Thursday, January 3, 2013

Highlights from "The Kennedy Detail"

Blaine & McCubin

The Kennedy Detail – JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence by Gerald Blaine, with Lisa McCubbin (Gallery Books, Simon & Schuster 2010)

Since Agent Blaine was the chief advance man for the Tampa trip, there is a lot of information about it in his book, with special emphasis on the threats and the need for agents on the back of the president’s car.

Blaine worked closely with Tampa police chief Mullens, who is quoted in the news report about the third threat against the president that Blaine doesn’t mention.

From “The Kennedy Detail”: 

p.xiii – “My initial goal in writing the story of the Kennedy Detail was to set history straight, to leave a book for my grandchildren that they could read and know was the truth beyond any measure of doubt…”

p. xv “Clint Hill (Foreward) It has been nearly fifty years since President Kennedy was assassinated before my eyes but the memories of that dreadful day in Dallas are as clear and painful as if it happened only yesterday.”

“Atoka” – “the Kennedys’ quiet retreat in Middleburg, Virginia

p. 16 Jerry Behn, the Special Agent in Charge of the White House Detail

p. 17. “…Even though President Kennedy spent most winter weekends at the “southern White House” in Palm Beach, he hadn’t made a public appearance in the state of Florida since he and Mrs. Kennedy greeted the returning “Bay of Pigs” prisoners the previous December. The Secret Service had identified numerous threats from Cuban sources, mostly in Florida, as a result of Kennedy’s botched invasion of Cuba almost three years earlier. Surely Jerry Behn had briefed the president on the risks of a public appearance in Florida.”

p. 23 Carlyle Hotel – New York City (p.28) “The burgers at the Carlyle’s Bemelmans Bar were as famous as the fanciful meals murals that decorated the walls of the renowned New York landmark, and at this point Blaine was so hungry, he could taste one.” (p. 366) “There was a small café off the lobby of the (Carlyle) hotel and Clint would sometimes stop in there before he headed to his room, to sit at the bar with a scotch. He’d try to focus on the plans for the days ahead, but as he stared into the glass, sitting all alone, the visions would inevitably creep into his thoughts. When Tommy Rowles, the Irish bartender, first started noticing Hill come into the bar, he tried to make conversation. He recognized the man – had seen him on occasion with Mrs. Kennedy. But it quickly became clear that the man who came in alone, and left alone, wasn’t interested in conversation. The empty look in the man’s eyes (after the assassination) nearly broke Tommy’s heart.”

p. 24 “Suddenly a loud screech sounded from the walkie-talkie in the pocket of his trench coat. He pulled it out and held it up to his ear. The handheld radio was tied directly to the Air Force One frequency. Roy Kellerman’s voice came through the receiver.‘Dangle, do you read me?’ Code name were always used over the radio. The senior Secret Service agents all had code names that began with the letter D, and Godfrey’s was Dangle.”

p. 25 “Sandy Garelick was a senior police officer who headed up the New York City Bureau of Special Services and Investigations (BOSSI) squad and was the point man for setting up additional security for the president’s visits to that city. He had handpicked his squad and the team was great to work with. Professionally they were among the best in the country. Garelick, however, had a strong personality that could present a real challenge for the Secret Service advance agents. Garelick didn’t seem to realize that the borders of the Untied States extended beyond New York City, and he wanted to know what the president would be doing every minute he was in BOSSI territory. Garelick thrived on attention the publicized presidential visits brought to his unit and proudly utilized the thirty thousand New York Police Department officers to ensure the president’s security. The conflicts came during the off-the-record visits like this one when President Kennedy wanted to slip into the city as quietly as possible, with no fanfare. There had been enough clashes in the past three years that you could almost see President Kennedy cringe the minute he saw Sandy Garelick.”

p. 44 “Arrangements had been made for the agents’ extended stay in West Palm Beach at a motel called Woody’s, not far from Ambassador Joseph Kennedy’s estate. Woody’s Motel looked like it had been around for decades and was in need of some updating, but it advertised air-conditioned rooms and fit the Secret Service per diem allowance for lodging.

