Friday, December 28, 2012

Secret Service Records Thought Destroyed

Some Secret Service Records Thought Destroyed Located 
– By William Kelly

Copies of Secret Service records thought to be among those files destroyed by the Secret Service in 1995 have been located among the personal records of former agent Gerald Blaine and turned over to the NARA for public release.

Like the Air Force One radio tapes discovered among the records in the estate of General Chester Clifton, these documents from Blaine’s records offer more evidence that there are still previously unknown caches out there that can be located, added to the public record and fill in the missing pieces to the Dealey Plaza puzzle.

Gerald Blaine is author of the book “The Kennedy Detail, - JFK’S Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence,” (with Lisa McCubbin, Gallery, Simon & Schuster, 2010) which is reportedly being made into a major motion picture

Blaine first called attention to the records in his book when he claimed to have boxes of  Secret Service documents that included the Advance Reports for Tampa that were said to be among the records the Secret Service destroyed after the ARRB requested them.

Blaine apparently first became aware of the destruction of the records when former Secret Service Agent Abraham Bolden mentioned them.

In “The Kennedy Detail” (p.357) Blaine, via McCubbin says: “It had been a long time, but Blaine was compelled to pull out his files to make sure his memory was serving him correctly. Like any good investigator, he had kept all his personal reports for all these years. Every time they moved to a new house, with his various jobs, (his wife) Joyce had asked him why couldn’t he throw all that stuff out, but he’d insisted the boxes were important. He found the box from 1963 and started going through it. It was all there. Pages and pages of information that refuted all the claims this guy (Abraham Bolden) was making. He was holding in his hands the Tampa advance report that had supposedly been destroyed.”

After notifying the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of Mr. Blaine’s remarks in his book, I received a note:

“Mr. Kelly, I just wanted to let you know that last week we received a file of records from Mr. Blaine, some of which document the Tampa trip.  We will be conducting archival processing (re-foldering/boxing) of the files and adding them to the Collection in the near future. We appreciate the heads up that led us to contact Mr. Blaine.”

Chief, Special Access and FOIA Branch
National Archives at College Park

Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann in “Legacy of Secrecy” (p. 766, Counterpoint Press, 2008) wrote, “In November 1994, the authors informed the Review Board very generally about JFK’s 1963 plans for a coup in Cuba,…and about the attempt to kill JFK in Tampa four days before Dallas. Six weeks later, the Review Board learned that – in violation of the JFK Act – the Secret Service had just destroyed files covering JFK’s Tampa trip, and other important files. That destruction would not become public knowledge until 1998, and even today, most members of Congress remain unaware of it.”

Doug Horne, the chief analyst for military records for the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) wrote more extensively about the deliberate destruction of Secret Service records in his book, “Inside the ARRB” (2009, Volume V, p. 1451)



In 1995, the Review Board Staff became aware that the U.S. Secret Service had destroyed protective survey reports related to John F. Kennedy’s Presidency, and that they had done so well after the passage of the JFK Records Act, and well after having been briefed by the National Archives (NARA) on the Act’s requirements to preserve all Assassination Records from destruction until the ARRB had made a determination that any such proposed destruction was acceptable

I reported to work at the ARRB on August 7, 1995, and I still distinctly recall that this controversy was raging full force during the first two weeks I was on the job. I recall both General Counsel Jeremy Gunn and Executive Director David Marwell being particularly upset; they were seriously considering holding public hearings in which the Secret Service officials responsible for said destruction would be called to account and castigated, in an open forum, with the media present. The thinking at the time was that doing so would: (a) cause the Secret Service to take the Review Board and the JFK Act seriously; and (b) send a warning to other government agencies, such as the FBI and CIA, to also take the Review Board and the JFK Act seriously, lest they, too be dragged into public hearings that would cause great discomfiture and professional embarrassment.

Eventually – and unfortunately – tempers cooled and no public hearings were held. I suspect that Board Chair Jack Tunheim played a major role in finessing the matter; presumably, the Board Members believed that since the ARRB was still in its first year of its three-year effort to locate and review assassination records, that we would get more out of the Secret Service in the future with honey, than with vinegar.

Stern official letters levying charges and counter-charges were exchanged; a face-to-face meeting between high-level officials of the ARRB and Secret Service was held; tempers cooled; and no public hearings were ever held. Relations with the Secret Service remained testy throughout the remainder of the ARRB’s lifespan. It was my impression, during my ongoing discussions with my fellow analysts on the Secret Service Records team for the next three years (from September 1995 to September 1998), that the Secret Service never “loosened up” and reached a comfortable working accommodation with the ARRB like the FBI, the CIA, and the Pentagon (or, at least the Joint Staff Secretariat) did. The Secret Service and the ARRB remained wary adversaries for four years.

The Review Board itself consciously soft-pedaled the dispute in its Final Report, devoting only one paragraph (and virtually no details whatsoever) to the incident, on page 149:

Congress passed the JFK Act in 1992. One month later, the Secret Service began its compliance efforts. However, in January 1995, the Secret Service destroyed Presidential protection survey reports for some of President Kennedy’s trips in the fall of 1963. The Review Board learned of the destruction approximately one week after the Secret Service destroyed them, when the Board was drafting its request for additional information. The Board believed that the Secret Service files on the President’s travel in the weeks preceding this murder would be relevant.

And that was it – that was the only mention of the entire imbroglio in the Final Report of the Assassinations Records Review Board. My intention here is to give the reader as much additional and relevant, information as I can at this writing, 14 years later. I was never “on the inside” of this problem, but I do have a correspondence file of letters exchanged, and will quote from them liberally to give the reader a sense of what it feels and sounds like when two bureaucracies go to war inside the Beltway. This is of more than mere academic interest, since the evidence presented in this chapter has shown that several Secret Service officials on the White House Detail were complicit in both the President’s death – due to willful actions that greatly lessened the physical security around President Kennedy during the Dallas motorcade – and in the coverup of the damage to the limousine, which if left in its original damaged condition, would have proved JFK was caught in a crossfire, and therefore killed by a conspiracy.

A Summary of the Records Destroyed by the Secret Service in January of 1995.

