COMMENT: In an earlier post, we examined former Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden’s discussion of carousing and carelessness on the part of the Secret Service detachment assigned to guard the President. The first African-American in that agency, Bolden felt that the carelessness and debauchery could compromise the President’s security.
Following reports of drunkenness by Secret Service agents attending a Dallas strip club on 11/21/1963, Bolden speculated that one of the inebriated agents may have had his credentials stolen, with the stolen credentials possibly having been used by an unidentified man present on the Grassy Knoll just after the President’s killing. Bolden also noted that the Secret Service changed identification documents in the wake of that incident, keying speculation on his part that the move may have been intended to hide incompetence on the part of the Secret Service.
In this post, we present more of Bolden’s information, this concerning more sinister indications deriving from the Secret Service’s behavior with regard to the assassination.
(In past broadcasts, we have examined the overlap between Army Reserve Intelligence units to which members of both the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas Secret Service contingent belonged, and which appear to have played a major role in the assassination. As we saw in FTR #712, Jack Alston Crichton headed one of those units. Crichton, along with the elder George Bush, headed the Texas GOP contingent running for office at the time of Kennedy’s assassination. The elder Bush appears to have been deeply involved in the killing.
In the August 2 and August 30, 1992 installments of AFA #37, we explored the Army Intelligence/Dallas PD/Dallas Secret Service contingent connections at much greater length. The implications appear altogether sinister and indicative of a coup d’etat.)
In the text excerpts below, we highlight a number of points delineated by Bolden in his book. (Bolden was framed for criminal misconduct in the wake of his complaints about the Secret Service’s behavior with regard to the Kennedy assassination.) Bolden’s topics of inquiry include:
- Racism on the part of many Secret Service agents and hatred for Kennedy’s civil rights policies.
- An account of an individual mentioned by Lee Harvey Oswald as a person of interest in the assassination.
- A report of two Hispanic men renting a room in Chicago prior to Kennedy’s visit to Chicago to attend the Army-Navy game. They reportedly had two rifles with telescopic sights and were visited by two unnamed white men.
- An account of an anti-Castro Cuban named Homer Echevarria, who reported that Kennedy was going to be killed. Echevarria was allegedly involved with weapons trafficking for the CIA.
- The forwarding of all paperwork regarding President Kennedy’s Chicago visit to the Secret Service’s central office. Apparently, all field offices were instructed to send their paperwork to the central office, thereby making independent scrutiny of the Secret Service’s behavior with regard to the assassination impossible.
- Nothing ever came of any of the leads discussed above.
EXCERPT: . . . . Many of the agents with whom I worked were products of the South. Time and again, I overheard them making chilling racist remarks, referring to kennedy as “That nigger-lover,” whose efforts to force integration in the South and enforce other civil rights initiatives were “screwing up the country.” I heard some members of the White House detail say that if shots were fired at the President, they’d take no action to protect him. A few agents vowed that they would quit the Secret Service rather than give up their lives for Kennedy. . . (The Echo from Dealey Plaza; p. 19.)
COMMENT: Mindful of the animosity many members of the Secret Service had toward Kennedy, Bolden’s reflections about the actions taken by that agency in the wake of Kennedy’s death take on added significance.
. . . “They shot the President! Margie called out to me as I got off the elevator. Inside the office, Agent Joe Noonan was pacing back and forth in a barely controlled rage. He had served three years on the White House detail and shared my view of the conduct and overconfidence of the agents on that detail.
“I knew it would happen,” he shouted, waving his arms. “I told those playboys that someone was going to get the President killed if they kept acting like they did. Now it’s happened.” Noonan’s pacing grew more rapid as he resumed his rant. “I’d like to see the faces of all those guys on the detail now, who told me that nobody wants to kill President Kennedy,” he sneered. . . .
. . . June Marie Terpinas, one of the agency’s pool stenographers, came up to me with tears in her eyes, and told me that when she heard that President Kennedy had been shot, she rushed into [Maurice] Martineau’s office and gave him the news. According to June, Martineau’s response had been a cold “So what else is new?” Sobbing, June said that Martineau “acted like he didn’t care one way or the other.”