p. 45 “The house ws located on North Ocean Boulevard the main road that paralleled the beach. Monterey Road intersected with North Ocean Boulevard directly in front of the Kennedy’s walled-in property…The biggest problem was that the back of the house was completely exposed to the ocean…(attended) St. Edward Chruch,…a short distance from the family’s oceanfront home.”

p. 52 “Meanwhile, the name of a seventy-three-year-old man from New Hampshire had reappeared as a threat in the Secret Service Protective Research Section (PRR). He’d been in the files for years for writing threatening notes to previous presidents. A nationwide Teletype alert was sent out with details of the man’s description and his ramshackle Buick sedan. Four days later,…Pavlick was arrested when the Palm Beach police spotted his car, not far from the Kennedy compound…he decided he’d kill the president-elect when he came out of church…Richard Pavlick fit the typical threat profile case.”

p.54 “….Paul Young’s Restaurant, on Connecticut Avenue, where Jack Kennedy’s father, Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, was hosting a black-tie private party for the entertainers and celebrities who had attended or performed at the pre-inauguration gala that night…Jackie Kennedy left the party around two, but President-elect Kennedy stayed until four in the morning.”

p. 57 “The president was taken by helicopter directly from Andrews to the family’s new retreat in Atoka, Virginia, near Middleburg, where Mrs. Kennedy and the children were spending the weekend. Mrs. Kennedy had designed the house, which sat on a large piece of property on Rattlesnake Mountain overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, and it had only been completed in October (1963). Mrs. Kennedy had dubbed the place “Wexford” after the county in Ireland where the Kennedys were from, but the Secret Service just called it ‘Atoka.’”  

p.58 “…Before he left for Tampa on Monday, he had to check for updated threat suspects at the Protective Research Section…Agent Blaine loved doing advances. To him it was the most exciting and challenging part of being on the White House Detail. He’d much rather be coordinating security in a new city or foreign country than standing post on a dark night in Hyannis Port or Palm Beach, looking out at the ocean.”

“In reality, the advance work was 95 percent of the effort in guaranteeing the president’s safety on a trip. The political team put together the president’s itinerary and it was the Secret Service’s job to figure out how to move the president safely from one place to the next, how to secure every venue and every route. You had to think like an assassin.”

“The first stop before any advance was always the PRS. Located in the Executive Office Building, next door to the White House, the PRS offices were the nerve center for tracking threat cases. Any time there was a threat made against the president’s life – whether it was a written letter, a phone call, details gathered from an informant, field investigation, or an unstable person trying to get inside the Northwest Gate of the White House – an investigative report was initiated and a case file number issued. A PRS agent would type the report on carbon paper so there would be multiple copies, noting the threat maker’s name, last known address, a synopsis of the threats made, a description of the person, and their medical history, if known.”

“Categories were analyzed and categorized according to the seriousness of the threat. They ranged from ‘extremely dangerous’ to the innocuous ‘gate crasher.” There were always people who would show up at the Northwest Gate demanding to see the president about one thing or another…”

“Whenever someone made a threat against the President , they would be categorized as a permanent risk. There’d be an evaluation, the individual would be monitored, and the case file would remain in the Protective Research file for as long as the person was still alive….”

“The records room of the PRS office contained rows and rows of gray metal four-drawer file cabinets that held thousands of threat suspect files, organized by case number. There were smaller file cabinets where index cards of each suspect were organized both geographically and alphabetically. The cards were cross-referenced to the case file. Thus if you knew either the name of a suspect or their last known location, you could go to the small index drawers, locate the card, which would have the case number on it, then go to the large filing cabinets to get the master file.”

“The most serious threat suspects were the ones on the flash cards every agent carried with them at all times. It was the nature of threat makers to wander as vagabonds or itinerants, moving from town to town or state to state. You never knew when or where one of them might show up”

“Agent Blaine had called the PRS from New York City earlier that morning and requested any Florida files be pulled. When Blaine entered the records room, Cecil Taylor, the Special Agent on duty, had some index cares and manila file folders laid out on the table for him.”