The Protective Survey Reports destroyed by the Secret Service in January 1995 were part of a group of records transferred by the Secret Service to the General Services Administration’s Washington National Records Center in Suitland, Maryland on August 7, 1974 under accession number 87-75-4. The instructions on the SF-135 (“Records Transmittal and Receipt” form) were: “Retain permanently for eventual transfer to the National Archives or a Presidential Library.” There were six boxes transferred under the accession number, and the two that were destroyed in January of 1995 contained the following files:

Box 1 Protection of the President (John F. Kennedy)

-         Andrews Air Force Base 1961 (Arrivals and Departures)
-         Andrews Air Force Base 1962 (Arrivals and Departures)
-         Andrews Air Force Base 1963 (Arrivals and Departures)
-         Arlington National Cemetery
-         Camp David
-         The Capitol
-         Churches
-         D.C. National Guard Armory
-         D.C. Stadium
-         Departures from South Grounds
-         Dulles International Airport
-         Embassies
-         Executive Office Building
-         Golf Clubs
-         Griffith Stadium
-         Homes of Friends
-         International Inn
-         Mayflower Hotel (three folders, for 1961-63)
-         National Press Club
-         Other Places Folders (#s 1-4, from January 1961-December of 1962)

Box 6 Protective Survey Reports for the following trips:

-         Duluth, Minnesota (9-24-63)
-         Ashland, Wisconsin (9-24-63)
-         Billings, Montana (9-25-63)
-         Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (9-25-63)
-         Cheyenne, Wyoming (9-25-63)
-         Grand Forks, North Dakota (9-25-63)
-         Laramie, Wyoming (9-25-63)
-         Salt Lake City, Utah (9-26-63)
-         Great Falls, Montana (9-26-63)
-         Hanford, Washington (9-26-63)
-         Tongue Point, Oregon (9-27-63)
-         Redding, California (9-27-63)
-         Tacoma, Washington (9-27-63)
-         Palm Springs, California (9-28-63)
-         Las Vegas, Nevada (9-28-63)
-         Heber Springs, Arkansas (10-3-63)
-         Little Rock, Arkansas (10-3-63)
-         University of Maine (10-19-63)
-         Boston, Massachusetts (10-26-63)
-         Amherst, Massachusetts (10-26-63)
-         Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (10-30-63)
-         Chicago, Illinois (11-2-63): Three Folders [TRIP CANCELLED]
-         New York City (11-8-63)

In addition, one folder of vital records was missing from Box 2 in this accession, titled: “Other Places Folder #6” (for the period July-November 1963)

Clearly, withholding these two boxes of materials from any investigator would have kept that investigator from learning about normal protective procedures and concerns related to everyday activities throughout the Kennedy Presidency, and would furthermore have denied the investigator comparative knowledge regarding how JFK was protected in numerous venues just prior to the trip to Texas. Perhaps the reader can better understand now why Jeremy Gunn and David Marwell were so upset with the Secret Service. The records were destroyed in the fourth month following the establishment of the ARRB, and furthermore had originally been tagged: “Retain permanently for eventual transfer to the National Archives or a Presidential Library.”

Their destruction occurred long after the Secret Service was initially briefed on the requirements of the JFK Records Act in December of 1992 by the NARA staff, and required willful action by officials within that agency; it was hardly an accident. The Secret Service clearly didn’t want the ARRB poking into its past procedures and practices; the agency had been the recipient of severe criticism in the HSCA’s 1979 Report, and apparently did not wish to repeat that experience, or to have its sealed records released to the Archives for placement in the JFK Records Collection, for all JFK researchers to peruse in the future.

Chronology of Letters Exchanged Between the ARRB and the U.S. Secret Service Over the Destruction of Protective Survey Reports

On July 25, 1995 Review Board Chairman John R. Tunheim sent a powerfully worded letter to the Director of the Secret Service registering the Review Board’s displeasure about its recent discovery that the two boxes in question had been destroyed over a half a year previously. A letter from Board Chair Jack Tunheim (rather than David Marwell or Jeremy Gunn) addressed directly to the Head of the Secret Service (instead of to the administrative officials with whom the ARRB staff had been dealing) was a powerful signal that the Review Board was immensely displeased and took the matter very seriously. Some key passages in Jack Tunheim’s letter are quoted below:

            In January of this year, Dr. Jeremy Gunnn of the Review Board staff requested of John Machado and Ann Parker of the Secret Service that the six boxes in the accession be made available for his review to evaluate the importance of the material for the JFK Collection in the Archives. Although four of the boxes were made available, we were not provided with boxes (1) and (6), the two most important boxes. On February 7, 1995 – and several times thereafter – Mr. Machado and Ms. Parker informed us that the Federal Records Center “could not locate” the two missing boxes….Although we repeatedly were told that special requests for these records had been made at the Federal Records Center, Ms. Ann Parker of the Secret Service finally informed Dr. Joan Zimmeman of the Review Board staff, on July 19, 1995 – six months after we had first requested the boxes – that the records had in fact been destroyed in January of this year at approximately the same time that we had requested them.

Tunheim’s letter requested full accounting of what had happened to the two boxes; a listing of all other Secret Service records pertaining to President Kennedy that had ever been destroyed; and instructed the Secret Service not to destroy any records of any kind relating to President Kennedy or his assassination without first allowing the Review Board and its staff to review them for relevance. For added emphasis a copy of the letter was sent to the Chief Counsel of the U.S. Secret Service, as well as to John Machado, the apparent culprit who presumably gave the orders to destroy the records.

