The Confession of Secret Service Agent Clint Hill

Secret Service Agent Clint Hill & Friends- I am always on their minds

Vince Palamara Secret Service Expert & Author





Secret Service JFK

Secret Service, JFK, President Kennedy, James Rowley, Gerald Behn, Floyd Boring, Roy Kellerman, John Campion, William Greer, Forest Sorrels, Clint Hill, Winston Lawson, Emory Roberts, Sam Kinney, Paul Landis, John "Jack" Ready, William "Tim" McIntyre, Glenn Bennett, George Hickey, Rufus Youngblood, Warren "Woody" Taylor, Jerry Kivett, Lem Johns, John "Muggsy" O'Leary, Sam Sulliman, Ernest Olsson, Robert Steuart, Richard Johnsen, Stewart "Stu" Stout, Roger Warner, Henry "Hank" Rybka, Donald Lawton, Dennis Halterman, Walt Coughlin, Andy Berger, Ron Pontius, Bert de Freese, Jim Goodenough, Bill Duncan, Ned Hall II, Mike Howard, Art Godfrey, Gerald Blaine, Ken Giannoules, Paul Burns, Gerald O'Rourke, Robert Faison, David Grant, John Joe Howlett, Bill Payne, Robert Burke, Frank Yeager, Donald Bendickson, Gerald Bechtle, Howard Norton, Hamilton Brown, Toby Chandler, Chuck Zboril, Joe Paolella, Wade Rodham, Bob Foster, Lynn Meredith, Rad Jones, Thomas Wells, Charlie Kunkel, Stu Knight, Paul Rundle, Glen Weaver, Arnie Lau, Forrest Guthrie, Eve Dempsher, Bob Lilley, Ken Wiesman, Mike Mastrovito, Tony Sherman, Larry Newman, Morgan Gies, Tom Shipman, Ed Tucker, Harvey Henderson, Abe Bolden, Robert Kollar, Ed Mougin, Mac Sweazey, Horace "Harry" Gibbs, Tom Behl, Jim Cantrell, Bill Straughn, Tom Fridley, Mike Kelly, Joe Noonan, Gayle Dobish, Earl Moore, Arthur Blake, John Lardner, Milt Wilhite, Bill Skiles, Louis Mayo, Thomas Wooge, Milt Scheuerman, Talmadge Bailey, Bob Lapham, Bob Newbrand, Bernie Mullady, Jerry Dolan, Vince Mroz, William Bacherman, Howard Anderson, U.E. Baughman, Walt Blaschak, Robert Bouck, George Chaney, William Davis, Paul Doster, Dick Flohr, Jack Fox, John Giuffre, Jim Griffith, Jack Holtzhauer, Andy Hutch, Jim Jeffries, John Paul Jones, Kent Jordan, Dale Keaner, Brooks Keller, Thomas Kelley, Clarence Knetsch, Jackson Krill, Elmer Lawrence, Bill Livingood, J. Leroy Lewis, Dick Metzinger, Jerry McCann, John McCarthy, Ed Morey, Chester Miller, Roy "Gene" Nunn, Jack Parker, Paul Paterni, Burrill Peterson, Max Phillips, Walter Pine, Michael Shannon, Frank Stoner, Cecil Taylor, Charles Taylor, Bob Taylor, Elliot Thacker, Ken Thompson, Mike Torina, Jack Walsh, Jack Warner, Thomas White, Ed Wildy, Carroll Winslow, Dale Wunderlich, Walter Young, Winston Gintz, Bill Carter, C. Douglas Dillon, James Johnson, Larry Hess, Frank Farnsworth, Jim Giovanneti,Bob Gaugh,Don Brett, Jack Gleason, Bob Jamison, Gary Seale, Bill Sherlock, Bob Till, Doc Walters...

Search This Blog

Saturday, January 2, 2010

BEFORE Ken O'Donnell's death: blame JFK. AFTER Ken O'Donnell's death: blame the staff!

BEFORE Ken O'Donnell's death: blame JFK. AFTER Ken O'Donnell's death: blame the staff!

President Harry Truman---“The Secret Service was the only boss that the President of the United States really had.” Rowley oral history, LBJ Library, 1/22/69, page 2.

Kenneth Phillip "Kenny" O'Donnell (March 4, 1924 – September 9, 1977) was a top aide to U.S. President John F. Kennedy and part of the group of Kennedys' close advisors called the "Irish Mafia", which also included Larry O'Brien and Dave Powers. Before Ken's untimely death at the young age of 53, the Secret Service wouldn't have dared to dream of blaming him for their OWN failures in Dallas regarding the removal of the agents in close proximity to President Kennedy---no, the Secret Service (well, a few of them who submitted reports and/ or talked to certain high profile authors [Bishop, Manchester]) did the "blame the victim" routine, or, as I like to call it, "blame-the-deceased-victim-who-can't-defend-himself." However, AFTER O'Donnell's death, the "blame the staff" notion was fertile ground for some of them [see also ###, below].

However, THE JFK ERA SECRET SERVICE HAS PAINTED THEMSELVES INTO A CORNER: they originally ONLY blamed JFK for the removal of agents and never even mentioned the staff as being involved!

In fact, as late as 2004, former agent Clint Hill gave an interview to the National Geographic Channel for their program (later a DVD) "Inside The U.S. Secret Service" (as with former agent Jerry Parr, Hill gave a video taped interview for broadcast as well as a print interview for the channel's website---here is a crucial excerpt germane to the topic discussed in this blog):

"Q: Do you think the president's [JFK's] style played a big part in that day [11/22/63]?

CH: I think it may have played a part in the sense that the agents were not permitted to be up in the back of the car. The previous Monday [11/18/63, Tampa, FL], President Kennedy told the supervisor [ASAIC Floyd Boring] that he did not want the agents up there because they were a kind of a block between himself and the people. That made it look like he didn't want to have the people that close to him."

No mention whatsoever of JFK's staff. This will become even more important later.

In 1995, for the Discovery Channel documentary “Inside The Secret Service”, Clint Hill said much the same thing.

