Diplomatic Security Service

Diplomatic Security Service
Diplomatic Security Service
Abbreviation DSS
Seal of the Diplomatic Security Service
DSS Special Agent Badge
Motto Protecting Americans Around the World
Agency overview
Formed 1916 Bureau of Secret Intelligence
1945 Office of Security (SY)
1985 Diplomatic Security Service
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency United States
General nature
Specialist jurisdiction Protection of internationally protected persons, other very important persons, and-or of state property of significance.
Operational structure
Headquarters Arlington, Virginia
Agents 2,000
Agency executive Scott Bultrowicz, Director
Parent agency U.S. State Department
Field Offices 8
Resident Agencies 15
Overseas Offices 285
Visa fraud, Passport fraud, Protection of the Secretary of State, visiting foreign dignitaries, U.S. Ambassadors overseas and U.S. embassies and consulates

The U.S. Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) is the federal law enforcement arm of the United States Department of State. The majority of its Special Agents are members of the Foreign Service and federal law enforcement agents at the same time, making them unique. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security, more commonly known as Diplomatic Security, or DS, is the senior, administrative and political face of the Diplomatic Security Service. Both terms, DSS or DS, are used interchangeably inside and outside the State Department to refer to the DSS. The Diplomatic Security Service is structured as a federal law enforcement agency, primarily made up of U.S. Federal Agents mandated to serve overseas and domestically. DSS is the most widely represented U.S. law enforcement agency world wide.[1]



As federal agents, all DSS Special Agents have the power to arrest, carry firearms, and serve arrest warrants and other court processes. DSS Special Agents protect the U.S. Secretary of State and foreign dignitaries. The State Department's web site says that "The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is the security and law enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of State. DS is a world leader in international investigations, threat analysis, cyber security, counterterrorism, security technology, and protection of people, property, and information.".[1]

When assigned to domestic field offices, DSS Special Agents are responsible for conducting investigations into passport and visa fraud as well as providing protection for the United States Secretary of State and others. Overseas, DSS Special Agents are called Regional Security Officers (RSOs), and are charged with the security and law enforcement duties at U.S. missions, embassies, and consular posts.

In addition to investigating crimes involving passport and visa fraud, DSS agents are engaged in other types of investigation.

In cooperation with appropriate U.S. agencies such as the FBI and the CIA, DSS investigates the activities of foreign intelligence agencies directed against Department employees. At the request of other law enforcement agencies, DSS assists in apprehending fugitives who have fled the United States. Personnel security background investigations are conducted on all employees, applicants, and contractors seeking employment with the Department. Intelligence investigations look into terrorist incidents and threats made against State Department employees and facilities throughout the world.

There are approximately 2,000 Diplomatic Security Service special agents. Special Agents are sometimes referred to as "DS Agents" or "DSS Agents". Both terms are used interchangeably within the agency and other organizations.

Unlike all other civilian federal law enforcement officers, DSS agents must serve multiple-year tours overseas as a condition of employment. When not at an overseas assignment, they serve domestically, in field offices and HQ positions. A minority of DSS agents are members of the State Department's civil service (GS-1811) and do not serve tours overseas; they focus on criminal work and dignitary protection within the United States.

Hiring process

DSS agents are hired after an intensive evaluation process that includes an on-line exam, a Foreign Service Board of Examiners writing evaluation, knowledge-based test, panel interview and situational judgment exercises carried out by veteran DSS agents. Those selected undergo a comprehensive medical examination needed for worldwide availability, as well as an exhaustive background investigation for security clearance at the level of top secret/sensitive compartmentalized information (TS/SCI). A final suitability review and vote by a Foreign Service panel evaluates a candidate's overall ability to represent the interests of the United States as a diplomat abroad. All agents have at least a four year university degree. Agent candidates must be under the age of 37 at the time of commissioning. However, due to the decision in Robert P. Isabella v. Department of State and Office of Personnel Management, 2008 M.S.P.B. 146, preference eligible veterans may apply after age 37. In 2009, the Office of Personnel Management issued implementation guidance on the Isabella decision: OPM Letter


After a new agent candidate is hired, he or she begins a six month training program that includes the Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP) at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) (pronounced flet-see) in Glynco, Georgia; a Basic Special Agent Course at the Diplomatic Security Training Center, and courses at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in Arlington, Virginia. A new training facility that will consolidate DSS' far-flung training venues is currently under development. A new agent is usually assigned to a domestic field office for two years before taking on an overseas assignment, although an agent can expect to be sent on frequent temporary duty assignments overseas even when assigned to a domestic post. However, agents may be called overseas much earlier depending on the needs of DSS. As members of the Foreign Service, agents are expected to spend most of their career living and working overseas, often in hazardous environments or less developed countries throughout the world.

  • Basic Special Agent Course (BSAC) (including FLETC): 7 months
  • Basic Regional Security Office Course (RSO School): 3 months
  • High Threat Tactical Training (HTT): 2 months
  • Language Training: 2–12 months per language

Protection mission

DSS is the agency identified to accept high threat protection assignments around the globe. The largest permanent dignitary protection detail carried out by DSS agents is on the Secretary of State. DSS also has an ongoing protection detail on the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

Charles, Prince of Wales during a visit to Washington, D.C.

