How a Secret Service Agent Talks to the President
Briefly, writes former agent describing life in the agency
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2014 1:59 PM CDT
A Secret Service agent looks on as President Obama arrives aboard Air Force One in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(Newser) – With all the headlines about the Secret Service lately, one former agent takes to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to describe what it's actually like to guard an American president. Some highlights from the piece by Dan Emmett, who protected both Bushes as well as Bill Clinton:

  • Talk briefly: A conversation with the president should be over "within seconds." Even if the president asks about a political situation, agents "should be brief and friendly yet noncommittal."

  • Shift work: Those guarding the president work two weeks during the day, followed by two weeks on the midnight shift and two weeks on the evening shift. Then comes two weeks of training before the cycle starts again.
  • Being single helps: Agents can expect to travel constantly and to miss lots of special occasions with kids and loved ones.
  • Burnout: It's common in four or five years.
  • Nice save: Emmett recounts an occasion with Clinton in which he got lost in the White House, walked into the Oval Office, and covered by saying, "Good morning, sir, all clear."
  • Bottom line: It's a hard job, but Emmett says he's never heard an agent on the presidential team "say they wished they had done anything different."
Click to read the full column.