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Overview:
As the second largest component of the US Department of State, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is part law enforcement agency, part intelligence operation, responsible for protecting the personnel, information and property associated with America’s embassies and other diplomatic posts. The bureau also provides protection in the US for the Secretary of State, the US Ambassador to the United Nations and foreign dignitaries below the head-of-state level who visit the United States.
 
DS employs almost 500 special agents in over 150 countries, along with hundreds of private security guards through contracts with companies such as Blackwater USA. The use of private contractors created a huge controversy for DS in the fall of 2006 when Blackwater guards killed numerous civilians in Baghdad, Iraq as a result of an attack on a convoy carrying American diplomats.
 
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History:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Efforts to provide security for State Department officials first began in 1916 under Secretary of State Robert Lansing. The special office, headed by a chief special agent, consisted of a little more than a handful of agents working out of two locations, Washington, DC, and New York City, who conducted sensitive investigations, including those involving foreign spies in the US. In 1918 Congress passed legislation requiring passports for Americans traveling abroad and visas for aliens wishing to enter the United States. Shortly thereafter, the chief special agent’s office was charged with investigating passport and visa fraud, along with guarding distinguished visitors to the United States.

 
Espionage activities involving Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during the 1930s and into World War II caused the chief special agent office to play a more important role in thwarting efforts by spies to enter the US. An investigation of passport fraud in New York City led to the discovery of a Soviet intelligence network that, in turn, revealed a number of Soviet agents and American Communist Party members engaged in espionage activities. The office expanded again during the war to manage the entry of diplomatic officials of enemy powers and screening of Americans, or those claiming American citizenship, after they were forced to leave occupied territories.
 
After the conclusion of the war, Secretary of State Edward Stettinius ordered a reorganization of the entire State Department, which led to the separation of security functions. Separate from the chief special agent’s office, the newly created Office of Security (SY) had a program of regional security staffs in the US and, for the first time, security officers at embassies overseas. Later, security functions were merged and, in 1948, Foreign Correlations (an intelligence service) was incorporated into the Office of Security.
 
During the 1950s, as the Cold War intensified, American officials discovered listening devices had been planted a numerous embassies around the world, including at the US mission in Moscow. These espionage activities by the Soviet Union and its allies resulted in the creation of a special assignments staff to investigate State Department personnel suspected of working with foreign spies. This staff worked closely with CIA and FBI counterintelligence. SY upgraded its technical security program and began hiring engineers. The assignment of U.S. Navy Seabee teams to search for listening devices in the American embassies in Moscow and Warsaw led to the establishment of a Seabee program within the State Department.
 
During the tumultuous 1960s and early 1970s, terrorist activities resulted in the kidnapping or assassination of several US ambassadors and State Department officials. In response SY hired more than a hundred new agents and purchased new equipment to provide better security for diplomats. The office also published handbooks on terrorism and provided advice for overseas personnel on traveling safely to and from work and how to make their homes safer. SY began to survey American embassies for vulnerability to attack. Security officers received more intensive training and learned new skills, such as defensive driving.
 
Terrorist attacks against the US and its overseas operations increased dramatically in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Between 1979 and 1983, there were more than 300 attacks; in 1984 alone, there were more than 100 attacks. In 1984, Secretary of State George Shultz formed an advisory panel to make recommendations on minimizing the risk of terrorist attacks on US citizens and facilities. Headed by retired Admiral Bobby Inman, the Panel on Overseas Security, or Inman Panel, recommended the creation of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS). The new DS was structured to provide law enforcement, security and intelligence services. The Diplomatic Courier Service also joined DS at this time.
 
Following the issuing of its report, the panel became a permanent advisory committee to the State Department known as the Overseas Security Advisory Council.
 
By the end of the 1980s, DS began sharing security information with the international American business community. In 1992 the Diplomatic Security Rewards for Justice Program was initiated to provide money to informants with information about threats to US diplomatic interests. Since then more than $49 million has been paid from this fund. According to the bureau, information received through this program resulted in the capture of several terrorists, including Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.
 
Following the August 7, 1998, terrorist bombings of the US Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania , and Nairobi , Kenya , the State Department declared the protection of American personnel and facilities overseas a top priority.  Congress passed a $1.4 billion Emergency Embassy Security Supplemental (of which DS received about $588 million) enabling the bureau to make security improvements at every US diplomatic mission overseas.
 
This new commitment to security didn’t prevent humiliating lapses from occurring. In 1998, an unidentified man strolled into Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s outer office, picked up her pouch of highly classified daily briefing material, and walked out - and was never seen or identified again. Not long afterward, a laptop computer that reportedly contained an enormous range of highly classified arms control information disappeared from a State Department office, never to be recovered. In addition, the Russian Embassy in Washington reportedly bugged a 7th floor State Department conference room using a sophisticated listening device that apparently required insider access to install - yet the mole was never officially uncovered.
 
These security failures led to stricter rules for State Department employees, including a requirement for annual security briefings for all State personnel and beefing-up of security training at the Foreign Service Institute for all overseas-bound officers. Just months later, Martin Indyk, the high-profile US ambassador in Tel Aviv, was revealed to have handled classified information on an unclassified laptop.
 