Most all other 'details' are on visiting foreign dignitaries and diplomats, and are on a temporary basis for the duration of a dignitary's visit. Foreign Ministers from important nations, as well as those with threats, are typically covered by DSS.

DSS has the authority to provide protection for Foreign Heads of State, and did so through the early 1970s. At that time there was an order signed by President Richard Nixon also giving this authority to the U.S. Secret Service (USSS), which has protected heads of state ever since. The appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State raised the question of whether and when the Secret Service or DSS would provide protection. As former First Lady Clinton receives Secret Service protection, as does her husband, who would, presumably, occasionally accompany her on official trips. However, DSS has been named the lead agency to carry out the protection for Mrs. Clinton.

DSS Special Agents protect such dignitaries as Prince Charles, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry of Wales, the Dalai Lama, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and has protected Princess Diana, Yasser Arafat,[2] Zalmay Khalilzad and Boris Yeltsin (in the days preceding the dissolution of the Soviet Union).[3]

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security's Office of Foreign Missions is responsible for the protection of foreign embassies and consulates on U.S. soil.[4] Since the DSS does not have a true uniformed force with police powers, other agencies or local police departments are reimbursed for providing this service. Two notable examples of this are the Secret Service Uniformed Division in Washington, DC and the New York City Police Department in New York City.

DSS Special Agents escort the Dalai Lama from a speaking engagement at Rice University

During the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September, DSS, as well as the USSS, protects many dozens of varied dignitaries, mostly in New York City. DSS may also provide protection to others as assigned, including foreign persons without any government status, but who might have a threat against them.[2] DSS also protects certain U.S. Ambassadors overseas. Currently, the protection detail for the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, James Franklin Jeffrey, is one of the largest critical threat protection details in the history of DSS. Currently the U.S. Ambassadors to Colombia, China, Israel, Egypt, and Jordan all receive large amounts of protection from the DSS.

DSS has also protected or does protect the Presidents of Afghanistan, Haiti and Liberia. What makes these 'details' unique is that the protection, done by U.S. federal agents - DSS, is carried out overseas, in the protected person's home country.[5][6]


DSS investigations, carried out by numerous Field Offices and Resident Agent offices throughout the U.S, and by RSOs overseas, focus mainly on passport or visa fraud. DSS Special Agents also investigate such cases as international parental kidnapping, violations of the Protect Act, assaults on federally protected persons, fugitive arrests overseas (with host nation assistance), Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence (CI) investigations. If there is a nexus to diplomatic activities, the U.S. Foreign Service, or terrorism, DSS is typically involved.

Passport and visa fraud

It is a federal offense to apply or assist someone in applying for a U.S. Passport or Visa when they are not entitled to one. Usually this means an alien in the U.S. trying to establish a false U.S. identity, or stealing the identity from an American, often one who has died. Visa fraud can also include being part of or participating in sham marriages in order to allow an unentitled foreigner to become a U.S. citizen.[7][8][9][10] [11] [12]

Sometimes Americans, including Foreign Service Officers (FSOs), are the target of DSS investigations, such as an FSO selling visas for personal gain. DSS also investigates other alleged improper or illegal behavior by Department of State personnel, to include incidents of espionage. Such cases would involve other agencies, such as the Department of Justice. Overseas DSS must take the role of local and state law enforcement when investigating issues such as spousal or child abuse by U.S. government personnel assigned to the embassy. This is because the host country will not investigate or prosecute diplomats, who are considered to have immunity from their laws. DSS also conducts tens of thousands of background investigations per year - not just for the Department of State, but for other federal agencies as well.

In recent years, DSS has expanded its overseas investigations program with ARSO-I's (Assistant Regional Security Officer-Investigators), also known as "Overseas Criminal Investigators." These agents are given special training in consular functions and are commissioned consular officers. However, they spend a large amount of their time working with the fraud units in consular sections, investigating visa and passport fraud. The ARSO-I's may work alien smuggling and human trafficking investigations alongside the resident or regional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Attaché who has jurisdictional primacy in these arenas. In addition, ARSO-I's also have responsibilities outside of their respective Consular assignments for mission security.


The Diplomatic Security Service Office of Investigations and Counterintelligence (DS/ICI/CI) conducts a robust counterintelligence program designed to deter, detect, and neutralize the efforts of foreign intelligence services targeting Department of State personnel, facilities, and diplomatic missions worldwide.

The office's counterintelligence division conducts aggressive counterintelligence inquires and counterespionage investigations with other U.S. Government agencies. Counterespionage investigations are conducted in close coordination with the FBI in accordance with their legal mandates.

The division conducts numerous counterintelligence and security awareness training programs for all U.S. Government personnel requesting or having access to sensitive Department of State facilities and information. All training programs enhance the understanding of both foreign intelligence and espionage threats and countermeasures, and educate employees on the foreign intelligence environment.