[note: On 6/2/05, the author mailed a lengthy, 22-page letter to former WHD agent Clinton J. Hill (Certified, Return Receipt Requested with a S.A.S.E. to boot) summarizing my work in great detail. On 6/13/05, after not receiving a reply, the author phoned Mr. Hill, who was quite apparently angry---he first pretended not to know about the lengthy letter he had to sign for (of which the author received his signed receipt): “About what?,” Hill exclaimed in response to the author’s inquiry. Then, forcefully, Hill added: “I’m just not interested in talking to you.” Lo and behold, Hill's very good friend, fellow former agent Jerry Blaine (whom I spoke to twice and corresponded/ e-mailed), is coming out with a book in the Fall of 2010! Here is Hill's blurb from PublishersMarketplace website http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/rights/display.cgi?no=6530

Statement by Clint Hill, who wrote the foreword to Agent Gerald Blaine's book, for use in promotion of The Kennedy Detail:

"Of all the books written about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Jerry Blaine's The Kennedy Detail is the first book to accurately portray the events leading up to and following that tragic day from the perspective of the Secret Service agents. It is only because of my enduring friendship and complete trust in Jerry Blaine's ethics and integrity that I have agreed to provide information for this historically important book. It is my sincere hope that our current president, and all those who follow, recognizes that by taking risks with his own life, he is in fact risking the future of America."]

Clint Hill's undated report, written around April 1964 [see Volume 18 of the Warren Commission’s Hearings & Exhibits, pages 803-809]

"I...never personally was requested by President John F. Kennedy not to ride on the rear of the Presidential automobile. I did receive information passed verbally from the administrative offices of the White House Detail of the Secret Service to Agents assigned to that Detail that President Kennedy had made such requests. I do not know from whom I received this information...No written instructions regarding this were ever distributed...(I) received this information after the Presidents return to Washington, D. C. This would have been between November 19,1963 and November 21, 1963 [note the time frame!]. I do not know specifically who advised me of this request by the President (emphasis added)."

Why Mr. Hill could not "remember" the specific name of the agent who gave him JFK's alleged desires is very troubling - he revealed it on 3/9/64, presumably before his report was written, in his (obviously pre-rehearsed) testimony under oath to the future Senator Arlen Specter, then a lawyer with the Warren Commission :

Specter: "Did you have any other occasion en route from Love Field to downtown Dallas to leave the follow-up car and mount that portion of the President's car [rear portion of limousine]?"

Hill: "I did the same thing approximately four times."

Specter: "What are the standard regulations and practices, if any, governing such an action on your part?"

Hill: "It is left to the agent's discretion more or less to move to that particular position when he feels that there is a danger to the President: to place himself as close to the President or the First Lady as my case was, as possible, which I did."

Specter: "Are those practices specified in any written documents of the Secret Service?"

Hill: "No, they are not."

Specter: "Now, had there been any instruction or comment about your
performance of that type of a duty with respect to anything President
Kennedy himself had said in the period immediately preceding the trip to

Hill: "Yes, sir; there was. The preceding Monday, the President was on a trip to Tampa, Florida, and he requested that the agents not ride on either of those two steps."

Specter: "And to whom did the President make that request?"

Hill: "Assistant Special Agent in Charge Boring."

Specter: "Was Assistant Special Agent in Charge Boring the individual in charge of that trip to Florida?"

Hill: "He was riding in the Presidential automobile on that trip in Florida, and I presume that he was. I was not along."

Specter: "Well, on that occasion would he have been in a position comparable to that occupied by Special Agent Kellerman on this trip to Texas?"

Hill: "Yes sir; the same position."

Specter: "And Special Agent Boring informed you of that instruction by President Kennedy?"

Hill: "Yes sir, he did."

Specter: "Did he make it a point to inform other special agents of that same instruction?"

Hill: "I believe that he did, sir."

Specter: "And, as a result of what President Kennedy said to him, did he instruct you to observe that Presidential admonition?"

Hill: "Yes, sir."

Specter: "How, if at all, did that instruction of President Kennedy affect your action and - your action in safeguarding him on this trip to Dallas?"

Hill: "We did not ride on the rear portions of the automobile. I did on those four occasions because the motorcycles had to drop back and there was no protection on the left-hand side of the car." (Emphasis added)

Furthermore, on 9/18/96, by request of the author, the ARRB’s Doug Horne interviewed Mr. Boring regarding this matter. Horne wrote: "Mr. Boring was asked to read pages 136-137 of Clint Hill's Warren Commission testimony, in which Clint Hill recounted that Floyd Boring had told him just days prior to the assassination that during the President's Tampa trip on Monday, 11/18/63, JFK had requested that agents not ride on the rear steps of the limousine, and that Boring had also so informed other agents of the White House detail, and that as a result, agents in Dallas (except Clint Hill, on brief occasions) did not ride on the rear steps of the limousine. MR BORING AFFIRMED THAT HE DID MAKE THESE STATEMENTS TO CLINT HILL, BUT STATED THAT HE WAS NOT RELAYING A POLICY CHANGE, BUT RATHER SIMPLY TELLING AN ANECDOTE ABOUT THE PRESIDENT'S KINDNESS AND CONSIDERATION IN TAMPA IN NOT WANTING AGENTS TO HAVE TO RIDE ON THE REAR OF THE LINCOLN LIMOUSINE WHEN IT WAS NOT NECESSARY TO DO SO BECAUSE OF A LACK OF CROWDS ALONG THE STREET (Emphasis added).”

The author finds this admission startling, especially because the one agent who decided to ride on the rear of the limousine in Dallas anyway---and on at least 4 different occasions--- was none other than CLINT HILL himself.

This also does not address what the agents were to do when the crowds were heavier, or even what exactly constituted a "crowd", as AGENTS DID RIDE ON THE REAR STEPS OF THE LIMOUSINE IN TAMPA ON NOVEMBER 18, 1963 ANYWAY (agents Donald J. Lawton, Andrew E. Berger, & Charles T. Zboril, to be exact)!

