House, 2011.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

A U.S. Secret Service agent prepares to open the door to the Oval Office for President Barack Obama in 2009.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Historian William Seale has described presidential protection as a learning process, with presidents and their families and the Secret Service sometimes straining to adjust to one another.

Although from the beginning guards were posted at the White House gates and front doors and the White House grounds were patrolled by a day guard and a night watchmen, it was not until 1842 that the first permanent security force for the White House was established—an auxiliary guard of a captain and three other men. The proposal to create the force had met opposition in Congress Sen. John J. Crittenden of Kentucky warned “it might be metamorphosed into a political guard for the executive … it would not be entirely safe to organize such a corps. It was a little sort of stand guard, which might eventually become a formidable army.” 1

Crittenden’s fears went unrealized, and in 1853 Franklin Pierce became the first president to have a full-time bodyguard, and also introduced the two-level security arrangement that characterizes presidential protection today. A guarded outer perimeter securing the Executive Mansion itself, and an inner perimeter—the bodyguard to protect the person of the president.

During the Civil War there were heightened security fears in Washington that Confederates just across the Potomac in Virginia could easily slip across and attack President Abraham Lincoln at the White House. Metropolitan Police guarded the Executive Mansion but Lincoln did not want the house to take on the characteristics of an armed camp. Guards inside the Mansion (the doormen) dressed in civilian clothes and concealed their firearms. Uniformed, armed sentries were posted at the gates to the grounds and at the doors to the Executive Mansion itself.

During the Theodore Roosevelt administration (1901-1909), the Secret Service assumed full-time responsibility for protecting the President. President Roosevelt was guarded by at least two Secret Service men. Roosevelt chafed under the safeguard. “He did not like restraint,” one observer recalled. “Always free and active in his manner of life, he found the vigilance of the secret service men irksome and their constant presence irritating.” To frustration of his Secret Service detail, Roosevelt would sometimes secretly slip off the White House grounds and go for an invigorating hike or horseback ride in Rock Creek Park. 2

His successor, William Howard Taft, followed the same mischievous tradition. At 4:30 on Christmas Eve afternoon 1911, the president and first lady secretly left the White House on foot in a rainstorm to call on friends as a surprise. When the Secret Service discovered their absence, there was widespread panic. Chief John Wilkie and his men scurried all over town searching for them. Two hours after their departure a soaked and dripping first couple returned to the White House, smiling broadly. 3

Edmund W. Starling, who would become chief of the White House Secret Service detail in the 1920s, frequently saw presidents in unguarded moments. When the widowed President Woodrow Wilson was courting the widowed Mrs. Edith Galt, he would often walk back from her home on 20th Street to the White House with Starling. The agent found it difficult to believe the president was 58 years old, for “We walked briskly, and the president danced off the curbs and up them when we crossed streets.” 4

Starling was a particular favorite of President Calvin Coolidge, who often tried to outwit his protector. “Sometimes … he would try to sneak out the East or the West entrance, just to fool me. … One day I turned the tables on him and hid in the police box on the East side. He came out of the engine room, up the East steps, and passed right by me. I fell into position behind him. When he reached the gate he turned around with a look of glee on his face. ‘Good morning, Mr. President,’ I said. He turned and headed for F Street without saying a word.” 5

Following the United States’ entry into World War II, the Secret Service changed the White House grounds forever, banning casual visitors and setting up sentry boxes manned by agents and members of the White House police force. “No more throngs of Congressional constituents being escorted along the beautiful, stately grand corridor … from the East Room to the State Dining Room,” the first lady’s good friend Lorena Hickok remembered, “No more government clerks hurrying through the grounds … in the late afternoon on their way home from work … No more Sunday tourists feeding the squirrels, taking snapshots and hanging around the portico hoping someone interesting would come out.” 6

President Franklin Roosevelt objected to security plans by the Secret Service and the military to cover the White House skylights, paint the White House in camouflage, place machine gun turrets on the roof, or to build barricades or station a group of tanks around the mansion, feeling that the public would be alarmed unnecessarily. The first lady shared some of the president’s irritation with the safety measures. “Mrs. Roosevelt is very much annoyed today with Secret Service …” her personal secretary Malvina “Tommy” Thompson noted nine days after Pearl Harbor, “because they insisted she could not have 350 foreign students in the White House for tea. … In exasperation, Mrs. Roosevelt asked if they were going to take down the Washington monument because an enemy could measure the distance between it and the White House.” 7

Since World War II the degree of Secret Service protection for the president and family has increased significantly, and the relationship can be, as President Harry S. Truman’s daughter Margaret wrote in 1972, “often hectic, but never unfriendly.” The Secret Service agents guarding her and her parents, she concluded, were “probably the finest, most dedicated group … I have ever met.” 8


They’re not there to carry bags or pick up breakfast from the corner bakery, and they’ll likely be super annoyed if you ask them to do any such thing. Robinson tells a story about VP Walter Mondale asking the SS to pick up his laundry, a request that didn’t fly.

According to Ronald Kessler, author of In the President’s Secret Service, the president can ask that Secret Service protection be assigned to people if they see a need. For example, some of the White House staff was assigned SS details after 9-11.



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