The Confession of Secret Service Agent Clint Hill

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Several random points re: "The Kennedy Detail" upon rereading

Several random points re: "The Kennedy Detail" upon rereading

NOTE: please see my extensive prior review:

-The book is of value for its non-assassination/ non-controversial content. Great pictures, well written, and good index, as well (although no bibliography, specific sources, footnotes, or endnotes, and the book is written in the third person narrative). That said, there are well over 100 "returns" on Amazon and the book WAS only a minor best-seller (making the extended NY Times best-seller list)---one wonders how interesting this book truly is/ was for the casual fan/ student of the case (or even of JFK, in general);

-There is even more "faction", even of a seemingly trivial nature (i.e. Floyd Boring sips on coffee, sighs, etc.), than I remembered---it makes me baffled that, 47 years later, an author--or anyone---can claim to recall specific words and actions from "his" memory...and ESPECIALLY from the "memories" of agents long deceased;

-Page 101: "If the motorcade was to go down Main Street, this [the Houston-to-Elm jog past the TSBD] was the only option to get to the Trade Mart": FALSE--Main to Industrial would have done the trick;

-Page 146: sounds VERY similar---almost TOO similar (ahem)---to Floyd Boring's JFK Library oral history (page 20): "But on several occasions in the White House when he started to enter into
crowds and shake hands and do—he was actually the first, to my knowledge, of any
president who left the vehicle and was gregarious enough to go into the crowds and shake
hands and so forth. I, in the automobile one day, said, to the President, “You know, Mr.
President, I think that by going into these crowds you could be leaving yourself wide open to
be assassinated or seriously injured.” And he said, “Well, Floyd, I'll tell ya. I couldn't get
elected dog catcher, and I don't think any other politician could, if they didn't get out and
meet the people.
People vote for us, and we have to go out and shake hands.”

-On page 162, Blaine alleges that SAIC Gerald Behn, from his office in the White House, told agent Ron Pontius on 11/21/63: “[JFK] wanted the agents off the back of the car [in Tampa and Dallas] in order for the people to get an unobstructed view.” However, in a contradiction Blaine doesn’t even notice (although he previously mentioned it on page 19 and in the first photo section), BEHN WAS ON VACATION DURING THIS TIME! Perhaps most importantly, Behn told this reviewer on 9/27/92: “I don’t remember Kennedy ever saying that he didn’t want anybody on the back of his car. I think if you watch the newsreel pictures you’ll find agents on there from time to time.” In fact, MANY former agents and White House aides told this reviewer the same thing Lawson, Boring, and Behn all said!

As the Church Lady would say, "How convenient!"---Behn now allegedly is still on vacation, yet happens to saunter into the White House to be available for a business call...yeah, right. Sam Kinney and Behn's neighbor, as well as all previous indicators point to Behn TRULY being on vacation-away from his office.

-pages 174, 1976-177: Nine of the agents from Kennedy’s White House Detail drank alcohol the night before the assassination in Fort Worth (at the Fort Worth Press Club and, presumably, The Cellar “Coffee House”), including four who had critical duties in the follow-up car directly behind his limousine: Bennett, Landis, Hill, and Ready. (Interestingly, they were all from Shift Leader Emory Roberts’ particular shift. Significantly, None of the agents from the V.P. LBJ detail were involved in the drinking incident. In addition, although all the agents had to report for duty at 8:00 a.m., several stayed out until between 1:30 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. One—Landis—stayed out until 5:00 a.m. Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on even the best-trained reflexes. Although this flagrant violation of Secret Service regulations was grounds for dismissal from the service [18 H 665], none of the men were punished in any way whatsoever by Chief Rowley, who did not want to stigmatize the agents and their families [A good discussion of this the drinking incident, based in part on the author’s work, can be found in The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency by Philip Melanson with Peter Stevens, pp. 69–71]

-page 201: regarding agent Bill Greer, the driver of JFK’s car in Dallas, Blaine writes: “And, God forbid, if he [Greer] ever did have to make a sudden getaway, he knew the 7,500-pound car with its 300-horsepower engine just didn’t gather speed as quickly as he would like.” If that wasn’t enough, Blaine adds, on page 212: “[Greer, after the shooting commenced] quickly tapped on the brake to see how the car would respond.” Finally, on page 356, Blaine delivers the coup de grace: “Yes, Bill Greer put his foot on the brake after the first shot. But for God’s sake, it had nothing to do with a conspiracy, or negligence—he was merely responding as any professionally trained driver would respond.”

