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View All Transcripts: Ask the Ambassador | Ask the State Department

Welcome to "Ask the State Department" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to State Department officials.

Thank you for your interest in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Our organization is made up of thousands of brave men and women who take pride in safeguarding people, property and information. Providing a safe and secure environment for the conduct of foreign policy is all in a day's work for us - whether it's protecting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as we are doing during her recent trip to the Middle East, protecting U.S. embassies, or preventing sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. I always welcome the opportunity to explain the important role of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, so let's begin.


Ambassador Richard J. Griffin, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Diplomatic Security and Director of the Office of Foreign Missions
Ambassador Richard Griffin, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Diplomatic Security and Director of the Office of Foreign Missions

Recruiting Questions

The following 6 questions are grouped together since they seem to be along the same lines of recruiting and hiring for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

Michael from Rocky River, Ohio writes:

Ambassador Griffin, I am attending American University in the fall and want to have a career in DS. What steps would you recommend I take to accomplish this goal? Thank you.

Michael in Tacoma, Washington writes:

What is the best path to becoming a Diplomatic Security Special Agent?

Justin from Texas writes:

I am a graduating senior at Sam Houston State University. I was wondering if the Bureau of Diplomatic Security hires prospective applicants right out of college with a degree?

Mike from New York City writes:

When will the next vacancy announcement be for the DSS Special Agent position?

John from Baltimore, Maryland writes:

When is the next vacancy announcement for the SA position? --- Brad from Bald Eagle, PA writes: I've heard of the FBI and Secret Service, but until I went on-line today, I had no idea that a Bureau of Diplomatic Security even existed. I asked some family and friends and they haven't heard of your organization either. It seems that you have a pretty important job, why is that no one seems to have ever heard of you?

Recruiting Answers

Ambassador Richard Griffin:

You're right, Brad, Diplomatic Security performs a very important job every day around the world. We're an integral part of the State Department and not an independent agency. Perhaps you don't see us regularly in the media because often the nature of our work is highly classified. But we are constantly looking to hire, train, and keep the nation's best for our Bureau. I'm glad you have "discovered" us through the Internet. I hope you'll continue to be interested in what we do for the country and check the website often.

For Michael in Rocky River, Michael in Tacoma and Justin: yes, we hire many directly from college and are planning a cooperative internship program (called Student Career Entry Program - SCEP) that targets foreign service-oriented graduates. This program will be announced in the future. In order to have a good competitive chance to enter Diplomatic Security, good grades are always important, regardless of your choice of study or future career goals. Proficiency in a foreign language is a plus for foreign service. Good all-around physical conditioning will help you complete the Bureau's training successfully.

Mike of New York City and John from Baltimore: please check the State Department website regularly, as vacancies are routinely posted there. Overall, our web address is a great source for information, job announcements and more specific information about the "Hows" of joining the Diplomatic Security team. Start at the link: http://www.state.gov/m/ds/

Best wishes to all of you in your career choice.

Alex from Lansing Michigan writes:

As I am a family-oriented person, having a wife and son, is the job of Diplomatic Courier one which would separate me from my family a great deal? Thank you.

Ambassador Richard Griffin:

Stay family-oriented, Alex. They're important, regardless of your job. The answer to your question, Alex, is, "Probably, Yes". Diplomatic couriers are responsible for the safe and secure movement of diplomatic pouches throughout the world. Couriers are required to safeguard and escort diplomatic pouches containing classified and sensitive material, between U.S. diplomatic missions overseas and the Department of State. Today these materials are more than papers and files. Diplomatic pouchesmay contain thousands of pounds of equipment and construction materials bound for sensitive posts.

As part of the Diplomatic Courier job description from our web site (www.state.gov/m/ds/career/c8857.htm) a diplomatic courier must:

  • Be willing to travel and accept assignments throughout the world. Couriers are required to live and work a substantial portion of their career overseas.
  • Be willing to spend the majority of their time traveling.

So, by the nature of the job, a courier's mission does mean family separation.

John from Huntsville, Texas writes:

What authority does the security team have while overseas?

Ambassador Richard Griffin:

John, the State Department website is the best place to look for an in-depth, careful discussion of what Diplomatic Security does to ensure security of our embassies overseas. Here's the link: http://www.state.gov/m/ds/about/overview/c9004.htm

Cody from Lewiston, Idaho writes:

Dear Ambassador Griffin, This year my 7th grade class will be studying the U.S. Government. My teacher asked me to ask some people what it means to be an American. So, I thought it might be a good idea to ask some people who serve us in the government this question. I know you are very busy, but I was really hoping you might answer what it means to you to be an American so that I can present it to my class at the beginning of school. I was also wondering what you think Ms. Rice would say to this question.

Ambassador Richard Griffin:

Cody, great question. Pages and pages have been written on just that subject.

Secretary of State Rice spoke broadly about this topic in a recent speech: "We in America are blessed with lives of tremendous liberty: the freedom to govern ourselves and elect our leaders; the freedom to own property; the freedom to educate our children, our boys and our girls; and of course the freedom to think as we please and to worship as we wish. America embodies these liberties but America does not own these liberties. We stand for ideals that are greater than ourselves and we go into the world not to plunder but to protect, not to subjugate but to liberate, not as masters of others but as servants of freedom."

As for me, reflecting on my life as a career public servant, I think Secretary Rice's remarks hit the mark. Being an American is about freedom. You no doubt have studied the freedoms that Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Franklin and others had in mind with the Declaration of Independence. I believe being an American carries with it an obligation to serve the cause of liberty. If you enjoy the blessings of freedom, you have the duty to preserve freedom for everyone. Maybe we could call it a dedication to a cause greater than ourselves. I believe that's a central part of being an American. Best of luck on your presentation!

Larry from Akron, Ohio writes:

Does Ms. Rice do public appearances? If she does, will she be in the Akron, Ohio area? Please tell her I would love to meet her because I think she is the most intelligent person in American government today. I would also like to know what she prefers to be called.

Ambassador Richard Griffin:

Thanks for your question, Larry. I have worked for Secretary Rice for more than a year, and she is energetic, intelligent and forthright. She is a wonderful public servant.

Secretary Rice has many public appearances on her calendar. At the moment I'm not aware of any planned appearances in Akron. However, keep tuned to your local media for announcements of appearances in the Akron area. You may also check the State Department's website.

I hope you have the opportunity to meet Secretary Rice. If you do meet her, people typically address her as "Secretary Rice" or "Doctor Rice."

M.F. from Canada writes: Does Secretary Rice travel with security at all times (e.g. shopping, social events, private travel)?

Ambassador Richard Griffin:

Dear M.F., Diplomatic Security Special Agents are charged with Secretary Rice's security wherever she may be.

Mike from Clemson, SC writes: Does Secretary Rice have a permanent security detail, or does her detail change depending on who is on a TDY, assigned to it.

Ambassador Richard Griffin:

Mike, the Secretary of State's protective detail is comprised of a number of special agents who are dedicated exclusively to her protection 24/7. Depending on her schedule, the detail may be augmented by other special agents on temporary duty.

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