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Vanity Fair Explores Whether Secret Service Could Have Saved J.F.K

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When bullets were fired in Dallas on November 22, 1963, many of the Secret Service agents hired to protect President John F. Kennedy failed in their duties, the Vanity Fair reports in an examination of the actions taken by the White House security detail.

“Roy Kellerman, the leader of the security detail, did not seem to know what was happening. He thought a firecracker had gone off,” Vanity Fair reporter Susan Cheever wrote. “William Greer, at the wheel of the president’s car, did not immediately speed up or swerve away from the shots. Paul Landis, in the vehicle trailing Kennedy’s, did not jump forward to protect the president with his body; neither did Jack Ready. Clint Hill, riding a few feet behind and to the president’s left, was part of the First Lady’s detail. After the fatal shot was fired, he leapt onto the rear of the presidential limousine and kept her from jumping off the back.”

Of the 28 Secret Service agents who were in Dallas that fateful day, nine out until the early mornings. Some were drinking and sleep deprived.

Abraham Bolden, who wrote a book about his experience as agent protecting Kennedy, said he believes the drinking contributed to a “lackadaisical response.”

“The biggest problem I ran into with the Secret Service when I was an agent was their constant drinking,” he told Vanity Fair. “When we would get to a place one of the first things they would do was stock up with liquor. They would drink and then we would go to work.”

Agents often worked double shifts and were sleep-deprived, wrote Agent Gerald Blaine sin his book The Kennedy Detail.

“Working double shifts had become so common since Kennedy became president that it was now almost routine. The three eight-hour shift rotation operated normally when the president was in the White House, but when he was traveling . . . there simply weren’t enough bodies.”


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Comment from sallyrider
Time October 19, 2014 at 11:24 am

Vince Palamara has written an amazing book on the JFK assassination and the Secret Service entitled “Survivor’s Guilt: The Secret Service and the Failure to Protect President Kennedy.” Palamara’s book corroborates much of the Vanity Fair article and this article summary it is based on.

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