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Diplomacy in Action

Frequently Asked Questions


  1. What is the Bureau of Diplomatic Security?

     

  2. What are DS's responsibilities?

     

  3. Who works in DS?

     

  4. What does DS investigate?

     

  5. What is passport fraud?

     

  6. What are the penalties and fines for passport fraud?

     

  7. What is visa fraud?

     

  8. What are the penalties and fines for visa fraud?

     

  9. Are there a lot of passport and visa fraud cases?

     

  10. Who do you protect?

     

  11. Why do some officials receive protection and some don't?

     

  12. What are RSOs and what do they do?

     

  13. How many U.S. diplomatic missions does DS protect overseas?

     

  14. With the increase of threats to U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, what security measures has DS taken to protect them?

     

  15. How many State Department buildings in the United States does DS protect?

     

  16. What is the Rewards for Justice Program?

     

  17. Is the Rewards for Justice Program successful?

     

  18. How much money has been paid out under this program?

     

  19. How can someone provide information?

     

  20. What is the Antiterrorism Assistance Program?

     

  21. Does DS also assist the private sector on security?

     

  22. How does an American private sector entity become part of the OSAC constituency?

     

  23. What is a DS special agent and how do I become one?

     

  24. What is a security engineering officer and how do I become one?

     

  25. What is a security technical specialist and how do I become one?

     

  26. What is a diplomatic courier and how do I become one?

     

  27. Are all jobs in DS Foreign Service?


 

  • What is the Bureau of Diplomatic Security?
    The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is the security and law enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of State.

     

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  • What are DS's responsibilities?
    Overseas, DS develops and implements the security programs that protect all U.S. diplomatic personnel who work in every U.S. diplomatic mission around the world, and serve as the chief of mission's personal advisor on all security matters. In the United States, DS protects the Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and cabinet-level foreign dignitaries who visit the United States. DS also assists foreign embassies and consulates in the United States with the security for their missions and personnel. Diplomatic Security also conducts criminal investigations into passport and visa fraud violations, conducts personnel security investigations, and issues security clearances.

     

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  • Who works in DS?
    DS has more than 34,000 employees worldwide. These employees include special agents, security engineering officers, security technicians, diplomatic couriers, and Civil Service specialists who work together to ensure the U.S. Department of State's worldwide missions are carried out successfully and securely.

     

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  • What does DS investigate?
    DS special agents are mandated with enforcing the laws of the United States pertaining to the illegal issuance, use, or manufacture of passports and visas. DS also conducts protective intelligence investigations into threats made against the Secretary of State, other Department of State employees, facilities here and abroad, foreign dignitaries under our protection, and foreign missions in the United States. DS special agents have investigated thousands of threats directed at our missions and personnel around the world.

     

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  • What is passport fraud?
    Passport fraud occurs when someone fraudulently applies for, uses, or possesses a passport of any nation. The most common instances of passport fraud occur when an individual applies for a passport using false documentation or when they possess or use passports that were not issued to them but were altered to appear as if they had been. Passport fraud is often committed by individuals looking to alter their identities and conceal other criminal activities and movements.

     

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  • What are the penalties and fines for passport fraud?
    Passport fraud is a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, 15 years if the offense is committed in relation to narcotics trafficking, and 20 years if related to acts of international terrorism.

     

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  • What is visa fraud?
    A visa is a stamp placed in a passport by the government of a country a traveler wishes to visit. The visa allows the traveler to apply to enter that country for a specific purpose, such as tourism or work. Visa fraud is the fraudulent obtaining, use, or manufacture of a visa.

     

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  • What are the penalties and fines for visa fraud?
    Visa fraud is punishable under the same guidelines as passport fraud violations. Visa fraud is a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, 15 years if the offense is committed in relation to narcotics trafficking, and 20 years if related to acts of international terrorism.

     

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  • Are there a lot of passport and visa fraud cases?
    DS special agents investigate more than 5,000 passport and visa fraud violations globally each year. Many of these cases are connected to other serious crimes, such as drug trafficking, international organized crime, terrorism, alien smuggling, and murder. While these cases do not regularly receive the headlines afforded to the high profile cases of other law enforcement agencies, their resolution helps secure U.S. borders and protect the national security of the United States.

     

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  • Who do you protect?
    DS special agents protect the Secretary of State, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, everywhere the Secretary travels in the world. DS also provides security for the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and the approximately 150 cabinet-level foreign dignitaries who visit the United States each year. DS protects more dignitaries than any other U.S. Government agency.

