Secret Service: Protecting the President and Catching Counterfeiters

Secret Service agents providing security for Pope Benedict XVI in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Jcs27 via Wikimedia Commons)
Secret Service agents providing security for Pope Benedict XVI in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Jcs27 via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1865, the United States Secret Service was formed.

Here are some things you may not have known about the agency charged with protecting the President of the United States.

The Secret Service was created as a division of the Treasury Department with the aim of suppressing currency counterfeiting. At the time, it was believed that one-third of the currency in circulation was counterfeit. The legislation creating the division was on President Abraham Lincoln’s desk the night he was assassinated. Although it’s frequently mentioned as a sad coincidence, the Secret Service didn’t begin protecting the president for another 35 years.

It was the assassination of another president that led to the Secret Service being assigned to protect the president. After the 1901 murder of President William McKinley, protection of the chief executive was added to the division’s mission.

The Secret Service is authorized to protect the president, the vice president, the president-elect and vice president-elect. People holding these offices cannot refuse Secret Service protection.

Also protected are the immediate families of the president and vice president; any former presidents and their spouses for their lifetimes; children of former presidents for up to 10 years; visiting heads of state, other foreign visitors; major presidential and vice presidential candidates; and others as designated by the president.

In addition to its anti-counterfeiting mission, the Secret Service also has jurisdiction over credit card fraud and computer fraud.

The Secret Service is now part of the Department of Homeland Security. It has more than 6,500 employees.

Our question: Which of the five most recent presidents had the Secret Service codename “Timberwolf”?

Today is Independence Day in Algeria, Venezuela and Cape Verde. It’s Constitution Day in Armenia, and Arbor Day in New Zealand.

It’s unofficially Bikini Day, National Apple Turnover Day, and National Workaholics Day.

It’s the birthday of musician Huey Lewis, who is 66; “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoonist Bill Watterson, who is 58; and actress Edie Falco, who is 53 today.

Because our topic happened before 1960, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 1972, the top song in the U.S. was “Song Sung Blue” by Neil Diamond.

The No. 1 movie was “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes,” while the novel “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Weekly take-home test

Who invented dynamite?


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