By G Oguda
I found some spare time so I tried gathering some facts on the Secret
Service and why they protect the US President the way they do. Some
1. The Secret Service was not founded on paranoia, the chilling fact
is that someone has always wanted to kill the President of the United
States. President Andrew Jackson’s life was spared when shots from a
madman’s gun misfired. Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed at a theatre,
James Garfield was killed by an insane man at a train station.
2. Despite the attacks, Americans were reluctant to authorise
protection until President William McKinley was assasinated by an
anarchist and Congress finally agreed to charge the Secret Service with
Presidential protection. Even then, their authorisation was to be
3. Fifty years later, a brutal gun battle in front of the President’s
House settled the question of permanent protection once and for all.
That was in November 1950, when White House was still under renovation
and President Harry Truman was living in Blair House when two gunmen, of
Puerto Rican descent, open fire at 2 Secret Service officers manning
the front door killing one SS agent.
4. The mandate of the SS is simple: ‘Protect the man, protect the
symbol, protect the office.’ The Secret Service Strategy is to meet any
threat to the President with overwhelming force. ‘When you travel with
the President around the world, you must ensure that he is as safe as he
would be inside the White House.’
5. When the President is travelling out of the White House, it is
called ‘leaving the Bubble’. The SS advance team maps out the most
secure route for the motorcade, identifies potential sniper positions,
pinpoints safe houses along the way, locates the nearest hospitals and
arranges for the President to have his own blood supply there. ‘When
your mission is to protect the president of the United States, you don’t
underestimate the enemy’.
6. Then there is a room that comes with information so sensitive that
its information can never be revealed – The Joint Operations Centre.
This is where the Secret Service tracks the movement of the President,
The First Family and the Vice President in real time.
7. On the road, the President’s official car is known as Cadillac
One, or Limo One, or simply ‘The Beast’. The Beast is kept in the
basement of Secret Service Headquarters on A Street. One of at least
Two, the identical vehicles are built, under a classified contract, by
8. The Beast seats up to seven people, two at the front and 3 with
the president at the back. The custom designed superstructure is more of
a tank than a car consisting of a 8-inch thin armoured plating with
bodywork made from a combination of hardened steel, aluminium, titanium
and ceramics. It’s heavy armour-plated doors are 20 centimetres thick,
heavier than a cabin door of a Boeing 757 jet.
9. The cabin of The Beast include a sealed air re-circulation system
that protects the president from a biochemical attack. The windows can
withstand armour piercing 44 calibre bullets. The bullet is actually the
least dangerous element for The Beast but rather the fragments that
comes with it. So the glass of the Beast is designed to slow down the
bullet and absorb the impact of the shooting so it is amalgamated with a
polycarbonate to absorb all the glass fragments that would have
scattered into the chamber.
9. The fuel tank is protected by a special form that prevents it from
explosion if it suffers from a direct hit. Certain aspects of the
vehicle are tightly controlled secrets. For example, no one knows how
much the vehicle weighs although unofficial sources put the weight at
around 7-8 tones.
10. The Beast is packed with the pump action shotgun and night vision
cameras. It is also armed with tear gas cannons capable of blacking you
out for 12 hours unconscious. It can also fire infrared smoke grenade,
in case it is attacked by a rocket propelled grenade or missile.
11. For an emergency transfusion need, bottles of the President’s
blood are kept on board. It also has an oxygen supply tank and advanced
fire fighting equipment on board. The car runs on 19.5-inch Goodyear RHS
tyres that are found in super tough trucks. Mechanically, the car gets
power from a 6.5-litre Duramax diesel engine that can attain a top speed
up to 100 kilometres per hour and uses 29 litres of fuel for every 100
12. The Beast possesses run-flat tyres reinforced with Kevlar. They
are shred and puncture resistant, with steel rims underneath. The car
can easily survive if the tyres are blown away. Thanks to the steel
rims, the car can drive at high speeds even without the tyres.
13. Who’s authorised to drive the Beast? Manoeuvring The Beast is a
hard task, it is not a vehicle that is comfortable to drive. You are
looking through ballistic glass, which distorts your vision. It is
speculated that the car’s driver has access to a special video system
that allows him to drive in darkness, smoke and other no-visibility