     

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  • Why do some officials receive protection and some don't?
    Protection is afforded to a dignitary on the basis of reciprocity and perceived threat level. Among those foreign dignitaries who have received protection from DS are foreign ministers, former foreign heads of state, members of the British royal family, the Secretary General of the United Nations (when he leaves New York), the Secretary General of NATO, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yassar Arafat, representatives of the Middle East Peace delegations, and the Dalai Lama.

     

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  • What are RSOs and what do they do?
    Overseas, DS special agents are assigned to U.S. diplomatic missions as regional security officers (RSOs). They are responsible for protecting our personnel and their families, facilities, and classified information. RSOs serve as the advisors to the U.S. ambassador on all security-related matters and manage programs for dealing with threats posed by terrorists, criminals, and hostile intelligence services. U.S. diplomatic personnel rely on the RSO to keep them safe overseas. The RSO is also the U.S. liaison with the host country's law enforcement agencies, as well as the primary point of contact for other U.S. agencies needing security information or assistance in that country. RSOs conduct more than 3,000 investigations overseas each year on behalf of other U.S. law enforcement agencies.

     

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  • How many U.S. diplomatic missions does DS protect overseas?
    The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is responsible for the protection of more than 285 U.S. diplomatic facilities worldwide. Additionally, Diplomatic Security ensures the safety of every U.S. embassy and consulate employee and their families, as well as national security information.

     

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  • With the increase of threats to U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, what security measures has DS taken to protect them?
    The protection of our employees and their families, national security information, and our facilities is a top priority for Diplomatic Security. Since the bombings of our embassies in 1998, we have improved the physical security of every U.S. diplomatic facility abroad. While we do not discuss security measures taken at specific missions, DS has:

     

    • Deployed hundreds of Diplomatic Security special agents overseas on temporary assignment to augment security at our diplomatic missions.

       

    • Acquired additional land for new facilities and to provide additional setback at many existing posts.

       

    • Enhanced the physical security at U.S. missions with additional barriers, reinforced perimeter walls, bollards, closed-circuit TV cameras, video recording equipment, hardened guard booths, vehicle barriers, bomb detection equipment, shatter-resistant window film, armored vehicles, access card control systems, walk-through metal detectors, and x-ray equipment.

       

    • Installed additional alarm and public address systems at embassies and consulates to alert personnel to impending emergency situations and have instituted a program for employees to "duck and cover" when alarms are sounded.

       

    • Established mandatory inspections of all vehicles entering U.S. diplomatic facilities.

       

    • Worked closely with host governments to close streets or change traffic patterns in front of U.S. missions in a number of cities.

       

    • Worked closely with host governments to increase their security presence at our facilities worldwide.

       

    • Continue our efforts to acquire surrounding properties to increase setback.

       

    • Established surveillance detection teams at nearly all of our diplomatic posts.

       

    • Expanded Antiterrorism Assistance training to aid foreign police in combating terrorism through such programs as surveillance detection, border security, explosive detection, crisis management, and maritime security.

       

    • Enhanced training for Diplomatic Security special agents and regional security officers to provide them additional instruction on counterterrorism methodology, explosive ordinance recognition and disposal, chemical and biological weapons threats and defenses, and surveillance detection techniques.

       

    • Created a chemical-biological weapons countermeasures program based on education, training, and equipment. Appropriate equipment has been distributed to all posts, and DS has established a comprehensive training program for security professionals and first responders.

       

    • Strengthened our working relationship with the intelligence community regarding assessment, investigation, and dissemination of threat information directed at our posts abroad. Assigned additional State Department personnel to various intelligence community agencies, including the CIA Counterterrorism Task Force, the FBI's International Terrorism Section, and various FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces.

       

    • Hired and trained hundreds of new Diplomatic Security special agents, security engineers, security technicians, diplomatic couriers, and civil servants since the bombings.

       

    • Assigned additional security personnel to missions abroad.

       

    • Hired more than additional local guards to protect U.S. missions overseas.

       

    • Increased crisis management training programs overseas. This training, coupled with crisis management training provided domestically, helps to ensure that our personnel are fully prepared to respond in future crisis situations.

       

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  • How many State Department buildings in the United States does DS protect?
    DS provides security to more than 100 State Department facilities in the United States.