Diplomatic Security History

 

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What it Does:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Located within the US Department of State, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is responsible for protecting the people, information and property associated with America’s diplomatic posts. Outside of the US, the bureau safeguards all personnel at US embassies, consulates and missions. In the United States, DS protects the Secretary of State, the US Ambassador to the United Nations and foreign dignitaries below the head-of-state level who visit the United States. DS is also responsible for protecting the State Department’s 100 offices in the US as well as the residence of the Secretary of State.DS also investigates more than 3,500 passport and visa fraud violations each year. It conducts personnel security investigations and issues security clearances. The bureau also assists foreign embassies and consulates in the United States with the security for their missions and personnel.

 
DS employs almost 500 special agents in more than 150 countries who advise chiefs of mission on all security matters and develop and implement security programs that shield American diplomatic posts from attacks. Special agents often work with the US military, especially the US Marine Fleet Antiterrorism Security Teams, which have provided emergency protection for overseas offices during times of crisis or upheaval in foreign countries. 
 
Special agents are the primary liaison with foreign police and security services overseas. Much of this work is done on behalf of other federal, state and local agencies needing information for investigations. DS receives about 3,000 requests for overseas investigative assistance from US law enforcement each year and has assisted in the apprehension of fugitives who have fled the United States. DS special agents also provide unclassified briefings and other professional security advice to American businesses overseas.
 
Mobile Security Teams - Based in Washington, DC, DS Mobile Security Teams are deployed worldwide to respond to security emergencies, augment DS protective details under particular threat and provide specialized counterterrorism and personal security training at US missions. With less than 24-hours notice, teams can be dispatched to protect official Americans and provide additional security in high threat areas. Teams have been on site in Kabul and Jerusalem continuously since 2002. Teams have also accompanied special White House envoys to Afghanistan and negotiators to the Middle East. The teams routinely enhance the protective detail of the Secretary of State and have supplemented the protection of high-risk individuals such as Yassir Arafat, Salman Rushdie and Nelson Mandela.
 
Training by the teams is provided at American diplomatic posts to embassy personnel, their dependents, local guards and members of the American business community. Subjects taught include: personnel security, counterterrorism techniques, defensive driving, firearms usage, surveillance detection, rape awareness and carjacking avoidance. Training in emergency medical care is also offered.
 
Security Engineering Officers (SEOs) are employed by DS to create and manage security equipment used at US embassies. SEOs are responsible for detecting and preventing loss of sensitive information from technical espionage. They are in charge of embassy perimeter access controls, closed-circuit television, alarms, locks, and x-ray and bomb detection equipment. US Navy Seabees assist SEOs with the maintenance and repair of security systems.
 
Office of Intelligence and Threat Analysis (ITA) is the interface between DS and the US intelligence community on all international and domestic terrorism matters. ITA researches, monitors and analyzes all source intelligence on terrorist activities and threats directed against Americans and American diplomatic and consular personnel and facilities overseas. In particular, analysts monitor threats against the Secretary of State, senior US officials, visiting foreign dignitaries, resident foreign diplomats and foreign missions in the United States for whom DS has a security responsibility. ITA works closely with the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs to inform the public of threats or security-related issues through the Consular Information Program. ITA administers the Security Environment Threat List (SETL), which reflects four categories of security threat, including political violence and crime, at all US diplomatic posts.
 
DS also helps to provide information to the US private sector through the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). The council was established in 1985 and is co-chaired by DS. It consists of 34 representatives from the federal government and the American private sector that work together on overseas security issues. OSAC operates an electronic database that contains a directory of all Foreign Service posts by country, including regional security officers, police organizations, State Department travel advisories, security and crime situations, terrorism profiles, and messages highlighting information of interest to American business travelers.
 

Lastly, DS maintains a

Diplomatic Courier Service

responsible for transporting classified and sensitive materials overseas every year to embassies, consulates and missions. In addition to papers and files, diplomatic pouches can contain thousands of pounds of equipment and construction materials for new embassies. The courier service provides regularly scheduled classified deliveries to over 190 diplomatic posts. The $25 million program consists of a headquarters office within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security; three regional divisions in Bangkok, Frankfurt and Miami; and regional hubs at Dakar/Abidjan, Helsinki, Manama, Pretoria and Seoul.

 



 

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Where Does the Money Go:

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to its almost 500 special agents, DS employs private security contractors. This supplemental security force has been used largely in Iraq (see Controversies) due to the extremely unstable climate in the country since the US invaded in 2003. Before the Iraq war, the use of private contractors by DS was limited to small efforts in Afghanistan and Bosnia. Currently, DS contracts with three large companies to help guard State Department personnel: Blackwater USA; DynCorp International; and Triple Canopy.

 
Blackwater USA, founded in 1997 by three former Navy SEALs, provides a variety of protective services in Iraq, using 987 employees, of whom 744 are Americans. Blackwater was one of the original companies providing security services to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), including protection for CPA chief Paul Bremer, as well as other CPA employees and visiting dignitaries. Its staff includes former military, intelligence and law enforcement personnel.
 
