A FACT SHEET : On Security and Secret Service
Inconsistencies in the JFK Assassination
Summary : Recent interviews with many of the Secret Service agents that protected JFK, a number of whom where in Dallas on November 22, 1963 -- along with recently declassified documents -- contradict history's official verdict that President Kennedy was difficult to protect and was somehow indirectly responsible for his own death by foregoing security measures that would have aided in saving his life. The following "fact sheet" was prepared as a basic and general summarization of some of the more salient points in the author's research for the book "THE THIRD ALTERNATIVE ..."
Contrary to recent testimony before Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr by current
Secret Service Director Lewis Merletti and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gary
Grindler, President Kennedy did not
instruct agents not to ride on the rear bumper of his car
several days before Dallas. Former agents Gerald A. Behn (#1 man on JFK s detail),
Floyd M. Boring (the #2 man), Arthur L.Godfrey (another top man, one of the three
Shift Leaders on Kennedy's Texas trip), Rufus W. Youngblood (#2 man on LBJ s detail
on 11/22/63, riding in the V.P.'s car), Samuel A. Kinney (the driver of the Secret Service
follow-up car in Dallas), Dave Powers (loyal Kennedy aide who rode with Kinney),
Cecil Stoughton (White House photographer in the Dallas motorcade), Donald J. Lawton
(also on the Texas trip), Martin E. Underwood (Democratic National Committee advance man
for JFK's trip to Houston), Robert I. Bouck (head of the Protective Research Section),
Robert Lilley (a member of JFK's detail from election night until one month before
Dallas), Maurice G. Martineau (the agent in charge of the Chicago office), Abraham W.
Bolden (the first black member of the White House Detail), and John Norris (a member
the Uniformed Division), collectively and in no uncertain terms, told me that President
Kennedy never ordered the agents off the rear of his car, was not difficult to protect,
and , in fact, was very cooperative with the Secret Service. Jerry D. Kivett (who rode in the V.P. follow-up car in Dallas) and June Kellerman (widow of the #3 man
on Kennedy's detail) also confirmed to me that Kennedy was not difficult to protect
for the Secret Service. More than anything else, this debunks the "JFK as scapegoat"
notion of history -- and the buck stops with the Secret Service.
Contrary to all prior accounts, including those attributed to President Kennedy himself,
former agent Samuel A. Kinney was adamant to me, on three occasions, that he was
SOLELY responsible for the bubbletop's removal on that fateful day in Dallas.
The Secret Service was knowledgeable about prior recent threats to President Kennedy
but, not only was nothing done to relay this information to the agents in Dallas,
at least 3 separate checks of the Protective Research Section for any threats or
harmful subjects in Dallas yielded nothing, something two agents, Roy H. Kellerman (to the
Warren Commission) and Abraham Bolden (to me), said was highly unusual, to say the
least. DNC advance man Marty Underwood told me that he was getting all sorts of rumors,
merely 18 hours before the assassination,
that JFK was to be assassinated in Dallas, even conveying this information to President
Kennedy himself, who told Underwood not to worry (indeed, JFK had told San Antonio
Congressman Henry Gonzalez that the Secret Service had taken care of everything and, thus, there was no need for worry)! Agent Kinney told me that there was a scare
four days before Dallas when Kennedy was in Florida, separate
from the accurate assassination prediction of one Joseph Milteer (an ardent right-wing
supporter), in Miami on November 9, 1963. Agent Bouck told me he was aware of this
threat knowledge before Dallas (and documents confirm that the Secret Service did
indeed have material regarding this in their files). Five years before the revelations
of the four agents who spoke to Seymour Hersh, Bouck told me he also was aware of
Kennedy's philandering, crucial compromising information for a top man in Kennedy's
detail to have.
Although Kennedy normally had much motorcycle "coverage" in his motorcades, including at least 3 to 6 motorcycles riding on each side of the car on all prior Texas stops, as well as many other foreign and domestic trips in 1963, the plans were altered by the Secret Service for Dallas, giving JFK a measly 4 non-flanking outriders: the reason being that, as with the allegations that JFK did not want the men on the car (debunked) or the bubbletop (debunked ), the president did not want a lot of motorcycles, especially ones right by his side, which effectively opened him up to crossfire and/ or eliminated more key professionally-trained eye and ear witnesses from the scene (and out of harm's way). My interviews with agents Sam Kinney and Arthur Godfrey dispelled the notion that JFK ever said that he did not want motorcycles by the car, as films, photos, and the prior Texas stops make quite clear in and of themselves.
Although Secret Service Chief James J. Rowley adamantly denied to the Warren Commission
that his agency was responsible for the printing of the motorcade route in Dallas,
the author has traced the critical decision back from LBJ aide Bill Moyers to what
Moyers described as "the agent in charge of the Dallas trip"!
In a related matter, the motorcade route itself went against both common sense and
Secret Service protocol by involving turns of 90 and 120 degrees, which slowed the
limousine down to a dangerous speed by both the Texas School Book Depository (Oswald's
alleged lair) and the infamous grassy knoll area --- DNC advance man Underwood and
uniformed agent Norris were two men who strongly criticized the route in interviews
with this author. Furthermore, the #1 agent in the president's detail, Jerry Behn,
told me that the Dallas route was changed from some other (unknown) choice, as the
House Select Committee on Assassinations asked him in Executive Session in still unpublished
testimony in the late 1970s. Furthermore, agents Kinney and Winston G. Lawson confirmed
for this author that there were indeed alternate routes (two, according to Kinney), and the author discovered much confusion in the newspapers and perhaps unwitting
obfuscation in the strangely conflicting accounts of the route Kennedy was to take
The press photographers who normally rode in a flatbed truck directly in front of
JFK's limousine, as they had done countless times before, were relegated to a position
"out of the picture" well behind
the president's limousine. According to reporter Tom Dillard, this change occurred
at "the last minute" at Love Field, where two Secret Service agents, Winston G.