Furthermore, as noted above, both Clint Hill's written report and his testimony sure convey a more strict approach than one stemming from an alleged kind anecdote. In fact, as mentioned above, Hill twice stated in his report that he DID NOT RECALL who the agent was who told him, and the other agents, not to ride on the rear of the limousine, yet named him under oath to Counsel Specter: Floyd Boring.

Floyd Boring told the author, in reference to JFK's alleged "desires" mentioned by Mr. Bishop, Manchester (“quoting” Boring), and himself in his own report: "He actually - No, I told them...He didn't tell them anything...He just - I looked at the back and I seen these fellahs were hanging on the limousine - I told them to return to the car...[JFK] was a very easy-going guy...he didn't interfere with our actions at all" (emphasis added)! The author reiterated the point - Mr. Boring was still adamant that JFK never issued any orders to the agents; he even refuted Manchester's book. Remember, Boring is admitting it came from him, and not JFK! With regard to exactly who makes the decision regarding the agents’ proximity to the President, Agent Jerry Parr told Larry King: “I would say it was the agent in charge who makes that decision.” When asked, point blank, if JFK had ever ordered the agents off the rear of the limousine, including in Tampa on 11/18/63, Boring told the author again : "Well that's not true. That's not true. He was a very nice man; he never interfered with us at all." In a letter received by the author on, of all dates, 11/22/97, Boring confirmed what he had previously told the author on two previous occasions (9/22/93 and 3/4/94, respectively) when he wrote: "President Kennedy was a very congenial man knowing most agents by their first name. He was very cooperative with the Secret Service, and well liked and admired by all of us (emphasis added)." Boring does NOT mention anything about JFK’s alleged “desires” to restrict security during his two lengthy oral histories (to the JFK and Truman Libraries).

Secret Service & JFK- President Kennedy and the real story of his protection (or lack thereof)

Vince Palamara interview with SA Floyd Boring 3/4/94

Comments on the matter (often in writing and on audio tape)to Vince Palamara--
SAIC Gerald Behn: "I don't remember Kennedy ever saying that he didn't want anybody on the back of his car."
ASAIC Floyd Boring: “No, no, no-that's not true...[JFK] was a very easy-going guy...he didn't interfere with our actions at all."
ATSAIC (Shift Leader) Art Godfrey: "That's a bunch of baloney; that's not true. He never ordered us to do anything. He was a very nice man...cooperative.” When I was working [with] President Kennedy he never ask [ed] me to have my shift leave the limo when we [were] working it."
SA Winston Lawson (lead advance agent for Dallas; rode in lead car): “I do not know of any standing orders for the agents to stay off the back of the car. After all, foot holds and handholds were built into that particular vehicle. I am sure it would have been on a “case by case” basis depending on event, intelligence, threats, etc. Jerry Behn as Special Agent in Charge of the White House Detail…would have been privy to that type of info more than I [see above]. However, it never came to my attention as such. I am certain agents were on the back on certain occasions."
JFK Aide Dave Powers (rode in follow-up car 11/22/63): "Unless they were ‘running’ along beside the limo, the Secret Service rode in a car behind the President, so, no, they never had to be told to "get off" the limousine."
SA Robert Lilley: "Oh, I'm sure he [JFK] didn't [order agents off his car, agreeing with Behn]. He was very cooperative with us once he became President. He was extremely cooperative. Basically, 'whatever you guys want is the way it will be'." In interviews and correspondence on four separate occasions, Lilley reiterated this view. Lilley also refuted the Bishop and Manchester accounts, adding that, as an example, on a trip with JFK in Caracas, Venezuela, he and "Roy Kellerman rode on the back of the limousine all the way to the Presidential palace" at speeds reaching "50 miles per hour."
SAIC of PRS Robert Bouck: On 9/27/92, Bouck confirmed to the author that having agents on the back of the limousine depended on factors independent of any alleged Presidential "requests": “Many times there were agents on his car.” On 4/30/96, the ARRB’s Doug Horne questioned Bouck: “Did you ever hear the President personally say that he didn’t want agents to stand on the running boards on his car, or did you hear that from other agents?” Bouck: “I never heard the President say that personally." The former agent also told the ARRB that JFK was the “most congenial” of all the presidents he had observed (Bouck served from FDR to LBJ).