DynCorp International evolved from a company formed in 1946 that provided support and services to US military aircraft and weapons systems under Air Force contracts. Named DynCorp since 1987, it was acquired in 2003 by Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) and now has nearly 14,000 employees in 30 countries. DynCorp has 151 personnel in Iraq (100 are American) to provide police training and related services in Iraq.
 
Triple Canopy, founded in September 2003, brags of having “former tier-one military special operations” personnel in its leadership. Triple Canopy’s two founders and co-chairmen both served with the US Army Special Forces, one with Special Forces “Delta Force” unit. It employs the largest number of private guards in Iraq, almost 1,500, of which only 224 are American.
 
In addition to private security companies, numerous other private corporations and public entities have vested interests in DS operations through the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). Comprised of 30 private sector and four public sector member organizations, OSAC helps to provide security information and intelligence to American interests operating internationally. OSAC claims more than 3,500 American companies, educational institutions, and religious and non-governmental organizations have sought help from the council. Council members as January 2006 included some of the biggest corporations in the country:
  • 3M
  • American Airlines, Inc.
  • American Standard Companies
  • Archer Daniels Midland Company
  • Ball Corporation
  • Boeing Company
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
  • CARE USA
  • Chevron Corporation
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
  • CIGNA
  • Citigroup, Inc.
  • E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company
  • Federal Mogul Corporation
  • KPMG, LLP
  • Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc.
  • Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Merck & Co., Inc.
  • Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.
  • National Football League
  • The Ohio State University
  • Pepperdine University
  • Procter & Gamble Company
  • Raytheon Company
  • Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company L.L.C.
  • Time Warner
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Whirlpool Corporation
  • U.S. Agency for International Development
  • U.S. Department of Commerce
  • U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. Department of the Treasury

Private Security Contractors in Iraq

(CRS Report) (PDF)

 

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Controversies:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use of Private Security Companies

The use of private security companies in Iraq came under national scrutiny in September 2006 following a firefight in Baghdad involving a group of Blackwater armed guards. While providing security for a convoy transporting US diplomats, the Blackwater guards opened fire in a traffic circle, killing 17 Iraqis. The company justified the deadly response by claiming the convoy had come under attack from insurgents. Iraqi officials and some US military personnel questioned the accounts of the Blackwater guards. A team of Justice Department and FBI investigators traveled to Iraq to conduct a two-week investigation.
 
A grand jury was convened in late 2007 to examine the shootings. However, federal prosecutors were not sure if the contractors could be prosecuted under US law because of a grant of immunity to Blackwater and other private security companies by the former US occupation government in Iraq. Further complicating the matter was the limited-immunity that DS investigators offered Blackwater guards as part of their investigation into the shootings.
 
The Blackwater controversy also exposed longstanding tensions between the State Department and the Pentagon over the use of private security companies by diplomats. Prior to the September firefight, US military leaders had complained about a lack of coordination from State Department officials when companies such as Blackwater (which the Pentagon also uses) were out in the field providing security. Military officers argued they should have control over the security guards, not the State Department, saying that their aggressive behavior interfered with military operations and undermined US efforts to win Iraqi hearts and minds. Following the September incident, State and Defense officials agreed to a memorandum of understanding that gave US military leaders in Iraq more input over the use of the private guards, but still left the State Department in full control of its contractors.
Immunity Deals Offered to Blackwater Guards (by David Johnston, New York Times)
 
Blackwater Sniper Kills Iraqi Guards
Prior to the September shooting incident, Blackwater was embroiled in controversy when one of its snipers killed three Iraqi guards. The sniper opened fire from the roof of the Iraqi Justice Ministry, killing a 23-year-old guard for the state-funded Iraqi Media Network, who was standing on a balcony across an open traffic circle. Another guard rushed to his colleague’s side and was fatally shot in the neck. A third guard was found dead more than an hour later on the same balcony.
 
Eight people who responded to the shootings - including media network and Justice Ministry guards and an Iraqi army commander - and five network officials in the compound said none of the slain guards had fired on the Justice Ministry, where a U.S. diplomat was in a meeting. An Iraqi police report described the shootings as “an act of terrorism” and said Blackwater was at fault. The media network concluded that the guards were killed “without any provocation.”
 
DS officials defended Blackwater’s actions. Based on information from the Blackwater guards, who said they were fired upon, the State Department determined that the security team’s actions “fell within approved rules governing the use of force,” according to a DS official.
 
US officials and the security company offered no compensation or apology to the victims’ families. “It's really surprising that Blackwater is still out there killing people,” said Mohammed Jasim, the Iraqi Media Network’s deputy director.
 
A Blackwater spokesperson said the company’s guards came under “precision small-arms fire” and that the shooting was absolutely provoked.
 
An internal review of DS’ handling of private security recently found serious deficiencies in the agency's supervision of contractors, including Blackwater. The bureau’s director, Richard J. Griffin, was forced to resign in October 2007 after the report was released.
 
Blackwater Investigated for Employment Practices
Trouble for Blackwater officials continued back in the states. House oversight committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) launched an investigation into the company’s employment practices. In letters to the Internal Revenue Service, the Small Business Administration and the Labor Department, Waxman questioned Blackwater's classification of its workers as “independent contractors” rather than employees. That designation, which the government has questioned in the past, has allowed the company to obtain $144 million in contracts set aside for small businesses and to avoid paying as much as $50 million in withholding taxes under State Department contracts.

