Friday, December 28, 2012

Secret Service Records Thought Destroyed

Some Secret Service Records Thought Destroyed Located 
– By William Kelly

Copies of Secret Service records thought to be among those files destroyed by the Secret Service in 1995 have been located among the personal records of former agent Gerald Blaine and turned over to the NARA for public release.

Like the Air Force One radio tapes discovered among the records in the estate of General Chester Clifton, these documents from Blaine’s records offer more evidence that there are still previously unknown caches out there that can be located, added to the public record and fill in the missing pieces to the Dealey Plaza puzzle.

Gerald Blaine is author of the book “The Kennedy Detail, - JFK’S Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence,” (with Lisa McCubbin, Gallery, Simon & Schuster, 2010) which is reportedly being made into a major motion picture

Blaine first called attention to the records in his book when he claimed to have boxes of  Secret Service documents that included the Advance Reports for Tampa that were said to be among the records the Secret Service destroyed after the ARRB requested them.

Blaine apparently first became aware of the destruction of the records when former Secret Service Agent Abraham Bolden mentioned them.

In “The Kennedy Detail” (p.357) Blaine, via McCubbin says: “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 his personal reports for all these years. Every time they moved to a new house, with his various jobs, (his wife) Joyce had asked him why couldn’t he throw all that stuff out, but he’d insisted the boxes 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 (Abraham Bolden) was making. He was holding in his hands the Tampa advance report that had supposedly been destroyed.”

After notifying the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of Mr. Blaine’s remarks in his book, I received a note:

“Mr. Kelly, I just wanted to let you know that last week we received a file of records from Mr. Blaine, some of which document the Tampa trip.  We will be conducting archival processing (re-foldering/boxing) of the files and adding them to the Collection in the near future. We appreciate the heads up that led us to contact Mr. Blaine.”

Chief, Special Access and FOIA Branch
National Archives at College Park

Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann in “Legacy of Secrecy” (p. 766, Counterpoint Press, 2008) wrote, “In November 1994, the authors informed the Review Board very generally about JFK’s 1963 plans for a coup in Cuba,…and about the attempt to kill JFK in Tampa four days before Dallas. Six weeks later, the Review Board learned that – in violation of the JFK Act – the Secret Service had just destroyed files covering JFK’s Tampa trip, and other important files. That destruction would not become public knowledge until 1998, and even today, most members of Congress remain unaware of it.”

Doug Horne, the chief analyst for military records for the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) wrote more extensively about the deliberate destruction of Secret Service records in his book, “Inside the ARRB” (2009, Volume V, p. 1451)



In 1995, the Review Board Staff became aware that the U.S. Secret Service had destroyed protective survey reports related to John F. Kennedy’s Presidency, and that they had done so well after the passage of the JFK Records Act, and well after having been briefed by the National Archives (NARA) on the Act’s requirements to preserve all Assassination Records from destruction until the ARRB had made a determination that any such proposed destruction was acceptable

I reported to work at the ARRB on August 7, 1995, and I still distinctly recall that this controversy was raging full force during the first two weeks I was on the job. I recall both General Counsel Jeremy Gunn and Executive Director David Marwell being particularly upset; they were seriously considering holding public hearings in which the Secret Service officials responsible for said destruction would be called to account and castigated, in an open forum, with the media present. The thinking at the time was that doing so would: (a) cause the Secret Service to take the Review Board and the JFK Act seriously; and (b) send a warning to other government agencies, such as the FBI and CIA, to also take the Review Board and the JFK Act seriously, lest they, too be dragged into public hearings that would cause great discomfiture and professional embarrassment.

Eventually – and unfortunately – tempers cooled and no public hearings were held. I suspect that Board Chair Jack Tunheim played a major role in finessing the matter; presumably, the Board Members believed that since the ARRB was still in its first year of its three-year effort to locate and review assassination records, that we would get more out of the Secret Service in the future with honey, than with vinegar.

Stern official letters levying charges and counter-charges were exchanged; a face-to-face meeting between high-level officials of the ARRB and Secret Service was held; tempers cooled; and no public hearings were ever held. Relations with the Secret Service remained testy throughout the remainder of the ARRB’s lifespan. It was my impression, during my ongoing discussions with my fellow analysts on the Secret Service Records team for the next three years (from September 1995 to September 1998), that the Secret Service never “loosened up” and reached a comfortable working accommodation with the ARRB like the FBI, the CIA, and the Pentagon (or, at least the Joint Staff Secretariat) did. The Secret Service and the ARRB remained wary adversaries for four years.

The Review Board itself consciously soft-pedaled the dispute in its Final Report, devoting only one paragraph (and virtually no details whatsoever) to the incident, on page 149:

Congress passed the JFK Act in 1992. One month later, the Secret Service began its compliance efforts. However, in January 1995, the Secret Service destroyed Presidential protection survey reports for some of President Kennedy’s trips in the fall of 1963. The Review Board learned of the destruction approximately one week after the Secret Service destroyed them, when the Board was drafting its request for additional information. The Board believed that the Secret Service files on the President’s travel in the weeks preceding this murder would be relevant.

And that was it – that was the only mention of the entire imbroglio in the Final Report of the Assassinations Records Review Board. My intention here is to give the reader as much additional and relevant, information as I can at this writing, 14 years later. I was never “on the inside” of this problem, but I do have a correspondence file of letters exchanged, and will quote from them liberally to give the reader a sense of what it feels and sounds like when two bureaucracies go to war inside the Beltway. This is of more than mere academic interest, since the evidence presented in this chapter has shown that several Secret Service officials on the White House Detail were complicit in both the President’s death – due to willful actions that greatly lessened the physical security around President Kennedy during the Dallas motorcade – and in the coverup of the damage to the limousine, which if left in its original damaged condition, would have proved JFK was caught in a crossfire, and therefore killed by a conspiracy.

A Summary of the Records Destroyed by the Secret Service in January of 1995.

The Protective Survey Reports destroyed by the Secret Service in January 1995 were part of a group of records transferred by the Secret Service to the General Services Administration’s Washington National Records Center in Suitland, Maryland on August 7, 1974 under accession number 87-75-4. The instructions on the SF-135 (“Records Transmittal and Receipt” form) were: “Retain permanently for eventual transfer to the National Archives or a Presidential Library.” There were six boxes transferred under the accession number, and the two that were destroyed in January of 1995 contained the following files:

Box 1 Protection of the President (John F. Kennedy)

-         Andrews Air Force Base 1961 (Arrivals and Departures)
-         Andrews Air Force Base 1962 (Arrivals and Departures)
-         Andrews Air Force Base 1963 (Arrivals and Departures)
-         Arlington National Cemetery
-         Camp David
-         The Capitol
-         Churches
-         D.C. National Guard Armory
-         D.C. Stadium
-         Departures from South Grounds
-         Dulles International Airport
-         Embassies
-         Executive Office Building
-         Golf Clubs
-         Griffith Stadium
-         Homes of Friends
-         International Inn
-         Mayflower Hotel (three folders, for 1961-63)
-         National Press Club
-         Other Places Folders (#s 1-4, from January 1961-December of 1962)

Box 6 Protective Survey Reports for the following trips:

-         Duluth, Minnesota (9-24-63)
-         Ashland, Wisconsin (9-24-63)
-         Billings, Montana (9-25-63)
-         Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (9-25-63)
-         Cheyenne, Wyoming (9-25-63)
-         Grand Forks, North Dakota (9-25-63)
-         Laramie, Wyoming (9-25-63)
-         Salt Lake City, Utah (9-26-63)
-         Great Falls, Montana (9-26-63)
-         Hanford, Washington (9-26-63)
-         Tongue Point, Oregon (9-27-63)
-         Redding, California (9-27-63)
-         Tacoma, Washington (9-27-63)
-         Palm Springs, California (9-28-63)
-         Las Vegas, Nevada (9-28-63)
-         Heber Springs, Arkansas (10-3-63)
-         Little Rock, Arkansas (10-3-63)
-         University of Maine (10-19-63)
-         Boston, Massachusetts (10-26-63)
-         Amherst, Massachusetts (10-26-63)
-         Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (10-30-63)
-         Chicago, Illinois (11-2-63): Three Folders [TRIP CANCELLED]
-         New York City (11-8-63)

In addition, one folder of vital records was missing from Box 2 in this accession, titled: “Other Places Folder #6” (for the period July-November 1963)

Clearly, withholding these two boxes of materials from any investigator would have kept that investigator from learning about normal protective procedures and concerns related to everyday activities throughout the Kennedy Presidency, and would furthermore have denied the investigator comparative knowledge regarding how JFK was protected in numerous venues just prior to the trip to Texas. Perhaps the reader can better understand now why Jeremy Gunn and David Marwell were so upset with the Secret Service. The records were destroyed in the fourth month following the establishment of the ARRB, and furthermore had originally been tagged: “Retain permanently for eventual transfer to the National Archives or a Presidential Library.”