SA Samuel A. Kinney (driver of the follow-up car on 11/22/63): Sam told the author on 3/5/94, regarding the “official” notion of history that President Kennedy ordered the agents off the rear of the limousine and the like: "That is absolutely, positively false...no, no, no: he had nothing to do with that [ordering agents off the rear of the limousine]...No, never-the agents say, 'O.K., men, fall back on your posts'...President Kennedy was one of the easiest presidents to ever protect; Harry S. Truman was a jewel just like John F. Kennedy was...99% of the agents would agree...(JFK) was one of the best presidents ever to control-he trusted every one of us [Emphasis added]." In regard to the infamous quote from William Manchester, Kinney said, "That is false. I talked to William Manchester; he called me on the book...for the record of history that is false - Kennedy never ordered us to do anything. I am aware of what is being said but that is false". Finally, just to nail down this issue, the author asked Kinney if an exception was made on 11/22/63: "Not this particular time, no. Not in this case".
ASAIC of VP Detail Rufus Youngblood: "There was not a standing order" from JFK to restrict agents from the back of the limousine - the agents had "assigned posts and positions" on the back of the President's car. On 2/8/94, Youngblood added: "President Kennedy wasn't a hard ass...he never said anything like that [re: removing agents from limo and the like]. As a historian, he [Manchester] flunked the course---don't read Manchester." Youngblood knows of what he speaks: he was interviewed by Manchester on 11/17/64.
SA Donald Lawton: When the author told Lawton on 11/15/95 what fellow agent Kinney said, namely, that JFK never ordered the agents off the rear of the limousine, he said: "It's the way Sam said, yes" (Meaning, he agrees with Kinney, it happened the way Kinney said). In a letter to the author dated, ironically, 11/22/97, Lawton wrote: "If you spoke with Bob Lilley as you stated then you can take whatever information he passed on to you as gospel [see Lilley’s comments, above].”
Cecil Stoughton, White House photographer: Stoughton wrote the author: "I did see a lot of the activity surrounding the various trips of the President, and in many cases I did see the agents in question riding on the rear of the President's car. In fact, I have ridden there a number of times myself during trips...I would jump on the step on the rear of the [Lincoln] Continental until the next stop. I have made photos while hanging on with one hand...in Tampa [11/18/63], for example. As for the [alleged] edict of not riding there by order of the President- I can't give you any proof of first hand knowledge."
SA Lynn Meredith: "I have always believed that the following [ten]adverse situations all contributed to the unnecessary and unfortunate death of President Kennedy: (1) No Secret Service agents riding on the rear of the limousine...I do not know first hand if President Kennedy ordered agents off the back end of his limousine."
SA Sam Sulliman: Sulliman told the author on 2/11/04 that agents were on the back of the limousine a lot; in fact, he remembered riding there on the trips to Ireland and Germany. When told of Art Godfrey’s comments on the matter (see above), the former agent agreed with his colleague. Regarding the notion that JFK ordered the agents off the car, Sulliman told the author twice: “I don’t think so.” Sulliman also said that JFK was “easy to get along with.” As for who exactly was responsible for the decision to remove the agents from the rear area of the limousine, Sulliman told the author: “I can’t tell you who made the decision.”
Frank Stoner, PRS: During an interview conducted on 1/17/04, former agent Stoner, who served in the Secret Service from January 1945 until 1969, said that Manchester was “probably trying to sell books” when he suggested that Kennedy ordered the agents off the back of the limousine. In fact, the 84-year-old former agent laughed at the mere suggestion. Stoner also agreed with several of his colleagues that JFK was “very personable”: “He was an old Navy man. He understood security. He wouldn’t have ordered them off the car.”
SA Gerald O'Rourke: "To my knowledge President Kennedy never ordered us to leave the limo.”
SA Vince Mroz: the former agent said that President Kennedy was “friendly, congenial---he was really easy to get along with…just like Truman.” When asked, point blank, if JFK had ever ordered the agents off the car, Mroz said forcefully: “No, no---that’s not true.” When asked a second time, the former agent responded with equal conviction: “He did not order anybody off the car.”
SA Walt Coughlin: "In almost all parade situations that I was involved w [ith] we rode or walked the limo [Emphasis added].” Coughlin later wrote: “We often rode on the back of the car.” Finally, to clarify this matter further, the author asked Coughlin: “So far, combing the literature, books, interviews, etc., I've found that Behn, Boring, Blaine, Mroz, Godfrey, Lawson, and Dave Powers said that President Kennedy did not order the agents off his limousine---do you think William Manchester and others took "poetic license" on this matter?” Coughlin responded: “Yes I do.”