Blackwater's Employment Investigated

(by Karen DeYoung, Washington Post)

 

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Former Directors:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gregory Starr

A New York native, Gregory B. Starr served as acting assistant secretary of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security from November 1, 2007 until July 6, 2008. Starr received a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in forensic science from George Washington University.
 
Starr entered the Department of State in 1980. He currently holds the rank of minister counselor in the Senior Foreign Service. His overseas assignments have included senior regional security officer at the US Embassy Tel Aviv (1997-2000), as well as regional security officer positions in Tunis, Tunisia; Dakar, Senegal; and Kinshasa, Zaire (presently the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Domestic assignments have included the director of the Office of Physical Security Programs (2000-2004), division chief for worldwide local guard and residential security programs (1995-1997) and assignments to the Secretary of State’s detail, technical security operations and the New York Field Office.
 
From July 2004 through February 2007, Starr served as the deputy assistant secretary of state for countermeasures, where he was responsible for formulating security policy and plans for countermeasures in the areas of physical security, technical security, and Diplomatic Courier operations for the State Department’s overseas and domestic operations and facilities.
 
In April 2007 he was named principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and director of the Diplomatic Security Service, where he managed the bureau’s day-to-day operations.
 
Gregory Starr replaced Richard J. Griffin, who was ousted for inadequately monitoring private contractors protecting diplomats in Iraq.

State Dept. Ousts Its Chief of Security

(by Karen DeYoung, Washington Post)

 

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Comments

Bruce Blumer 4 years ago
I just want to report that Jose Maldonado assisted us with our return to the U.S. from Haiti and serves your department well. He was professional, courteous, but also firm. He was exactly what we needed and wanted you to know.
Dan Cherney 5 years ago
My company, CPI Daylighting Inc, recently tested and passed the UFC 04-020-01 Forced Entry Testing at a certified lab in MD. We now seek DS/PSP/PSD Certification from the military to be allowed to be integrated into military buildings in the US and beyond. How does one reach the office of Physical Security programs to begin the process?

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Founded: 1985
Annual Budget: $180 million
Employees: 861
Official Website: http://www.state.gov/m/ds
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
Starr, Gregory B.
Assistant Secretary

In the wake of the murder of five American diplomats at the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last year, the safety of diplomatic personnel serving overseas has come under increased scrutiny in Washington. Late last month, President Obama nominated Gregory B. Starr to be the next assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security (DS). This would make Starr the chief of the security and law enforcement arm of the State Department. Starr has been principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Diplomatic Security and acting assistant secretary for Diplomatic Security since February 2013. 

 

Born February 3, 1953, in New York, Starr earned a B.A. in Political Science and a Master’s degree in Forensic Science from the George Washington University in the late 1970s.

 

Starr began his career as a special agent in the Foreign Service in July 1980, serving early career assignments as a regional security officer at facilities in Tunis, Tunisia; Dakar, Senegal; and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (then Zaire). He has also served in the secretary of state’s detail, in technical security operations, and at the New York Field Office.

 

From 1995 to 1997, Starr was chief of the division for worldwide local guard and residential security programs. He served his last overseas posting as senior regional security officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, from 1997 to 2000.

 

Starr then took three straight stateside assignments. From 2000 to June 2004, he was director of the Office of Physical Security Programs. From July 2004 to March 2007, he was deputy assistant secretary for countermeasures, responsible for devising security policy.

 

From April 2007 until his retirement in May 2009, Starr was principal deputy assistant secretary and director of the diplomatic security service. He also served as the acting assistant secretary for DS from October 2007 to July 2008 following the resignation of Richard J. Griffin in the wake of controversies regarding the killing of Iraqi civilians by private contractors.

 

After retiring from the Senior Foreign Service, Starr served as United Nations under-secretary-general for Safety and Security from May 2009 to January 2013. 

 

Starr is married with two children.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (pdf)

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Boswell, Eric
Previous Assistant Secretary
Born in Naples, Italy, Eric Boswell served in the Army from 1968 to 1969 and then earned a BA degree from Stanford University in 1970. He entered the Foreign Service in 1972. He served at the U.S. consulate in Quebec (1977-1980), as personnel officer for Near East assignments (1980-1983), Deputy Executive Director of the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs (1983-1985), administrative counselor at the U.S. embassy in Amman, Jordan (1985-1987), administrative minister-counselor at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, Canada (1987-1990) and as Executive Director of the Bureau of Near East and South Asian Affairs (1990-1992). In September 1992, President George H.W. Bush nominated Boswell be Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, a position he maintained until 1998. Between 1998 and 2005, Boswell served as Director of Administration for the United Nations’ Pan American Health Organization. From 2005 until July 2008, he was the Assistant Deputy Director for Security in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. On July 7, 2008, Boswell was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security, a position he had previously held from 1996 to 1998, when he retired from the Foreign Service. Boswell is also the Director of the Office of Foreign Missions.
 