Lawson (who the author interviewed) and Roger Warner, were responsible for lining
up the cars for the motorcade, including the use of numbers for the automobiles. In addition,
JFK aides Godfrey McHugh and Ted Clifton -- one of whom usually rode in the front
seat of the limousine taking notes between the two agents -- were also relegated
to a position behind
JFK and out of sight. McHugh said that this was unusual and that this was achieved
through a first-time ever request by the president's aide Ken O'Donnell and the Secret
Service. Furthermore, official White House photographer Cecil Stoughton, who normally rode in the Secret Service follow-up car taking films and photos, including even
riding on the rear of Kennedy''s car from time to time, was also moved to a position
far out of view ofthe presidential limousine (Stoughton rode in the back-up car from
July 1963 until 11/21/63, the day before the assassination). Stoughton would not give
the author a reason for this change in seating arrangements in Dallas. Finally, the
White House and pool Press Busses, which also normally rode close to JFK, were positioned far to the rear and out of harm's way.
Dallas Sheriff Bill Decker, who rode in the lead car in front of JFK's limousine
in Dallas, ordered his men not to participate in the security of the motorcade, according
to Dallas Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig.Surprisingly, as this author discovered, Decker had offered his "full support" to the agent in charge of the Dallas office, Forrest
V. Sorrels (a fellow passenger in the lead car), a mere day before the assassination.
In addition, the car that Decker, Sorrels, Lawson, and Dallas Police Chief Jesse
Curry were riding in was a CLOSED SEDAN, not a convertible, which was a most ineffective
choice for monitoring windows and other security concerns.
An important discovery by the author was found in the video from ABC television's
Dallas/ Fort Worth affiliate WFAA depicting the start of the fateful motorcade at
Love Field: agent Henry J. Rybka is shown being recalled by shift leader (and commander
of the follow-up car detail) Emory P. Roberts. As the limo begins leaving the area, Rybka's
dismay and confusion is made manifest by his unambiguous body language of throwing
his arms up several times before, during, and after the follow-up car passes him
by, despite agent Paul E. Landis making room for Rybka on the running board of the car.
After the assassination, the author discovered three
different reports, two of which were written by Roberts on 11/22/63, which mistakenly
place Rybka IN the follow-up car! Emory Roberts would go on to make a mysterious
radio broadcast (depicted in the famous Altgens's photo), separate from his calls
before and after the shooting, which is unaccounted for in the record (the Secret Service's
radio transmissions, if transcribed, have yet to surface) offered no assistance to
the president himself --- not even a shout of
alarm or an alert to his men; recalled agent John D. Ready, which was erroneously
blamed on the speed and distance of the two cars (as borne out by the descriptions and
changes---in Roberts and Ready's reports); and, amazingly, according to the driver
of the follow-up car seated right beside
Roberts, Sam Kinney, the shift leader ordered the men not to move -- although Roberts was one of a select few who recognized the first shot as a rifle blast. As nine agents were involved in the infamous late-night drinking incident the night before the assassination, including four on the follow-up car, the actions and inactions of Roberts were crucial to JFK's security (even the late arrival of agent Clinton J. Hill, who was assigned to Jackie).
Windows were not systematically watched in Dallas, since no order was given (as confirmed
by Dallas policeman Perdue Lawrence), although it was agent Lawson's "usual instructions"
to do so. Also in regard to Lawson's responsibilities, the Dealey Plaza triple underpass was NOT cleared of spectators (as Lawson himself testified that he was
trying to wave them off shortly before the shooting began). In addition, ambulances
(such as the one on standby for JFK that was called to Dealey Plaza five minutes
before Kennedy arrived to pick up an alleged "epileptic seizure" victim) were called to this
same area on false alarms in the days and weeks before November 22, as ambulance
driver Aubrey Rike told me ( He even stated that the FBI believed there was
something to this)!
The president and the vice president were permitted in the same city in slow, open
vehicles in close proximity to each other -- former agents Lawson and Bolden stressed
how unusual this was. In Bolden's case, he stated that this was a security hazard,
as common sense would seem to dictate (keeping in mind that the First Lady was ALSO in
this motorcade). Further complicating and confounding matters, the driver of the
presidential limousine car, Secret Service agent Bill Greer, slowed the limousine
down during the shooting, looked back twice at the president, disobeyed his superior, Roy H.
Kellerman, who told him to get out of line before the fatal shot was fired, and,at
least part of the way, led the race to Parkland Hospital -- actions that agent Greer
later denied to the Warren Commission -- despite the testimony of others, the films, and
the photographs (this author is the first researcher to put ALL of these elements
Surprisingly, several of these agents told the author that they believe there was indeed a conspiracy to murder President Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963---Sam Kinney, Abraham Bolden, Maurice Martineau, Marty Underwood, and John Norris are the men that believed this to be the case. In addition, June Kellerman, widow of the late Roy Kellerman, as well as their daughter, stated that both Roy and Bill Greer knew there was more to the assassination than what was officially pronounced. Finally, two key elements discovered by the author may be the "living answers" to the security concerns and planning for JFK's Texas trip: Lawson's forgotten partner, David B. Grant, who joined Lawson in Dallas four days beforehand -- and was working with him since November 13, 1963 -- and Floyd M. Boring, who, although back in Washington, was in charge of all of the advance work during the Kennedy years AND was in charge of planning the Texas trip from the Secret Service's viewpoint!
Used by permission of the author. [C} Vincent M. Palamara 1998
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