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
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.
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.
DS or DSS?