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34

MARCH 2017

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

Joint Interagency Task Force and Special Operations

Command. At the strategic level, we have a presence in

and regular interaction with the National Security Coun-

cil, FBI headquarters, the Joint Staff and the Office of the

Secretary of Defense.

Maintaining Security Partnerships

Over the decades, we have developed security part-

nerships across the Defense Department, throughout

federal agencies and, significantly, with literally hun-

dreds of international organizations and foreign govern-

ments. Not just office calls, these are deep, multigenera-

tional relationships around the globe, where DSS special agents

and subject-matter experts work side by side with counterparts,

rolling up their sleeves and doing the tough, critical business of

security.

Using the latest advances in technology, including personnel

emergency tracking devices, remote monitoring of U.S. diplo-

matic facilities and other communications systems, the DS Com-

In this photo taken during the early 1960s, Director of Security

John Reilly (right) holds the cavity resonator listening device

found a decade earlier inside a carved wooden image of the

Great Seal of the United States that had been presented by

Soviet officials to the U.S. ambassador to the USSR in 1948.

An unidentified special agent points to where the bug had been

placed in the carving. Joseph Bezjian, an Office of Security

technical officer, discovered the bug with the aid of Ambassador

George Kennan in 1952.

DEPARTMENTOFSTATE

T

he U.S. Department of State has had a security office,

including special agents, for more than a century. The

Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) and the Diplomatic

Security Service (DSS) however, were both created in 1985

and codified under U.S. law in the Omnibus Diplomatic

Security and AntiterrorismAct of 1986.

Ever since, there has been significant overlap and confu-

sion about the difference between DS and DSS.

In the simplest terms, a Senate-confirmed assistant

secretary of State heads the State Department’s Bureau of

Diplomatic Security. The bureau is responsible for over-

seeing State Department law enforcement, security and

protection programs abroad and at home. DS also works

with policymakers on diplomatic security matters, including

responding to queries from Congress.

DSS, by comparison, is the day-to-day law enforcement

and security operation within DS. Under the 1986 omnibus

law, DSS must be headed by a career Senior Foreign Service

or Senior Executive Service officer with demonstrated

experience in security, law enforcement and public adminis-

tration. The director of DSS also serves as principal deputy

assistant secretary of State for DS, and is responsible for

recruiting and overseeing the State Department’s special

agents, security engineering officers, security technical spe-

cialists, diplomatic couriers and numerous other security

professionals and support personnel.

In other words, DS promotes the mission, while DSS are

the people who carry out that mission.

As the law enforcement and security arm of the U.S.

Department of State, DS is responsible for providing a safe

and secure environment for the conduct of U.S. foreign

policy. As a federal law enforcement organization, DSS

implements the State Department’s worldwide law enforce-

ment and protective security mission.

In common usage, and in the conduct of diplomacy,

there is no hard and clear line separating the two. Trying to

define the boundaries of that line has, over the past three

decades, led to many animated and passionate discussions

among Diplomatic Security professionals and our numer-

ous federal and international partners.We are all proud

members of DS.

—B.A.M.

DS or DSS?