SA Larry Newman: Newman phoned the author unexpectedly on 2/12/04 to say that “there was not a directive, per se” from President Kennedy to remove the agents from their positions on the back of his limousine.
SA Frank Yeager: In a letter to the author dated 12/29/03, Yeager wrote: “I did not think that President Kennedy was particularly “difficult” to protect. In fact, I thought that his personality made it easier than some because he was easy to get along with…” With regard to the author’s question, “Did President Kennedy ever order the agents off the rear of his limousine,” Yeager responded: “I know of no “order” directly from President Kennedy. I think that after we got back from Tampa, Florida where I did the advance for the President, a few days before Dallas…[it was]requested that the Secret Service agents not ride the rear running board of the Presidential car during parades involving political events so that the president would not be screened by an agent. I don’t know what form or detail that this request was made to the Secret Service… I also do not know who actually made the final decision, but we did not have agents on the rear of the President’s car in Dallas [emphasis added].” Like Hill’s report mentioned above, please note the timing.

SA James Goodenough: “President Kennedy was a pleasant and cooperative person to work for."
SA Radford Jones: "JFK was an easy President to protect...The President was always considerate of the agents...I would say he was no more difficult to protect than any other President."
SA Darwin Horn: "never heard him tell the agents to get off of the car...You will have to ask some of the other agents who worked him full time. [Art] Godfrey would have been perfect but he passed away some time ago.” See Godfrey’s comments, above.
SA Jerry Kivett: "I never heard anyone say that he was difficult to protect."
John F. Norris, Uniformed Division of the Secret Service: On 3/4/94, in an interview with the author, Norris also joined his colleagues in refuting the notion that JFK ordered the agents off the rear of the limo: “I would doubt that very much,” Norris said.
Maurice G. Martineau, SAIC of Chicago office: Martineau joined his colleagues in refuting the Manchester story that JFK ordered the agents off the rear of the car. Martineau said this to the author in two telephonic interviews on 9/21/93 and 6/7/96, respectively.
Abraham W. Bolden, Sr. :In reference to Kennedy's alleged "requests", Mr. Bolden told the author on numerous occasions in 1993-1996 that he "didn't hear anything about that...I never believed that Kennedy said that [ordering removal of agents]”. Bolden, an ardent critic of the agency’s lax protection since 1963, also wrote the author: “No-one could have killed our President without the shots of omission fired by the Secret Service. Observe the feet of [four] Secret Service agents glued to the running boards of the follow-up car as bullets [sic?] pierce the brain of our President!!!"
DNC Advance man Martin E. “Marty” Underwood: Underwood told me that "many times" agents were posted on the back of the JFK limousine. During this 10/9/92 interview, Underwood confirmed to the author that JFK never ordered the agents off the rear of the car.
Michael W. Torina, Chief Inspector of the Secret Service on 11/22/63: Torina, the author of the Secret Service’s own official manual on protective techniques [“The United States Secret Service” by Walter S. Bowen & Harry E. Neal (New York: Chilton, 1960),
page 209], did contribute significantly to a book about the Secret Service written in 1962 in which it is plainly stated: “Agents of the White House Detail ride in the same car with the President. Others will walk or trot alongside, while still others ride in automobiles in front of and behind the Presidential car [“What Does A Secret Service Agent Do?” by Wayne Hyde (New York: Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1962), page 28 (and acknowledgments) On the same page is a picture of agents walking right by JFK’s car in 1961].”
SA Gerald Blaine: Blaine told the author on 2/7/04 that President Kennedy was “very cooperative. He didn’t interfere with our actions. President Kennedy was very likeable---he never had a harsh word for anyone. He never interfered with our actions [emphasis added].” When the author asked Blaine how often the agents rode on the back of JFK’s limousine, the former agent said it was a “fairly common” occurrence that depended on the crowd and the speed of the cars. In fact, just as one example, Blaine rode on the rear of JFK’s limousine in Germany in June 1963, along with fellow Texas trip veterans Paul A. Burns and Samuel E. Sulliman. Surprisingly, Blaine, the WHD advance agent for the Tampa trip of 11/18/63, said that JFK did make the comment “I don’t need Ivy League charlatans back there,” but emphasized this was a “low-key remark” said “kiddingly” and demonstrating Kennedy’s “Irish sense of humor.” However, according to the “official” story, President Kennedy allegedly made these remarks only to Boring while traveling in the presidential limousine in Tampa: Blaine was nowhere near the vehicle at the time, so Boring had to be HIS source for this story! In addition to Emory Roberts, one now wonders if Blaine was a source (or perhaps the source) for Manchester’s exaggerated ‘quote’ attributed to Boring, as Agent Blaine was also interviewed by Manchester (see below ^^^). Blaine would not respond to a follow-up letter on this subject.
However, when the author phoned Blaine on 6/10/05, the former agent said the remark “Ivy League charlatans” came “from the guys…I can’t remember who [said it]…I can’t remember.” Thus, Blaine confirms that he did not hear the remark from JFK (When asked if agents rode on the rear of the limousine on the Italy trip in 1963, Blaine said forcefully: “Oh yeah, oh yeah.” It turns out he was one of the agents)
Chief James Rowley: Rowley told the Warren Commission: "No President will tell the Secret Service what they can or cannot do.” [5 H 470]“Most Presidents have responded to our requests…” [Rowley oral history, LBJ Library, 1/22/69, page 2]
Newsmen- ABC’s Ron Gardner, ABC’s Jim Haggerty (former Eisenhower Press Secretary), & UPI’s Robert J. Serling: Shortly after the assassination on 11/22/63 before a television audience of many millions of people, Gardner reported: “Secret Service agents normally walk directly beside the car. We can’t see any in these pictures .” Also on the very same day before an enormous television audience, Haggerty maintained that agents normally walked or jogged near the rear of the president’s car, adding that he had a hand in planning many motorcades (as did his successor, Pierre Salinger). For his part, Serling wrote on 11/23/63, based in part on “private conversations” with unnamed agents: “There are two absolute rules for motorcade protection: The agent running or riding at the President's shoulder must never leave that position unless relieved. The other is to turn out the manpower in all secret service cars the moment trouble arises and get secret service bodies around the President.”
Jacqueline Kennedy (rode with President Kennedy in the limousine): For her part, Jackie “played the events over and over in her mind…She did not want to accept Jack’s death as a freak accident, for that meant his life could have been spared---if only the driver in the front seat of the presidential limousine [Agent William R. Greer] had reacted more quickly and stepped on the gas…if only the Secret Service had stationed agents on the rear bumper…[emphasis added]” [“Just Jackie: Her Private Years” by Edward Klein (Ballantine Books, 1999), pages 58-59 & 374: based off an interview Klein had with Kitty Carlisle Hart re: Hart’s conversation with Jackie]
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1:40 p.m., 11/29/63: "You see, there was no Secret Service man standing on the back of the car. Usually the presidential car in the past has had steps on the back, next to the bumpers, and there's usually been one [agent] on either side standing on these steps...[ellipsis in text]...Whether the President asked that that not be done, we don't know (emphasis added).” So, as of 11/29/63, a week after the murder, the myth hadn’t been set in motion yet.
June Kellerman, the widow of Roy H. Kellerman, ASAIC WHD: In a letter to the author dated 12/2/97, Mrs. Kellerman wrote: "Roy did not say that JFK was difficult to protect,” which confirms the author’s two prior telephonic interviews with her conducted on 3/2/92 and 9/27/92, respectively. (For his part, Kellerman did not mention JFK's alleged desires even once during his very lengthy, two-session interview with the Warren Commission , not to mention his reports and his later HSCA and private researcher contacts)

Jean Brownell Behn, widow of the late Gerald A. Behn, SAIC WHD (see above): Mrs. Behn told the author on 11/18/95 that Jerry did not like William Manchester's book "The Death of a President" and confirmed that she also did not believe that JFK had ever conveyed to Jerry the idea of having the agents not ride on the rear of the limousine. In a follow-up letter dated 11/28/97, she stated: "The only thing I can tell you is that Jerry always said 'Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you read'”

