KENNEDY ORDERING AGENTS OFF LIMO AND BEING THE BOSS OF THE SECRET SERVICE DEBUNKED (lengthy excerpts from my third book; see also my first and fourth books)
Chief James J. Rowley testified under oath to the Warren Commission: “No President will tell the Secret Service what they can or cannot do.”
In fact, Rowley’s predecessor, former Chief U.E. Baughman, who had served under JFK from Election night 1960 until he was fired (“retired”) by the Kennedy brothers in 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.”
Indeed, an Associated Press story from November 15, 1963 stated, “The [Secret] Service can overrule even the President where his personal security is involved.”
Former Agent George McNally, also on the Texas trip, among many others, wrote, “Legally the Secret Service could forbid a President to do such and such or go to this or that place.”9
Former Agent Mike Reilly, the SAIC for FDR, wrote: “Incidentally, every schoolboy knows that the White House Secret Service boss can order the President of the United States not to go here or there if he chooses… presidents usually accept the laws of the land and follow Secret Service advice with little or no question.”10
Former JFK Secret Service agent Bill Carter wrote, “The Secret Service still had absolute authority … complete authority when it came to a presidential visit.”
President Harry Truman agreed, stating, “The Secret Service was the only boss that the President of the United States really had.”6 This was brought up during Chief James Rowley’s LBJ Library oral history. In fact, Chief Rowley heard this exact sentiment again repeated by none other than President Lyndon Johnson. President Bill Clinton also used Truman’s words as a reference before a gathering of Secret Service officials (including former directors Eljay Bowron, John Magaw and Stu Knight, as well as SAIC Larry Cockell) and other dignitaries for the dedication of the United States Secret Service Memorial Building on 10/14/99: “Harry Truman once said, the Secret Service was the only boss he had as President, with the exception of Mrs. Truman. And even when I don’t like it, I have to admit that’s true.”
In an 11/23/63 UPI story, titled “Secret Service Men Wary of Motorcade,” based in part on “private conversations” with unnamed agents, Robert J. Serling wrote, “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). In addition, Democratic National Committee advance man Jerry Bruno, who played a role in planning the Texas trip, wrote, “[The Secret Service’s] word on security was final. They could by law order a President not to go some place, on security grounds, and he was bound to obey them.”8
During former Kennedy era agent Clint Hill’s 11/19/10 Sixth Floor Museum oral history (sitting next to Gerald Blaine), the former agent revealed the full, unvarnished truth about JFK: he did not order the agents to do anything; they did what they wished to do, security-wise: “He can tell you what he wants done and he can tell you certain things but that doesn’t mean you have to do it. What we used to do was always agree with the President and then we’d do what we felt was best anyway.”
Agent Hill’s April 1964 report : “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 conveyed JFK’s alleged desires is very troubling – he revealed it on 3/9/64, presumably before his report was written, in his (probably pre-rehearsed) testimony under oath to the future Senator Arlen Specter, then a lawyer with the Warren Commission: none other than Floyd Boring [see what Boring had to say below:]
Special Agent in Charge of the JFK detail, Gerald Behn, told me on 9/27/92: “I don’t remember Kennedy ever saying that he didn’t want anybody on the back of his car.”
Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the JFK detail, Floyd Boring, told me the same thing on three different occasions between 1993 and 1997: “[JFK] was a very easy-going guy … he didn’t interfere with our actions at all. He was a very nice man; he never interfered with us at all. President Kennedy was very cooperative with the Secret Service.” Boring also told the JFK Library on 2/25/76: “Of all the administrations I worked with [FDR-LBJ], 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.” (In my interviews with Mr. Boring, he was adamant that he never spoke to William Manchester and denounced the substance of the made-up quote attributed to him [the whole “Ivy League charlatans” nonsense attributed to JFK]. Ironically, none other than Gerald Blaine himself went on record stating that Boring was never interviewed by Manchester!12 The archivist of the entire collection of Manchester papers wrote to me: “I can confirm that there is no transcript of an interview with Floyd Boring in the papers.”13 I have always suspected – as I spelled out in my first book – that Gerald Blaine was the source for the quote in Manchester’s book attributed to Boring. Blaine’s good friend Frank Badalson wrote in an online review contesting my book: “Could it mean that Manchester simply confused the men?” Oh, really? This was my suspicion all along – Blaine, who was interviewed for the book instead of Boring, was the source of this made-up quote, just as Blaine submitted handwritten notes to the National Archives that were clearly written long after 11/22/63, as well as writing about a meeting that never occurred: as a fellow former agent said, it is “horsexxxx”!14
Winston G. Lawson, the lead advance agent for the Dallas trip, wrote to me in a letter dated 1/12/04: “I do not know of any standing orders for the agents to stay off the back of the car…it never came to my attention as such.”
