The brave agents of the US Secret Service protect the President with their lives, boldly taking bullets, investigating death threats, all the while never once removing their cool sunglasses or smiling in utter glee. Talk about hardcore!
But in truth, they’re just human beings, regular employees like any one of us. They just happen to carry really big guns and get insight into the private lives of very public figures. Here are some of the more interesting and captivating stories surrounding the Secret Service.
10. Abraham Lincoln Created the Secret Service Hours Before He Was Shot
Allegedly, Lincoln had personal omens pointing to his assassination, so it really sucks that he only managed to create the Secret Service on the same day he would later die.
Lincoln’s actions, however, were not motivated by paranoia. Rather, he created the Secret Service Division on April 14, 1865 in order to stop counterfeiting operations. The legislation was literally on Lincoln’s desk and ready to be put into action. Of course, even if the Secret Service had existed beforehand, it couldn’t have done much to prevent the assassination. There were only a few other federal agencies in action at the time: the US Park Police, Post Office, and the US Marshals. None of these organizations had the manpower to protect the President, so there was no reason to think the Secret Service would either. In those days, Presidents fought off their would-be attackers with a big stick.
Even though Lincoln notoriously died from the bullet of an assassin, it would still take another 30+ years, and two more murdered Presidents (James Garfield and William McKinley), for the Government to finally realize “Oh crap, there really are people out there who want to kill the President.” By the time the Secret Service officially became a protection unit in 1908, the President was finally in safe hands.
9. The Confederacy had a Secret Service Before the Union Did
Ironically, the Secret Service of the Confederate States of America was probably far more prepared than the soon-to-be-born US version. During the Civil War, there were a number of secret operations going on, many of which were beyond official warfare. Yes, there was a Cold War and a Civil War going on at the same time. This was necessary from the Confederates’ point of view, since they were outnumbered, out-gunned, and out-resourced in every way.
What their operations consisted of, we don’t know. By the time the war was all but lost, the Confederacy destroyed all the paperwork covering their clandestine operations. Whatever inventive strategies they cooked up, they apparently didn’t work too well. Mission to subvert the union through chicanery and espionage: totally failed.
8. They Created the FBI
For all we know, magicians, dragons, and UFOs are 100% real. However, because there was no FBI, and thus no X-Files Unit, until the 1930’s, nobody can ever know for sure.
What happened was, the US Department of Justice hired the Secret Service to conduct nationwide investigations beyond the reach of state officials. This led to the official formation of the Bureau of Investigation, which later became the FBI, or the “FEDS” as conspiracy theorists like to call them. Moreover, both of these organizations have to give thanks to the National Bureau of Criminal Identification, which helped federalize the search for state-swapping criminals.
7. Only One Secret Service Member Has Ever Died on Duty
You might think that hundreds, possibly thousands of Secret Service agents have died while performing their highly-dangerous duties. However, despite the many assassination attempts that have happened throughout the years, only one agent ever died on the job. His name was Leslie Coffelt, and he died protecting President Harry Truman on November 1, 1950.
Two Puerto Rican extremists invaded Truman’s location (away from the White House while it was under renovation) and tried to shoot him. Coffelt returned fire, but died from his injuries. Unfortunately for Coffelt, Truman felt more pity toward the murderers than the murdered. After the assassination attempt, he commuted the death sentence of the surviving attacker to life in prison. Not even that happened though, as he was later released to return to Puerto Rico. The only person screwed royally here was poor, dead Leslie Coffelt. No wonder the Secret Service continues to pay tribute to the courageous young fellow.
6. The Secret Service is Not Obligated to Report a Philandering Husband
It must be awkward, those conversations between Secret Service men and the President about to get his freak on with some mistress. Ex-Secret Service agents have stated that JFK’s aides would sneak women into the White House for sexual affairs, and that the Secret Service knew about it. In fact, the brave and non-judgmental agents watching Jackie would report back to the President saying Mrs. Kennedy was coming home, so he better hide the toys.
Lyndon Johnson, meanwhile, was spoken of even less favorably by the agents, who described him as “uncouth”. The ex-agents interviewed by author Raymond Kessler stated that Lyndon Johnson became incensed at the Secret Service after getting caught red-handed by his wife, and blamed them for not warning him in advance. Johnson got over it, but insisted that the Secret Service make it up to him by installing a buzzer system so that he could always be warned if his wife was approaching.
