Secret Service at Fault
Criticism of the Bureau by Ex-Chief Ha[z]en.
Nowhere, in the opinion of ex-Chief
William P. Hazen of the Secret Service, will the reaction of the
present national feeling work so radically as through that division
of the Treasury Department; and the Government will in the end have
a thoroughly organized and disciplined corps.
“Contrary to general belief,” said
Mr. Hazen to-day, “the Government Secret Service is nowhere near
the size and importance that magazine articles and half-tone illustrations
make the reading public think. When I was at its head, four years
ago, it had something like twenty-eight men, and an annual appropriation
of about $60,000 to conduct it. That sufficed for the country from
ocean to ocean, and a chase over the sea, if necessary. Since then,
I believe, the division has been enlarged a trifle. A newspaper
man who had to be rewarded is now Chief; the bars have been taken
down, and all sorts and conditions of men out of a job have b[?]en
appointed to places as detectives. There are men in the division
now who would have to think well before they put down their past
history in black and white; men whose careers would not look well
in cold printer’s ink.
“The Government Secret Service is
really used only for one thing—chasing counterfeiters. That is the
work for which its appropriations are voted by Congress, and if
the head of any department wishes the use of a man, he makes a request
to the Treasury Department, has his man assigned, and takes him
on his own department’s pay-roll. To run down counterfeiters, it
does not take a remarkably sharp man. Money will buy all the information
one wants, and will save much time, besides. You can imagine what
kind of a man it takes to do a little ‘slick’ work with money; and
after they get in the habit of working that way, they fail when
they run up against a big case.
“It is not for an ex-chief of the
service to point out what ought to have been done at Buffalo, after
it is all over, but I cannot as a plain citizen refrain from criticism.
Three men were detailed by the Secret-Service head at Washington
to watch for the safety of the Chief Executive, the largest ‘plain
clothes’ body guard [sic] that any President of this country has
ever had. They had their instructions, or should have had, and were
responsible for the President’s life. Under the discipline, as it
should have existed, they should have taken their orders from no
one but their chief, and never should have given up their positions
of vantage where they could command a view of each person approaching,
and be near enough to stop any one that looked suspicious. These
officers, one in particular, I understand, stepped to one side to
make room and to oblige the Presidential party. It was carelessness
and lack of discipline. The men did the best they could, and I do
not blame them. One had to be detailed from Chicago, and another
from Rochester, the third followed the President from Washington.
“The system is poor. Congress is partially
to blame, for there have been measures prepared before this, authorizing
the reorganization of the Secret-Service Division, and it has [been?]
shelved each time it was presented.
“There would probably never have been
any guard for the President if Mrs. Cleveland in her time had not
established th[e] precedent. President Cleveland objected strongly,
and the result was a compromise in which we provided for a watch
upon the President every time he left the White House. The arrival
of Coxey’s army occasioned the first use of detectives at receptions.
This illustrates how crude are the workings of what we call our
Secret Service. It did do a little something at the time of the
Spanish-American war, but nothing, compared to what it might have
accomplished if it had been constructed o[n] different principles.
President Roosevelt, with his experience in police and army organization,
and his enthusiasm in civil-service reform, could accomplish much
in rebuilding this important division of the Government’s Treasury