Floyd Boring (and quite a few of his colleagues) categorically denied to the author what William Manchester reports in his acclaimed massive best-seller “The Death of a President”: "Kennedy grew weary of seeing bodyguards roosting behind him every time he turned around [indicating the frequency of the event], and in Tampa on November 18 [1963], just four days before his death, he dryly asked Agent Floyd Boring to 'keep those Ivy League charlatans off the back of the car.' Boring wasn't offended. There had been no animosity in the remark." Incredibly, Boring told this author: "I never told him that." As for the merit of the quote itself, as previously mentioned, Boring said: "No, no, no-that's not true.” Incredibly, BORING WAS NOT EVEN INTERVIEWED FOR MANCHESTER’S BOOK! We may never know Mr. Manchester's source for this curious statement: he told the author on 8/23/93 that "all that material is under seal and won't be released in my lifetime" and denied the author access to his notes (Manchester has since passed away). [see ^^^, below]
And, if that wasn't enough, AGENTS DID INDEED RIDE ON THE REAR OF JFK'S LIMOUSINE IN ITALY (7/2/63) AND IN TAMPA (11/18/63)---Italy film clip, courtesy Jim Cedrone of the JFK Library; Newly discovered still photos from Naples: “John Fitzgerald Kennedy: A Life In Pictures” by Yann-Brice Dherbier & Pierre-Henri Verlhac (New York: Phaidon Press, 2003), pages 183 and 231. Corbis stock photos discovered by the author in 2005 (and also forwarded to former agents’ Blaine, Coughlin, & O’Rourke). Regarding Italy: See also “Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye” by O'Donnell, Kenneth P., David F. Powers, and Joseph McCarthy (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1972), page 433 [Note: All references to this book are from the Pocket Book paperback edition published in 1973]. The "Tampa Tribune", 11/19/63 (downtown area picture w/ agents Lawton & Zboril holding onto the rear handrails); Cecil Stoughton photo, taken from the follow-up car, 11/18/63 (suburban area picture depicting same); short clip in David Wolper's 1964 film "Four Days In November" depicting the start of the Tampa trip: agent Zboril is running on the left-rear end of the limo, holding onto the handrail, while agent Berger is riding on the opposite side; agent Lawton is seen running along Berger's side; B & W photos discovered by Ian Griggs and Frank Debenedictis; B & W photos from photographers’ Tony Zappone and Tommy Eure.

The deathblow to the Tampa tale

The author wrote to former Florida Congressman Samuel Melville Gibbons on 1/7/04 and asked him if he had heard President Kennedy order the agents off the rear of the limousine. Gibbons rode in the rear seat with JFK and Senator George Smathers on the Tampa trip of 11/18/63. Gibbons response in full, dated 1/15/04: “I rode with Kennedy every time he rode. I heard no such order. As I remember it the agents rode on the rear bumper all the way. Kennedy was very happy during his visit to Tampa. Sam Gibbons.”

Furthermore, an amazing document was released in the 1990’s concerning, among many other related topics, the issue of the agents’ presence (or lack thereof) on the limousine. This is a 28-page “Sensitive” memorandum from Belford Lawson, the attorney in charge of the Secret Service area for the HSCA, addressed to Gary Cornwell & Ken Klein dated 5/31/77 and revised 8/15/77. Apparently, Attorney Lawson was suspicious of Mr. Boring, for he wrote on the final page of this lengthy memorandum: “Subject: Florida Motorcades in November 1963…Was Floyd Boring, the Senior SS Agent on the White House detail, lying to SS Agent Hill when he told Hill that JFK had said in Tampa…that he wanted no agents riding upright on the rear bumper step of the JFK limousine? Did JFK actually say this? Did Boring know when he told this to Hill that Hill would be riding outboard on the JFK follow-up car in Dallas on November 22, 1963? Did Boring say this to Ready or Roberts? [Lawson’s emphasis]” On page 27 of the same memo, Lawson wrote: “Why did only one Agent, Hill, run forward to the JFK limousine?”

William “Tim” McIntyre, WHD (rode on the follow-up car on 11/22/63): The author contacted McIntyre on 6/13/05 (McIntyre had previously been contacted via mail in 2004, based on the strong recommendations of former agents’ Larry Newman and Tony Sherman, but did not respond back). Asked about the Tampa trip of 11/18/63, the former agent said: “I was there on the follow-up car.” Regarding the question of agents being on the back of the car, McIntyre said: “I believe so---Zboril was on the back,” which he was (He also mentioned Don Lawton and Emory Roberts as being on the trip, which they were). Regarding the matter at hand, McIntyre stated: “I can’t remember if they were told to be off the car.” So, in spite of these strong recommendations from his colleagues to ask him about this specific subject, McIntyre now allegedly “can’t remember”?


SA Sam Kinney Kinney also told the author that Ken O'Donnell did not interfere with the agents: "Nobody ordered anyone around.”

ATSAIC Art Godfrey: "He [Ken O'Donnell] did not order anyone around."

Boring told the JFK Library: “…of all the administrations I worked with, the president and the people surrounding the president were very gracious and were very cooperative. As a matter of fact, you can’t do this type of security work without cooperation of the people surrounding the president…[emphasis added]”

Indeed, Chief James J. Rowley told the JFK Library in 1976: "...you could talk to them [JFK’s staff]...It made for a very happy relationship."

Aide David F. Powers (rode in the follow-up car on 11/22/63): As mentioned above, in a personal letter to the author dated 9/10/93, Mr. Powers wrote: "Unless they were ‘running’ along beside the limo, the Secret Service rode in a car behind the President, so, no, they never had to be told to "get off" the limousine". This comment rivals Behn’s shocking statements to the author due to the source: President Kennedy’s longtime friend and aide and a man who was on countless trips with the President. For the record, Agent Bob Lilley endorsed Mr. Powers view: "Dave would give you factual answers." In addition, the ARRB’s Tom Samoluk told the author that, during the course of an interview he conducted with Powers in 1996, the former JFK aide and friend agreed with the author’s take on the Secret Service!

Presidential Aide (Chief of Staff/ Appointments Secretary) Kenneth P. O’Donnell does not mention anything with regard to telling the agents to remove themselves from the limousine (based on JFK’s alleged “desires”) during his lengthy Warren Commission testimony (nor to author William Manchester, nor even in his or his daughter’s books, for that matter); the same is true for the other two Presidential aides: Larry O’Brien and Dave Powers. In fact, as mentioned above, Powers refutes this whole idea. Again, JFK’s staff is not mentioned as a factor during any of the agent’s Warren Commission testimony, nor in the five reports submitted in April 1964.

Press Secretary Pierre Salinger: JFK had a good relationship with the Secret Service and, more importantly, did NOT argue with their security measures. This was based on the author's correspondence with noted journalist Roger Peterson from 2/99 (from Peterson's very recent conversations with Salinger).