5. Clint Hill Was a Real-Life Action Hero
Long before Sly Stallone and Jackie Chan were doing their own stunts, Secret Service agent Clint Hill was jumping onto moving cars and guarding the President with his body. He was even a reality TV celebrity of the worst variety, if you count the notorious Zapruder film. He was the man famously seen running from the car behind a wounded John F. Kennedy and leaping onto the back of it.
After the shooting, Hill jumped out of his car riding and boarded Kennedy’s, guiding the First Lady back to her seat and placing his body above her and the President, ready to take another bullet. To this day, the Secret Service expresses shame about their failure to protect JFK’s life, but they always speak highly of Clint Hill’s quick thinking and bravery. Hill, however, is much less proud, and never forgave himself for allowing the President to die.
4. Ronald Reagan Packed as Much Heat as His Agents
Ronald Reagan’s not a liberal favorite, but conservatives continue to adore his memory, in no small part because the man was a regular Dirty Harry when it came to protecting himself. Secret Service agents have said that Reagan once came out of his room, in front of the Secret Service, with a pistol tucked on his hip. When asked about it, Reagan said, “In case you boys can’t get the job done, I can help.” Perhaps Reagan watched the film of his own attempted assassination once or twice, and decided that no matter what, there would be no sequel.
The Secret Service even admitted that Reagan carried a pistol when he first met Mikhail Gorbachev. And despite the notoriety of the NRA, Reagan was a proud member. Yes, Reagan was strongly in favor of the Brady Bill and the seven-day waiting period for new gun purchases. That didn’t make him any less of a badass. It just made him a responsible one.
3. The Secret Service Still Investigates Counterfeiters
Yes, all these years later, the Secret Service is still active in federal investigations, including its original mission: investigating fraud and counterfeiting. The protection of the President is simply one additional job the organization takes on. So even though Presidents constantly harass the Secret Service and make them install wife-alarms and what not, these guys are actually doing us a lot of good. They execute stings against malicious hackers and handle cases involving forgeries of American checks and wire fraud.
They also very actively combat that whole Nigerian Prince scam thing, because some folks actually continue to fall for them. Americans lose over $100 million per year by sending their financial information to Sir Baldour Dogooder III or whatever they call themselves these days. It’s such a big problem the Secret Service has actually set up a headquarters in Nigeria, to help combat the cyber-crime right at the source.
2. They Protected Obama for 18 Months Prior to Election
Barack Obama knows he and George W. Bush are notoriously unpopular, which is probably why Obama reversed a 1994 Congress ruling that said Presidents elected after 1997 would only receive ten years of protection after relinquishing their post. This would have made Obama and Bush the ONLY Presidents in history that didn’t have lifetime Secret Service protection.
It was also a smart move by Obama to accept the Secret Service’s offer of protection a year and a half before Election Day 2008 — the earliest bout of protection for any candidate in history. Not only did it help keep away all the racist, MURCA-loving, would-be assassins who wanted him dead, but it also made him seem like the odds-on favorite to win the election.
No wonder Bush is so chummy with Obama. The man literally saved W’s behind by reinstating lifetime Secret Service protection for him too.
1. A Bunch of Secret Service Agents Had Their Own Sexy Entourage
Perhaps taking a few life lessons from philanderer Lyndon Johnson, some good old boys from the Secret Service became embroiled in their own sex scandal in 2012. According to the dismissed agents, the Secret Service has long “tolerated loose guidelines” as long as these quickie relationships (many of which were adulterous) ended whenever the agency left the city.
Once exposed, the scandal resulted in rumors of a “Secret Circus”, a group of wild and horny Secret Service agents that would come into town looking for easy fun. Relationships were broke, agents were fired, and the old “I didn’t know she was a prostitute!” excuse was repeated often.
The dismissed agents’ sexual dalliances are on record but, to this day, the Secret Service denies everything, claiming they do not tolerate anything “unbecoming of a Secret Service employee.” Perhaps they should though. Maybe if guys like these were in charge of handling Johnson’s needs, maybe he wouldn’t have been so damn cranky.