     

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  • What is the Rewards for Justice Program?
    The Rewards for Justice Program is a highly successful tool in the U.S. Government's fight against international terrorism. Under this program, which is administered by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the Secretary of State may offer rewards for information that prevents or resolves acts of international terrorism against U.S. persons or property worldwide, or leads to the arrest or conviction of terrorists involved in such acts. Visit the Rewards for Justice Web site at www.rewardsforjustice.net.

     

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  • Is the Rewards for Justice Program successful?
    The Rewards for Justice Program is extremely successful and has resulted in the apprehension of international terrorists, including Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. The program also is credited with preventing acts of international terrorism and saving lives. Most recently the program was instrumental in leading U.S. military forces in Iraq to the location of Uday and Qusay Hussein. Visit the Rewards for Justice Web site at www.rewardsforjustice.net.

     

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  • How much money has been paid out under this program?
    The U.S. Government has paid over $57 million to 43 people who have come forward with credible information that put terrorists behind bars or prevented acts of international terrorism worldwide.  Visit the Rewards for Justice Web site at www.rewardsforjustice.net.

     

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  • How can someone provide information?
    Overseas, people with information on past of planned acts of terrorism are urged to contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate or write to the following address: Rewards for Justice, Washington, DC 20522-0303 USA. More detailed information may be obtained on the Internet at
    www.rewardsforjustice.net

     

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  • What is the Antiterrorism Assistance Program?
    The Antiterrorism Assistance Program (ATA) is an indispensable element in building and reinforcing the ties between the RSO and the host country's law enforcement agencies.

     

    ATA sponsors training for civilian security personnel from friendly governments in antiterrorism skills such as bomb detection, hostage negotiation, airport and building security, maritime security, and VIP protection. Each course is tailored to the requesting country's specific requirements. ATA assesses the training needs, develops the curriculum, and provides the resources for the training. DS trains security personnel using its own experts as well as those from other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies; police associations; and private security firms and consultants.

    Aside from enhancing the antiterrorism skills of foreign security authorities, ATA improves the protection provided by foreign civilian authorities to U.S. personnel and facilities abroad; strengthens bilateral ties between the United States and foreign governments--particularly in the area of counterterrorism; strengthens U.S. and foreign security cooperation; and encourages respect for human rights.

    Since its inception in 1986, the ATA program has trained more than 48,000 foreign security officials from more than 141 countries.

     

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  • Does DS also assist the private sector on security?
    DS, through the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), provides unclassified security-related information to more than 2,800 U.S. companies and organizations.

     

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  • How does an American private sector entity become part of the OSAC constituency?
    Affiliation with OSAC is available to any American-owned or not-for-profit organization doing business overseas. Such organizations requesting affiliation with OSAC should have their directors of security write to the following address: Executive Director, Overseas Security Advisory Council, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20522-2008.

     

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  • What is a DS special agent and how do I become one?
    DS special agents are federal law enforcement officers who serve worldwide. Overseas, DS agents advise ambassadors on all security issues. In the United States, agents investigate passport and visa fraud and protect the Secretary of State and visiting foreign dignitaries. For information on becoming a special agent or other employee of DS, visit DS Career Opportunities.

     

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  • What is a security engineering officer and how do I become one?
    DS security engineering officers are highly skilled engineers who serve worldwide. Security engineers are responsible for the technical and informational security programs at our diplomatic and consular posts overseas. In the United States, security engineers provide support for our overseas operations. For more information on becoming a security engineering officer or other employee of DS, visit DS Career Opportunities.

     

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  • What is a security technical specialist and how do I become one?
    DS security technical specialists are assigned throughout the world to develop, implement, and maintain technical security programs at U.S. diplomatic missions abroad. For more information on becoming a security technical specialist or other employee of DS, visit DS Career Opportunities.

     

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  • What is a diplomatic courier and how do I become one?
    Diplomatic couriers ensure the secure movement of classified U.S. Government material across international borders. Today, these materials are more than papers and files; diplomatic pouches can contain thousands of pounds of equipment and construction materials bound for sensitive posts. Diplomatic Couriers deliver more than 10 tons of sensitive material safely and securely each day. For more information on becoming a diplomatic courier or other employee of DS, visit DS Career Opportunities.

     

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  • Are all jobs in DS Foreign Service?
    No. DS also employs a dedicated cadre of civil servants in a wide variety of disciplines. For more information, please visit DS Career Opportunities.

     

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