Clinton Secret Service Director Lewis C. Merletti---
“The Washington Post” reported on 5/14/98: “During private meetings, sources said, Merletti told officials from [Kenneth] Starr's office [investigating the President Clinton/ Monica Lewinsky matter] and the Treasury and Justice departments that trust and proximity to a president are crucial to protecting him ...the service ran through the history of assassination attempts, showing instances where they succeeded or failed, possibly depending on how close agents were to an intended victim. Sources said they produced rare photographs of John F. Kennedy's fateful 1963 motorcade through Dallas, where agents were not standing on running boards on the back of his exposed automobile when shots rang out because the president several days before had ordered them not to…Merletti indicated to the court that the assassination in a moving limousine of President John F. Kennedy "might have been thwarted had agents been stationed on the car's running boards (emphasis added).” To drive the point home even further, here is an excerpt from Director Merletti’s testimony, as reported in “The Washington Post” from 5/20/98: "I have attached, as Exhibit A to this Declaration, photographs of President John F. Kennedy's visit to Tampa, Florida on November 18, 1963. We use these photographs, and the ones attached as Exhibit B, in our training exercises. Exhibit A demonstrates the lengths to which protective personnel have been forced to go to try to maintain proximity to the President. In the photographs contained in Exhibit A, agents are kneeling on the running board of the Presidential limousine, while the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed [note: a contradiction---according to prior official agency mythology, the agents shouldn’t even be there at all!]. I can attest that this requires extraordinary physical exertion. Nevertheless, they performed this duty in an attempt to maintain close physical proximity to the President. Exhibit B, by contrast, scarcely needs any introduction. It is a series of photographs of the Presidential limousine, taken just four days later, on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. As can be seen, at the instruction of the President, Secret Service agents had been ordered off of the limousine's running boards. An analysis of the ensuing assassination (including the trajectory of the bullets which struck the President) indicates that it might have been thwarted had agents been stationed on the car's running boards. In other words, had they been able to maintain close proximity to the President during the motorcade, the assassination of John F. Kennedy might have been averted. Exhibit C contains a series of photographs taken during the actual assassination that demonstrate how critical and tragic the absence of proximity to the protectee can be (emphasis added).”

Former Carter & Reagan SAIC Jerry Parr told Larry King on 7/14/98, with no firsthand knowledge whatsover: “The critical factor [in Dallas]…was the fact that he [JFK] ordered the two agents off the car…which made him very vulnerable to Lee Oswald’s attack.”

Actor John Malkovich repeated the myth of JFK’s alleged orders to millions of theater patrons in the Secret Service “sponsored” blockbuster 1993 Clint Eastwood movie “In The Line Of Fire”: “You wanted to station agents on his bumpers and sideboards-he refused. And do you know why I think he refused? I think he refused because he had a death wish.”

NON JFK era Agent Dennis V.N. McCarthy wrote in his book “Protecting The President”: "(talking about 11/22/63) ...and the President himself waved off the agents who customarily rode on the car's running boards [emphasis added; “Protecting The President” by Dennis V.N. McCarthy with Philip W. Smith (New York: Dell Publishing Co, Inc., 1985), page 188].

In addition, former NON JFK era agent Marty Venker said in the book “Confessions of an Ex-Secret Service Agent,” written by George Rush: "John Kennedy…had vetoed the idea of agents riding on his limo’s rear bumper-where one of them might’ve stopped a bullet…So, in a way, part of the blame for JFK's death rested with the man himself [emphasis added; “Confessions of an Ex-Secret Service Agent” by George Rush (New York: Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc., 1988), page 25].”

NON JFK era agent Joe Petro wrote in his book: "As I read the Warren Commission Report, it seems that the president was the one who said, No agents on the back of the car [emphasis added; “Standing Next To History: An Agent’s Life Inside The Secret Service” by Joseph Petro with Jeffrey Robinson (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2005), page 20].”

Even a 1986 pictorial book on JFK, “John F. Kennedy” by Lois E. Anderson (CT: Longmeadow Press, 1992), got into the act: “The president’s frequent disregard for security precautions was a source of anxiety to the Secret Service men assigned to protect him.” [Page 135]

“Assassinations That Changed The World” History Channel 1996 [narrator]: “…the bubbletop was removed. He had insisted that no Secret Services agents ride on the back bumper or side running boards, and that motorcycle officers not flank his car, but stay to the front and back.”

*****Agents agree that NOT having the agents near JFK causes his death*****

SA Lynn Meredith: "I do believe if agents had been riding on the rear of the limo in Dallas that President Kennedy would not have been assassinated as they would have been in Oswald’s line of fire…To elaborate a little more on the assassination in Dallas, I have always believed that the following [10] adverse situations all contributed to the unnecessary and unfortunate death of President Kennedy: (1) No Secret Service agents riding on the rear of the limousine…
Former agent Harry Neal wrote: “It is my personal belief that had they [Secret Service] been permitted to stay on the presidential car, the body of one of the agents might have completely obscured the President from Oswald’s vision. In that event, either no shots would have been fired, or the agent might have been killed or wounded. But the President would not have been hit.” [“The Secret Service In Action” by Harry Neal (New York: Elsevier/Nelson books, 1980), page 93.]
An unnamed former JFK-era agent told author Philip Melanson in February 2002 that not having agents on the running boards of the limousine was a major factor in Kennedy’s death. [Melanson, Philip H. with Peter F. Stevens. The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2003, page 285]
Former Secret Service Chief Frank J. Wilson wrote: “Agents on running boards at Dallas might not have saved the President from the first bullet but might have saved him from the second one, which was fatal,” a view later shared by Reagan Agent Joseph Petro.["Special Agent” by Frank J. Wilson and Beth Day (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965), page 247. “Standing Next To History: An Agent’s Life Inside The Secret Service” by Joseph Petro with Jeffrey Robinson (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2005), page 20]

*****important "loose ends"*****

William Manchester Manchester also wrote, somewhat redeeming himself (a little) [see pages 37-38, 1988 edition]: “It was a good idea, for example, to have agents perched on the broad trunk of the Presidential Lincoln when crowds threatened to grow disorderly. The trouble was that they were always there...Kennedy grew weary of seeing bodyguards roosting behind him every time he turned around [indicating the frequency of the event], [emphasis added].”