Shift Leader Art Godfrey, also on the Texas trip, told me on three different occasions between 1996 and 1997: “President Kennedy never ordered us to do anything. He was a very nice man … cooperative…President Kennedy never asked me to have my shift leave the limo when we were working it.”
Agent Sam Kinney, the driver of the follow-up car on the Florida and Texas trips (among many others), told me on three different occasions between 1992 and 1994: “[the idea that JFK ordered them off the limo] is absolutely, positively false … no, no, no: he had nothing to do with that … 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…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.” (Sam believed there was a conspiracy and knew the back of JFK’s head was missing, corroboration for a shot from the front, as he had the piece in his hand and put in a phone patch aboard the C-130 to Dr. Burkley. What became of this specific fragment is a mystery. Sam’s grandchild contacted me, telling me that Sam’s wife Hazel believed LBJ was involved in JFK’s death!)
Agent Bob Lilley conveyed to me on four different occasions between 1992 and 1996:”JFK was very cooperative with us once he became President. He was extremely cooperative. Basically, ‘whatever you guys want is the way it will be’”.
Agent Don Lawton told me on 11/15/95 that he agreed with his friends Sam and Bob, above: “It’s the way Sam said, yes. You can take whatever information [Bob Lilley] passed on to you as gospel. JFK was very personable … very warm. Everyone felt bad. It was our job to protect the President. You still have regrets, remorse. Who knows, if they had left guys on the back of the car … you can hindsight yourself to death (emphasis added).” In fact, in new information from an obscure local news article (Idaho State Journal 11/24/13) that was totally overlooked by everyone on the 50th anniversary of the assassination comes some explosive new information regarding Lawton and his feelings on the matter at hand: “Former Marine officer Jacquee Alvord is convinced the theory that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of President Kennedy 50 years ago is false. Her skepticism is born from intimate knowledge about the military and CIA and the fact a good friend of hers was a Secret Service agent in Dallas that fateful day. His name was Donald Lawton and his job with the Secret Service was how they met.… ‘Don had a personal like for the man,’ Alvord said. ‘He said Kennedy had a great personality and was easy to talk to.’” A few days before Kennedy’s Nov. 22 visit to Dallas, she talked to Lawton about his duties in Florida where the president had just visited. Lawton talked about how he had ridden on the rear platform of the presidential limousine just behind the president. It was a job requiring balance and concentration that Lawton had perfected [note: Lawton also rode on the rear of the limo 3/23/63 in Chicago]. “He told me he was going to Texas next,” Alvord said…“He said his job had been to secure the airport in Dallas and that he had not been with the motorcade.” [Right after the assassination] I asked him if he was OK and he said, ‘No,’” Alvord said. “He said, ‘I should have been there.’” It wasn’t until February of 1964 that Alvord was able to meet Lawton again in person. She said he was nervous because he was going to be interviewed by lawyers with the Warren Commission. The commission was a group of government officials, led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, charged with investigating the Kennedy assassination. There was some concern that Secret Service agents had been out drinking late the night before the fatal shooting and might not have been completely fit to protect the president. But Alvord said something else was bothering Lawton and he wouldn’t talk about it. “I knew he felt guilt,” Alvord said. “That’s why he kept saying, ‘I should have been there.’” It wasn’t until later that Alvord realized the significance of Lawton’s statements. She watched the documentary film “Four Days in November” and saw Lawton at Love Field in Dallas as the president’s motorcade was preparing to depart. He was running alongside the rear of the car with his hand behind the president. It was a position he had mastered before jumping aboard the platform at the rear of the limousine. It was something Lawton had done in Florida and Chicago during presidential parades earlier in 1963. Suddenly, someone pulled Lawton away from the car. The motorcade proceeded without him or any agent manning the rear platform on the president’s limousine. To this day, it’s a mystery to Alvord and others why there were no Secret Service agents on the back of that limo. “If Don had been standing there, he would have been killed or prevented it,” Alvord said. “That’s why he kept saying, ‘I should have been there.’” (Lawton passed away in 2013. His nephew, Richard James Lawton, wrote to me and thanked me for the information I had about his uncle).
Presidential aide Dave Powers, President Kennedy’s best friend and political helper, who rode in the Secret Service follow-up car in Dallas and was on many other trips, wrote to me on 9/10/93:” [The agents] never had to be told to ‘get off’ the limousine.” For the record, Agent Bob Lilley endorsed Mr. Powers’ view: “Dave would give you factual answers.” Frank Vamos wrote me on 12/6/10, “I developed a friendship with Dave Powers, and he told me that the President never asked the agents to get off of the limo.” Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) Director Tom Samoluk told me in 1996 that JFK’s longtime friend and Presidential Aide Dave Powers, “agreed with your take on the Secret Service,” based on a lengthy interview Samoluk had with the gentleman. Researcher Will Ruha wrote to me on 11/11/13 concerning his in-person interview with Dave Powers:
“Zboril, Blaine, et al, are full of it in their sorry refusal to accept responsibility and properly expiate for their failure in Dallas. What is so pathetic, indeed so meretricious about their current spate of lies is that they now choose to posthumously assault the very victim their past actions managed to help assassinate. And this I know to be true because shortly after the JFK Library opened, I was invited by JFK’s aide, Dave Powers, to meet privately with him in his office, wherein we engaged in an almost hour-long discussion of JFK, his career, presidency, and alas, the assassination. Dave had been with Jack as a trusted aide and companion since Kennedy first ran for political office in 1946, and he was with him during countless motorcades, including right behind his vehicle in Dallas. Perturbed by Manchester’s claim that JFK was irked by SS agents being too close, I asked him whether the president ever ordered agents away from his vehicle. Dave told me, “No. Not to my knowledge. He respected them and their performance of duties and left the matter of his security and personal safety entirely to their well-trained expertise. I know of no time that he ever ordered agents away from their assigned positions in his security detail.” I mentioned to him early reports that JFK outpaced or tried to avoid Secret Service agents after his election, to which he replied, “Well, you have to understand. He was 43, the youngest elected president in history – following the oldest. So it was natural that the Secret Service may have found it more difficult to keep up with him than Eisenhower. But I can tell you, that almost three years in office and after numerous threats, the president pretty much stuck to their security directives. He believed in them.” I won’t go into all that we talked about, but Dave, you, and I all know that JFK would have never ordered Secret Service agents away in the fall of 1963 for the very fact that he was aware of numerous death threats and plots. Increasingly, he had begun to openly speak about the possibility of his assassination – to Jackie, Bobby, Dave, Kenny, Paul Fay Jr., authors like Jim Bishop, and even, with gallows humor, to Secret Service agents assigned to his protection. A few Sundays before his death, he teased one agent about the possibility of an assassin shooting him from the church’s choir balcony, asking him if he would actually leap forward to throw himself over his president. Jack was deploying his self-deprecating humor as a way of “acting out” what seemed to be almost an inevitability. At one point that season, alighting from the yacht, Honey Fitz, behind Jackie and Anita Fay, Jack acted out his being shot, grabbing his chest and falling to the pier before the mock horrified eyes of Paul Fay. The entire episode was filmed. Jackie was not amused. It was Kennedy’s way of trying to deal with the stress and tension under which he had increasingly been thrust following his back-to-back addresses on detente and civil rights in June. Animosity toward him had spiked and with it, death threats sharply escalated. In November, he repeatedly expressed reluctance to travel both to Florida and Texas in no small part for this very reason – especially to Texas. Senator Smathers (then, the only US. Senator named in the burgeoning