Clearly the Secret Service is expanding it's investigative arm; in 2010 the Service established it's second overseas Electronic Crimes Task Force (ECTF), this one in London (in 2009 the Service established an ECTF in Rome, Italy). The point of the ECTF is to provide an avenue through which European and American law enforcement agencies -- along with private sector and academia -- can work together to investigate, suppress and prevent computer-related criminal activity (USSS).
Again and again in the 72-page Fiscal Year 2010 Report readers are reminded of one of the main missions of the Secret Service -- to hunt down and arrest counterfeiters. In 2010 the Secret Service -- along with local authorities -- arrested four Colombian counterfeiters (in Bogota Colombia) that had been printing U.S. currency and distributing it in the United States. Columbia is one of the most prolific producers of counterfeit American money, the report explains, and since 2001 the Secret Service has seized around $263 million in counterfeit cash in Columbia, has arrested more than 700 suspects and "suppressed" over 110 counterfeit printing plants. Also in 2010, the Secret Service established the Peruvian Counterfeit Task Force (PCTF), responding to the "marked" increase in the production and passing of counterfeit U.S. currency (USSS).
Clearly, if an individual is involved in counterfeiting, or money laundering, or in mortgage fraud -- the Secret Service has a special Mortgage Fraud Section in its Criminal Investigative Division (CID) -- it won't be long before the Secret Service catches up to that person. The Secret Service has Financial Crimes Task Forces (FCTFs) that are currently 900-members strong and are operating in 38 regions, including San Juan, Puerto Rico. Also in its 2010 report the Service lists (in bullet form) the many cyber-criminal organizations it has dismantled. Moreover, the Service is heavily involved with investigating crimes related to ATM machines, the international trafficking of stolen credit cards and identities, and other electronic crimes.
The Electronic Crimes Special Agent Program (ECSAP) unit expects to have hired and trained 1,264 Level I special agents, 174 Level II special agents and 186 Level III special agents. Presently there are 30 ECSAP offices in the United States. The ECSAP was mandated by the legislation known as USA Patriot Act of 2001. The Secret Service was empowered at that time to investigate and attempt to prevent attacks on computers in critical financial infrastructures, albeit the criminals have not been shut down, as is evident from frequent news reports that vital computer systems in the government have been breached.
Secret Service Economics
The Secret Service budget for 2009 was over a billion dollars ($1,640,444); in 2010 the budget grew to $1,702,644; the president's 2011 budget proposal was $1,811,617 (Dept. Of Homeland Security). Meantime the Service is actively recruiting talent -- through advertising and by hosting what is called national diversity conferences specifically designed to recruit women, Native Americans, African-Americans, disabled people and Latinos -- and is offering a starting salary range of $43,964 to $74,891 (USSS Employment Opportunities). To be hired a person must of course be a U.S. citizen (between 21 and 37 years of age), be in excellent health and have visual acuity no worse than 20/60 correctable to 20/20 in both eyes.
To qualify for GL-7 (the top grade of agent) an applicant must have a bachelor's degree and be in the top third of one's graduating class -- or have a full year of graduate level education. Those fluent in a foreign language can receive a 25% boost in salary (USSS Employment).
FBI / CIA / Secret Service -- Are These Conflicting or Overlapping Agencies?
Given that the FBI has offices in virtually every corner of the world (9 in Africa, 13 in Europe and 13 in Asia, for example) and that the FBI investigates some of the same matters as the Secret Service handles (cyber crime and counter-intelligence, for example), is there a chance the two agencies (or the CIA) would be operating at cross-purposes? That question comes to mind based on an article in The Atlantic (Ambinder, 2011), in which journalist Marc Ambinder (after 18 months of peppering the Service with the same request and being turned down) was given access to the workings of the Secret Service during the 65 United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2011. While shadowing "Jack" -- a Secret Service agent assigned to protect controversial Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- Ambinder heard from sources that these "sometimes contradictory priorities within the intelligence community can create spy vs. spy" scenarios (Ambinder, 6).
That is, when Ahmadinejad is in the U.S., the FBI's National Security Division sends teams of undercover agents to "keep tabs on everyone with whom he travels or meets." Hence, while the Secret Service's security detail and counter-surveillance teams find themselves looking out for "suspicious figures" that might threatened Ahmadinejad's safety they have to discern which of those ubiquitous figures also conducting surveillance in behalf of the United States are "friendly" agents. These kind of conflicts -- and potentially embarrassing or even injurious episodes -- help explain the "wariness" with which Secret Service agents view their assignments, Ambinder explains on page 6.
The vital importance of the protection and prevention services that the Secret Service provides to presidents and others mentioned in this paper cannot be minimized, given the danger of terrorism and other crimes that are part of the world's dynamics in the 21st millennium. The public may not realize how dramatically the Secret Service has expanded its roles and services, but from the literature available for this research paper, taxpayers are getting their money's worth and our president and his family are well-protected.
Ambinder, Marc. (2011). Inside the Secret Service. The Atlantic. Retrieved August 11, 2011,
Department of Homeland Security. (2011). Total Budget Authority by Organization. Retrieved August 10, 2011, from http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/budget_bib_fy2011.pdf.
Kessler, Ronald. (2010). In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect. New York: Random House Digital,…