Jim Bishop wrote [see pages 39-41, 134, 558. All references to Bishop’s book are from the 1992 Harper Perennial edition]: "No one wanted to weigh the possibilities that, if a Secret Service man had been on the left rear bumper going down Elm Street, it would have been difficult to hit President Kennedy (emphasis added).” Bishop also noted: "The Secret Service men were not pleased because they were in a "hot" city and would have preferred to have two men ride the bumper of the President's car with two motorcycle policemen between him [JFK] and the crowds on the sidewalks."

Author Gerald Posner , via his best-selling book “Case Closed”: "As the President and his staff had requested… no Secret Service men rode on the running boards attached to the rear." Not only is it a matter of common knowledge that Clint Hill rode briefly on the rear of the limousine four different times, albeit before entering the sight of the assassination, Dealey Plaza (and against the ‘new’ Secret Service wishes), no actual Secret Service agents are credited in the actual text or endnotes of Posner’s book. So where did Posner get his information? The author e-mailed Posner and received this surprising reply on 3/4/98: “Without checking my files (you're asking about research six and seven years ago), I don't remember interviewing any SS agents for the record, and I don't remember off hand even talking to any for background. I am almost certain I merely relied on orig. docs, or the agents' original interviews and/ or testimony,” a view Posner later confirmed to researcher W. Tracy Parnell. That said, Posner did contact, but did not interview, none other than Agent Floyd M. Boring, who in turn put him in touch with Percy Hamilton Brown, the Executive Secretary of the Former Agents of the Secret Service (although Brown is credited on page 503 of his book, in the Acknowledgements section, it was only through the author’s interview with Boring that his contact with Posner was inadvertently revealed). In this author’s view, Posner’s statements to myself and Parnell appear to be true. In addition, it appears that, ostensibly, like Boring, Brown was of no actual help to Posner, but his name was put in the tail end of the book anyway.[“Case Closed” by Gerald Posner (New York: Random House, 1993), page 233. See also “Murder In Dealey Plaza “ by Prof. James Fetzer (Chicago: Catfeet Press, 2000), pages 163, 166, 183-184. On the very same page, Posner also credits Secret Service Archivist Mike Sampson, a young man not even born when the assassination occurred and, to make matters worse, misspells his last name as “Simpson.”]

Manchester, page 667. Of the 21 agents/ officials interviewed by Manchester, only Roberts, Greer, Kinney, and Blaine were on the Florida trip. Blaine was the advance agent for Tampa (riding in the lead car), Greer drove JFK’s car, Kinney drove the follow-up car, and Roberts was the commander of the follow-up car. That said, in the author’s opinion, Roberts is still the main suspect of the four as being Manchester’s dubious source for this quote: after all, he was asked to write a report about JFK’s so-called desires, citing Boring as the source for the order via radio transmission (see above). The others---Greer, Kinney, & Blaine---were not asked to write a similar report. In addition, Manchester had access to this report while writing his book (see next footnote). Also, unlike the other three, Roberts was interviewed twice and, while Greer never went on record with his feelings about the matter, one way or the other, Kinney adamantly denied the veracity of Manchester’s information, while Blaine denied the substance of the information, although he DID mention the “Ivy league charlatan” remark coming from a secondary source. Finally, of the 21 agents interviewed by Manchester, Blaine is the only agent---save two headquarters Inspectors (see next footnote)---whose interview comments are not to be found in the text or index. Since, in addition to Blaine, three other agents---Lawton, Meredith & Newman---also mentioned the remark as hearsay, in some fashion or another, it is more than likely that Manchester seized upon the remark and greatly exaggerated its significance…AND attributed it to Boring, while his actual source was likely Roberts (and/ or Blaine). Again, since Boring wasn’t interviewed, the comment had to come second-hand from another agent, who, in turn, received the remark second-hand from Boring. Ultimately, the question is: did Boring really give out this order on instructions from JFK?

Interestingly, Manchester, having interviewed 21 different agents/ officials for his book [pages 660-669], chose to include interviews with Secret Service Inspectors Burrill Peterson and Jack Warner. What’s the problem? Well, these men, not even associated with the Texas trip in any way, were interviewed more than any of the other agents: four times each (Peterson: 10/9/64, 11/17/64, 11/18/64, 2/5/65; Warner: 6/2/64, 11/18/64, 2/5/65, 5/12/65)! Only Emory Roberts, Clint Hill, Roy Kellerman, and Forrest Sorrels had two interviews apiece, while all the other agents/ officials garnered just one interview each. And, more importantly, unlike all the other 19 agents, save one, Gerald Blaine (a Texas trip WHD agent), these two Inspectors are not even mentioned in the actual text or the index; their comments are “invisible” to the reader. It appears, then, that Manchester’s book was truly a sanitized, “official” book, more so than we thought before (as most everyone knows, the book was written with Jackie Kennedy’s approval: it was her idea, in fact [page ix]. Manchester even had early, exclusive access to the Warren Commission itself: “At the outset of my inquiry the late Chief Justice Earl Warren appointed me an ex officio member of his commission…and provided me with an office in Washington’s VFW building, where the commission met and where copies of reports and depositions were made available to me [page xix]). Inspector Peterson figured prominently in the post-assassination press dealings (or lack thereof)---as Agent Sorrels testified: “…I don't think at any time you will see that there is any statement made by the newspapers or television that we said anything because Mr. Kelley, the Inspector, told me ‘Any information that is given out will have to come from Inspector Peterson in Washington.’"[7 H 359] Peterson became an Assistant Director for Investigations in 1968 [“20 Years in the Secret Service” by Rufus Youngblood (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1973), page 220], while Inspector Warner would go on to become Director of Public Affairs (a position he held until the 1990’s), acting as a buffer to critical press questions during the assassination attempts on President Ford and other related matters [“The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency” (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2003) by Philip Melanson with Peter Stevens, pages 101, 201, 224, 237]. Warner would also later become a consultant to the 1993 Clint Eastwood movie “In The Line of Fire.”

Secret Service propaganda: blame the victim (JFK), blame the staff

Secrets of the Secret Service

No comments: