The Foreign Service Journal, March 2024

FOCUS FOREIGN SERVICE ORAL HISTORIES Angela French is the deputy director for the Office of Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. She oversees strategic planning and outreach for the organization as well as serving as the executive producer of the DSS After Action podcast. Angela has worked in the national security field since 2006. Prior to joining DSS, she was a senior communications expert at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. Previous positions include serving as an intelligence analyst and as a speechwriter for Secretaries of Defense Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld. The Diplomatic Security Service has collected a wealth of personal stories from Foreign Service specialists across the decades—and they are now available to the public. The law enforcement and security arm of the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) personnel—like their fellow Foreign Service colleagues—have many stories to tell, having been present for major events that shaped not only the United States but the world. Yet, for many years, these stories remained untold. DSS was founded in 1916, when then–Secretary of State Robert Lansing created a State Department–led, international law enforcement task force to investigate ongoing German espionage and passport fraud. Over the ensuing years, DSS special agents, security engineering officers, security technical specialists, diplomatic couriers, Civil Service employees, contractors, and other personnel carried out the DSS mission, collecting stories of intrigue and adventure along the way. A few personal remembrances were written over the years, but in 1991, to celebrate its 75th anniversary, the DSS Office of Public Affairs (DSS/PA) began to capture firsthand accounts from both current and retired personnel, creating a video archive that preserves these fascinating tales. Captured with digital voice recorders and VHS tapes, DSS officials recorded more than 20 oral histories, detailing events such as the discovery of bugs planted by Soviet spies in the 1970s and 1980s, the effect the 1968 Tet Offensive had on the U.S. embassy in Vietnam, and the role of diplomatic couriers in escorting classified cargo across Africa in the 1960s. The effort to capture oral histories waned over the next couple of decades. But in 2015, when the organization began planning activities to recognize its centennial, DSS/PA staff once again began interviewing individuals and archiving their stories. Diplomatic Security Service Early Days 1916 badge of the Secret Intelligence Bureau. DSS THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MARCH 2024 43