Their destruction occurred long after the Secret Service was initially briefed on the requirements of the JFK Records Act in December of 1992 by the NARA staff, and required willful action by officials within that agency; it was hardly an accident. The Secret Service clearly didn’t want the ARRB poking into its past procedures and practices; the agency had been the recipient of severe criticism in the HSCA’s 1979 Report, and apparently did not wish to repeat that experience, or to have its sealed records released to the Archives for placement in the JFK Records Collection, for all JFK researchers to peruse in the future.

Chronology of Letters Exchanged Between the ARRB and the U.S. Secret Service Over the Destruction of Protective Survey Reports

On July 25, 1995 Review Board Chairman John R. Tunheim sent a powerfully worded letter to the Director of the Secret Service registering the Review Board’s displeasure about its recent discovery that the two boxes in question had been destroyed over a half a year previously. A letter from Board Chair Jack Tunheim (rather than David Marwell or Jeremy Gunn) addressed directly to the Head of the Secret Service (instead of to the administrative officials with whom the ARRB staff had been dealing) was a powerful signal that the Review Board was immensely displeased and took the matter very seriously. Some key passages in Jack Tunheim’s letter are quoted below:

            In January of this year, Dr. Jeremy Gunnn of the Review Board staff requested of John Machado and Ann Parker of the Secret Service that the six boxes in the accession be made available for his review to evaluate the importance of the material for the JFK Collection in the Archives. Although four of the boxes were made available, we were not provided with boxes (1) and (6), the two most important boxes. On February 7, 1995 – and several times thereafter – Mr. Machado and Ms. Parker informed us that the Federal Records Center “could not locate” the two missing boxes….Although we repeatedly were told that special requests for these records had been made at the Federal Records Center, Ms. Ann Parker of the Secret Service finally informed Dr. Joan Zimmeman of the Review Board staff, on July 19, 1995 – six months after we had first requested the boxes – that the records had in fact been destroyed in January of this year at approximately the same time that we had requested them.

Tunheim’s letter requested full accounting of what had happened to the two boxes; a listing of all other Secret Service records pertaining to President Kennedy that had ever been destroyed; and instructed the Secret Service not to destroy any records of any kind relating to President Kennedy or his assassination without first allowing the Review Board and its staff to review them for relevance. For added emphasis a copy of the letter was sent to the Chief Counsel of the U.S. Secret Service, as well as to John Machado, the apparent culprit who presumably gave the orders to destroy the records.

The Secret Service made an immediate attempt to de-escalate the matter by assigning an official named W. Ralph Basham, its Administrative Director of Administration, to reply. Basham’s reply, dated July 31, 1995, was a five-and-one-half page single spaced attempt at obfuscation, the administrative equivalent of a Senate filibuster, to use a legislative analogy. In addition to saying, in some many words, ‘Hey, we didn’t do anything wrong, we were following routine destruction procedures established years ago,’ the Secret Service attempted to wiggle out of its predicament by simultaneously suggesting that perhaps the destruction was really the Review Board’s fault because it was not in receipt of the ARRB’s expanded definition of what constituted an “assassination record” until February 1995, after the records were destroyed. Perhaps most disturbing of all was the narrow definition that the Secret Service had used commencing in December 1992 (following its NARA beefing on the JFK Records Act) to define what constituted an assassination record: namely, White House detail shift reports only for the period November 18, 1963 to November 24, 1963. Mr. Basham also tried to downplay the significance of the missing Chicago protective survey reports for the cancelled November 2, 1963 trip (during which conspirators had planned to assassinate President Kennedy) by writing:

The folder concerning the canceled trip to Chicago would only have contained a preliminary survey report, if any document at all, since final reports are not conducted when a trip is cancelled. This report, if in fact it was even in the prepared folder, would have been of limited scope. [Author’s comments: there were 3 folders on the cancelled Chicago trip, not one, and this attempt to portray the Chicago file as one folder was duplicitous; furthermore, how did Basham presume to know that any reports written about the cancellation of the Chicago trip would have been “of limited scope?” It is easy to make such  claim after evidence is destroyed, because there is no way you can be challenged.]