[There were two active cases]

Blaine picked up one of the files. The subject was a man named Wayne Gainey. The picture showed a nice-looking, clean-shaven young man with a crew cut. He could have been a bagger worker at the supermarket, or an elementary school teacher. Threat suspects could be men or women, young or old, peaceful or sinister. They could be your neighbor next door and you’d never know it. Blaine flipped the card over read the profile…”

“Subject made a statement of a plan to assassinate the President in October 1963. Subject stated he will use a gun, and if he can’t get close he will find another way. White Male – Age 20 – 5’9”- 155 Lbs., - Hazel Eyes – Brown Hair Light complexion – slender build.”
Blaine sat down in the chair and began reading the file. The investigating field agent in Tampa, Arnie Peppers, had been conducting regular follow-up visits with the young man’s parents and the attending psychiatrist. Blaine knew Arnie Peppers well; his investigations were always thorough.”

“…The second file was much thicker. John William Warrington. White male, age fifty-three, five feet, nine and half inches, medium build; blue eyes, thin, graying hair; slightly stooped. The man had a long history of letter writing and making verbal threats. The most recent entry in the file showed that Warrington had written a number of threatening letters addressed to President Kennedy postmarked October 15, 16 and 17 in Tampa. He’d also sent an extortion letter to a local bank president, which had gotten him arrested on October 18 in Tampa. He was currently being held in the Tampa city jail.”

They also considered (p. 61) a threat from Chicago, Thomas Arthur Valle.

(p. 63) “There weren’t ANY active threats in Texas.”

Top Ten Threats:

1)      Stanley Berman – professional gate crasher.
2)      Carl Brookman – on record with FBI subversive activities with Nazi Party and possible association with the Communist Party. Possesses firearms.
3)      William Robert Bennett – disabled veteran
4)      John Francis Donovan – letter and telegram writer. Considered a nuisance.
5)      Johnnie Mae Hackworth – letter writer, religious fanatic who made threats against the president, arrested in 1955 and 1960.
6)      Josef Molt Mroz – picketer and “Polish Freedom Fighter”
7)      Barney Grant Powell – threatened Truman, extreme temper, violent man with assault background, carries firearms.
8)      Peppie Duran Flores – threatened Vice President Lyndon Johnson. Says he is a communist and pro-Castro.
9)      Wayne L. Gainey – claimed the KKK authorized him to kill the president in 1963. Teenager.
10)  John William Warrington – mental; wrote five letters threatening JFK for his association with Martin Luther King, Jr.; says he will be lying in ambush in Florida.

(p.73-74) “…Bert DeFreese was the agent conducting the advance for the Miami stop….” DeFreese notifies Blaine of the Joseph Milteer report.

(p. 80) “SS100X cost the Ford Motor Company two hundred thousand dollars to build, but the Secret Service didn’t have that kind of money in the budget. So Ford leased the car to the Secret Service for five hundred dollars a year…”

(p. 83) Re: Trip to Naples, Italy. “….but finally he leaned over to President Kennedy and said, ‘Shall we tell them to get off the back of the car?’”

“President Kenendy said simply, ‘No, I want them there.”

(p. 85) “After checking into the Sheraton Dallas the night before, Win Lawson had taken a walk around the downtown area. There had been some disturbing incidents in Dallas recently, and Lawson wanted to get a feel for the city’s attitude. Just three weeks earlier, United Nations ambassador Adlai Stevenson was heckled as he gave a speech at the Adolphus Hotel on UN Day, and then was assaulted and spat on as he walked from the Dallas Memorial Auditorium to his waiting limousine….”

(p.100) “Win knew the scenario was unlikely in Dallas, but even still, as he looked up again at all the open windows, he was concerned about the exposure. Fortunately they’d have SSI00X in Dallas, which had the rear steps and handholds so agents could be perched directly behind the president and could react quickly. He’s be sure to tell Roy Kellerman, the Special Agent in Charge for the Texas trip, that when the motorcade was driving through downtown, agents would need to be on the back of the car.”

(p.110) “Gordon Parks from the White House Communications Agency accompanied the agents on the trip, and his first task was to set up a radio connection to the White House in one of the hotel rooms. The agents tried to use the radio to call home, but the connection was so bad and so little was interpreted during the conversations that is seemed a worthless exercise…”

(p.123) Andy Berger connects with Sinatra.
(129) “…Jackie decided she wanted to be at Hammersmith Farm, the forty-eight-acre estate in Newport, Rhode Island, that belonged to her stepfather, Hugh Auchincloss. Jackie had spent childhood summers at the twenty-eight-room Victorian mansion that overlooked Narragansett Bay, which had also been the site of her and Jack’s wedding reception…The weekend of September 21, 1963, the president, Mrs. Kennedy, and their children were joined at Hammersmith by some of their closest friends, Paul “Red” Fay and his wife Anita…”

(p. 130-131) “One of the White House photographers, Robert Knudsen,...” makes film about the president’s murder.

(p. 139)  “The Secret Service in Florida spent much of their time following up on plenty of similar leads that turned out to be unfounded. There had been a myriad of alleged Cuban plots to assassinate the president, but thus far not one case had turned out to be a real threat. In one instance, the Secret Service intercepted an interesting letter, postmarked Havana, that was sent to a Cuban immigrant named Bernardo Morlaes in Miami. The letter refereed to a plan to kill President Kennedy, but the investigation found that Morales – the recipient – was again an anti-Castro supporter who was being framed by the other side, in an effort to get Morales thrown in jail. Nine times out of ten, the leads turned out to be hoaxes, but the Secret Service couldn’t take any chances. They investigated everything that came to their attention.”

 “…The whole idea of having the Secret Service agents close to the president was for them to be able to shield him with their own bodies. The further away they were from him, the longer it took to react.”

(p. 162) “….Bert just told me about the order not to have the agents on the back of the bubble top…’That’s right. The order came from the Boss himself. He wanted the agents off the back of the car in order for the people to get an unobstructed view. He doesn’t want to appear like he’s not accessible.”

(p.164) – Hotel Texas, Fort Worth – won’t accept black SS agent (Bob Faison)

(p.174) “Aboard the press plane, cocktails were being consumed at a fast and furious rate. There was no food aboard, but drinks were plentiful, and the atmosphere turned into a party. The Secret Service agents still had responsibilities once they landed in Fort Worth, so for them, Cokes and coffee were the drinks of choice. They weren’t allowed to drink while on duty and none of them would ever risk losing their jobs for the small pleasure of a beer, even after such a grueling day. Winding down for them would have to wait.”

(p. 176) “…While standing in the lobby with some of the other agents, a couple of reporters reminded them of the invitation to the press club….But for the other eight agents who’d been on duty all day without a meal, the idea of a free buffet was something they couldn’t pass up Unfortunately, by the time Dave Grant, Clint Hill, Andy Berger, Dick Johnsen, Paul Landis, Ernie Olson, Don Lawson, Jack Ready, and PDS agent Glen Bennett got to the club, all the food was gone. Nothing else was open at this time of night. ‘Sorry about that,’ Merriman Smith said…It was better than nothing. A beer or a scotch and soda would at least wash down the peanuts and hopefully help them relax enough so that sleep would come easily. Every Kennedy Detail agent knew there was absolutely no drinking while on duty, but there were no off-duty alcohol policies that were emphasized by management. The agents’ characters and ability to perform were constantly being monitored and none of them would take the risk of overindulging in alcohol. Like anybody with a stressful job, a beer or two at the end of a long day was simply a way to unwind. On the White House Detail the reality was that there was no start or stop time for the agents. The agents stuck to themselves and shared a few laughs about the days hectic events while Dave filled them in on what to expect the next day in Dallas. Everybody had a beer or two, or a mixed drink, but with no food around, they decided to leave. A few of the White House press corps had heard about an after-hours place a few blocks away called the Cellar, which was a beatnik type of coffee shop where scantily clad waitresses doubled as singers. The Cellar didn’t serve alcohol, but perhaps they could get a sandwich….Unfortunately, the Cellar didn’t have much in the way of food either, so after a couple glasses of fruit juice, the group returned to the hotel. Paul Landis had struck up a conversation with an attractive female reporter and a Fort Worth police officer, and wound up not leaving until about 5:00 AM. By the time the warm feeling he’d had from the scotch and soda several hours earlier had worn off, when he got to his room, he fell dead asleep.”

