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10052014_1 Pop quiz: True or false, security around the President of the United States is the tightest security in the world. If you answered true, you are wrong. If that surprises you, you are not alone. Last Tuesday, the House Oversight Committee called Julia Pierson, director of the Secret Service, to testify following a number of security breaches at the White House and elsewhere. On Wednesday, Pierson resigned when it became clear bi-partisan confidence in her leadership had waned. What went wrong at the Secret Service? Turn to PBS’ Newshour for a look at recent lapses and what the agency will focus on now.

The History of the Secret Service –

10052014_2 This is not the first Secret Security lapse, nor is it the first time someone has sneaked inside the White House perimeter. Visit the Associated Press interactive,White House security. Page one shows how White House security has changed over time. (Use the control in the bottom right corner to move through time.) Use the menu in the upper left corner to turn from page one to page two. Page two presents a timeline of security breaches and measures. Be sure to explore both.


The Secret Service has been around for over a hundred years. In the early days, its mission was not to protect the President, nor did they dress like Men In Black. Learn more about how the Secret Service’s mission has changed, and about today’s Secret Service. You may be surprised to discover that the Secret Service continues to fulfill its original mission: to protect against and investigate fraud and monetary crimes.

Joining the Secret Service –

As the White House website mentions, there are two types of Secret Service agents assigned to protect the President, his family, and other American and world leaders. Read about the uniformed division and the special agent. Meet Officer Hemsley, a uniformed officer, and learn more about his career path and responsibilities.

10052014_4 Being a Secret Service special agent looks cool--picture yourself in aviator sunglasses, dark suit, and an earpiece whispering the President’s code name into the microphone that is tucked into the cuff of your sleeve. It may be cool, but it is serious work. As the recent security breaches and history proves, agents and officers assigned to protect never know when or where a threat will appear, nor how serious that threat will be. If you are interested in being a uniformed officer or a special agent, read more about the training program and watch a training video. Read more about the requirements and qualifications needed to become a special agent.  Take a Secret Service aptitude test to see if you have what it takes. Then, just for fun, practice your skills with code names.

If you are interested in being a Junior Secret Service Agent, complete the full activity. If you have unanswered questions about the Secret Service, see if the answers are listed among the Secret Services’ FAQs.