The Secret Service made an immediate attempt to de-escalate the matter by assigning an official named W. Ralph Basham, its Administrative Director of Administration, to reply. Basham’s reply, dated July 31, 1995, was a five-and-one-half page single spaced attempt at obfuscation, the administrative equivalent of a Senate filibuster, to use a legislative analogy. In addition to saying, in some many words, ‘Hey, we didn’t do anything wrong, we were following routine destruction procedures established years ago,’ the Secret Service attempted to wiggle out of its predicament by simultaneously suggesting that perhaps the destruction was really the Review Board’s fault because it was not in receipt of the ARRB’s expanded definition of what constituted an “assassination record” until February 1995, after the records were destroyed. Perhaps most disturbing of all was the narrow definition that the Secret Service had used commencing in December 1992 (following its NARA beefing on the JFK Records Act) to define what constituted an assassination record: namely, White House detail shift reports only for the period November 18, 1963 to November 24, 1963. Mr. Basham also tried to downplay the significance of the missing Chicago protective survey reports for the cancelled November 2, 1963 trip (during which conspirators had planned to assassinate President Kennedy) by writing:

The folder concerning the canceled trip to Chicago would only have contained a preliminary survey report, if any document at all, since final reports are not conducted when a trip is cancelled. This report, if in fact it was even in the prepared folder, would have been of limited scope. [Author’s comments: there were 3 folders on the cancelled Chicago trip, not one, and this attempt to portray the Chicago file as one folder was duplicitous; furthermore, how did Basham presume to know that any reports written about the cancellation of the Chicago trip would have been “of limited scope?” It is easy to make such  claim after evidence is destroyed, because there is no way you can be challenged.]

The ARRB’s response to this “in your face” piece of administrative obfuscation was signed out by Executive Director David G. Marwell on August 7, 1995, and showed no mercy. Rather than simply allow the matter to “go away” or “die,” as the Secret Service had hoped, Marwell’s leter (co-drafted by him and Gunn) resurrected the seriousness of the matter in no uncertain terms. I quote below, in part:

Although you concluded your letter by stating that you “trust this explanation will clarify any misunderstandings that may have arisen,” I regret to say that not only does your letter not allay our concerns, it compounds them.

The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection (JFK Act) forbids the destruction of any documents “created or made available for use by, obtained by, or [that] otherwise came into the possession of …. The Select Committee on Asssassinations…of the House of Representatives.” It is our understanding that the records in Accession 87-75-0004 that the Secret Service destroyed were examined by the House Select Committee on Assassinations and thus were “assassination records” under the JFK Act and they apparently were destroyed in violation of law. [emphasis in original, which is most unusual in official government correspondence – it is the equivalent of shouting at someone during a conversation]

We see the destruction of these assassination records as particularly ominous in light of the fact that the Secret Service revised its destruction schedule after passage of the JFK Act and that it targeted for destruction records that, at the time the law was passed, were slated to be held “permanently.” [emphasis in the original]

Rather than refereeing to and applying the standards of the JFK Act, your letter suggests that the responsibilities of the Secret Service extend no further than complying with standard records disposal schedules. After acknowledging that the Secret Service in fact destroyed records in 1995 from Accession 87-75-0004 (related to the protection of President Kennedy), you state that they were “processed in accordance with National Archives and Records (NARA) procedures, and in full compliance with approved records disposition schedules.” The JFK Act, it should be clear, supercedes any law or any disposition schedule related to “assassination records.”

This was a “right back in your face” response that told masters of obfuscation at the Secret Service that the ARRB wasn’t going to be rolled, and wasn’t going to go away. Marwell’s letter then upped the ante by requesting a ton of information which any Federal agency would have had a difficult time finding the resources to accomplish. Marwell’s letter ended with these words:

…we specifically request that you assure us that no Secret Service records related to Presidential protection between 1958 and 1969 or to the assassination of President Kennedy be destroyed until the Review Board has received prior written notice and has had an opportunity to inspect the records [emphasis in original] 

Sensing that the ARRB was flexing its muscles and was about to “go nuclear” [which was true – public hearings were being considered], Mr. Basham replied on August 15, 1995 with a calming one-page letter and requesting a meeting to discuss the “additional issues” which he said were raised by Marwell’s letter. That meeting was held the very next day (August 16, 1995) on ARRB turf, in our offices at 600 E Street, in Northwest Washington D.C.

Following the meeting, which lasted several hours, Jeremy Gunn (our General Counsel and Head of Research and Analysis) signed out a letter on August 21, 1995 to Mr. Basham and Mr. Personnette (Deputy Chief Counsel) of the Secret Service. Gunn recognized for the record that the Secret Service now had a much better understanding of what constituted an assassination record – the ARRB set the definition for this, not the agencies holding records, who all wished to minimize their work – and noted for the record that the Secret Service had agreed that no records related to Presidential protection for years 1958-1969 would be destroyed until after the ARRB had a chance to review them to verify that no assassination records were included. Gunn also recorded the agreement reached on August 16, 1995, that Dr. Joan Zimmerman of our staff would henceforth have full access to all Secret Service records upon demand, not just partial and limied access, as previously. The ARRB threw a face-saving bone to the Secret Service in Gunn’s letter, as well:

As acknowledged in the meeting, we fully understand and accept your interest in ensuring that no documents are released that would compromise Presidential protection. As we have mentioned before, our professional staff is in possession of current security clearances and we will take all appropriate measures to safeguard the records and ensure full compliance with the law.

On the same date, August 21, 1995, Gunn signed out a letter to the miscreant John Machado (who had ordered the two boxes destroyed), which was much less friendly in tone and which bored in on him with a number of questions about dubious statements previously made by Machado, and made additional requests for information and records.

The crisis had abated, and the Secret Service had avoided embarrassing public hearings which would have exposed their perfidy. The public was not to learn of this business until that one cryptic paragraph was published in the ARRB Final Report in late September of 1998, three years later. Unlike poor JFK, whom corrupt individuals in the Secret Service had helped set up in Dallas in 1963, the Secret Service in 1995, had ‘dodged a bullet.’

                                                  THE BLAINE DOCUMENTS 

The Gerald Blaine documents consist of 28 pages – mostly duty assignments and travel vouchers, but there is a brief statement, a denial of having consumed any alcoholic beverages at the Press Club or the Cellar in Ft. Worth, and two survey reports – one for Tampa and the one for a post assassination State Department reception between foreign dignitaries and LBJ.

All of these documents will be posted at and given to Rex Bradford for posting at Mary Ferrell.