In addition, the office relies on a cadre of security engineers to deter, detect, and neutralize attempts by foreign intelligence services to technically penetrate U.S. office buildings and residences. These efforts range from detecting a simple listening device in the wall to countering the most sophisticated electronic eavesdropping devices and systems.[13]

On June 4, 2009 the DSS and the FBI arrested former Department of State employee Walter Kendall Myers on charges of serving as an illegal agent of the Cuban government for nearly 30 years and conspiring to provide classified U.S. information to the Cuban government. Mr. Myers’ arrest is the culmination of a three-year joint DSS/FBI investigation.[1][14][15] [16][17] [18] [19]


The Diplomatic Security Service maintains agents in dozens of Joint Terrorism Task Force operations around the country. The Office of Protective Intelligence and Investigations (PII) in the Threat Intelligence and Analysis division has DSS Special Agents who travel all over the world investigating threats to the Secretary of State and U.S. Embassies and Consulates. DSS Special Agents on the New York JTTF provided critical information in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and DSS Agents assigned as Regional Security Officers around the world tracked down leads for the FBI and other federal agencies. Any time there is a threat or an attack against a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, DSS Special Agents are the first on the scene to investigate.

The Rewards for Justice Program (RFJ) is the counterterrorism rewards program of the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service. The Secretary of State is currently offering rewards for information that prevents or favorably resolves acts of international terrorism against U.S. persons or property worldwide.

Other investigations

The Diplomatic Security Service investigates crimes against State Department personnel and other U.S. Government personnel and families assigned under Chief of Mission authority at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. DSS Special Agents have investigated thefts, assaults, rapes, and murders, among other charges, around the world. Unlike investigations conducted in the United States by other federal agencies, DSS Agents have to work jointly with their foreign counterparts in often hostile areas of the world.

On January 28, 2009, a news story broke about a CIA station chief Andrew Warren in Algiers, Algeria who was under investigation by DSS for having allegedly raped two Muslim women.[20][21]


Because the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service is the most widely represented law enforcement organization in the world, its capability to track and capture fugitives who have fled U.S. jurisdiction to avoid prosecution is unmatched. During 2009, DSS assisted in the resolution of 136 international fugitive cases from around the globe. DSS collaborates with America's Most Wanted

In 1995 DSS Special Agents Jeff Riner and Bill Miller, the RSOs assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, along with Pakistani police and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), arrested Ahmed Ramzi Yousef, who was wanted in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City.[22]

DSS Special Agent Terrance Lawrence located and returned Jared Ravin Yaffe from Brazil. Yaffe, wanted in California for multiple counts of alleged child sexual assault, kidnapping, and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, was returned to the United States on May 12, 2009, to face trial. On February 11, 2009, the United States District Court, Southern District of California issued a federal arrest warrant for Yaffe for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Yaffe was profiled on the television show America’s Most Wanted on April 11, 2009.[23]

On September 19, 2009, Special Agents from the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) located Derrick Yancey, a former Deputy Sheriff from DeKalb County Georgia, in Punta Gorda, Belize. Yancey was wanted in Georgia for double murder of his wife Linda Yancey and a day laborer. Upon arrival at a local bar, at 6:05 PM local time, a DSS agent tapped on Yancey's shoulder and told him "It is time to go." Belize authorities then arrested Yancey. Yancey was featured on America's Most Wanted.

On November 23, 2009 DSS Special Agents from the U.S. Embassy’s Regional Security Office (RSO) worked closely with the U.S. Marshals Service, Guatemalan National Police, and INTERPOL to locate alleged murder suspect 24-year-old Ariel Beau Patrick, who was taken into custody in Guatemala. Ariel Patrick was featured on America's Most Wanted.[24]

AMW - America's Most Wanted featured the capture of Robert Snyder in Belize - DSS Special Agent (RSO) Rob Kelty interviewed by John Walsh - Segment aired on February 27, 2010 on AMW.

On April 26, 2010 after failing to check in with pretrial services within two days of his April 21 hearing on his bond status, Andrew Warren 42, was apprehended by a combined team of Norfolk Police Department Fugitive Investigators, DSS Special Agents and U.S. Marshals. Judge Ellen S. Huvelle of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a bench warrant for the arrest of the former CIA officer.[25] ABC - Former CIA spy arrested

On July 30, 2010, special agents from the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) located fugitive George Alvin Viste in Peru. Viste is wanted in Clark County, Washington on seven different criminal charges including the rape of a child, child molestation, and incest. “Diplomatic Security’s Regional Security Office in Lima worked closely with the U.S. Marshals Service and our law enforcement counterparts in Peru to locate Viste,” said Jeffrey W. Culver, Director of the Diplomatic Security Service. “ Diplomatic Security Press Release Peruvian press release with video Reuters images

On October 8, 2010, Special Agents from the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) located Dario Sarimiento Tomas in Pampanga, Philippines. DSS worked with Philippine officials to apprehend Tomas, who is wanted in South Korea on charges that he defrauded an individual there of more than $200,000. Tomas was arrested by law enforcement officials from the Philippine National Bureau of Investigations and National Police. Tomas was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Seoul as a Customs and Border Protection Officer. Diplomatic Security Press Release