Bobby Baker scandal) heartily encouraged him to travel to both places. Bill Fulbright strongly advised him not to go. So did numerous others. On the night of his departure, Kennedy family members and friends were celebrating Bobby’s 38th birthday, but the Attorney General was anything but festive. He was dour, worried, and highly anxious about his brother’s trip to Texas. And during JFK’s stops and talks during the journey – particularly, the evening before his assassination, those behind the podium noticed how violently his hands trembled as he addressed the audience. Some attributed this to his medication, others to his essential reticence before a crowd, but in truth it was his foreboding that somewhere there in Texas he was to be targeted. On the morning of November 22, 1963, perusing the Dallas newspaper, he noticed the black-bordered ad taken out by right-wing extremists and commented on it. Everyone in the room was concerned, very worried. Noticing this, Jack did what he always did in similar circumstances, he showed courage. “If anyone wanted to shoot me,” he explained, “It wouldn’t be that difficult. All he would need would be a high-powered rifle fired from a tall office building and there would be nothing anyone could do about it.” He said this to show that, in almost three years, it hadn’t happened yet, and then he reassured them by telling them not to worry, that the Secret Service would do their jobs. But his comment wasn’t so much prophetic as it was simply based on what he had discovered to be foiled plots against him elsewhere. They hadn’t materialized and so he simply hoped to get through Dallas to LBJ’s ranch and then back home to Washington. And to help ensure this, he assuredly did NOT order any agents away from his car. No way. It never happened.”
Rufus Youngblood, Vice President Johnson’s lead agent in Dallas who rode in the same limousine as LBJ, told me on more than one occasion between 1992 and 1994: ““President Kennedy wasn’t a hard ass … he never said anything like that [re: removing agents from limo].”
Press Secretary Pierre Salinger conveyed to a colleague of mine that JFK had a good relationship with the Secret Service and, more importantly, did not argue with their security measures.15
Cecil Stoughton, the White House photographer on both the Florida and Dallas trip (among many others), wrote me the following:” 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…I would just jump on and off [the limo] quickly – no routine… As for the edict of not riding there by order of the President – I can’t give you any proof of first-hand knowledge.”
Michael W. Torina, Chief Inspector of the Secret Service on 11/22/63 who wrote the Secret Service manual16, and to whom I corresponded twice in 1997 and 2003, contributed 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.”17 Indeed, agent Mike Reilly, the SAIC of the FDR detail, wrote in his book: “There were two inviolate rules. The man running or riding at the President’s shoulder never left that position unless relieved. The other, if a situation got out of hand, empty all cars and get as much Secret Service flesh between the crowd and the Boss as possible.”18
Former agent Sam Sulliman, on the Florida and Texas trips (among many others), told me on 2/11/04 that agents were frequently on the back of the limousine. When told of Art Godfrey’s comments on the matter, 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.”
Agent Frank Stoner, a PRS agent during the Kennedy era, told me on 1/17/04: JFK was “very personable. He was an old Navy man. He understood security. He wouldn’t have ordered them off the car.”
Agent Gerald W. “Jerry” O’Rourke, also on the Texas trip, told me on 1/15/04: ““Did President Kennedy order us off the steps of the limo? To my knowledge President Kennedy never ordered us to leave the limo.” The agent added, “President Kennedy was easy to protect as he completely trusted the agents of the Secret Service.”
Agent Vincent Mroz, famous for protecting President Truman on 11/1/50 and who also went on to protect Presidents from Eisenhower to Nixon, told me on 2/7/04 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.”
