In November 1996, President Clinton visited Manila for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum. Protests raged in the streets, with American flags being burned, so local police closed down many roads, allowing the Secret Service to chart a specific route for the president’s motorcade. As the president and members of his cabinet traveled from their hotel to the first venue of the day, “There was intelligence that came in, and we at the last minute decided to change the motorcade route,” a former Secret Service agent recalls. “It was determined that al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden had placed a bomb along the route in anticipation of the motorcade coming that way.”
Bin Laden had indeed placed a bomb under a bridge, and just before the president’s motorcade was due to cross it, the Secret Service re-routed the vehicle down a side road. President Clinton (codename: “Eagle”) was safe.
Twenty-one years later, there was a plot against President Trump’s life in Manila—a shocking fact revealed in United States Secret Service: On the Front Line, a two-hour special airing on the National Geographic Channel Sunday night that—for the first time—provides viewers with a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the workings of the Secret Service, and the complex measures they take to protect the president of the United States.
President Trump (codename: “Mogul”) was due to arrive in the bustling city to meet with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and other South Asian leaders at the ASEAN 50 summit in November 2017. Chad Ragan, a special agent in the Presidential Protective Division, was the Secret Service agent in charge for the trip; Audrey Gibson, a special agent in the Protective Intelligence & Assessment Division (aka “The Bubble”), served as his eyes and ears.
The Secret Service comprises four main teams: Protective Intelligence; Uniformed Division; Protective Operations; and Investigations. The Protective Operations team includes those in the “inner circle,” standing steps from POTUS, and special ops, such as counter-snipers and the K-9 explosive detection unit. Protective Intelligence analyzes threats against the president, both on and offline. The Uniformed Division guards the White House or anywhere POTUS goes. And Investigations monitors the motives of people who make threats against the president.