On January 12, 2011, Special agents from the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) have located and helped return California fugitive John Pope from Mexico. Pope, formerly of San Francisco, was taken into custody by Mexican authorities in La Paz, Mexico on January 12 and returned to the United States on January 18, 2011 to face trial. John Pope has been wanted by the San Francisco District Attorney's Office since October 20, 1998, in connection with allegations of fraud concerning embezzlement of $1,000,000 from the estate of a deceased San Francisco businessman. Newsblaze article

February 3, 2011 - Paul Eischeid, a fugitive, and member of the Hells Angels who had eluded U.S. Marshals for nearly eight years -- is finally in handcuffs. U.S. Marshals tell AMW that the accused murderer was taken down in Buenos Aires on Feb. 3, 2011. Authorities say an Interpol Red Notice, as well as investigations by the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service in Argentina led to the elusive fugitive's capture. Americas Most Wanted AMW

On October 5, 2011, in cooperation with the U.S. Marshals Montana Violent Offender Task Force and the Diplomatic Security Service, the Belize Police Department arrested Michael Patrick McNulty, 48, on a $100,000 warrant issued by the state of Montana. Montana Fugitive arrested in Belize

Overseas mission

Regional Security Office (RSO)

The DSS presence overseas is led at each post (embassy) by a DSS Special Agent who is referred to as a Regional Security Officer, or more commonly as the "RSO", who is the Special Agent-in-Charge of a Regional Security Office and who serves as the senior law enforcement advisor and security attaché to the U.S. Ambassador.

Like all members of the Foreign Service, DSS agents cannot remain posted in the United States for more than five consecutive years and must eventually be assigned to an overseas post.[26]

Once assigned overseas, a DSS agent will typically serve first as a Special Agent called an Assistant Regional Security Officer (ARSO) in a Regional Security Office. Agents that enjoy the overseas lifestyle will try to get a second tour in a Special Agent slot at a large embassy or even possibly a Regional Security Officer (RSO) slot at a small post or a Deputy Regional Security Office (DRSO) at a medium-sized post. Usually after two back-to-back overseas tours agents will be encouraged to return to the U.S. and serve in a Headquarters position before returning overseas as a Regional Security Officer.

DSS has been expanding its criminal role overseas and now has many overseas fraud investigator positions. These positions are referred to as “I” positions - as in “Investigator” - and they are commonly referred to as ARSO-Is. These agents work out of the consular sections of embassies and consulates instead of the Regional Security Offices. The performance of these agents is rated by the RSO or the Deputy RSO and is reviewed by the Consul General.

There are several other overseas positions filled by DSS agents. At new building construction sites, agents will serve as the Site Security Manager (SSM) where they will supervise the overall security of the new building including the Construction Security Technicians (CST) and Cleared American Guards (CAG). For construction at posts where there is a critical counterintelligence (CI) threat, agents will also serve as CI investigators dedicated to preventing compromise of the most sensitive spaces within the new embassy.

It is common for domestically assigned DSS agents to serve temporary duty (TDY) at Embassies overseas. Such duty can range from various types of protection duties to RSO support or security training for an overseas post, and may last for as little as a few days to multiple months.

DSS agents have often found themselves in harm's way with four agents and 28 contract security specialists killed in the line of duty as of July 2006. The vast majority of DSS casualties had taken place within the five years in Iraq where DSS continued to conduct its most critical and dangerous protective missions.

It should be noted however that the Regional Security Officer title is currently in an unofficial period of flux and, although not officially sanctioned, some agents posted overseas use derivative titles such as security attaché or only use their agent titles on their business cards.[citation needed] Newer agents generally dislike the title because it doesn’t reflect their law enforcement status and consider it a vestige of Diplomatic Security's SY days.

According to US law the title "security officer" is legally defined as someone who is employed by a private entity and is not a law enforcement officer.[27] Additionally, it is noted that RSOs no longer cover multiple countries and are thus not regional. Even some more seasoned agents have taken to referring to themselves as Special Agent-in-Charge/Regional Security Officer on their official biographies. [28]

The method in which the RSO title is implemented also has the potential to create confusion when interacting with outside organizations. It is possible at larger overseas missions with multiple diplomatic facilities located in the same country to have multiple agents with the Regional Security Officer title. India, for example, has an RSO position at the embassy at the Senior Foreign Service level and 4 other RSOs at the consulates at the significantly lower grade 3 level yet all of these agents have the same job title. [29] [30] [31] Sometimes the title Senior Regional Security Officer will be used to help prevent confusion or to indicate that the agent is the most senior in the country. [32] [33]

Ramzi Yousef

Ramzi Yousef Captured by the DSS

DSS agents have been involved in the investigations of most terrorist attacks on U.S. interests overseas in the past twenty years, including the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, and bombings of two U.S. Embassies in East Africa in 1998. Perhaps most notably, in 1995 DSS Special Agents Jeff Riner and Bill Miller, the RSOs assigned to the U.S. embassy in Pakistan , along with Pakistani police and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), arrested Ahmed Ramzi Yousef, who was wanted in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City. Despite FBI press releases, it was not the FBI who captured Yousef but the ISI and DSS.[34][35][36][37]

