Secret service code names

According to GQ, Paul Ryan's secret service code name is Bowhunter and Mitt Romney is Javelin. Time magazine follows up with a selection of other secret service code names from political history. President Obama chose Renegade. JFK? Lancer. Nixon was Searchlight and Carter was Deacon. My favorite though is Ronald Reagan aka... Rawhide. "11 Great Secret Service Code Names" (via Next Draft)


  1. I’ve always figured these are just the Secret Service playing their wards and/or the press for fools, because what’s the point of a codename if you reveal it to the public?

    1. Quicker to say on radio, less chance of confusing one name with another (George Bushes for example). Given the encryption on their comms, and how often Secret Service people must be near microphones and journalists etc, I doubt it makes any difference, security-wise…

    2. Apparently it started back when we didn’t encrypt everything all the time.  Or have a roving press pack indicating where the President always is.  These days they exist “for purposes of brevity, clarity, and tradition”

      Think of it more as a nickname than a codename these days.

  2. George W. Bush was apparently ‘Tumbler’, while his dad was ‘Timberwolf’. Either George W. has a more self-deprecating sense of humor than we give him credit for, or someone picked that name for him. 

      1. I’m pretty sure that it refers to him rolling down the stairs after too many hits on the crack pipe.

  3. If the name can in any way ID the individual then it’s worse than useless. It must be chosen randomly and have no connection to the person or thing.

    1. If the purpose of the codename was to hide identity, the Secret Service wouldn’t tell the press about it.

  4. The Time caption reads:  “Ryan hunts dear near Medill, Oklahoma, Nov. 23, 2011.”   Maybe they meant, “Ryan hunts, dear, … ”  Also, it’s MADILL, not Medill.   So much for proofreading and fact-checking. 

  5. The real inside inside is to know the meaning of the lapel buttons worn by staff and security. They change on a pretty regular basis around the President. They don’t change as often for the VP.. Typically the press and others must clear a banquet room an hour before it opens for real. During that time the room is swept for bombs etc.. As I left one such venue the middle aged security pro coming in had a World Way I era brass lapel button of an aerial bomb.

    1. That’s Thurston Howell, III to you! Note that before he was stranded on Gilligan’s Isle, he was the original “The Millionaire”. [I had forgotten that….]

  6. Bowhunter and Buttercup.  I thought the testosterone names were bad, but now I’m thinking the estrogen names are probably even more cringe-worthy.

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