The U.S. Secret Service (USSS) is a government agency charged with preventing counterfeiting and protecting the president of the United States, other high-ranking government officials, and presidential candidates. From its establishment in 1865 until March 1, 2003, the Secret Service was housed within the TREASURY DEPARTMENT. The Secret Service was thereafter a part of the HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT. Its headquarters are in Washington, D.C., and a director, who is appointed by the president, administers the agency. It has field offices throughout the United States and overseas.
President ABRAHAM LINCOLN appointed a commission to combat the counterfeiting of U.S. currency and coins, which had led to dire economic consequences during the Civil War. He established the Secret Service in April 1865 to carry out the commission's recommendations. During the remainder of the nineteenth century the Secret Service successfully addressed the issue of counterfeiting. Its role changed after the 1901 assassination of President WILLIAM MCKINLEY, however. Congress at first informally requested the Secret Service to protect President THEODORE ROOSEVELT and in 1907 began to appropriate funds for presidential protection. In 1917, threats against the president became a felony and Secret Service protection was broadened to include all members of the First Family. In 1951, protection of the vice president and the president-elect was added. After the assassination of presidential candidate ROBERT KENNEDY in 1968, President LYNDON B. JOHNSON authorized the Secret Service to protect all presidential candidates. In 1971 Congress authorized the Secret Service to protect visiting heads of a foreign state or government; in 1975 this responsibility was broadened to include the protection of foreign diplomatic missions throughout the United States. In 1994 Congress passed a law that limits Secret Service protection of former presidents to 10 years after leaving office.
With the growing threat of TERRORISM, the mission of the Secret Service has expanded. In 2000 Congress enacted the Presidential Threat Protection Act. This law authorized the Secret Service to participate in the planning, coordination, and implementation of security operations at special events of national significance ("National Special Security Event"), as determined by the president. Following the SEPTEMBER 11TH TERRORIST ATTACKS in 2001 on New York...