At a meeting of all the Chicago agents during the week of Kennedy’s state funeral, we received orders from the chief’s office in Washington. We were not to discuss Kennedy’s protection, regardless of who asked us. We were told to channel all inquiries concerning the protection of President Kennedy through the chief’s office. I remember thinking, Protection? What protection? The message from Washington made it clear that anyone who violated the directive would be dealt with severely. . . (Ibid.; p. 51.)
. . . . Before Dallas, I had voiced my opinion of the President’s protection detail to colleagues and superiors in the Chicago office. I told anyone who would listen that I didn’t believe the agents on the White House detail would act swiftly or appropriately to stop an attempt on the President’s life. A long line of superiors, from Harry Geighlen and James Burke to Maurice Martineau, tried to tell me that I was over-reacting, that things appeared lax to me only because I was new to the detail. The senior agents struck me as arrogant and overconfident, and saw to it that nobody acknowledged the apprehension of any less experienced agents regarding the President’s safety. I even told my story to a Secret Service inspector, Thomas J. Kelley, who visited the Chicago office just after I returned from the White House detail. I told Kelley everything I had seen and everything that had happened to me in Washington, and although he promised me that he’s look into it all, I heard nothing from him or from Chief Rowley prior to the assassination. The senior agents’ cocksure attitudes governed right up to the moment of Kennedy’s death.
One of the younger agents riding on the car behind the Presidential limousine heard what sounded to him like a rifle shot. He started to jump from the running board to assist the President, just as Agent Clint Hill had run to protect the First Lady. But the young agent was called back to the follow-up car by a more senior agent, just as the third and fatal shot tore into the back of the President’s skull. The same inspector, Kelley, to whom I had previously complained about the laxity of the Secret Service agents surrounding the President, oversaw the Dallas investigation of Kennedy’s Assassination. . . . (Ibid.; p. 52.)
. . . . Two nights after the events in Dallas, I received a call from SAIC Forrest Sorrels of the Dallas office at about 10:00pm, looking for Agent Martineau. Sorrels said he was in the Dallas police station and that he and Inspector kelley had interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald, who had mentioned the name John Hurd.
“I don’t know if it’s spelled H-E-A-R-D, H-U-R-D, H-E-R-D or H-U-R-T. I’m giving you the phonetic sound,” he explained. ’ I want you to tell Martineau to drop everything he’s doing out there and put every agent possible on tracking down anyone who has the name John Hurd. This is top priority and we need to get this done as soon as possible.” he went on to ask about the outcome of the investigation of a Chicago gun shop called Klein’s, as if he assumed that any agent in our office would have been aware of it. I couldn’t tell him a thing, because I had never heard of the case.
“Well”, Sorrels concluded with some urgency, “tell Martineau to get on this right away. Every agent should be assigned to identifying this man.”
I couldn’t reach Martineau until around midnight, and when I did, he was none too pleased.
“What the hell does he want us to do, run out in our pajamas? We’ll take care of it tomorrow morning.” In fact, Martineau did mobilize every agent and secretary in the Chicago office first thing the next morning. We pored over every file and register in our office, compiling a list of people named John Hurd, Heard, Herd, Hurt, or similar. ASAIC Martineau instructed us to track down every person who fit the profile and to notify him when he had located each one. He also made it clear that we were not to interview any of these suspects unless we cleared it with him.
The search turned up several likely candidates, and we turned over the information to Agent Martineau. Yet not only were no airrests ever made connected to this investigation, but we never heard another word about it from Martineau–no follow-up, not even any feedback–even though he had demanded we turn over every scrap of paper, every note and scribble, generated by our search. I couldn’t help wondering how we could have gotten an urgent nighttime call instructing us to drop everything and chase down this John Hurd, as other Secret Services offices around the country presumably did as well, and yet that name never came up in any official report or investigation nor in any press account of the assassination. . . . (Ibid.; pp. 53–54.)