Special event security

In addition to being posted at US missions around the world, DSS agents also have the unusual role of securing large-scale special events where there is a significant US interest. In the past, DSS agents have worked closely with their foreign counterparts to secure such events as the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy; the 2010 Winter Olympics in Canada,[38] 2010 World Cup Soccer Matches and a host of other special events. While the Olympics are the most well-known events, DSS agents have worked with host country security on numerous other large-scale events around the world. For events with a large US presence, such as the Olympics, an Olympic Security Coordinator - always a DSS agent - will be named to manage all of the security and liaison with the host government. All other federal agencies, such as the FBI, ATF, USSS, and DOD components, will report to the DSS agent in charge.[39][40][41][42]


The origins of the DSS go back to 1916 with a handful of agents assigned special duties directly by the Secretary of State, Robert Lansing. Headed by a Chief Special Agent, who was also called Special Assistant to the Secretary, these agents worked in Washington, D.C., and New York City. This group of agents would sometimes be referred to as the Office of the Chief Special Agent, however it was known as the Bureau of Secret Intelligence. They were operated with private funds from the Secretary's office. Conducting sensitive investigations, they focused mainly on foreign agents and their activities in the United States (this in the days before the CIA; and before the FBI became the primary domestic intelligence organization for the U.S.).

Bureau of Secret Intelligence

Bureau of Secret Intelligence badge, circa 1916[43]

The U.S. Diplomatic Security Service was known as the Bureau of Secret Intelligence at its inception in 1916.[44][45] The Department of State's Bureau of Secret Intelligence was also known as U-1, an off-the-books adjunct to the Division of Information.[46][47] Before the United States entered World War I, German and Austrian spies were conducting operations in New York City. The spies were using forged or stolen identity papers. President Woodrow Wilson authorized the Secretary of State Robert Lansing to establish a security arm of the Department of State. Three agents were recruited from the United States Secret Service because of their experience with counterfeit currency. Since the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) had the best laboratory, the director of the new agency was recruited there.[48]

The assumption is that the name "Office of the Chief Special Agent", which was sometimes used in 1916, and to this day by various information portals to include the Department of State's website, to downplay the bureau's original mission.

After 1918, when Congress passed laws requiring passports for Americans returning from overseas, and visas for aliens entering the United States, State Department agents began investigating passport and visa fraud. Around this same time State Department agents began protecting distinguished visitors to the United States. During World War I the Chief Special Agent's office had the responsibility for interning and exchanging diplomatic officials of enemy powers. By the 1920s the Chief Special Agent, no longer reporting his office's activities directly to the Secretary of State, began reporting to the Assistant Secretary of State for Administration. Within the next two decades major passport fraud activities were detected worldwide, often involving both Communists and Nazis. Many of these fraud rings were exposed and neutralized.

Office of Security (S.Y.)

During World War II, State Department agents were once again involved in interning and exchanging diplomatic officials of enemy powers. Around this time the Chief Special Agent's office became known as SY, which was short for the Office of Security, which in turn was under the Administration Bureau of the Management Undersecretary. After World War II, SY began expanding its presence overseas, with numerous Regional Security Officer (RSO) positions created in overseas posts.

In 1961, Otto Otepka, then a Deputy Director of SY, brought to the attention of the United States Senate Internal Security Subcommittee deficiencies in the State Department clearance process. The allegations were traced all the way up to then Secretary of State Dean Rusk. Despite multiple awards, appeals from multiple U.S. Senators, and not backing down, Secretary Rusk removed Otepka from his position and ultimately unceremoniously fired him.[citation needed]

Starting sometime after World War II SY began regularly protecting visiting heads of state, but had done so sparodically since the 1930s. Before his departure in 1947 SY Director Bannerman began codifying procedures for overseas security. This process continued in the late 1940s with a number of RSO positions being created. From that time and through the early 1970s the number of agents remained relatively small, hovering around 300, with more than half of these serving overseas at any given time. The April 1983 US Embassy bombing was a catharsis for 'SY', which would transform 'SY' into the newly created Diplomatic Security Service, part of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

Bureau of Diplomatic Security & Diplomatic Security Service

Congress formed a commission headed by Admiral Bobby Ray Inman to look into the bombings of U.S. Diplomatic facilities in Beirut. The resultant Inman Report recommended that security at the State Department needed to be elevated to a higher priority. Thus in 1985 Congress created the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), headed by the Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security, and the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), headed by the Director of DSS, who is subordinate to the Assistant Secretary of State for DS.[49]

The DSS, technically a sub unit of DS, had a director placed at its head. The Director of DSS is an active DSS agent, and is often referred to by a term more familiar: the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS), as he/she is senior to the various Assistant Directors of Diplomatic Security who hold positions equivalent to Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS). The PDAS designation signifies the DSS director's preeminence over the other DASs within DS, while at the same time signifying his/her position under the Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security.[50]

The first several Assistant Secretaries for DS were senior Foreign Service Officers, the last three have been senior law enforcement, brought in from other law enforcement agencies. With the creation of DS and the DSS, its ranks grew to well over 1,000 agents. However, by the mid 1990s budget cutbacks were foisted on the U.S. State Department by Congress and the Department in turn trimmed the budget of DSS to the point where it had dwindled to a little over 600 agents. At the time this seemed justified by Department hierarchy who thought DS was growing much too fast in over-reaction to the Beirut bombings.