There are also three pages of handwritten notes, two pages written over an assignment schedule dated from Nov. 8 to November 30 that reads in full:

Blaime’s Statement regarding drinking at the Ft. Worth Press Club and Cellar reads:

December 6, 1963

I Gerald S. Blaine do make the following statement:

         In Fort Worth, Texas, I worked the 12:00PM – 8:00AM shift at the Hotel Texas on November 22, 1963.
        During my stay in Fort Worth, Texas, I consumed no Alcoholic beverages at either the Press Club or at the Cellar Inn.
         Before my tour of duty started I had stopped by the Press Club for about 10 minues. This was prior to the 11:00PM on the 21st of November.
          At 5:00AM to 5:10AM I was at the Cellar Inn for a coffee break, but had no beverage at all, coffee or otherwise.

Respectfully Submitted,


These 28 pages of documents the NARA recently released as those recovered from Blaine and previously thought destroyed, consists of assignments, travel vouchers, a Ft. Worth drinking statement and two survey reports, one for Tampa and one for LBJ’s visit to the State Department.

These 28 pages just don’t jive with what Blaine says in his book – “he had kept all of his personal reports for all these years…..the boxes were important, he found the box from 1963 and…it was all there, pages and pages of information that refuted all the claims this guy was making” (that they had been destroyed).

In “The Kennedy Detail” (p.357) Blaine, via McCubbin wrote: “It had been a long time, but Blaine was compelled to pull out his files to make sure his memory was serving him correctly. Like any good investigator, he had kept all his personal reports for all these years. Every time they moved to a new house, with his various jobs, (his wife) Joyce had asked him why couldn’t he throw all that stuff out, but he’d insisted the boxes were important. He found the box from 1963 and started going through it. It was all there. Pages and pages of information that refuted all the claims this guy (Abraham Bolden) was making. He was holding in his hands the Tampa advance report that had supposedly been destroyed.”

Where are the “boxes” of his personal reports he had kept for all these years?

Did the NARA only ask him for the documents related to Tampa and Dallas?

Did Blaine turn over all of his records to the Secret Service who in turn culled from them the 28 pages that were turned over to the NARA, or did the NARA receive more records and only released these 28 pages?

Or was Blaine exaggerating and these 28 pages are really the only official records he kept in the boxes for so many years?

Gerald Blaine’s handwritten notes

The Gerald Blaine documents consist of 28 pages – mostly duty assignments and travel vouchers, but there are two survey reports – one for Tampa and the one for a post assassination State Department reception between foreign dignitaries and LBJ. There is also a brief statement, a denial of having consumed any alcoholic beverages at the Press Club or the Cellar in Ft. Worth.

All of these documents will be posted at and given to Rex Bradford for posting at Mary Ferrell.

There are also three pages of handwritten notes, two pages written over a schedule dated from Nov. 8 to November 30 that I transcribe below:

Gerald Blaine’s handwritten notes (undated):

“Frank Yeager and myself have the advance in Tampa, Fla. Everything goes well and I feel real good. Never a thought of the tragedy that is due to occur on the 22nd. Kennedy makes the first of fateful steps that seem to lead toward the tragedy. He states that he wants no agents riding on the rear of his car as we did in Europe. If one was there the assassination might not have occurred. An agent’s life is a frustrating one. You can set all of the security in the world, but its only as good as the President lets it be. The day will come when the only way the public will be able to see the president is by television. The country seems to be loaded with eccentrics and potentials.”

“I don’t think I have ever been filled so low emotionally by anything like the president’s assassination. There wasn’t a thing anyone could have done to stop it and the Secret Service did everything it could do. My shift worked midnight in Ft. Worth on the 22nd. We took them to the airport – They flew to Dallas, went to Austin to sleep for the next nights duty. I had been asleep about ten minutes in the Commodore Perry Hotel. Art Godfrey came in the room and almost broke the door down. ‘The boss was hit in Dallas.’ I was groggy but the sickening truth seemed to sink through and I couldn’t do anything but swing my legs over the bed and when the shock hit me I couldn’t find the strength to stand and I was hit with a sudden wave of chills. Then I tried to fight off the despair and asked Art if he was sure. He said he knew that Kennedy was shot, but didn’t know if it was fatal. We turned on the radio and finally got through on the security phone to hear the horrible truth. We just withdrew in our own thoughts.”

“We flew back in a SAC Bomber, myself, Art Godfrey, Bob Faison, Jerry O’Rourke, Paul Burns and John Bailey (National Democratic Chairman). We arrived back after Kennedy’s body and set up security at the Johnson residence. (What a disgusting settlement – Kennedy replaced by Johnson – like a pro-ball player going from the Yankees to the bottom of the league.)”

“They say that not many single things have an influence on history, but I am sure this one will.”

“Even though we could have done nothing to prevent it, nor was there anything anyone could have done except use a bulletproof automobile, we are all suffering from guilt and failure in our one task. The ordeal we were to all go through for the next few months was a sad one, but we all came out with a feeling of hope far greater than we had ever had before. We shall all be stronger for the experience in the years to come. President Kennedy left us a little of his courage and we lost not only a fine president but a friend we will never forget and always admire.”

Blaime’s Statement regarding drinking at the Ft. Worth Press Club and Cellar reads:

December 6, 1963

I Gerald S. Blaine do make the following statement:

         In Fort Worth, Texas, I worked the 12:00PM – 8:00AM shift at the Hotel Texas on November 22, 1963.
        During my stay in Fort Worth, Texas, I consumed no Alcoholic beverages at either the Press Club or at the Cellar Inn.
         Before my tour of duty started I had stopped by the Press Club for about 10 minues. This was prior to the 11:00PM on the 21st of November.
          At 5:00AM to 5:10AM I was at the Cellar Inn for a coffee break, but had no beverage at all, coffee or otherwise.

Respectfully Submitted,




There are a few interesting items about the Tampa Report that was recovered from the personal files of former Secret Service Agent Gerald Blaine.

For one, it is titled: “FINAL SURVEY REPORT,” which to means there were other earlier reports that this one is based on, and it is dated December 4, 1963, after the assassination.