. . . . The third instance related to a Secret Service investigation that we had begun just before Kennedy’s assassination. Toward the end of October 1963, while preparations were being made for the president to visit Chicago to attend the annual Army-Navy game at Soldier Field, a phone call came into our office for ASAIC Martineau. he took the call during one of our regular meetings, so the agents present heard his side of the conversation. He said that he didn’t have enough personnel to look into whatever matter had been discussed.
“All of our agents are tied up at the moment, and we don’t have anyone to send over there,” he said firmly to whoever was on the other end of the line. When he hung up, Martineau explained that the call had been from the chicago office of the FBI, which had information possibly concerning the President’s upcoming trip. A woman who owned a rooming house on the city’s North Side had gone into one of the rooms to do some housekeeping and had discovered two rifles equipped with telescopic sights. She had rented the room to two men she believed to be Hispanic, and had also seen two white men going in and out of the room. Knowing that the president was due to visit Chiago, she grew concerned and called the authorities.
Martineau professed to believe that this was not yet a Secret Service matter, in that there had been no direct threat to the president in connection with these rifles. he felt strongly that this problem fell under FBI jurisdiction, especially since the Service didn’t have the resources to investigate every individual who had a rifle and disliked John Kennedy. As we all sat there listening, Martineau called the office of James Rowley, who had become chief of the Secret Service. When he got off the phone, he told us that we were, in fact, going to investigate the case.
Three agents were dispatched to interview the woman at the rooming house. I was not involved, since they anticipated tailing the suspects in a predominantly white part of Chicago, but at one point, I was able to listen in on the car radio for several hours while our agents followed the suspected assassins. Amazingly, they botched the surveillance and lost the suspects. One of the agents had neglected to turn off his two-way radio, which went off with a loud squawk–a transmission from Martineau back at the office–as the agents drove past the suspects in an alleyway behind the rooming house. The suspects bolted, and four guys promptly lost them in traffic. The investigation was abruptly terminated, and the chief was notified. (Ibid.; pp. 55–56.)
Just a few days before the shooting in Dallas, the Secret Service received even more threatening information, this time about a group of anti-Castro Cuban activists allegedly plotting to assassinate the President. Homer S. Echevarria had been overheard to make a statement to the effect that Kennedy was about to be taken care of. Instead of immediately contacting the White House detail, which was with the President in Fort Worth, Texas, ASAIC Martineau assigned several of his agents in Chicago to look into the matter. None of our agents was able to get next to Echevarria, and the investigation fell apart.
Later, when the Warren Commission convened to investigate the assassination, the chief of the Secret Service feared that agents who were on duty in Dallas that day might be held accountable in some way. With the President dead and his alleged killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, known to have had Cuban connections, the investigation of Echevarria took on new urgency, and some of the Chicago agents tried to revive the case, but to no avail. I sat in the cubicle next to one of the agents who had been involved with both threats in the Chicago area, so I could overhear his conversations. I listened to him dictating his reports and complaining about the progress of the investigation. It seemed that this agent thought Echevarria was a gunrunner for the CIA and that a contact agent from the CIA had called Martinbeau to inquire about the Echevarria case. The agent was “unhappy,” concerned that whatever the connection was between Echevarria and the FBI or CIA, one or both of those agencies might have been interfering in the investigation.
In early December, Agent Martineau called us together to tell us that the FBI was taking over the Echevarria case and that our investigation was to terminate immediately. He told us to turn all documents, reports, notebooks, scribblings, and support files in to him, and he would in turn forward them to the chief’s office by special courier. He warned us not to discuss the case with anyone, anywhere. In fact, he said, we should forget that the Echevarria case had ever existed. . . .
. . . . One week later, the chief’s office in Washington sent an order that all copies of reports relating to the advance security arrangements for President Kennedy in Chicago be removed from the files and delivered to Washington. My understanding, from conversations that I heard between the office secretaries, was that the chief’s office communicated this same order verbally to field offices across the country. The field reports referred to by this order were the reports that Secret Service advance teams prepared prior to any presidential visit to any location. . . . If all copies of all such reports were removed from all offices except that of the chief, he would be the only one in a position to provide investigators, such as the Warren Commission, with information regarding the security around the president at any tiven time or any given location. And there would be no way to verify or refute that information. . . .
(Ibid.; pp. 56–58.)