(p.185) “Here in downtown Fort Worth, office buildings from six to ten stories high surrounded the open parking lot….But behind any one of the open windows across the street a demented individual could be sighting a rifle as he wrestled with the demons inside his head: Should he or shouldn’t he? Was it the right time? What if he missed? And what if he hit him dead-on? Think of the fame he’d achieve by shooting that goddamned Negro-loving commie president. It was no secret there were plenty of people in Texas who hated everything President Kennedy stood for.”

(p.195) “Lawson made one final call to the Protective Research Section to make sure no new threats had come in overnight. PRS hadn’t received any new names; there were just the regulars, the ones the agents all carried on index cards in their jacket pockets…”

(p.212) “The triangular canyon of buildings created an echo chamber that masqueraded the sound such that even many of the Secret Service agents, all of whom were expert marksmen with high powered rifles, didn’t recognize it as gunfire…”

(p.217) “Clint lunged,…A pool of blood covered the floor. And slumped across the seat, President Kennedy lay unmoving, a bloody, gaping, fist-sized hole clearly visible in the back of his head…”

(p.230) “ken O’Donnell agreed with Secret Service agents’ recommendations that Johnson should return to Washington as soon as possible and yes, he should leave Dallas on Air Force One. Woody Taylor was told to call the Dallas White House switchboard and have them notify Colonel Swindal, the commander of the aircraft, to be prepared to take the president back to Washington, D.C. as soon as possible…”

(p. 231) (Secret Service Chief James “Jim”) “…Rowley was attending a graduation luncheon for Secret Service school attendees at O’Donnell’s Sea Grill restaurant…”

(p. 233) Parkland Hospital 12:39 “…A representative from the CIA appeared a while later….” (Andy Berger)

(p. 254) “Art Godfrey’s midnight shift agents in Austin were headed back to Washington, D.C., on a Strategic Air Command KC135 that had departed Bergstrom Air Force Base at 3:00 PM….The military had all their units on radio silence because of a Strategic Air Command order….”

(p. 255) “Agents Win Lawson and Dave Grant had watched Air Force One take off from Love Field….They’d been instructed to report directly to the Dallas police headquarters to observe the questioning of a suspect who had already been captured. Although seeing Lee Harvey Oswald’s arrogant behavior and hearing his snide remarks to Dallas investigators’ questions triggered their anger, Win and Dave refused to let it influence their judgment about whether Dallas police had the right man. Lee Harvey Oswald certainly did fit the classic profile of an assassin driven by a fanatical desire for recognition, but the seasoned agents knew physical evidence was also needed to prove Oswald’s guilt.”

(p. 257) “Paul Rundle,…was put in charge of securing Johnson’s residence. There would be three perimeters of security. The first, outer layer would be manned by the D.C. metropolitan police, the next perimeter would be manned by the National Guard, and the third and final layer of protection would be the Secret Service agents from the presidential and vice presidential details, supplemented by agents from nearby field offices…Agent Toby Chandler,….was one of the agents assigned to help field incoming phone calls…”

(p. 262) “At 9:25PM the afternoon shift traveled with President Johnson to the Elms at 4040 Fifty-second Street, just five minutes from the White House, where Agent Paul Rundle was waiting to brief them on the new security. ‘Listen,’ Rundle said, ‘There are rumors flying all over the place but the truth is, nobody knows who might have been behind the assassination. They’ve got this guy Oswald in custody in Dallas, and while he could easily be a deranged sociopath, there’s still the chance he was part of a bigger conspiracy. Could be Cuban, Mafia, or some Soviet-backed plan to overthrow the government. It’s just too early to know but the orders we’ve been given are to be excessive in our protective measures.’”

(p. 215) Washington D.C. Nov. 23, 1963 2:15 AM “Standing outside in the pitch-black darkness, Agent Jerry Blaine….was on post at the rear corner of President Johnson’s large two-story French chateau-style house close to the back door,….when he heard the sound of someone approaching from the clockwise direction…Instinctively Blaine picked up the Thompson submachine gun and activated the bolt on top…The next instant there was a face to go with the footsteps. The new President of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson, had just rounded the corner, and Blaine had the gun pointed directly at the man’s chest. In the blackness of the night, Johnson’s face went completely white. A split second later, Blaine would have pulled the trigger.”

