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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

DS History: The New Age of Terrorism


The '70s
The rages of terrorism continued, creating a new and increasingly dangerous threat to U.S. citizens and missions abroad, as well as to distinguished visitors to the United States. The Office of Security (SY) responded to the emerging threat by hiring over a hundred new agents and purchasing vehicles, radios, and other support equipment.

SY 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 U.S. embassies for vulnerability to attack. Security officers received more intensive training and learned new skills, like defensive driving.

The '80s
The intensity of terrorist attacks against Americans increased. In the period between 1979 and 1983, there were over 300 attacks; in 1984 alone, there were over 100 attacks. In 1984, Secretary of State George Shultz formed an advisory panel to study make recommendations on minimizing the probability of terrorist attacks on U.S. citizens and facilities.

Headed by retired Admiral Bobby Inman, this commission was known as the Advisory Panel on Overseas Security, or the Inman Panel. The panel examined the Department's security programs and, in a report published in June 1985, made its recommendations to the Secretary.

On November 4, 1985, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) and the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) were officially established.

The Inman Panel's recommendations received strong support from Congress, and the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act was signed by President Reagan on August 27, 1986. The new Bureau had a clearly defined mandate outlined in legislation and structured along the lines of other Federal law enforcement, security, and intelligence agencies.

The Diplomatic Courier Service joined the new Bureau at this time. Couriers no longer hand-carried pouches of communications but protected vast amounts of supplies, equipment, and construction materials bound for sensitive overseas posts.

By the end of the '80s, DS began sharing information electronically with the international American business community. Also, the Bureau expanded to provide state-of-the-art security to the Department's communications and information systems.

[Continue on to Bridging to the New Millennium]


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