Oh, really? Sixty witnesses (ten police officers, seven Secret Service agents, thirty-eight spectators, two Presidential aides, one Senator, Governor Connally, and Jackie Kennedy) and the Zapruder film document Secret Service agent William R. Greer’s deceleration of the presidential limousine, as well as his two separate looks back at JFK during the assassination. And, as Roy Kellerman testified before the Warren Commission: "Mr. Congressman [Ford], I have driven that car many times, and I never cease to be amazed even to this day with the weight of the automobile plus the power that is under the hood; we just literally jumped out of the God-damn road."

A CONTRADICTION: page 193- Agent George Hickey on the Tampa (Florida) trip of 11/18/63, working the follow-up car (as I already was much aware of); yet on page 217: Blaine states that Hickey's appearance in the follow-up car in Dallas on 11/22/63 was "his first presidential motorcade"---?!? It was not;


pp 314-315: Take Jackie's comments with a huge grain of salt: 2 sides to every story. On the one hand, she wrote a nice letter to Greer, yet criticized him harshly to others. Remember also the very nice correspondence between RFK and Hoover, yet they hated each other

page 319 Lawson---see Melanson's book and the 1995 Discovery Channel documentary. "If it had to happen, I'm glad it happened to you." Lawson cries

Page 20 of Ronald Kessler's true best-selling book "In The President's Secret Service" (2009) confirms Blaine's tale of hitting a bird with a rock on the LBJ Ranch and assuming it was dead, only to have it "awaken" and come out staggering from of the water later!

Page 12: Marilyn Monroe DID indeed have sexual liaisons with JFK, as MULTIPLE Secret Service agents confirmed to Kessler, thus debunking Blaine's statements on this issue

Page 396: Blaine writes of his "anger at the character assassination and defamation of outstanding men who were ready to sacrifice their lives to protect the president"...they weren't Ready (pun intended)and they DID NOT sacrifice their lives. Many people have commented on the lethargic "reactions" of the agents that day, as well as the poor planning;

Page 397: Blaine writes "The president is not legally bound to follow the directives of the Secret Service"---WRONG! (from my review:) Also on page 19, Blaine begins to (using a lawyer’s term) “lay the foundation,” as it were, for blaming the victim (JFK) and, in the process, makes a real whopper: Blaine writes, “the Secret Service was not authorized to override a presidential decision.” Wrong! Ample proof to the contrary abounds. Chief James J. Rowley testified under oath to the Warren Commission: “No President will tell the Secret Service what they can or cannot do.”15 In fact, Rowley’s predecessor, former Chief U. E. Baughman, who had served under JFK from Election Night 1960 until September 1961, had written in his 1962 book Secret Service Chief : “Now the Chief of the Secret Service is legally empowered to countermand a decision made by anybody in this country if it might endanger the life or limb of the Chief Executive. This means I could veto a decision of the President himself if I decided it would be dangerous not to. The President of course knew this fact.”16 Indeed, an Associated Press story from November 15, 1963 stated: “The (Secret) Service can overrule even the President where his personal security is involved.” Even President Truman agreed, stating, “The Secret Service was the only boss that the President of the United States really had.”17 Finally, In an 11/23/63 UPI story written by Robert J. Serling from Washington entitled “Secret Service Men Wary of Motorcade,” based in part on “private conversations” with unnamed agents: “An agent is the only man in the world who can order a President of the United States around if the latter’s safety is believed at stake ... in certain situations an agent outranks even a President.” (emphasis added)

15 5 H 570

16. U. E. Baughman, Secret Service Chief (New York: Harper & Row, Popular Library edition, January 1963), p. 70.

17. Rowley oral history, LBJ Library, January 22, 1969, p. 2. See also David Seidman, Extreme Careers—Secret Service Agents: Life Protecting the President (New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2003), p. 11. Rowley himself said: “Most Presidents have responded to our requests ... .”

Page 398: Blaines states that Ike "rode in a closed-top car and didn't like parade-type motorcades"---WRONG! See the FOUR pics in fellow agent Darwin Horn's book depicting a SMILING Ike in an OPEN-top limo, as well as the FOUR pics in "Looking Back And Seeing The Future"...AND I FOUND OVER A DOZEN PICS OF IKE SMILING IN AN OPEN CAR ONLINE (JUST GOOGLE "PRESIDENT EISENHOWER MOTORCADE" IN THE 'IMAGES' SECTION)!!!!!!!!!

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