(p. 274) “In Dallas, Lee Harvey Oswald had been charged with the murder of President Kennedy……..There would be a trial of course, but everybody who’d questioned Oswald had no doubts that he was the assassin. The bigger law enforcement concern now was that with so much public hatred and rage directed towards Oswald, somebody might try to take the law into his own hands and kill him before he could stand trail.”

(p. 282) “The Diplomatic Reception Room, where the function for the visiting dignitaries would be held, was located on the top floor of the State Department, overlooking the Lincoln Memorial and Memorial Bridge. On any other day it was perhaps one of the best views in Washington, but today the only place Jerry Blaine wanted to be was with the procession going from the White House to the Capitol. He couldn’t see it from here. Blaine went through the security details with the State Department security staff and after a few hours had a plan in place. Fifty world leaders in one room. It was perhaps the most important advance Blaine had ever been assigned and while he’d gone through the entire checklist, he realized now that no matter how much planning went into an event you could never plan for the unexpected. He still had to type up the Preliminary Survey Report, so he drove straight to the White House…Blaine typed up the report and dropped it off at SAIC Behn’s office,….”

(p. 285) 8 AM - “Jerry Blaine had written down everything he could remember about the Saturday morning incident with President Johnson at the Elms and had arrived early for the meeting with Secret Service chief James Rowley…Blaine was getting nervous. He was here with every supervising agent, with the exception of Roy Kellerman. What was going on?”

“Chief Rowley had arrived at his office…while Rowley was normally confident in the abilities of his men, the assassination was so fresh, so raw, that he was overseeing every detail himself….’Good morning, gentlemen,’ Rowley said as he sat down at the head of the conference table. ‘We have an extraordinary day ahead, so let’s get right down to it.’ He flipped open a file folder and turned to Floyd. ‘Floyd, do you want to give me a brief recap of President Kennedy requesting the agents drop back to the follow-up car in Tampa?’”

“Blain had relaxed a bit. So this wasn’t regarding the Johnson near incident after all. It was about Tampa. But why was he concerned about Tampa now?”

“Everything was going along fine, but I noticed the president continually glancing back at the agents standing behind him,…and he made an unusual request. He was standing up and he leaned toward me…I of course, was sitting in the front passenger seat, while Bill Greer was driving…So, he leaned toward me and said, ‘Floyd, have the Ivy League charlatans drop back to the follow-up car.’”

“To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant by ‘Ivy League charlatans,’ but I sure as hell knew what he meant when he said to have them drop back to the follow-up car. I knew he felt they were hovering a bit too close. And this being a political trip and all, I think he was very conscious of the appearance.”

(p. 312) Dec. 10, 1963. “Eighteen days after the assassination, Dallas SAIC Forrest Sorrels and Secret Service inspector Gerald McCann submitted their report on the agents’ drinking investigation to Chief Jim Rowley…”

(p. 316) “Every agent….was suffering…they all felt an overwhelming sense of failure. Rationally, they could tell themselves that they had no intelligence of Lee Harvey Oswald and his presence in Dallas, and that they had limited control when it came to the president riding in an open-top car, but none of these excuses was acceptable to the former Kennedy Detail agents…”

(p. 317) “President Johnson’s personality and demeanor were totally opposite to John F. Kennedy’s/ His vocabulary was littered with obscenities and his temper was quick and sudden. You  never knew what kind of mood he would be in what might suddenly set him off in a tirade….It didn’t take long for stories about Johnson’s unconventional behavior to circulate among the agents. The day shift reported the president was a fairly good marksman at shooting deer by sighting his telescopic rifle over the hood of the leased tan Lincoln convertible, which caused some of the agents to question his sportsmanship…And then there were the eyebrow raising things they witnessed Johnson doing that Kennedy never would have done, things such as President Johnson relieving himself whenever and wherever he pleased, sometimes even in the presence of female press members…..”

