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Warren Commission Report: Page 457« Previous | Next »

(CHAPTER VIII - The Protection of the President)

in the job of protecting the President, by defining responsibilities clearly and overseeing their execution. Major needs of personnel or other resources might be met more easily on its recommendation than they have been in the past.


The Committee would be able to provide guidance in defining the general nature of domestic and foreign dangers to Presidential security. As improvements are recommended for the advance detection of potential threats to the President, it could act as a final review board. The expert assistance and resources which it could draw upon would be particularly desirable in this complex and sensitive area.


This arrangement would provide a continuing high-level contact for agencies that may wish to consult respecting particular protective measures. For various reasons the Secret Service has functioned largely as an informal part of the White House staff, with the result that it has been unable, as a practical matter, to exercise sufficient influence over the security precautions which surround Presidential activities. A Cabinet-level committee which is actively concerned with these problems would be able to discuss these matters more effectively with the President.

Responsibilities for Presidential Protection

The assignment of the responsibility of protecting the President to an agency of the Department of the Treasury was largely an historical accident.230 The Secret Service was organized as a division of the Department of the Treasury in 1865, to deal with counterfeiting. In 1894, while investigating a plot to assassinate President Cleveland, the Service assigned a small protective detail of agents to the White House. Secret Service men accompanied the President and his family to their vacation home in Massachusetts and special details protected him in Washington, on trips, and at special functions. These informal and part-time arrangements led to more systematic protection in 1902, after the assassination of President McKinley; the Secret Service, then the only Federal investigative agency, assumed full-time responsibility for the safety of the President. Since that time, the Secret Service has had and exercised responsibility for the physical protection of the President and also for the preventive investigation of potential threats against the President.


Although the Secret Service has had the primary responsibility for the protection of the President, the FBI, which was established within the Department of Justice in 1908, has had in recent years an increasingly important role to play. In the appropriations of the FBI there has recurred annually an item for the "protection of the person of the President of the United States," which first appeared in the appropriation of the Department of Justice in 1910 under the heading "Miscellaneous Objects."231 Although the FBI is not charged with the physical protection of the President, it does have an assignment, as do other Government agencies, in the field of preventive investigation in regard to the President's security. As discussed above, the Bureau has

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