The ARRB’s response to this “in your face” piece of administrative obfuscation was signed out by Executive Director David G. Marwell on August 7, 1995, and showed no mercy. Rather than simply allow the matter to “go away” or “die,” as the Secret Service had hoped, Marwell’s leter (co-drafted by him and Gunn) resurrected the seriousness of the matter in no uncertain terms. I quote below, in part:

Although you concluded your letter by stating that you “trust this explanation will clarify any misunderstandings that may have arisen,” I regret to say that not only does your letter not allay our concerns, it compounds them.

The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection (JFK Act) forbids the destruction of any documents “created or made available for use by, obtained by, or [that] otherwise came into the possession of …. The Select Committee on Asssassinations…of the House of Representatives.” It is our understanding that the records in Accession 87-75-0004 that the Secret Service destroyed were examined by the House Select Committee on Assassinations and thus were “assassination records” under the JFK Act and they apparently were destroyed in violation of law. [emphasis in original, which is most unusual in official government correspondence – it is the equivalent of shouting at someone during a conversation]

We see the destruction of these assassination records as particularly ominous in light of the fact that the Secret Service revised its destruction schedule after passage of the JFK Act and that it targeted for destruction records that, at the time the law was passed, were slated to be held “permanently.” [emphasis in the original]

Rather than refereeing to and applying the standards of the JFK Act, your letter suggests that the responsibilities of the Secret Service extend no further than complying with standard records disposal schedules. After acknowledging that the Secret Service in fact destroyed records in 1995 from Accession 87-75-0004 (related to the protection of President Kennedy), you state that they were “processed in accordance with National Archives and Records (NARA) procedures, and in full compliance with approved records disposition schedules.” The JFK Act, it should be clear, supercedes any law or any disposition schedule related to “assassination records.”

This was a “right back in your face” response that told masters of obfuscation at the Secret Service that the ARRB wasn’t going to be rolled, and wasn’t going to go away. Marwell’s letter then upped the ante by requesting a ton of information which any Federal agency would have had a difficult time finding the resources to accomplish. Marwell’s letter ended with these words:

…we specifically request that you assure us that no Secret Service records related to Presidential protection between 1958 and 1969 or to the assassination of President Kennedy be destroyed until the Review Board has received prior written notice and has had an opportunity to inspect the records [emphasis in original] 

Sensing that the ARRB was flexing its muscles and was about to “go nuclear” [which was true – public hearings were being considered], Mr. Basham replied on August 15, 1995 with a calming one-page letter and requesting a meeting to discuss the “additional issues” which he said were raised by Marwell’s letter. That meeting was held the very next day (August 16, 1995) on ARRB turf, in our offices at 600 E Street, in Northwest Washington D.C.

Following the meeting, which lasted several hours, Jeremy Gunn (our General Counsel and Head of Research and Analysis) signed out a letter on August 21, 1995 to Mr. Basham and Mr. Personnette (Deputy Chief Counsel) of the Secret Service. Gunn recognized for the record that the Secret Service now had a much better understanding of what constituted an assassination record – the ARRB set the definition for this, not the agencies holding records, who all wished to minimize their work – and noted for the record that the Secret Service had agreed that no records related to Presidential protection for years 1958-1969 would be destroyed until after the ARRB had a chance to review them to verify that no assassination records were included. Gunn also recorded the agreement reached on August 16, 1995, that Dr. Joan Zimmerman of our staff would henceforth have full access to all Secret Service records upon demand, not just partial and limied access, as previously. The ARRB threw a face-saving bone to the Secret Service in Gunn’s letter, as well:

As acknowledged in the meeting, we fully understand and accept your interest in ensuring that no documents are released that would compromise Presidential protection. As we have mentioned before, our professional staff is in possession of current security clearances and we will take all appropriate measures to safeguard the records and ensure full compliance with the law.

On the same date, August 21, 1995, Gunn signed out a letter to the miscreant John Machado (who had ordered the two boxes destroyed), which was much less friendly in tone and which bored in on him with a number of questions about dubious statements previously made by Machado, and made additional requests for information and records.