 
 
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Bookmark and Share
Overview:
As the second largest component of the US Department of State, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is part law enforcement agency, part intelligence operation, responsible for protecting the personnel, information and property associated with America’s embassies and other diplomatic posts. The bureau also provides protection in the US for the Secretary of State, the US Ambassador to the United Nations and foreign dignitaries below the head-of-state level who visit the United States.
 
DS employs almost 500 special agents in over 150 countries, along with hundreds of private security guards through contracts with companies such as Blackwater USA. The use of private contractors created a huge controversy for DS in the fall of 2006 when Blackwater guards killed numerous civilians in Baghdad, Iraq as a result of an attack on a convoy carrying American diplomats.
 
more
History:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Efforts to provide security for State Department officials first began in 1916 under Secretary of State Robert Lansing. The special office, headed by a chief special agent, consisted of a little more than a handful of agents working out of two locations, Washington, DC, and New York City, who conducted sensitive investigations, including those involving foreign spies in the US. In 1918 Congress passed legislation requiring passports for Americans traveling abroad and visas for aliens wishing to enter the United States. Shortly thereafter, the chief special agent’s office was charged with investigating passport and visa fraud, along with guarding distinguished visitors to the United States.

 
Espionage activities involving Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during the 1930s and into World War II caused the chief special agent office to play a more important role in thwarting efforts by spies to enter the US. An investigation of passport fraud in New York City led to the discovery of a Soviet intelligence network that, in turn, revealed a number of Soviet agents and American Communist Party members engaged in espionage activities. The office expanded again during the war to manage the entry of diplomatic officials of enemy powers and screening of Americans, or those claiming American citizenship, after they were forced to leave occupied territories.
 
After the conclusion of the war, Secretary of State Edward Stettinius ordered a reorganization of the entire State Department, which led to the separation of security functions. Separate from the chief special agent’s office, the newly created Office of Security (SY) had a program of regional security staffs in the US and, for the first time, security officers at embassies overseas. Later, security functions were merged and, in 1948, Foreign Correlations (an intelligence service) was incorporated into the Office of Security.
 
During the 1950s, as the Cold War intensified, American officials discovered listening devices had been planted a numerous embassies around the world, including at the US mission in Moscow. These espionage activities by the Soviet Union and its allies resulted in the creation of a special assignments staff to investigate State Department personnel suspected of working with foreign spies. This staff worked closely with CIA and FBI counterintelligence. SY upgraded its technical security program and began hiring engineers. The assignment of U.S. Navy Seabee teams to search for listening devices in the American embassies in Moscow and Warsaw led to the establishment of a Seabee program within the State Department.
 
During the tumultuous 1960s and early 1970s, terrorist activities resulted in the kidnapping or assassination of several US ambassadors and State Department officials. In response SY hired more than a hundred new agents and purchased new equipment to provide better security for diplomats. The office also published handbooks on terrorism and provided advice for overseas personnel on traveling safely to and from work and how to make their homes safer. SY began to survey American embassies for vulnerability to attack. Security officers received more intensive training and learned new skills, such as defensive driving.
 
Terrorist attacks against the US and its overseas operations increased dramatically in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Between 1979 and 1983, there were more than 300 attacks; in 1984 alone, there were more than 100 attacks. In 1984, Secretary of State George Shultz formed an advisory panel to make recommendations on minimizing the risk of terrorist attacks on US citizens and facilities. Headed by retired Admiral Bobby Inman, the Panel on Overseas Security, or Inman Panel, recommended the creation of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS). The new DS was structured to provide law enforcement, security and intelligence services. The Diplomatic Courier Service also joined DS at this time.
 
Following the issuing of its report, the panel became a permanent advisory committee to the State Department known as the Overseas Security Advisory Council.
 
By the end of the 1980s, DS began sharing security information with the international American business community. In 1992 the Diplomatic Security Rewards for Justice Program was initiated to provide money to informants with information about threats to US diplomatic interests. Since then more than $49 million has been paid from this fund. According to the bureau, information received through this program resulted in the capture of several terrorists, including Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.
 
Following the August 7, 1998, terrorist bombings of the US Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania , and Nairobi , Kenya , the State Department declared the protection of American personnel and facilities overseas a top priority.  Congress passed a $1.4 billion Emergency Embassy Security Supplemental (of which DS received about $588 million) enabling the bureau to make security improvements at every US diplomatic mission overseas.
 
This new commitment to security didn’t prevent humiliating lapses from occurring. In 1998, an unidentified man strolled into Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s outer office, picked up her pouch of highly classified daily briefing material, and walked out - and was never seen or identified again. Not long afterward, a laptop computer that reportedly contained an enormous range of highly classified arms control information disappeared from a State Department office, never to be recovered. In addition, the Russian Embassy in Washington reportedly bugged a 7th floor State Department conference room using a sophisticated listening device that apparently required insider access to install - yet the mole was never officially uncovered.
 
These security failures led to stricter rules for State Department employees, including a requirement for annual security briefings for all State personnel and beefing-up of security training at the Foreign Service Institute for all overseas-bound officers. Just months later, Martin Indyk, the high-profile US ambassador in Tel Aviv, was revealed to have handled classified information on an unclassified laptop.
 

