Secret Service lore abounds, like their cryptic cousins the Navy SEALS. But National Geographic will put to rest some of the crazier rumored stories as they dive deep into a profession few really know about on United States Secret Service: On The Front Line.
Events from travel to state dinners, moments of attack on U.S. soil and even protocol is handled in this no-miss event. You won’t be able to stop watching it as things you might or might not have known are really explained in thoroughly interesting detail.
For the first time in the agency’s history, the Secret Service has given National Geographic Channel an insider look at the machinations of their closed organization that requires an exemplary background check and proper education for all employed. The primary mission is to protect the life of the US President whatever the cost.
It is no surprise that the current POTUS is nicknamed “Mogul.” All presidents earn a pithy moniker to be quickly referenced to in communication.
The American president is viewed by this organization as the leader of the free world. As such, he or she is a worldwide target and the Secret Service’s job is to be concerned and examine all threats implied, rumored or made outright to the POTUS.
What is this special about?
An army of thousands of agents is stationed worldwide at the ready to protect the president of the United States by any means necessary.
Each and every time that there has been an incident, the Service has learned from the incident and evolved their tactics.
There are four parts of “the bubble” around the president to coordinate and to vet. Every minute of the president’s schedule is discussed, examined and planned by these people who coordinate with the entourage traveling with POTUS.
Four critical teams make up “the bubble” that protects the president: Protective Operations, the inner circle to the POTUS, also known as Special Ops; Protective Intelligence will analyze potential threats; the Uniformed Division stands guard at the White House. Lastly, Investigations is the fourth piece where threats including social media posts are analyzed and investigated.
Every domestic arrival, departure and any foreign destination that POTUS is in attendance in the world is a unique set of headaches and logistics for the Secret Service, which they describe in full.
Details like the specific food the president needs to travel with, plus beefed up cars, equipment, weaponry are discussed in detail, as it is a veritable moving city that accompanies POTUS, filled with people all trained to watch and act upon any transgression.
The special focuses on several real political events past to the present.
The trip President Donald J. Trump took to Manila in the Philippines was discussed. Ahead of the trip, all four arms of the bubble are sent to clear and analyze the trip. Country briefs are prepared by the lead agents, and all four arms mentioned work in unison to make sure no holes or missed signals occur.
Other events examined include George H. W. Bush’s contentious presidential trip to Panama. Amid protesting crowds, tear gas and stray bullets flying, “the package” Bush was whisked away by the Secret Service, quickly covered up in a stiff bullet-proof trench coat to a secure location.
Shift agents are shown at a modern-day Trump rally in Fargo, North Dakota as the current POTUS “Mogul” addresses the enthusiastic crowd.
Agent Wesley Schwank explains their stations and their modus operandi in scanning the crowd in a continuous visual sweep.
There is a fascinating calculated succession of events when trouble is spotted. “Cover and evacuate” is the immediate course of events, but also locating the source of the threat is handled by this team too.
Of note, the events of the September 11th attack in New York City and D.C. are covered extensively. The evacuation of the press corps with the president on Air Force One is a deeply moving recollection as told by journalist Ann Compton.
George W. Bush was deliberately kept in the air until everyone had a handle on the events that awful day. It took eight hours for the plane to finally land. The first State of the Union held after the 9/11 attack, Dick Cheney was not allowed to be in the same place as George W. Bush for concerns for national safety.
All of these safeguarding strategies are explained in great detail.
Who is featured in this special?
“Every day the Secret Service has to be 100 percent correct, we have to win,” says Special Agent Anthony Ornato. “Everybody has a plan until you get punched in the mouth.”
Executive producers for this project for National Geographic Studios are Jeff Hasler, Brian Lovett, and Melissa Wood. Matt Renner is executive producer and vice president, original programming and production at National Geographic.
Their team spoke to various agents, including Anthony Ornato, Special Agent in Charge/ Presidential Protective Division; Chad Ragan, Special Agent, Presidential Protective Division, and Wesley Schwark, Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge, Dignitary Protective Division, Special Events Section.
They also spoke to Mickey Nelson, former Assistant Director of the U.S. Secret Service; Audrey Gibson, Special Agent, Protective Intelligence & Assessment Division; Chip Smith, Former Special Agent In Charge, NYC Field Office; Cathy Milhoan, Director of Communications, U.S. Secret Service and Matthew Quinn, Special Agent in Charge of the Secret Service Office of Communications.
Also, Bret Baier, Anchor Special Report, Fox News; Ann Compton, Former White House Correspondent, ABC News and Don Gonyea, National Political Correspondent for NPR News weighed in as they traveled with the Secret Service in the press corps.
United States Secret Service: On the Front Line two-hour special premieres Sunday, Oct. 14 at 9/8c on National Geographic Channel.