(p. 321) “…the FBI was receiving far more flack than the Secret Service for the assassination, due to the Bureau’s handling of Lee Harvey Oswald. It had come out shortly after the assassination that Oswald had been on the FBI’s watch list because of his defection to Russia, and there was speculation about whether the information they had on him constituted a threat that should have been reported to the Secret Service. In reality, Oswald had never threatened  the president, so there was no legitimate reason for the FBI to pass information to the Secret Service…In the aftermath of the assassination, the FBI had conducted an investigation and had determined that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole assassin. The problem facing Johnson now was related to the facts that had come out  of the investigation: not only had Oswald defected to Russia, but upon returning to the United States he had been involved with groups favorable to Cuba and Fidel Castro. Journalists were taking on the task of investigation and, like Drew Pearson, were igniting firestorms from all different directions. The case of who had killed the President was nowhere near closed.”

(p.334) “On May 7, 1964, Jerry Blaine was conducting an advance in Athens, Ohio for President Johnson’s appearance at Ohio University when he met a man named Jack Hight, who had worked in President Johnson’s senatorial office at one time and was now working in government relations for International Business Machines Corporation. (IBM). Hight and Blaine had dinner one night and Hight’s enthusiasm about the future of IBM and the opportunities it presented was contagious. The company was best known for its typewriters but had become a leader in the growing mainframe computer industry…Jack Hight had got him thinking. Maybe it was time to consider leaving the Secret Service and pursuing a career in the private sector.”

(p.334-5) “…An agent in the Chicago office by the name of Abraham Bolden, who had just been indicted on charges of soliciting a bribe from a defendant for documents related to a counterfeit case, held a press conference to announce that he was being framed. The reason for his indictment, he claimed, was that he had approached the Warren Commission to provide testimony about derelict behavior of Kennedy Detail agents – which included elaborate sex parties and on-duty drinking at Hyannis Port – that he had witnessed while serving a thirty-day temporary assignment on the White House Detail in the summer of 1961. The insinuation was that the Kennedy Detail agents may have been responsible for the president’s death due to laxness in their duties, and Bolden’s arrest was an attempt to shut him up.”

“The claims were absurd. Certainly, it was strange being charged with conspiracy to sell government documents – a crime for which the Secret Service had a pile of convincing evidence against him – that he was suddenly coming forth with these preposterous accusations. On top of everything else, Bolden, an African-American, was claiming he’d been the subject of racism. He said he had logged a complaint with Chief Jim Rowley following his brief stint in Hyannis Port, which was never followed up on.”

“Most of the White House agents had never heard of Bolden, and those who had worked with him when he served the temporary duty nearly three years earlier remembered him only as an agent whose attitude interfered with group cohesiveness. He was no doubt a good investigative field agent who may just have decided to remain in the field. In any event, he was not transferred permanently to the White House Detail.”

“Bob Faison, who was transferred to the Kennedy Detail in September of 1963 and was the first African-American to be a permanent White House Detail Secret Service agent, found Bolden’s claims to be so ridiculous, he simply ignored them…Bob Faison had never met Bolden, but he couldn’t imagine any of his colleagues conducting themselves in the manner Bolden described.”

“In the end, the Warren Commission rejected Bolden’s accusations against the White House Detail agents. What did seem clear was that Bolden was trying to divert attention from the crimes for which he’d been indicted. For the majority of White House Detail agents, the Bolden issue was but another baseless accusation for which they’d have to bite the bullet and remain silent. It was Secret Service policy for agents not to speak publicly about the inner workings of the agency, and in reality Bolden’s allegations were so ludicrous that none of the Johnson Detail agents gave the issue another thought….”

(p. 356) “In 2005, a book was published that claimed ‘JFK was the target of an assassination plot during his long motorcade in Tampa, Florida, on November 18, 1963 four days before Dallas.’”

“Oh really? Jerry thought. He bought the book to see what this author apparently knew that he hadn’t known as the Secret Service agent who conducted the advance for that very trip. Once again he could not believe that stuff like this was being published. No wonder people believed in conspiracy theories. There was so much crap being put out with absolutely no validity to it, but his one was really doozy. The convoluted theory the author had come up with was beyond the realm of reason. The author claimed that the Secret Service’s Tampa advance reports had been destroyed and that the Tampa plot was somehow connected to another plot by the mafia to assassinate President Kennedy in Chicago during his November 2, 1963, visit. The author claimed that JFK had canceled the Chicago trip at the last minute because the Secret Service had knowledge of a four-man hit team that was planning his assassination in Chicago, Tampa or Dallas.”