Diplomatic Security History

 

more
What it Does:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Located within the US Department of State, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is responsible for protecting the people, information and property associated with America’s diplomatic posts. Outside of the US, the bureau safeguards all personnel at US embassies, consulates and missions. In the United States, DS protects the Secretary of State, the US Ambassador to the United Nations and foreign dignitaries below the head-of-state level who visit the United States. DS is also responsible for protecting the State Department’s 100 offices in the US as well as the residence of the Secretary of State.DS also investigates more than 3,500 passport and visa fraud violations each year. It conducts personnel security investigations and issues security clearances. The bureau also assists foreign embassies and consulates in the United States with the security for their missions and personnel.

 
DS employs almost 500 special agents in more than 150 countries who advise chiefs of mission on all security matters and develop and implement security programs that shield American diplomatic posts from attacks. Special agents often work with the US military, especially the US Marine Fleet Antiterrorism Security Teams, which have provided emergency protection for overseas offices during times of crisis or upheaval in foreign countries. 
 
Special agents are the primary liaison with foreign police and security services overseas. Much of this work is done on behalf of other federal, state and local agencies needing information for investigations. DS receives about 3,000 requests for overseas investigative assistance from US law enforcement each year and has assisted in the apprehension of fugitives who have fled the United States. DS special agents also provide unclassified briefings and other professional security advice to American businesses overseas.
 
Mobile Security Teams - Based in Washington, DC, DS Mobile Security Teams are deployed worldwide to respond to security emergencies, augment DS protective details under particular threat and provide specialized counterterrorism and personal security training at US missions. With less than 24-hours notice, teams can be dispatched to protect official Americans and provide additional security in high threat areas. Teams have been on site in Kabul and Jerusalem continuously since 2002. Teams have also accompanied special White House envoys to Afghanistan and negotiators to the Middle East. The teams routinely enhance the protective detail of the Secretary of State and have supplemented the protection of high-risk individuals such as Yassir Arafat, Salman Rushdie and Nelson Mandela.
 
Training by the teams is provided at American diplomatic posts to embassy personnel, their dependents, local guards and members of the American business community. Subjects taught include: personnel security, counterterrorism techniques, defensive driving, firearms usage, surveillance detection, rape awareness and carjacking avoidance. Training in emergency medical care is also offered.
 
Security Engineering Officers (SEOs) are employed by DS to create and manage security equipment used at US embassies. SEOs are responsible for detecting and preventing loss of sensitive information from technical espionage. They are in charge of embassy perimeter access controls, closed-circuit television, alarms, locks, and x-ray and bomb detection equipment. US Navy Seabees assist SEOs with the maintenance and repair of security systems.
 
Office of Intelligence and Threat Analysis (ITA) is the interface between DS and the US intelligence community on all international and domestic terrorism matters. ITA researches, monitors and analyzes all source intelligence on terrorist activities and threats directed against Americans and American diplomatic and consular personnel and facilities overseas. In particular, analysts monitor threats against the Secretary of State, senior US officials, visiting foreign dignitaries, resident foreign diplomats and foreign missions in the United States for whom DS has a security responsibility. ITA works closely with the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs to inform the public of threats or security-related issues through the Consular Information Program. ITA administers the Security Environment Threat List (SETL), which reflects four categories of security threat, including political violence and crime, at all US diplomatic posts.
 
DS also helps to provide information to the US private sector through the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). The council was established in 1985 and is co-chaired by DS. It consists of 34 representatives from the federal government and the American private sector that work together on overseas security issues. OSAC operates an electronic database that contains a directory of all Foreign Service posts by country, including regional security officers, police organizations, State Department travel advisories, security and crime situations, terrorism profiles, and messages highlighting information of interest to American business travelers.
 

Lastly, DS maintains a

Diplomatic Courier Service

responsible for transporting classified and sensitive materials overseas every year to embassies, consulates and missions. In addition to papers and files, diplomatic pouches can contain thousands of pounds of equipment and construction materials for new embassies. The courier service provides regularly scheduled classified deliveries to over 190 diplomatic posts. The $25 million program consists of a headquarters office within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security; three regional divisions in Bangkok, Frankfurt and Miami; and regional hubs at Dakar/Abidjan, Helsinki, Manama, Pretoria and Seoul.

 



 

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Where Does the Money Go:

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to its almost 500 special agents, DS employs private security contractors. This supplemental security force has been used largely in Iraq (see Controversies) due to the extremely unstable climate in the country since the US invaded in 2003. Before the Iraq war, the use of private contractors by DS was limited to small efforts in Afghanistan and Bosnia. Currently, DS contracts with three large companies to help guard State Department personnel: Blackwater USA; DynCorp International; and Triple Canopy.

 
Blackwater USA, founded in 1997 by three former Navy SEALs, provides a variety of protective services in Iraq, using 987 employees, of whom 744 are Americans. Blackwater was one of the original companies providing security services to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), including protection for CPA chief Paul Bremer, as well as other CPA employees and visiting dignitaries. Its staff includes former military, intelligence and law enforcement personnel.
 