Under PROTECTIVE RESEARCH (page 3) it is noted “Mr. Cecil Taylor, Protective Research Section, was notified of this movement on November 9, 1963. He advised that two subjects were in the Tampa area. They were Wayne L. Gainey, 00-2-33,815. Gainey was interviewed by Jacksonville agents and remained in the custody of his parents during this movement. The other was John W. Warrington, 00-2-33,902. This subject was in jail in Tampa, Florida, for threatening the mayor of Tampa.”

“No unusual incidents occurred on the Tampa, Florida, visit.”

This is belied by the Tampa newspaper report:  

Threats On Kennedy Made Here

Tampa police and Secret Service agents scanned crowds for a man who had vowed to assassinate the President here last Monday, Chief of Police J.P. Mullins said yesterday.

In issuing notice to all participating security police prior to the President’s motorcade tour in Tampa, Mullins had said: “I would like to advise all officers that threats against the President have been made from this area in the last few days.”

A memo from the White House Secret Service dated Nov. 8 reported:

“Subject made statement of a plan to assassinate the President in October 1963. Subject stated he will use a gun, and if he couldn’t get closer he would find another way. Subject is described as: White, male, 20, slender build,” etc.

Mullins said Secret Service had been advised of three persons in the area who reportedly had made threats on the President’s life. One of the three was – and still is – in jail here under heavy bond.

Mullins said he did not know if the other two may have followed the Presidential caravan to Dallas.

Sarasota County Sheriff Ross E. Boyer also said yesterday that officers who protected Kennedy in Tampa Monday were warned about “a young man” who had threatened to kill the President during that trip.”

The Tampa Plot

The Tampa Plot

Four days before he was killed in Dallas President Kennedy visited Tampa, Florida, where he addressed the Steelworkers Union and then later in Miami the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) to whom he delivered a major speech on Cuba, part of which was said to have been designed to confirm his support for a coup in Cuba.

In the course of this trip, which included a long motorcade that began and ended at MacGill AFB, Kennedy met privately with the commander of MacGill, a base where a quick-strike unit was prepared to intervene in Cuba if called upon to do so.

Also in the course of the visit to Tampa, the Secret Service and local authorities investigated a plot to kill the president, a conspiracy that included shooting the President with a high powered rifle while he rode in the motorcade, and a patsy, Gilberto Lopez, a Cuban affiliated with the FPCC who was trying to get back into Cuba, and eventually did so, via the same route Oswald allegedly tried to take via Texas and Mexico City.

News of the Tampa plot was confined to a single newspaper report, and picked up by the UPI, but Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann explore this plot further and in some detail in their books “Ultimate Sacrifice” (Carroll & Graf, 2005) and “Legacy of Secrecy” (Counterpoint, 2008).

While their view of the assassination is somewhat warped by the adherence to their theory that what happened at Dealey Plaza was planned by Mafia dons in league with some CIA officers and Cubans planning a “C-Day” coup and US invasion of Cuba, much of what they have uncovered is true and can be independently verified.

Laying the basic ground work in “Ultimate Sacrifice – John and Robert Kennedy, the Plan for a Coup in Cuba, and the Murder of JFK,” at first they intentionally neglected to name their primary suspect to lead the Coup in Cuba, a coup that the CIA was unmistakably plotting. Desmond Fitzgerald (on September 25, 1964) informed the Joint Chiefs of Staff of their “Valkyrie” plan, based on a failed plot to kill Hitler adapted to Cuba. This plan targeted disenchanted Cuban military officers and a few revolutionary figures close to Castro. 

That alone is a major research breakthrough, and if they would have stopped right there and entwined the details of how that Cuban coup planning was redirected to Dealey Plaza, it would have been enough, but they further developed their theory with the additional details - that the Kennedys had a approved a coup in Cuba to take place on C-Day (Dec. 1) and that this plot was hijacked by Mafia dons Santo Traficante and Carlos Marcello and used to kill Kennedy.

Although he is not named in the first edition of their book, Juan Almeida is identified in hastily published follow up edition after Almeida was named by others.

My primary problems with their work is centered on the fact that they made up the term “C-Day” for the date of their planned coup and invasion of Cuba, so it is not a term you will find in any government records, although the idea of a coup in Cuba was the subject of many discussions that are memorialized in memos and documents, especially the military records found among the Califano papers, released under the JFK Act [ and posted on-line at Mary Ferrell ]

It has also been brought to our attention that on the date of the supposed coup, it has been documented that Almeida was in an airplane on the way to Africa to lead Cuban forces in the Congo, so he was in no position to lead a coup in Cuba and in any case, he didn’t, and is still considered in the good graces of the Castro government in Cuba.

My other problem with the Waldron/Hartman theory is that the coup plan was known to, infiltrated and hijacked by Mafia dons, when in fact the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who were in cahoots in the Valkyrie Plot, were quite capable of redirecting the Havana coup from Castro to Kennedy without any help from their Mafia friends, though they certainly could have been used in some of the tactical aspects (ie. silencing the Patsy).

Nor do I think that their extensive use of anonymous sources contributes to their credibility, though I believe their unidentified ONI source as having shadowed Oswald and destroying official government records related to Oswald immediately after he was arrested.

That said, Waldron and Hartmann have done extensive research into the Tampa plot, and reported what they knew in their books, some of which is quoted here.

In “Ultimate Sacrifice” (p. 145), they write: “Authorities had received credible reports of threats against JFK, and Tampa authorities had uncovered a plan to assassinate JFK during his long motorcade there...Long-secret Congressional reports confirm that ‘the threat on November 18, 1963 was posed by a mobile, unidentified rifleman shooting from a window in a tall building with a high power rifle fitted with a scope.’ One Secret Service agent told Congressional investigators that ‘there was an active threat against the President of which the Secret Service was aware in November 1963 in the period immediately prior to JFK’s trip to Miami made by ‘a group of people.’”

“The Tampa threat was confirmed to us by Chief of Police (J.P.) Mullins, who also confirmed that it wasn’t allowed to be published at the time. However, as with Chicago, JFK knew about the Tampa assassination threat. In the words of a high Florida law-enforcement official at the time, ‘JFK had been briefed he was in danger.’”