JFK Agent Larry Newman told me on 2/7/04 that there was “no policy” regarding the use of agents on the rear of Kennedy’s car, further adding that the question was “hard to answer: it depends on the crowd, the threat assessment, and so forth. There was not a consistent rule of thumb.” Newman phoned me 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.
Agent Jim Goodenough, on the Texas trip, told me on 3/16/04 that “President Kennedy was a pleasant and cooperative person to work for.”
JFK agent Lynn Meredith wrote to me on 3/9/04: “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 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. Meredith wrote to me again on 5/22/05: “I do not know first-hand if President Kennedy ordered agents off the back end of his limousine.”
Agent Darwin Horn told me on 1/30/04: “You asked about Kennedy. I have worked him primarily in Los Angeles on several occasions … and never heard him tell the agents to get off of the car. Agents on the rear of JFK’s car might have made a difference. They may have been hit instead of the President. That would have been all right with all of us. Agents normally would have been on the sides [of the car].”
Robert I. Bouck, SAIC of PRS/Intelligence Division, told me on 9/27/92 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).
DNC Advance man Martin E. “Marty” Underwood, on the Texas trip, told me on 10/9/92 that JFK never ordered the agents off the rear of the car.
JFK Agent Abraham W. Bolden, Sr. told me, in reference to Kennedy’s alleged “requests,” on numerous occasions from 1993-1996 and beyond to the present day that he “didn’t hear anything about that … I never believed that Kennedy said that [ordering removal of agents].”
Maurice G. Martineau, SAIC of Chicago office, joined his colleagues in refuting the Manchester claim that JFK ordered the agents off the rear of the car. Martineau said this to the author in two telephone interviews conducted on 9/21/93 and 6/7/96, respectively.
Agent Walt Coughlin, also on the Texas trip, told me on several occasions between 2003 and 2004: “In almost all parade situations that I was involved with we rode or walked the limo. We often rode on the back of the car.”19 During his 2/18/11 Sixth Floor Museum oral history, Coughlin said, “He was a wonderful man to work with. I loved the job … But he would listen if you told him not to do something. He would, as long as you didn’t ‘cry wolf’ all the time. If you said, you know, ‘Don’t do that’, he assumed you had a good reason. He was good about that … had an agent been allowed to stay on that right bumper, he would have blocked the shot … And it’s a terrible thing to say, but Kennedy really helped improve the Secret Service.” Walt Coughlin stated on video in 2014 for the Sixth Floor Museum oral history project that JFK was “very cooperative” with the Secret Service. In addition, Walt said the only time he ever heard that JFK ever ordered the agents off the limo was in Dallas. However, Walt was not in Dallas, so what he “heard” is what we all heard: second-hand stories via some of the agents. Also, Walt was on the Florida trip. It is telling that he didn’t hear of any alleged orders there.
JFK Agent Toby Chandler said the following during his 11/20/10 Sixth Floor Museum Oral History: “They [Presidents] have all, in my experience, listened to us. Almost all of them, within reason, have made their point or, in the end, accepted our advice. I don’t know of anybody who deliberately or blatantly over-ruled a Secret Service suggestion. Most of them observe our suggestions.”