DynCorp International evolved from a company formed in 1946 that provided support and services to US military aircraft and weapons systems under Air Force contracts. Named DynCorp since 1987, it was acquired in 2003 by Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) and now has nearly 14,000 employees in 30 countries. DynCorp has 151 personnel in Iraq (100 are American) to provide police training and related services in Iraq.
 
Triple Canopy, founded in September 2003, brags of having “former tier-one military special operations” personnel in its leadership. Triple Canopy’s two founders and co-chairmen both served with the US Army Special Forces, one with Special Forces “Delta Force” unit. It employs the largest number of private guards in Iraq, almost 1,500, of which only 224 are American.
 
In addition to private security companies, numerous other private corporations and public entities have vested interests in DS operations through the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). Comprised of 30 private sector and four public sector member organizations, OSAC helps to provide security information and intelligence to American interests operating internationally. OSAC claims more than 3,500 American companies, educational institutions, and religious and non-governmental organizations have sought help from the council. Council members as January 2006 included some of the biggest corporations in the country:
  • 3M
  • American Airlines, Inc.
  • American Standard Companies
  • Archer Daniels Midland Company
  • Ball Corporation
  • Boeing Company
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
  • CARE USA
  • Chevron Corporation
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
  • CIGNA
  • Citigroup, Inc.
  • E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company
  • Federal Mogul Corporation
  • KPMG, LLP
  • Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc.
  • Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Merck & Co., Inc.
  • Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.
  • National Football League
  • The Ohio State University
  • Pepperdine University
  • Procter & Gamble Company
  • Raytheon Company
  • Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company L.L.C.
  • Time Warner
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Whirlpool Corporation
  • U.S. Agency for International Development
  • U.S. Department of Commerce
  • U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. Department of the Treasury

Private Security Contractors in Iraq

(CRS Report) (PDF)

 

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Controversies:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use of Private Security Companies

The use of private security companies in Iraq came under national scrutiny in September 2006 following a firefight in Baghdad involving a group of Blackwater armed guards. While providing security for a convoy transporting US diplomats, the Blackwater guards opened fire in a traffic circle, killing 17 Iraqis. The company justified the deadly response by claiming the convoy had come under attack from insurgents. Iraqi officials and some US military personnel questioned the accounts of the Blackwater guards. A team of Justice Department and FBI investigators traveled to Iraq to conduct a two-week investigation.
 
A grand jury was convened in late 2007 to examine the shootings. However, federal prosecutors were not sure if the contractors could be prosecuted under US law because of a grant of immunity to Blackwater and other private security companies by the former US occupation government in Iraq. Further complicating the matter was the limited-immunity that DS investigators offered Blackwater guards as part of their investigation into the shootings.
 
The Blackwater controversy also exposed longstanding tensions between the State Department and the Pentagon over the use of private security companies by diplomats. Prior to the September firefight, US military leaders had complained about a lack of coordination from State Department officials when companies such as Blackwater (which the Pentagon also uses) were out in the field providing security. Military officers argued they should have control over the security guards, not the State Department, saying that their aggressive behavior interfered with military operations and undermined US efforts to win Iraqi hearts and minds. Following the September incident, State and Defense officials agreed to a memorandum of understanding that gave US military leaders in Iraq more input over the use of the private guards, but still left the State Department in full control of its contractors.
Immunity Deals Offered to Blackwater Guards (by David Johnston, New York Times)
 
Blackwater Sniper Kills Iraqi Guards
Prior to the September shooting incident, Blackwater was embroiled in controversy when one of its snipers killed three Iraqi guards. The sniper opened fire from the roof of the Iraqi Justice Ministry, killing a 23-year-old guard for the state-funded Iraqi Media Network, who was standing on a balcony across an open traffic circle. Another guard rushed to his colleague’s side and was fatally shot in the neck. A third guard was found dead more than an hour later on the same balcony.
 
Eight people who responded to the shootings - including media network and Justice Ministry guards and an Iraqi army commander - and five network officials in the compound said none of the slain guards had fired on the Justice Ministry, where a U.S. diplomat was in a meeting. An Iraqi police report described the shootings as “an act of terrorism” and said Blackwater was at fault. The media network concluded that the guards were killed “without any provocation.”
 
DS officials defended Blackwater’s actions. Based on information from the Blackwater guards, who said they were fired upon, the State Department determined that the security team’s actions “fell within approved rules governing the use of force,” according to a DS official.
 
US officials and the security company offered no compensation or apology to the victims’ families. “It's really surprising that Blackwater is still out there killing people,” said Mohammed Jasim, the Iraqi Media Network’s deputy director.
 
A Blackwater spokesperson said the company’s guards came under “precision small-arms fire” and that the shooting was absolutely provoked.
 
An internal review of DS’ handling of private security recently found serious deficiencies in the agency's supervision of contractors, including Blackwater. The bureau’s director, Richard J. Griffin, was forced to resign in October 2007 after the report was released.
 
Blackwater Investigated for Employment Practices
Trouble for Blackwater officials continued back in the states. House oversight committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) launched an investigation into the company’s employment practices. In letters to the Internal Revenue Service, the Small Business Administration and the Labor Department, Waxman questioned Blackwater's classification of its workers as “independent contractors” rather than employees. That designation, which the government has questioned in the past, has allowed the company to obtain $144 million in contracts set aside for small businesses and to avoid paying as much as $50 million in withholding taxes under State Department contracts.