“After JFK arrived in Tampa on November 18, 1963, newspapers say that he was first ‘closeted’ with ‘General Paul Adams, commanding officer of the Strike [Force] Command’ for a ‘secret session at MacDill.’ Joining General Adams were the commander of the Tactical Air Command headquartered at Langley AFB, Virginia, and the Commander of the Army Command based at Fort Monroe, Virginia…The Strike Force Command is known as Central Command, or CentCom, today. It was described in newspapers at the time as ‘the nation’s brushfire warfare force,’ designed for rapid deployment to trouble spots…Following his brief meeting with the military leaders, JFK continued a heavy schedule of speeches and public appearances. His main motorcade for the public lasted about forty minutes….”

After the motorcade JFK addressed the United Steelworkers at the International Inn, where Waldron and Hartman say, “Just four days later, Trafficante would go to the site of JFK’s last speech in Tampa, the International Inn to publicly toast and celebrate JFK’s death in Dallas.”

After that Tampa speech, Kennedy went to Miami to address the media, and reportedly included in his speech, a special message for those who were contemplating a coup in Cuba.

“The Tampa Police Chief on November 18, 1963, J.P. Mullins, confirmed the existence of the plot to assassinate JFK in Tampa that day. While all news of the threat was suppressed at the time, two small articles appeared right after JFK’s death, but even then the story was quickly suppressed. Mullins was quoted in those 42-year old articles, and he didn’t speak for publication about the threat again until he spoke with us in 1996, confirming not just the articles but adding important new details.” (p. 254)

“The Tampa attempt is documented in full for the first time in any book later; but briefly, it involved at least two men, one of whom threatened to ‘use a gun’ and was described by the Secret Service as ‘white, male, 20, slender build,’ 28.….According to Congressional investigators, ‘Secret Service memos’ say ‘the threat on Nov. 18, 1963 was posed by a mobile, unidentified rifleman shooting from a window in a tall building with a high powered rifle fitted with a scope.’ 29. That was the same basic scene in Chicago and Dallas.”

“Chief Mullins confirmed that the police were told about the threat by the Secret Service prior to JFK’s motorcade through Tampa, which triggered even more security precautions. One motorcade participant still recalls commenting at the time that ‘at every overpass there were police officers with rifles on alert.”

“Secret Service agents in Tampa were probably subjected to the same pressure for secrecy as those in Chicago…It also explains why, in the mid-1990s, the Secret Service destroyed documents about JFK’s motorcades in the weeks before Dallas, rather than turn them over to the Assassinations Records Review Board as the law required. 36 As noted earlier, that destruction occurred just weeks after the authors had first informed the Review Board about the Tampa attempt.” 37 (p. 256)

“There is clear evidence that the Secret Service and other agencies handled the serious JFK assassination attempts in Chicago and Tampa far differently from earlier assassination attempts we’ve researched. Since just after JFK’s election, most attempts to kill him would briefly make the newspapers at the time of the incident. 38 That was even true for minor, routine threats to JFK in Chicago and Tampa in the fall of 1963,…”

“The Tampa attempt was kept completely out of the news media at the time of JFK’s visit, and for four days afterward. Only two small articles about the Tampa attempt finally appeared after JFK’s death, one in Tampa on Saturday, November 23. By the time the next article appeared in Miami on Sunday, the authorities had clammed up and were no longer talking. There were no follow-up articles in either paper. 40 The two articles went unnoticed by Congressional investigators and historians for decades…”

“What made the attempts to kill JFK in Chicago and Tampa (and later Dallas) different from all previous threats was the involvement of Cuban suspects – and a possible Cuban agent – in each area. In addition, these multi-person attempts were clearly not the work of the usual lone, mentally ill person, but were clearly the result of coordinated planning. The Chicago and Tampa assassination attempts took place… when US officials were making plans for dealing with the possible “assassination” of “American officials” in retaliation for US actions against Castro…”

“In both the Tampa and Dallas attempts, officials sought a young man in his early twenties, white with slender build, who had been in recent contact with a small pro-Castro group called the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC). In Dallas that was Lee Harvey Oswald, but the Tampa person of interest was Gilberto Policarpo Lopez, who – like Oswald- was a former defector. 44 We later document eighteen parallels between Dallas suspect Lee Harvey Oswald and Gilberto Policarpo Lopez, but here are a few: Like Oswald, Lopez was also of interest to Navy Intelligence. Also similar to Oswald, Gilberto Lopez made a mysterious trip to Mexico City in the fall of 1963, attempting to get to Cuba. Lopez even used the same border crossing as Oswald, and government reports say both went one way by car, though neither man owned a car. Like Oswald, Lopez had recently separated from his wife and had gotten into a fistfight in the summer of  1963 over supposedly pro-Castro sympathies. 45 Declassified Warren Commission and CIA documents confirm that Lopez, whose movements parallel Oswald in so many ways in 1963, was on a secret ‘mission’ for the US involving Cuba, an ‘operation’ so secret that the CIA felt that protecting it was considered more important than thoroughly investigating the JFK assassination.” 46

 “Since the initial publication of Ultimate Sacrifice, a few additional references to Tampa have surfaced. On June 10, 2005, - five months before the first public revelation of the Tampa attempt in our book – the Secret Service’s advance agent for JFK’s trip to Tampa made an intriguing comment during an interview with researcher Vince Palamara. Retired agent Gerald Blaine said there were ‘more characters’ for the Secret Service to worry about ‘in Tampa’ than in Dallas. Blaine said ‘we were really concerned about that. We did a lot of work on that.’ Palamara writes that “Blaine added that he was riding in the lead car with the Chief of Police’ during JFK’s Tampa motorcade.” 36 (p. 718)

(36 Vince Michael Palamara Survivor’s Guilt: The Secret Service & the Failure to Protect the President (Pennsylvania, 2005, pp. 20, 21)

Also see:
2. “Threats on Kennedy Made Here,” Tampa Tribune 11/23/63; “Man Held In Threats to JFK,” Miami Herald 11-24-63 – it is bylined Tampa (UPI), so it may well have appeared in other newpapers.
3. Frank DeBenedictis, “Four Days before Dallas,Tampa Bay History Fall/Winter 1994

[BK Notes: If anyone can obtain the Tampa Tribute Article “Man Held in Threats to JFK” of 11/23/63, I’d like to have the text copy so I can post it, as well as Frank’s article.]