William Duncan, the advance agent for the Fort Worth stop, said during his 10/15/05 Sixth Floor Museum oral history that JFK was a “real fine gentleman with a magnetic personality” who was “very friendly” and “very concerned about the people around him – a real pleasure to work with” who was also “easy to work very hard for.” Most importantly, the former agent stated that President Kennedy “let you do your job.” Duncan went on to guard President Nixon. One of Duncan’s colleagues, Mike Endicott, wrote in his book that, during the 1968 campaign, he told Nancy Reagan, wife of presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, that she and her family “must respond at once to what any agent told them.”20
Agent J. Frank Yeager, who assisted in the advance work for both Tampa and Austin, stated in a letter dated 12/29/03: “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.” In response to the author’s question, “Did President Kennedy ever order the agents off the rear of his limousine?” Yeager wrote, “I know of no “order” directly from President Kennedy… 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. While Yeager was one of three agents in correspondence (O’Rourke and Ron Pontius were the other two) who seemed to indicate that this alleged order may have originated with Chief of Staff Kenny O’Donnell, I was granted permission to view the transcript of O’Donnell’s interviews with author William Manchester – nothing whatsoever is mentioned concerning any alleged presidential security-related orders of any kind. O’Donnell does not mention anything about telling agents to remove themselves from the limousine during his lengthy Warren Commission testimony, nor in his or his daughter’s books. 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. JFK’s staff is not mentioned as a factor during any of the agents’ Warren Commission testimony, nor in the five reports submitted in April 1964.21 Agents Rowley, Behn, Boring, Godfrey and Kinney denounced the “staff/O’Donnell” notion (see chapter one of my first book Survivor’s Guilt). It is interesting to note that, like JFK, O’Donnell was not blamed for any security deficiencies and the like until after his death in 1977, when he was thus unable to refute any allegations. As for agent Ron Pontius’ personal knowledge, on page 162 of The Kennedy Detail he stated, “I’ve never heard the president say anything about agents on the back of the car.” Perhaps the coup de grace comes from Helen O’Donnell, daughter of JFK Chief of Staff Ken O’Donnell. In a message to the author, based on both her memory and her father’s audio tapes, Helen wrote, “Suffice to say that you are correct; JFK did not order anybody off the car, he never interfered with my dad’s direction on the Secret Service, and this is much backed up by my Dad’s tapes. I think and know from the tapes Dallas always haunted him because of the might-have-beens – but they involved the motorcade route.”
Agent and Kennedy Detail author Gerald Blaine, on the Florida trip (advance agent for Tampa, working with agent Yeager, above) and the Texas trip (among many others), told me on 2/7/04, years before he published his 2010 book, 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.” When I phoned Blaine on 6/10/05, he said the remark regarding “Ivy League charlatans,” made infamous in both Manchester’s book22 and his own book23, 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. Blaine now denies that either himself or Floyd Boring were interviewed by William Manchester!24 And so it goes. The bottom line: the whole “Ivy League Charlatans” remark was made up – Boring and others told me JFK did not say that! As author and researcher John Onesti wrote on 11/10/13: “I highly doubt JFK would use the language “Ivy League Charlatans.” Whoever made it up (Blaine?) obviously doesn’t know much about east coast schools and that Harvard is in the Ivy League. JFK having graduated from Harvard cum laude would not have used such words having taken school serious. Now if he said “Get those Skull and Bones lackeys and freemasons off my car” that still would not sound like him but it would ring more true. For JFK to use those terms would be like me (a University of Illinois graduate) saying “get those Big Ten [expletives] off my car!” It makes no sense. It is just another example of XXXXX like Hill, Blaine & Manchester not being able to play both sides of the chess board.”
Mr. Blaine, during an earlier interview with myself, thought SAIC Gerald Behn was on the Tampa trip– WRONG: It was actually ASAIC Floyd Boring. Mr. Behn was on vacation.6 This seemingly innocent error is highly disturbing because Blaine speaks so authoritatively about what transpired on the Tampa trip, even using unsourced direct quotes from memory. How can Blaine write so authoritatively that he heard Boring over the radio relaying JFK’s alleged instruction to remove Zboril and Lawton from the rear of the limousine in his book when, several years before, he told me it was another completely different agent on the trip? Likewise, his good friend, former agent and Kennedy Detail contributor Chuck Zboril, also on the Tampa trip (riding on the rear of JFK’s limo, no less), erroneously thought Roy Kellerman was in charge of the Tampa trip and riding in the front seat of the presidential limo! Again, this is disturbing for the very same reasons, as Zboril vigorously defends Blaine’s views in media appearances.7 How can Zboril support Blaine’s later-day Boring story when he thought it was yet another agent on the trip?8 How can both Blaine and Zboril, with a straight face, endorse the story they attribute to Boring in Blaine’s book when both thought it was another person substituting on the trip? I think this is perhaps the biggest clue – the smoking gun – as to the lack of credibility in Blaine’s book.