Blackwater's Employment Investigated

(by Karen DeYoung, Washington Post)

 

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Former Directors:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gregory Starr

A New York native, Gregory B. Starr served as acting assistant secretary of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security from November 1, 2007 until July 6, 2008. Starr received a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in forensic science from George Washington University.
 
Starr entered the Department of State in 1980. He currently holds the rank of minister counselor in the Senior Foreign Service. His overseas assignments have included senior regional security officer at the US Embassy Tel Aviv (1997-2000), as well as regional security officer positions in Tunis, Tunisia; Dakar, Senegal; and Kinshasa, Zaire (presently the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Domestic assignments have included the director of the Office of Physical Security Programs (2000-2004), division chief for worldwide local guard and residential security programs (1995-1997) and assignments to the Secretary of State’s detail, technical security operations and the New York Field Office.
 
From July 2004 through February 2007, Starr served as the deputy assistant secretary of state for countermeasures, where he was responsible for formulating security policy and plans for countermeasures in the areas of physical security, technical security, and Diplomatic Courier operations for the State Department’s overseas and domestic operations and facilities.
 
In April 2007 he was named principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and director of the Diplomatic Security Service, where he managed the bureau’s day-to-day operations.
 
Gregory Starr replaced Richard J. Griffin, who was ousted for inadequately monitoring private contractors protecting diplomats in Iraq.

State Dept. Ousts Its Chief of Security

(by Karen DeYoung, Washington Post)

 

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Comments

Bruce Blumer 4 years ago
I just want to report that Jose Maldonado assisted us with our return to the U.S. from Haiti and serves your department well. He was professional, courteous, but also firm. He was exactly what we needed and wanted you to know.
Dan Cherney 5 years ago
My company, CPI Daylighting Inc, recently tested and passed the UFC 04-020-01 Forced Entry Testing at a certified lab in MD. We now seek DS/PSP/PSD Certification from the military to be allowed to be integrated into military buildings in the US and beyond. How does one reach the office of Physical Security programs to begin the process?

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Founded: 1985
Annual Budget: $180 million
Employees: 861
Official Website: http://www.state.gov/m/ds
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
Starr, Gregory B.
Assistant Secretary

In the wake of the murder of five American diplomats at the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last year, the safety of diplomatic personnel serving overseas has come under increased scrutiny in Washington. Late last month, President Obama nominated Gregory B. Starr to be the next assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security (DS). This would make Starr the chief of the security and law enforcement arm of the State Department. Starr has been principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Diplomatic Security and acting assistant secretary for Diplomatic Security since February 2013. 

 

Born February 3, 1953, in New York, Starr earned a B.A. in Political Science and a Master’s degree in Forensic Science from the George Washington University in the late 1970s.

 

Starr began his career as a special agent in the Foreign Service in July 1980, serving early career assignments as a regional security officer at facilities in Tunis, Tunisia; Dakar, Senegal; and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (then Zaire). He has also served in the secretary of state’s detail, in technical security operations, and at the New York Field Office.

 

From 1995 to 1997, Starr was chief of the division for worldwide local guard and residential security programs. He served his last overseas posting as senior regional security officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, from 1997 to 2000.

 

Starr then took three straight stateside assignments. From 2000 to June 2004, he was director of the Office of Physical Security Programs. From July 2004 to March 2007, he was deputy assistant secretary for countermeasures, responsible for devising security policy.

 

From April 2007 until his retirement in May 2009, Starr was principal deputy assistant secretary and director of the diplomatic security service. He also served as the acting assistant secretary for DS from October 2007 to July 2008 following the resignation of Richard J. Griffin in the wake of controversies regarding the killing of Iraqi civilians by private contractors.

 

After retiring from the Senior Foreign Service, Starr served as United Nations under-secretary-general for Safety and Security from May 2009 to January 2013. 

 

Starr is married with two children.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (pdf)

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Boswell, Eric
Previous Assistant Secretary
Born in Naples, Italy, Eric Boswell served in the Army from 1968 to 1969 and then earned a BA degree from Stanford University in 1970. He entered the Foreign Service in 1972. He served at the U.S. consulate in Quebec (1977-1980), as personnel officer for Near East assignments (1980-1983), Deputy Executive Director of the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs (1983-1985), administrative counselor at the U.S. embassy in Amman, Jordan (1985-1987), administrative minister-counselor at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, Canada (1987-1990) and as Executive Director of the Bureau of Near East and South Asian Affairs (1990-1992). In September 1992, President George H.W. Bush nominated Boswell be Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, a position he maintained until 1998. Between 1998 and 2005, Boswell served as Director of Administration for the United Nations’ Pan American Health Organization. From 2005 until July 2008, he was the Assistant Deputy Director for Security in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. On July 7, 2008, Boswell was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security, a position he had previously held from 1996 to 1998, when he retired from the Foreign Service. Boswell is also the Director of the Office of Foreign Missions.
 
 
 
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