Sunday, April 30, 2017

THE NOT-SO-SECRET SERVICE OUT NOW

https://www.amazon.com/Not-So-Secret-Service-Agency-Kennedy-Assassination/dp/1634241207/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

GREAT NEWS! The paperback edition is NOW AVAILABLE on Amazon and worldwide (a day early)! The kindle, nook, and Google Play versions have been out since 4/21/17. The reaction has been overwhelmingly great (including from authors Phil Nelson, Flip De Mey, and David Wayne). I appreciate all your support. If you would like a signed copy directly from myself, send me a private message.





Sunday, November 27, 2016

Five Presidents by Clint Hill with Lisa McCubbin: A Review By Vince Palamara

Five Presidents by Clint Hill with Lisa McCubbin: A Review

By Vince Palamara

Oh, what I hath wrought to the world. As readers of my critical review of Lisa McCubbin’s first of four “co-authored” books The Kennedy Detail well know [1], I am thoroughly convinced that it was my 22-page letter to Clint Hill in 2005 that awoke a sleeping giant. Hill, then 73 and with zero want or desire to write a book (a sort of badge of honor that he carried for decades), was angered by my letter, a “cliff notes” version of the basics from my then self- published first book critical of the JFK-era Secret Service entitled Survivor’s Guilt.[2]It is important to emphasize the fact that Hill had an unlisted address and phone number at the time; it was only through the good fortune of an unsolicited bit of help via a colleague of Hill’s, former agent Lynn Meredith, that I was able to obtain this then highly-sought bit of information. As I discovered during my June 2005 conversation with Gerald Blaine, Clint shared the contents of my private letter to his fellow former agent, a man who, I soon found out, was his best friend for many years and who was, by any measurable standard, an obscure agent of the Secret Service who was on the Texas trip (but not in Dallas), having served a meager five years with the agency.

Perhaps you can figure out where this is headed to.

As fate would have it, it was during this same summer of 2005 that two things happened: Gerald Blaine began writing his book[3] and Clint Hill, writer of the Foreword to the book (and participant in the book tour and numerous television programs), destroyed his personal notes he had in his possession for decades.[4] It was also during this very same time that Lisa McCubbin, an obscure former television reporter who lived in Qatar in the Middle East for six years as a freelance journalist[5], began helping Blaine with the writing of his book. McCubbin was born after the assassination and was friends with the Blaine family; in fact, she had dated Blaine’s son.[6] In an unexpected turn of events, McCubbin (born in 1964) would start a romantic relationship with Hill (born in 1932), although Hill is still married. [7] This partnership, professional and otherwise, would reap many benefits: The Kennedy Detail in 2010 and the accompanying Emmy-nominated Discovery documentary of the same name[8], Mrs. Kennedy and Me in 2012[9]; Five Days In November in 2013[10]; and, now, Five Presidents in 2016, all of which would go on to become New York Times best-sellers, having the distinct advantage of being published by the biggest publishing house in the world, Simon and Schuster, who can guarantee instant articles on Yahoo, People magazine exposes, and coverage on Fox, CNN, and NBC. McCubbin even brags on her website that “she is widely respected within the U.S. Secret Service for her responsible and accurate writing about this highly secretive agency.”

And, yet, as I have written at length about in both my book Survivor’s Guilt, my forthcoming book The Not So Secret Service, and in several CTKA reviews (not to mention countless blogs and posts online), her work cannot be trusted with anything controversial. Sure, you can take it to the bank when she writes about harmless historical items such as Hill’s many interactions with Jackie Kennedy and other Redbook/Reader’s Digest type moments, but her work should be viewed with a jaundiced eye when the Kennedy assassination is mentioned.

Hill, Blaine and McCubbin are much aware of my work; no delusions of grandeur here. Apart from my aforementioned 22-page letter that opened Pandora’s box, Hill and Blaine have discussed my work on C-SPAN with CEO Brian Lamb (in Hill’s case, twice);[11] Blaine sarcastically names me as a Secret Service “expert” on pages 359-360 of his book (and quite a few other pages are a direct response to my work); I am credited at the end of a 2013 television program in which Hill briefly addresses my “allegations” (McCubbin also participated as well)[12]; Blaine had his attorney send me a threatening letter[13]; McCubbin, who contacted me about my blog, gave my first book a one star on "Good Reads" and has even admitted on C-SPAN of finding information that contradicted Blaine (almost certainly my work)[14]; Blaine added my book as an item “to read” on "Good Reads"; Blaine and Hill friend (and former agent) Chuck Zboril, much aware of my blog, gave my first book a one-star review on Amazon; former agent Ron Pontius mentions one of my articles without naming me on the television documentary; and I have been treated to petty harassment by several other personal friends of Blaine, both at home and at my former place of employment.

With all of this in proper focus, it is time to examine the latest offering from the Hill/McCubbin partnership, Five Presidents.


Clint Hill with Jackie Kennedy
While serving five different presidents is somewhat noteworthy, Hill is hardly the first or only one to have served five or more presidents or to have written books about their service. SAIC Edmund Starling (author of the 1946 book Starling of the White House), SAIC/ Assistant Director Rufus Youngblood (author of the 1973 book Twenty Years in the Secret Service: My Life With Five Presidents), Chief/Director (and former SAIC) James Rowley, SAIC Gerald Behn, ASAIC Floyd Boring (who contributed to David McCullough’s 1993 book Truman and the 2005 Stephen Hunter book American Gunfight), ASAIC Roy Kellerman, Art Godfrey, Chuck Zboril (misspelled “Zobril” on page 451), Winston Lawson, Emory Roberts, Vince Mroz, Howard Anderson, Morgan Gies, SAIC of PRS Bob Bouck, John Campion, Ron Pontius, Stu Stout, Hill’s brother-in-law David Grant, Director Stu Knight, and others served five or more presidents (the number is quite large if one were to include agents from field offices and/or on temporary assignments, as it was not unusual for an agent from the FDR-Ike era to serve for many years on the White House detail, later known as the Presidential Protective Division, or in the Washington field office, among many other field offices around the country and, indeed, the world. The number is even larger if one was also to include those agents who also protected former presidents or vice presidents who later became president such as Truman, Nixon, LBJ, Ford, and Bush 41).