Thursday, December 27, 2012


The JFK Assassination and the Cold War - Releasing the Remaining Classified Records


“The Republic has not collapsed under the weight of threats to national security.”
                - The Final Report of the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB)

By William E. Kelly, Jr.

The release of the records under the JFK Act has not only given us a better understanding of what happened at Dealey Plaza but they also help paint a more accurate portrait of the bigger Cold War picture in which it occurred.

If the assassin really was a deranged lone nut, then his purely psychological motives would be studied by psychiatrists in detail for decades, but the accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was designated the patsy, was not crazy in either case, and was a major player though a minor pawn in the great game of espionage.

As Jesse Ventura and others have asked, if the President was killed by a lone-nut then why are so many records still being withheld for reasons of national security?

That’s because the total truth as to what really happened at Dealey Plaza is still today – 50 years later, a matter of national security, and when fully known, will shake the very foundations of the government.

So there’s a political and not psychological cause and effect mechanism going on – and rather than a big disconnect - as a real psycho-killer would create, there’s an historical symbiosis between the people and events on the ground in 1963 and the larger Cold War, as well as a connection with us today. And what happened at Dealey Plaza, exposed as a covert operation, fits like a glove into the overall historical scheme of things.

The Final Report of the ARRB reads: “The Review Board is certainly aware that there are a great many unresolved issues relating to the assassination of President Kennedy that will be addressed in the years to come. The massive public collection of documents that awaits the researchers will undoubtedly shed light not only on the assassination, but on its broader context as an episode of the Cold War. The community of professional historians, who initially exhibited comparatively slight interest in the Board’s work, has begun paying attention with the new accessibility of records that reflect the Cold War context in which the assassination is enmeshed. Ultimately, it will be years before the JFK Collection at NARA can be judged properly. The test will be in the scholarship that is generated by historians and other researchers who study the extensive documentation of the event and its aftermath. Does the historical record formed by the Board inspire confidence that the record is now reasonably complete?”

Well, it’s now been twenty years since the Review Board dissolved, so we should be able to judge the JFK Collection at NARA properly, survey the results of the research and historical works that developed from it, and more importantly, determine what remaining questions can be answered.

We can also begin to answer some of the outstanding questions, some the ARRB Final Report asks:

“Will the documents released under the JFK Act lead to still other materials?”

BK: Yes, they most certainly do, including many records within the agencies and departments of government as well as in the private sector, including the Clifton Air Force One tapes, the Blaine Secret Service reports and the Sprague papers that have yet to be included in the JFK Collection. But there is no requirement, except that written into the words of the law, for individuals in possession of such records to turn them over to the NARA for inclusion in the JFK Collection.

“Will the mass of documentary evidence answer the questions posed by historians and others?”

BK: Yes, but not all of the answers until all of the records are released.

“Will the Board’s compliance program inspire confidence that the agencies have produced all the relevant documentation that exists today in agency files?”

BK: No, it certainly doesn’t, mainly because even though the Board required an agency officer sign off under penalty of perjury that all of the records in his department have been turned over, no one has ever been prosecuted under this compliance program because the JFK Act law has not been enforced since the demise of the Review Board.

“What do the records tell us about the 1960s and the Cold War context of the assassination?”

BK: The records tell us that what happened at Dealey Plaza was not the random act of a madman but a well planned and executed covert intelligence operation and coup, and those who killed the president took over the reigns of government power and covered up the true facts of the assassination, a cover up that continues today.

As the Final Report of the ARRB notes: “The Review Board approach, the precedent created, the tools identified, and the lessons learned will assist future researchers immeasurably. Agency reviewers will note that the Republic has not collapsed under the weight of threats to national security because of Review Board actions and, perhaps, they will also note that openness is itself a good thing and that careful scrutiny of government actions can strengthen agencies and the process of government, not weaken it.”

“There will likely be problems in the future that best lend themselves to the extraordinary attention that a similarly empowered Review Board can focus. Formation of a historical record that can augment understanding of important events is central not only to openness and accountability, but to democracy itself.”


  1. The Review Board recommends that future declassification boards be genuinely independent, both in the structure of the organization and in the qualifications of the appointments.

BK: There are now a number of such records review boards, esoecially - ISOO, CUI, PIDB & ISCAP.

ISOO - The Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) is responsible to the President for policy and oversight of the Government-wide security classification system and the National Industrial Security Program. ISOO receives authority from: "Classified National Security Information," Executive Order 13526 was released by the White House on December 29, 2009
CUI - Controlled Unclassified Informatin Office (CUI) of ISOO Develops standardized CUI policies and procedures that appropriately protect sensitive information through effective data access and control measures,
PIDB - Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) The Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) is an advisory committee established by Congress in order to promote the fullest possible public access to a thorough, accurate, and reliable documentary record of significant U.S. national security decisions and activities. &
ISCAP - Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel The Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP) provides the public and users of the classification system with a forum for further review of classification decisions.

  1. The Review Board recommends that any serious, sustained effort to declassify records requires congressional legislation with (a) a presumption of openness, (b) clear standards of access, (c) an enforceable review and appeals process, and (d) a budget appropriate to the scope of the task. 

Congress provided the legislation for the JFK Act, but has failed to do the same with the MLK assassination records (of the HSCA) and other records, and especially failed to provide an “enforceable review and appeals process” for JFK Assassination records. Congress has not held an JFK Act oversight hearing in over 15 years.

  1. The Review Board recommends that its “common law” of decision, formed in the context of a “presumption of disclosure” and the “clear and convincing evidence of harm” criteria, be utilized for similar information in future declassification efforts as a way to simplify and speed up releases.
While the Review Board was strict in promoting its “common Law” of decisions and “Presumption of disclosure,” once it retired and went out of business, there was no more “clear and convincing evidence of harm” criteria needed, the law was just ignored.

