Secret Service: Unfinest Hour

by Bernard McCormick Tuesday, May 01, 2012 No Comment(s)

The recent news of Secret Service men enjoying the company of working girls while protecting the president in South America is being viewed as the low point in the history of the service. Hardly. When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, the Secret Service men charged with protecting him might as well have been arm wrestling with Dallas hookers. They weren’t there when a president was murdered.

Among the strongest evidence that it was a government conspiracy, not a lone nut, that assassinated JFK, is the shocking absence of security during his visit to Dallas, known to be one of the more hostile environments for the president at that time. Few knew of the lax security at the time, and those few were either security agencies themselves who knew normal precautions were absent, or the plotters who took pains to make certain it was that way.

Although ignored by the original Warren Commission we now know, through witnesses who have come forth over the years, reinforced by declassified documents, that the Dallas police and local sheriff’s office, units which normally are out in force for a presidential visit, and especially for a motorcade, were not present in the usual numbers that day. There were no snipers on rooftops near Dealey Plaza, no one checking to see if guns were peeping out of windows. And, despite the fact that a number of witnesses, including a police officer, immediately after the shooting encountered men with Secret Service credentials, there were no Secret Service men on the ground at Dealey Plaza. The identification shown was false, by obvious members of the assassination team.

An excellent account of the security situation is found in James W. Douglass’ book JFK and the Unspeakable, which in turn relies on the work of numerous researchers. Those researchers include Gaeton Fonzi, whose landmark book The Last Investigation first appeared as articles in Gold Coast magazine in 1980. One glaring example of lax security was the fact that the president’s motorcycle escort, which normally rode beside his limousine, thus providing some shielding from potential attackers, was ordered to follow the limousine. Also, there were not Secret Service agents riding in the back of the president’s car, which might have saved him. The initial explanation, one given to the Warren Commision, was that the president wanted it that way, but over the years Secret Service people have said the president made no such request. He never interfered with their advice. That change in routine came from Washington, either from the Secret Service or someone controlling the Secret Service. Interestingly, just the day before in Houston, normal security had been in place.

The route of the motorcade was incredibly careless. The slow turn at Dealey Plaza seemed designed for a hit, providing an easy target for gunmen in a building or behind the grassy knoll. A vigilant Secret Service would never permit that. At the least, the place should have been swarming with security. Almost none existed.

The Secret Service did strange things after the murder. The Dallas coroner wanted to keep JFK’s body there for an autopsy. That would be normal procedure by Texas law. But Secret Service men (real ones this time) literally pushed his body past the coroner and left the hospital. After failing to do its job in the motorcade, it took on a job that was not its work. It was subsequently learned that the autopsy back in Washington was also controlled, and photographs of the president’s wounds altered to make it appear he was shot only from the rear – necessary to set up the lone gunman theory.

This is not to suggest that Secret Service agents guarding the president that day were part of the conspiracy. One of them, Clint Hill, became famous by racing to the president’s car and pulling Jackie Kennedy back from the top of the trunk. The men guarding the president were following orders, but it is an inescapable conclusion that someone high up the Secret Service, or even above that agency, was part of the conspiracy to murder a president, even if the overall plan likely involved high-ranking military, other government agencies and some organized crime elements, all coordinated by elements of the CIA.

The recent prostitution incident may not be the Secret Service’s finest hour, but it is a long way from its worst.

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