Although DS was by then a Bureau within the State Department, overseas the vast majority of RSOs continued to report to the Administration Officer. This changed in 1999, as fallout from the east Africa embassy bombings of 1998. The terse message from the then Undersecretary for Management announcing the immediate change made it clear that this action was against his best judgment and insinuated that it was done because then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ordered it.[citation needed] This change stripped DS out from under Administration Officers and placed the RSO directly under the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) in the chain of command at an Embassy.[51]

Looking at its history it becomes apparent there is a pattern of forced changes in relation to security for the U.S. State Department and its facilities overseas (American embassies and consulates). Often this change is the result of a serious incident, such as a terrorist attack on a U.S. mission. Since 1999 and especially after the creation of the U.S. embassies in Kabul and Baghdad there seems to be an increasing acceptance and desire by State Department hierarchy to fully embrace and support the goals of the Diplomatic Security Service. Likewise, DS has been allowed a greater degree of independent action in administering itself and has been allowed to hire new agents at a rate that keeps overall numbers from slipping downward.

DS vs. DSS

Bureau (DS) Organizational Chart
DSS Organizational Chart

For people who do not work for the Department of State (DoS), there is much confusion about the relationship between the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) and the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). Even within Department of State there is still some confusion regarding the difference between DS and the DSS.

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) oversees all security related matters of the U.S. Department of State, which includes security at U.S. embassies and consulates. DS has approximately 34,000 employees; 2,000 of whom are the U.S. federal agents within DSS. The DSS was structured as a law enforcement agency within DS. As such the DSS is the primary mechanism by which the Bureau of Diplomatic Security accomplishes its law enforcement (criminal investigative) and security missions.

An Assistant Secretary of State is in charge of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Office of Foreign Missions (OFM). Under the Assistant Secretary of State, Ambassador Eric Boswell, are several Deputy Assistant Secretaries (DAS). The Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) is the Director for the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). The Director of DSS is an active DSS Special Agent.[52]

Within DoS, all employees who work for DS (the bureau) are referred to as DS employees. Even within DSS, agents refer to themselves as DS Agents. This usage is also used in DoS press releases, although recently multi-agency press releases from the U.S. Attorney’s offices use the technically correct Diplomatic Security Service. Additionally, Agents are frequently assigned to positions within DS (the bureau) but outside of the DSS chain of command hierarchy. This may seem a little counterintuitive but is a common practice within the Department of State. For example while assigned overseas, DoS employees are evaluated by their superiors at the embassy or consulate to which they are assigned. In the case of DSS agents, the RSO (senior special agent at post) is rated by the Deputy Chief of Mission and reviewed by the Chief of Mission (Ambassador). The DSS hierarchy in Washington has no input on the agent’s evaluation. This is only a technicality however; as agents frequently receive instructions from HQ.

Bureau of Secret Intelligence (Office of the Chief Special Agent) directors

  • Robert Lansing (1916), Secretary of State exercising direct control over the Bureau of Secret Intelligence
  • Leland Harrison (1916), Special Assistant who reports to the Deputy Secretary of State (Counselor - Frank L. Polk)
  • Joseph Nye (1917–1920), first Chief Special Agent
  • Robert C. Bannerman (1920–1940), father of future SY Director

SY directors

  • Robert L. Bannerman (1945–1947) father of third generation SY/DS agent
  • William O. Boswell (1958–1962) father of future DS Assistant Secretary of State, Eric J. Boswell
  • John Francis Reilly (1962–?)
  • G. Marvin Gentile (1964–1974)[53] former FBI Special Agent and CIA Security Officer[54][55]
  • Viktor Dikeos (1974–1978)
  • Karl Ackerman (1978–1980) former SY Special Agent and FBI Special Agent
  • Marvin Garrett (1981–1983)

DSS directors

  • David C. Fields (1985–1986)
  • Louis Schwartz, Jr. (1986–1988)
  • Clark M. Ditmer (1988–1993)
  • Mark E. Mulvey (1994–1996)
  • Gregorie Bujac (1996–1998)
  • Peter E. Bergin (1998–2003)
  • Joe D. Morton (2003–2007) Son of former DSS Director
  • Gregory B. Starr (2007–2009)
  • Patrick D. Donovan (2009)
  • Jeffrey W. Culver (2009–2011)
  • Justine Sincavage (acting) (2011)
  • Scott Bultrowicz (2011-present)

Weapons used by the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service

DSS Special Agent on the range with the M2 .50 caliber Machine Gun
DSS Special Agents with M4s at range
U.S. Diplomatic Security Service on the range with M249 SAW

Standard issue[56]

  • SIG P228 in 9 mm (pistol)
  • SIG P229R DA/SA in 9 mm (pistol)
  • Remington 870 (12 gauge shotgun)
  • Colt SMG (9 mm submachine gun)
  • Colt M4 (5.56 mm Carbine)

Former weapons included the Uzi submachine gun and the Ruger Mini-14 carbine. Stockless or "shorty" versions of the Remington 870 shotgun may still be found in some DSS offices. DSS agents used to carry the Smith & Wesson Model 19 revolver (.357 Magnum caliber), but switched to 9 mm pistols around 1993.[56]

Additional issue[56]

These and other weapons systems may be employed by DSS Special Agents assigned to high-threat locations. The agents going to those locations attend additional thorough training in these weapons before they are deployed.

Fallen officers

Since the establishment of the Diplomatic Security Service, four Special Agents have died in the line of duty.[57]

Officer Date of Death Details Awarded
Special Agent Daniel Emmett O'Connor
Wednesday, December 21, 1988
Terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103 USA - DOS Thomas Jefferson.png Thomas Jefferson Star for Foreign Service
Special Agent Ronald Albert Lariviere
Wednesday, December 21, 1988
Terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103 USA - DOS Thomas Jefferson.png Thomas Jefferson Star for Foreign Service
Special Agent Edward J. Seitz
Sunday, October 24, 2004
rocket attack—Iraq USA - DOS Thomas Jefferson.png Thomas Jefferson Star for Foreign Service
Special Agent Stephen Eric Sullivan
Monday, September 19, 2005
car bomb—Iraq USA - DOS Thomas Jefferson.png Thomas Jefferson Star for Foreign Service

References in popular culture

  • 1992: Patriot Games—DSS agents are killed during an attack by terrorists at Jack Ryan's home.
  • 1998: U.S. MarshalsRobert Downey, Jr. plays a rogue DSS agent who is after one of his own.
  • 1999: The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and the Future of Terrorism (book), by Simon Reeve (UK Television presenter)
  • 1999: On the Inside (Discovery Channel TV show)—"State Department Protectors" (Knightscenes Productions)
  • 2000: Investigative Reports (A&E TV show)—"In the Line of Fire" (44 Blue Productions)
  • 2001: Badges Without Borders (TLC TV show)—"Inside the Diplomatic Security Service" (Red Apple Entertainment Productions)
  • 2002: Relentless Pursuit: The DSS and the Manhunt for the Al-Qaeda Terrorists (book) by Samuel M. Katz (ISBN 0765309106)
  • 2003: Targeted: Volume 1, The Evil Genius (Ramzi Yousef) (Wild Eyes Productions for the History Channel; A&E Networks)
  • 2004: Heroes Under Fire (History Channel TV show), "Escape from Liberia" (Wild Eyes Productions)
  • 2005: Heroes Under Fire (History Channel TV show), "Caught in the Middle" (Wild Eyes Productions)—DSS/MSD in Haiti
  • 2006: Critical Threat: Life in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (Wild Eyes Productions)
  • 2006: The Unit Season 2, "Force Majeure" (TV action drama). The team goes in as DSS special agents to evacuate an exiled dictator from an American hospital during a hurricane.
  • 2007: A Mighty Heart—DSS Special Agent Randall Bennett leads the team investigating Daniel Pearl's kidnapping and murder.
  • 2008: Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent—A memoir by former DSS Special Agent Fred Burton in which he chronicles his service in the DSS counterterrorism branch.
  • 2010: Inside the State Department, National Geographic Channel.
  • 2011: Fast FiveDwayne "The Rock" Johnson plays U.S. Diplomatic Security Service special agent Luke Hobbs, who leads a team of other DSS agents hunting U.S. fugitives in Rio de Janeiro.

See also

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  1. ^ a b Bureau of Diplomatic Security
  2. ^ a b Protection of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
  3. ^ information on protection work from State Department web site Retrieved on July 16, 2007
  4. ^ U.S. CODE Title 22 Chapter 58 Subchater I section 4802(a)(1)(D) July 22 2008
  5. ^ State's Security Bureau Takes on Expanded Role
  6. ^ Afghan President Karzai Flanked by Diplomatic Security Special Agents
  7. ^ http://media-newswire.com/release_1084288.html TACOMA MAN WHO POSED AS FIANCÉ IN VISA FRAUD SENTENCED TO PRISON TIME
  8. ^ http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=39576 Harry Reid Aide's Sham Marriage to Terror Suspect
  9. ^ "Reid staffer gone amid fake marriage revelation". CNN. http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/10/26/reid-staffer-gone-amid-fake-marriage-revelation/.  Senator Harry Reid staffer gone amid fake marriage revelation
  10. ^ http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/51900108-78/passport-cases-fraud-documents.html.csp Federal Prosecutors see more cases of Passport Fraud
  11. ^ http://www.justice.gov/usao/ut/press/releases/Passport%20fraud%20release.pdf PROVIDING FALSE INFORMATION ON PASSPORT APPLICATIONS LEADS TO FEDERAL PROSECUTIONS
  12. ^ http://www.justice.gov/usao/ct/Press2011/20111004-2.html GUINEAN CITIZEN GUILTY OF IMMIGRATION OFFENSE
  13. ^ Counterintelligence Investigations, http://www.state.gov/m/ds/terrorism/c8653.htm
  14. ^ Cuban spies arrested, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2009/06a/124404.htm
  15. ^ Federal Indictment of Myers http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/05/myers.indictment.pdf
  16. ^ Walter Kendall Myers and wife arrested for spying against the U.S.
  17. ^ washingtonpost.com Walter Kendall Myers sentenced to life in prison
  18. ^ cubaverdad.net Cuba's Spy Program Deeply Rooted in U.S.
  19. ^ washingtontimes.com U.S. investigates Syrian diplomats for spying on protesters - State Department may limit their travel
  20. ^ Exclusive: CIA Station Chief in Algeria Accused of Rapes http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/Story?id=6750266&page=1
  21. ^ Affidavit in Support of a Search Warrant http://abcnews.go.com/images/Blotter/searchwarrant1.pdf
  22. ^ https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol48no3/article10.html
  23. ^ Diplomatic Security Locates and Returns A Fugitive From Brazil
  24. ^ http://www.state.gov/m/ds/rls/132450.htm DSS Agents help locate a fugitive from justice in Guatemala
  25. ^ Former CIA Station Chief arrested
  26. ^ "Foreign Service Act of 1980 - Public Law 96-465 Sec.504" (PDF). 13 October 2008. http://www.usaid.gov/policy/ads/400/fsa.pdf. Retrieved 2008. 
  27. ^ "Biographies of Senior Management". 14 May 2011. http://www.state.gov/m/ds/rls/bio/index.htm. Retrieved 2011. 
  28. ^ "RSO Chennai Title Usage Example". 14 May 2011. http://chennai.usconsulate.gov/rso2.html. Retrieved 2011. 
  29. ^ "RSO Mumbai Title Usage Example". 14 May 2011. http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov/pneterror0307.html. Retrieved 2011. 
  30. ^ "RSO Hyderabad Title Usage Example". 14 May 2011. http://hyderabad.usconsulate.gov/townhall_mtg_bookedup.html. Retrieved 2011. 
  31. ^ "SRSO India Usage Example". 14 May 2011. http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov/pr020708.html. Retrieved 2011. 
  32. ^ "SRSO Usage Examples google results". 14 May 2011. http://www.google.com/#hl=en&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=%22senior+regional+security+officer%22&cp=34&pf=p&sclient=psy&site=&source=hp&rlz=1R2ACAW_enIN374&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=%22senior+regional+security+officer&fp=e6fa2de19817b8fe&biw=1345&bih=562. Retrieved 2011. 
  33. ^ "State's Security Bureau Takes on Expanded Role, Washington Post article by Robin Wright". The Washington Post. 7 September 2004. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A1157-2004Sep6.html. Retrieved 2007. 
  34. ^ Book - The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and the Future of Terrorism, by Simon Reeve
  35. ^ Targeted: Volume 1, The Evil Genius (Ramzi Yousef) (Wild Eyes Productions for the History Channel; A&E Networks) 2003
  36. ^ http://www.rewardsforjustice.net/ REWARDS FOR JUSTICE - Millions of dollars for Information Leading to the capture of Terrorists - DSS
  37. ^ U.S. Diplomatic Security Agents at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Canada http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-na-olympic-security11-2010feb11,0,6684827.story
  38. ^ China, United States Cooperate on Olympic Security http://www.america.gov/st/sports-english/2008/June/20080612145217gmnanahcub0.9042475.html
  39. ^ Special Agents at the Olympics http://features.csmonitor.com/olympics08/2008/08/05/special-agents-at-the-olympics/
  40. ^ DS Protects http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/114169.pdf
  41. ^ U.S. Diplomatic Security at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Canada http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-na-olympic-security11-2010feb11,0,6684827.story
  42. ^ http://www.dssaa.org/catalog/logo_items.htm
  43. ^ Sources: Washington Post, Sept 7, 2004, State's Security Bureau Takes on Expanded Role, Washington Post article by Robin Wright; (Book) 2002 Relentless Pursuit: The DSS and the Manhunt for the Al-Qaeda Terrorists, Samuel M. Katz.
  44. ^ http://www.state.gov/m/ds/rls/c31108.htm U.S. Department of State DS Pictorial History Photo 5 of 192 - 1916: U.S. Secretary of State Robert Lansing creates an informal �Secret Intelligence Bureau� to examine information of a secret nature received from other U.S. agencies and from allied intelligence agents, and to oversee surveillance of the German Embassy in Washington, DC. The office is never a formal Department bureau but only a few �special agents� located within the Office of the Counselor. Lansing also proposes an inter-agency �secret service� to be centered in the Department of State, but the White House fails to act on the suggestion. In 1917, he hires the first Chief Special Agent, Joseph M. Nye. These initiatives come in response to German and Austrian acts of fraud, propaganda, sabotage, and espionage in the United States during the First World War. (Source: Library of Congress, National Photo Company Collection)
  45. ^ Allen Dulles by James Srodes, Page 83
  46. ^ Book: The Armies of Ignorance: The Rise of the American Intelligence Empire by William R. Corson, 1977; Page 74
  47. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A1021843
  48. ^ http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1986/082786a.htm
  49. ^ http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/21837.pdf
  50. ^ http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/88395.pdf
  51. ^ Bureau of Diplomatic Security official home page http://www.state.gov/m/ds/
  52. ^ http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1P2-866897.html
  53. ^ http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-866897.html
  54. ^ ref
  55. ^ a b c http://www.specwarnet.net/taclink/Federal/dos_msd.htm
  56. ^ The Officer Down Memorial Page


External links

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