Looking for What You Don’t Know — An Inside Look into Security Details for Presidential Candidates

With a presidential election around the corner, many wonder what level of Secret Service protection is provided to hopeful candidates, when it is an option to receive, and what resources are used. After serving as a senior supervisor on the Secret Service Presidential Protective Division during her 26 year career with the U.S. Secret Service, Cynthia Marble shares what she knows on the topic.

Cynthia Marble is a nationally recognized leader in the fields of threat assessment and threat management, protective intelligence, investigations, national security, executive protection, and global security operations. She has extensive experience conducting as well as supervising threat assessment and protective intelligence investigations on high-profile public officials and public figures. Marble currently serves as Senior Director of Threat Management Operations for Ontic. 

Key topics of Marble’s discussion with host Fred Burton include:

  • Timing for assigning Secret Service protection to presidential candidates, and how long former presidents receive protection
  • Challenging aspects of her work and the unimaginable parts of securing even the smallest event to ensure every day is zero fail
  • The most critical thing to look for when conducting a threat assessment

Key takeaways:

03:14: Cindy Marble: In general the committees look at the the viability of the candidates. It is threat-driven as far as the extent of the protection and exactly what type of resources are involved — those candidates that are deemed viable within that year are going to get protection.

07:35: Fred: Cindy, what worried you the most when it comes to just working a crowd or working an event?

07:57: Cindy Marble: What always worries us is what we don’t know. It’s honestly looking for that one thing that is out of place – out of the ordinary. Just being vigilant – things don’t worry me, but they do concern me and to me, there’s a difference. The way to alleviate the concern is to be educated and open to new information. It helps inform how we work an event. So I was definitely worried about the things that I didn’t know and I think being comfortable with understanding that you don’t sometimes know what you don’t know and being open to all possibilities. 

19:21: Cindy Marble: We know that oftentimes there’s not a direct threat to a person or to an entity to a place but it’s the behavior. It’s statements that are concerning and opening up our minds and saying ‘okay, I’m not looking for that direct threat – what I’m looking at is that concerning behavior’ that is easier to understand if I know that that’s what I’m looking for. You may walk out of an interview and say I’m not 100 % sure that this person is a threat, but what I can do is I can manage the situation and I can say okay I do know that there’s something that needs to be done.