  1. The Review Board recommends that future declassification efforts avoid the major shortcomings of the JFK Act:
       (a) unreasonable time limits,
 (b) employee restrictions,
(c) application of the law after the Board terminates, and 
(d) problems inherent with rapid sunset provisions.

While unreasonable time limits and employee restrictions certainly hampered the Review Board staff, there appears to have been no attention paid to the problems inherent with rapid sunset provisions and application of the law after the Board terminates. Once agencies realized that their appeals to the board would go unheeded and the president uphold the board’s decisions, they began to play a waiting game and knew that there would be no reprisals after the board dissolved, and there hasn’t been.

  1. The Review Board recommends that the cumbersome, time-consuming, and expensive problem of referrals for “third party equities” (classified information of one agency appearing in a document of another) be streamlined by
    1.  requiring representatives of all agencies with interests in selected groups of records to meet for joint declassification sessions, or
    2. devising uniform substitute language to deal with certain categories of recurring sensitive equities.

It seems that this is one ARRB recommendation that has been actively adopted, as the National Declassification Center at NARA reported (at their third annual public hearing) that they have obtained the cooperation of all “third party equities” by bringing them together in the same room to review and declassify records together, rather than passing them around from one to the other and back again. Thus speeding up the process.

  1. The Review Board recommends that a compliance program be used in future declassification efforts as an effective means of eliciting full cooperation in the search for records.

The compliance program adopted of having individual agency officers sign off under penalty of perjury, has not worked because, despite examples of deliberately destroyed documents and blatant withholding of specifically requested records, many relevant records are still not included in the JFK Collection. A much more enforceable law must be developed and enforced by NARA and Congress.

  1. The Review Board recommends the following to ensure that NARA can exercise the provisions of the JFK Act after the Review Board terminates: a. that NARA has the authority and means to continue to implement Board decisions, b. that an appeals procedure be developed that places the burden for preventing access on the agencies, and c. that a joint oversight group composed of representatives of the four organizations that originally nominated individuals to serve on the Review Board be created to facilitate the continuing execution of the access provisions of the JFK Act.

NARA might have the authority and means to implement Board decisions but it doesn’t exercise either, appeals procedures are not efficient and a “joint oversight group composed of representatives of the four organizations that originally nominated individuals to serve on the Review Board” has not been created, so there is no group, other than the Assassinations Archives and Research Center (AARC), the Committee for an Open Archives (COA) and the Coalition on Political Assassination (COPA) actively facilitating “the continuing execution of the access provisions of the JFK Act.”

(a) PROVISIONS PERTAINING TO THE REVIEW BOARD- The provisions of this Act that pertain to the appointment and operation of the Review Board shall cease to be effective when the Review Board and the terms of its members have terminated pursuant to section 7(o). (b) OTHER PROVISIONS- The remaining provisions of this Act shall continue in effect until such time as the Archivist certifies to the President and the Congress that all assassination records have been made available to the public in accordance with this Act.

While it doesn’t appear that a Joint Oversight Group was formed by the four organizations as recommended, one of those groups and their nominee – Mr. Kermit Hall, did take their roles seriously. In the Organization of American Historians (OAH) newsletter [See: “The Kennedy Assassination in the Age of Open Secrets” OAH #26] Hall wrote: (The board’s job) “…is not running an investigation; it is, instead, seeking to disclose documents in an age of open secrets, an age in which we have come to embrace the idea that openness is to be preferred and that accountability is the touchstone for public confidence in government. Full disclosure is more desirable than partial, and the more we know about what government has done, is doing, and plans to do, the more secure we will be in our liberties.

  1. The Review Board recommends that the Review Board model be adopted and applied whenever there are extraordinary circumstances in which continuing controversy concerning government actions has been most acute and where an aggressive effort to release all “reasonably related” federal records would serve usefully to enhance historically understanding of the event.

Besides the four records review boards mentioned above, other similar acts have been introduced into Congress, specifically to release the MLK assassination records of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), but it has never gotten out of committee.

  1. The Review Board recommends that both the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Executive Order 12958 be strengthened, the former to narrow the categories of information automatically excluded from disclosure, the latter to add “independent oversight” to the process of  “review” when agency heads decide that records in their unites should be excluded from release. 
While I am not up to the latest legal manifestations of the FOIA, I don’t believe that Congress has strengthened the FOIA or EO 12958, and should do both as well as hold JFK Act oversight hearings.

  1. The Review Board recommends the adoption of a federal classification policy that substantially: a. limits the number of those in government who can actually classify federal documents, b. restricts the number of categories by which documents might be classified, c. reduces the time period for which the document(s) might be classified,  d. encourages the use of substitute language to immediately open material which might otherwise be classified, and e. increases the resources available to the agencies and NARA for declassifying federal records

Certainly the increased public interest in the classified records and the emphasis placed on them by the Obama administration should result in the proper financing of a larger declassification effort and a decrease in the number of classified records, as well as the number of records being classified today.

The ARRB Final Report: “The Review Board’s experience leaves little doubt that the federal government needlessly and wastefully classified and then withheld from the public access countless important records that did not require such treatment. Consequently there is little doubt that an aggressive policy is necessary to address the significant problems of lack of accountability and an uniformed citizenry that are created by the current practice of excessive classification and obstacles to releasing such information. The need is not something recently identified, although the Moynihan Commission on Secrecy in Government is a recent expression of this longstanding concern. Change is long overdue and the Review Board’s experience amply demonstrates the value of sharing important information with the American public. It is a matter of trust.”

The change was long overdue twenty years ago – and the change has yet to happen.  

ARRB Final Report: “The Review Board’s recommendations are designed to help ensure that the comprehensive documentary record of the Kennedy assassination is both actively developed after the board terminates, and that the experience of the Review Board be turned to the larger purpose of addressing the negative consequences of the excessive classification of federal records. The Review Board’s efforts to accomplish the purposes of the JFK Act has been focused and aggressive. It will be for others, of course, to judged the Board’s success in achieving these goals, but there can be no doubt about the commitment to making the JFK Act and an independent Review Board a model for the future.”

The future is here and we need to address these issues now to ensure that these recommendations are enacted, strengthen the laws with legislation in Congress and enforce the laws as they stand.