I 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. Here is 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.”
Jacqueline Kennedy “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.”25
Rocky Stone, Fort Worth (Texas) police department – in a newly discovered film from WBAP-TV (KXAS) NBC 11/22/63: Talking about the Kennedy Detail, President John F. Kennedy’s Secret Service men: “They had nothing but praise for President Kennedy and his manner in which he felt about the Secret Service men. They said that by far he was more considerate of them and their feelings than any of the previous presidents they had been taking care of. They said that he always went by their decisions to protect him. That he was always considerate of their (sic) fact that he never tried to do anything that they thought was against the rules in which to protect him. They stated that President Kennedy referred to them as ‘his boys’ and that at times when there were large crowds of people that the president always looked around to see where ‘his boys’ was (sic) at so, at a moment’s notice, they were able to be at his side and get him out of the crowds as he possibly could be in danger. In the moments after, they said the Secret Service was very, very short of money and that even some of the agents had to buy the two-way radios they used out of their own pocket and they did need more money to operate on to hire more men in order to be successful in protecting the president out of state [presumably Washington, D.C.]. ”26
Eighty-seven year-old Dallas detective Elmer Boyd joins the chorus: “It was the Secret Service who made the primary decisions about the president’s security. Boyd was engaged in the security preparations leading up to the president’s visit, but as it would be today, the Secret Service made the key decisions … Boyd pointed out that a Dallas newspaper ran an extensive article on the morning before the assassination about how the social issues of the era provoked some Texas tension for the president. But Boyd said those concerns were not reflected in the Secret Service briefings in the days and hours before the shots were fired at Kennedy around 12:30 in the afternoon on November 22, 1963.”27
One can sometimes not realize the ramifications of something written years ago and literally under their own nose until the right context comes about. Well, the context came last night in the form of a very predictable one-star review from former Secret Service agent (and dear Gerald Blaine friend and colleague) Chuck Zboril. I harken back to a famous line (one of many) in the Oliver Stone movie “JFK”, wherein Kevin Costner , after making a vital point buried in the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission, says (paraphrased) “but the idea gets shuffled around and the point gets lost.” TURN TO PAGE 121 OF MY OWN BOOK “SURVIVOR’S GUILT”: “Blaine even erroneously thought [SAIC Gerald] Behn was on the Florida trip, a testament to the frequency of his [Behn’s] trips with the president.” [author’s interview with Blaine 2/7/04] TURN TO PAGE 294 OF MY OWN BOOK “SURVIVOR’S GUILT”: “Zboril was sure that Kellerman, who wasn’t even on the Florida trip, was present in Tampa: “I thought it was Roy Kellerman, not Boring, in the car on the Tampa trip…that’s my recollection.” [author’s interview with Chuck Zboril 11/15/95] Beyond just the general credibility gap issues, by this specific “recollection” of a supervisory agent OTHER THAN FLOYD M. BORING having been on the Florida trip and having rode in the presidential limousine, these two fine gentlemen have, independent of one another, totally impeached ole Blaine’s book “The Kennedy Detail” even further: how can Blaine write so authoritatively that he heard BORING over the radio relaying JFK’s alleged instruction to remove Zboril and Lawton from the rear of the limousine WHEN HE CAN’T EVEN GET THE NAME OF THE ACTUAL AGENT IN CHARGE OF THE TRIP AND RIDING IN THE PRESIDENTIAL LIMOUSINE CORRECT? Likewise, how in the world can Zboril vouch for Blaine and his book when he, perhaps in an even worse case of “faulty memory”, ALSO CANNOT GET THE NAME OF THE ACTUAL AGENT IN CHARGE OF THE TRIP AND RIDING IN THE PRESIDENTIAL LIMOUSINE CORRECT…AND BORING WAS THE AGENT WHO ALLEGEDLY RELAYED THIS ORDER/ KIND ANECDOTE/ PRESIDENTIAL WISH (TAKE YOUR PICK) *TO* ZBORIL!