Friday, November 28, 2008

Guarding Hillary: It's All About the Benjamins

According to a story by Matthew Lee in the Associated Press (Agencies battle over security for Clinton) , there is a bureaucratic tug-of-war going on between the U.S. Secret Service and the Diplomatic Security Service over which agency gets the obligation to protect Hillary in the event she serves as Secretary of State. I've quoted the article below.

Something missing from the story is any mention of money - budgets - the life's blood of bureaucracies. It costs horrendous amounts of money to protect the SecState during overseas trips. Whichever agency wins this tussle will have to spend megabucks on logistics (for example, air-transporting the necessary fleet of armored vehicles around the world). It's kind of the opposite of the situation in the old movie The Bodyguard: imagine that Kevin Costner had to pay to protect Whitney Houston, instead of getting paid. How eager would he have been to get that job?

Despite all the talk of jealously guarded agency prerogatives, I'm not sure that either of these agencies really wants to win Hillary's hand unless she comes with a large dowry of supplemental appropriations.

It may not be your typical Washington power struggle, but Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's expected nomination to be secretary of state has already locked two turf-conscious federal agencies in a delicate behind-the-scenes dance over how to protect her.

Even before her appointment is announced, informal discussions have begun on resolving a conflict between the Secret Service and the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, both of which will be assigned to guard her if she becomes the nation's top diplomat.

Officials familiar with the matter said the talks revolve around which agency will protect her at home and abroad and who will have the ultimate say in planning her security.

As a former first lady, Mrs. Clinton is entitled to lifetime protection from the Secret Service. But as secretary of state that task normally would fall to the lesser-known Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the State Department's in-house law enforcement wing.

Neither agency is eager to give up the high-profile job, which will be further complicated by the fact that Mrs. Clinton's spouse, former President Bill Clinton, who might accompany her on overseas missions and who is also protected by the Secret Service, the officials said.

Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines declined to comment, saying the senator's office will not discuss speculation about her possible nomination or her security arrangements.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the last former first lady to be covered by lifetime protection from the Secret Service. If she becomes the nation's top diplomat, the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security would have a stake in her protection.

Spokesmen for the Secret Service and Diplomatic Security, who routinely refuse to discuss the details of their protective responsibilities, would not comment publicly on the matter.

But other officials at the two agencies acknowledged that Mrs. Clinton's nomination would create an unprecedented logistical and jurisdictional hurdles that will require significant negotiation to resolve. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal deliberations.

The officials said Diplomatic Security is concerned about losing its role as bodyguard to the secretary. The Secret Service, meanwhile, is loath to abandon Mrs. Clinton, who under legislation passed in 1997 will be the last former first lady to get lifetime protection, they said.

It is not clear who will decide because such a situation has never arisen before. In the end, it may be up to Mrs. Clinton but the Homeland Security Department, of which the Secret Service is part, may play an advisory role, the officials said.

Mrs. Clinton can renounce her Secret Service detail, and a compromise might involve a sharing of duty, with Diplomatic Security providing her with protection while she is at work in Washington or on the road but not while she is at home with her husband, the officials said. But such a solution would not address the possibility of Mr. Clinton traveling with his wife, especially if he doesn't give up his Secret Service protection.

Diplomatic Security is far less well-known than its Secret Service cousin, even though it has been around since 1916 and, with agents in 157 countries, is the most widely represented U.S. security and law enforcement organization around the world.

It jealously guards its role as security provider to the secretary of state and Cabinet-level foreign officials who visit the U.S.

But it is the Secret Service, founded in 1865, that most people are more familiar with. It protects current and past presidents and their families, as well as visiting heads of foreign states or governments in the U.S.

Mrs. Clinton would be the first former first lady to hold a Cabinet position in the government, although Eleanor Roosevelt served as a delegate to the U.N. General Assembly from 1945 to 1953 and served as the first chair of the U.N. Human Rights Commission


AMessagetoGarcia said...

I suppose with all the talk of our new Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and the two federal law enforcement agencies who are currently involved in discussions regarding her protection, I would like to leave you a few websites regarding one of the agencies in question, the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). Now, you may see or hear the term Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS). DS is the parent organization of the DSS. The DSS is an organization within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Most everyone knows about the Secret Service, which is the reason I'll focus on the DSS.

Anonymous said...

DS is going to protect Clinton.

TSB said...


I wonder whether that strikes some DS agents as a Good News - Bad News outcome. Good for the organization, maybe, but bad for the agents on her detail?