Blaine wondered where this theory cropped up, since he had been on all those trips; he had knowledge of every threat, everything that was known at the time. Blaine was incredulous. Where did this guy come up with this crazy idea? And then he read that one of the author’s sources was ‘a Secret Service agent named Abraham Bolden.”

“Abraham Bolden? The name Bolden was vaguely familiar, but he couldn’t place it. And then he remembered: Bolden was the Secret Service agent from the Chicago Field Office who, after being charged with a  felony several months after Kennedy’s assassination, had made all those claims about the Secret Service agents being lax in their duties at Hyannis Port. Blaine had to write a sworn statement and he remembered thinking at the time how absurd Bolden’s claims were. Bolden’s case was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, but in the end he was convicted and sent to prison for offering to sell documents in a counterfeit case. Bolden – a convicted criminal – was the author’s source of the plot in Tampa, which was based on a case allegedly reported to the Secret Service by the FBI involving an alleged four-man hit team that the Secret Service had allegedly covered up. Bolden continued to claim that he was sent to prison to shut him up. Once again it appeared to Blaine that Bolden was grasping at straws – and using JFK’s assassination to try to get his record cleared.”

“Despite earlier rejection of his allegations, Abraham Bolden was allowed to speak with HSCA investigators when the JFK assassination was reopened. Bolden told them that sometime before November 2, 1963, the FBI sent a Teletype message to the Chicago Secret Service office stating that there would be an attempt on Kennedy’s life in Chicago on November 2 by a four-man hit team using high-powered rifles. The HSCA interviewed Ed Tucker and other agents who were working in the Chicago office at that time, and none of them could recall any such thing. The HSCA could not document that such a case existed and found that Bolden’s story was of ‘questionable authenticity.’”

“It had been a long time, but Blaine was compelled to pull out his files to make sure his memory was serving him correctly. Like any good investigator, he had kept all of his personal reports for all these years. Every time they moved to a new house, with his various jobs, Joyce had asked him why couldn’t he throw all that stuff away, but he’d insisted the boxes of files were important. He found the box from 1963 and started going through it. It was all there. Pages and pages of information that refuted all the claims this guy was making. He was holding in his hands the Tampa advance report that had supposedly been destroyed.”

“Jerry remembered that the only possible threat investigation that occurred in Chicago before President Kennedy’s assassination involved a man called Thomas Arthur Vallee….Jerry remembered when Cecil Taylor in PRS had first told him about Vallee, when he was preparing for the Tampa advance…”
(p. 366) “At the end of August, the Democratic National Convention was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Attorney General Robert Kennedy had lobbied to be Lyndon Johnson’s vice presidential running mate, but President Johnson was worried that having a Kennedy on the ticket would cost him votes in the South. So instead Johnson chose Hubert Humphrey, a U.S. Senator from Minnesota. Robert Kennedy was slated to speak at the convention, and there was a great deal of concern that he would cause a disruption. When Jackie Kennedy decided that she too would like to make an appearance to thank the party for all the support they’d given her husband, Clint Hill worked with Nancy Tuckerman and Pamela Turnure, who had been Jackie’s press secretary, on the security advance to Atlantic City.”

“As it turned out, former attorney general Kennedy did not upset the proceedings. When he appeared onstage, he received an uninterrupted standing ovation that lasted for nearly twenty-two minutes, and his heartfelt speech about how much his brother President John F. Kenney had depended on and appreciated the support of the Democratic Party was the highlight of the convention. At the end of the speech he urged the party to offer just as much support to the 1964 candidates, President Lyndon B. Johnson and Hubert Humphrey.”

“During the moving speech, the eyes of the audience were often turned away from the stage and to an upper balcony where Jackie Kennedy sat, gracious as usual….”

1 comment:

Cantara Christopher said...

Rest assured, The Kennedy Detail is NOT being made into a "major motion picture". Read about it at .