The crisis had abated, and the Secret Service had avoided embarrassing public hearings which would have exposed their perfidy. The public was not to learn of this business until that one cryptic paragraph was published in the ARRB Final Report in late September of 1998, three years later. Unlike poor JFK, whom corrupt individuals in the Secret Service had helped set up in Dallas in 1963, the Secret Service in 1995, had ‘dodged a bullet.’

                                                  THE BLAINE DOCUMENTS 

The Gerald Blaine documents consist of 28 pages – mostly duty assignments and travel vouchers, but there is a brief statement, a denial of having consumed any alcoholic beverages at the Press Club or the Cellar in Ft. Worth, and two survey reports – one for Tampa and the one for a post assassination State Department reception between foreign dignitaries and LBJ.

All of these documents will be posted at and given to Rex Bradford for posting at Mary Ferrell.

There are also three pages of handwritten notes, two pages written over an assignment schedule dated from Nov. 8 to November 30 that reads in full:

Blaime’s Statement regarding drinking at the Ft. Worth Press Club and Cellar reads:

December 6, 1963

I Gerald S. Blaine do make the following statement:

         In Fort Worth, Texas, I worked the 12:00PM – 8:00AM shift at the Hotel Texas on November 22, 1963.
        During my stay in Fort Worth, Texas, I consumed no Alcoholic beverages at either the Press Club or at the Cellar Inn.
         Before my tour of duty started I had stopped by the Press Club for about 10 minues. This was prior to the 11:00PM on the 21st of November.
          At 5:00AM to 5:10AM I was at the Cellar Inn for a coffee break, but had no beverage at all, coffee or otherwise.

Respectfully Submitted,


These 28 pages of documents the NARA recently released as those recovered from Blaine and previously thought destroyed, consists of assignments, travel vouchers, a Ft. Worth drinking statement and two survey reports, one for Tampa and one for LBJ’s visit to the State Department.

These 28 pages just don’t jive with what Blaine says in his book – “he had kept all of his personal reports for all these years…..the boxes were important, he found the box from 1963 and…it was all there, pages and pages of information that refuted all the claims this guy was making” (that they had been destroyed).

In “The Kennedy Detail” (p.357) Blaine, via McCubbin wrote: “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 his personal reports for all these years. Every time they moved to a new house, with his various jobs, (his wife) Joyce had asked him why couldn’t he throw all that stuff out, but he’d insisted the boxes 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 (Abraham Bolden) was making. He was holding in his hands the Tampa advance report that had supposedly been destroyed.”

Where are the “boxes” of his personal reports he had kept for all these years?

Did the NARA only ask him for the documents related to Tampa and Dallas?

Did Blaine turn over all of his records to the Secret Service who in turn culled from them the 28 pages that were turned over to the NARA, or did the NARA receive more records and only released these 28 pages?

Or was Blaine exaggerating and these 28 pages are really the only official records he kept in the boxes for so many years?


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Debra Conway said...

Great work Bill. Can't wait to read the entire thing.

Mark Tracy said...

Members of the SS were obviously in on the plot. The House Select Committee on Assassinations noted:

"No actions were taken by the agent in the right front seat of the Presidential limousine [ Roy Kellerman ] to cover the President with his body, although it would have been consistent with Secret Service procedure for him to have done so. The primary function of the agent was to remain at all times in close proximity to the President in the event of such emergencies."[278] --Wikipedia

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spearman said...

The files in box 6 that were destroyed I looked for @ NARA. When my wife reached for the box on the cart it was so light it almost fell off the cart. I got up from my chair next to her to get the file box containing elements of Box 6, opened it & discovered one piece of paper that said "withdrawn for national security reasons". I was looking for the trip records for the 1963 "Conservation Tour' through Duluth,Mn. & Grand Forks, N.Dak.on Sept 24 & 25. A second box purportedly containing more docs from the same time frame were also marked "withdrawn for national security reasons". IOW, both boxes were completely empty. If the boxes had been totally missing it would simply indicate they had been destroyed but someone had decided to indicate, on single pieces of paper, that they had actually been withdrawn for a specific reason & not just destroyed because they were deemed useless by the Secret Service & thus destroyed. I was encouraged by a NARA archivist to file a FOIA. I did not do that having been told too many of the archivists were actually CIA assets. Gary Severson