Part 1 of the book, encompassing the first seven chapters, details Hill’s time protecting President Eisenhower. After learning that Hill served in Army Counter Intelligence from 1954-1956 (pages 8-10), serving duty at Fort Holabird (where Richard Case Nagell and fellow agent Win Lawson also served), Hill makes a troubling error, claiming that James Rowley was the Special Agent in Charge of the White House detail since the FDR days (page 14) when, in actual fact, he became SAIC on 5/3/46 during the Truman era, replacing George Drescher.[15] In yet another contradiction to the writing of Gerald Blaine and Lisa McCubbin found on page 398 of The Kennedy Detail, wherein they state that Ike usually rode in a closed car, there are seven photos of Eisenhower in a motorcade and every photo depicts him in an open vehicle. This is in addition to various times in the actual text where Hill mentions Ike riding in an open car (this reviewer has found dozens and dozens more photos online of President Eisenhower in an open-topped vehicle. In fact, one is hard pressed to find any photos of Ike in a closed car).
In the coup de grace, Hill (and, presumably, McCubbin) writes on page 44, not realizing the stark contradiction, “[the canvas roof] really bothered Ike, who liked seeing the crowds, but more important, wanted them to have the opportunity to see him…President Eisenhower preferred to use the car as an open convertible whenever possible so he could stand up and be even more visible to people viewing the motorcade.”

On pages 40 and 46, in particular, the heavy use of well-armed military guards on Ike’s foreign trips paints a picture in sharp contrast to Dallas circa 11/22/63. On page 48, there is a minor contradiction: Hill states that Ike’s eleven-nation tour was his first time out of the United States, yet, on page 24, he writes of an earlier one-day trip to Canada with Ike.

On pages 53-55, Hill describes working with Harvey Henderson, a controversial and racist agent from Mississippi who harassed fellow agent Abraham Bolden to no end.[16] While Hill describes Henderson as “a good ol’ Southern boy," he was more forthcoming to author Maurice Butler: “Now there were certain individuals in the service, I won’t deny that, who were very, very bigoted. Most of them came from Mississippi or Alabama or somewhere in the South. Sometimes we had problems with them. They didn’t want to work with a black agent.”[17] Fellow agent Walt Coughlin told me, “Harvey Henderson he [Bolden] is probably rite (sic) about.”[18] Yet The Kennedy Detail’s Gerald Blaine, in typical fashion, wrote this reviewer on 6/12/05: “I don’t remember anybody on the detail that was racist. Merit was perceived by a person’s actions, their demeanor, reliability, dependability and professional credibility – not race! Harvey was not even on the shift that Bolden was during his thirty day stay. Even though Harvey Henderson was from Mississippi, I never heard of him discriminating nor demeaning anyone because of race.” Can the reader see why I have major problems with history as seen through the Blaine and McCubbin prism? There’s a real tendency to whitewash and omit crucial information. They know better…and they know I know better, but they are hoping you do not, if that makes any sense. But I digress a tad.

Also on page 55, Hill notes that local police helped secure buildings and routes of travel, as well as checking out the local medical facilities (which he further notes on page 81). Yet, again, when President Kennedy goes to Dallas, officially speaking, no buildings were secured, the motorcade route was woefully short staffed, and they allegedly did not know that Parkland Hospital was the closest hospital in case of emergency.

Overall, I would assess Part 1 of the book-the Ike era- as a fairly decent perspective of an agent’s time protecting the former World War II hero. Although glimpses of Eisenhower come through, I was left more with Hill’s outlook on trying to do his job than any deep analysis of Ike.

Part 2 covers the Kennedy era and encompasses chapters 8-19 and much of it will be familiar to anyone who has read the three previous Lisa McCubbin co-authored books; lots of repetition here. That said, there are some items of interest. On page 112, it is noted that the 27-mile motorcade route in Caracas, Venezuela was massively guarded by the host country’s heavily-armed military, involving more than 30,000 soldiers and 5,000 police officers. The bubbletop was used, despite the nice weather, and agents rode on the rear of the limousine.[19]

On page 133, while discussing President Kennedy’s European tour (in an obvious allusion to the upcoming Dallas trip several months later), Hill writes: “There was no way to check every building or every rooftop," yet that is precisely what they were able to do on past trips, at least those involving multi-story buildings.[20] Chapters 16 and 17 (pages 141-160) cover the Texas trip and the assassination. On page 142 McCubbin, as she did with Blaine in The Kennedy Detail and in the prior two books with Hill, mentions once again the alleged “order” from President Kennedy, via Floyd Boring, to not have the agents on the back of the car. I have written at length on this specific topic, as I am extremely skeptical of the veracity and timing of this situation.[21] My first reaction when reading this section was “McCubbin HAD to put that one in there again." On page 152, not realizing the huge contradiction, Hill/ McCubbin write: “I knew the president didn’t want us on the back of the car, but I had a job to do.” Hill jumped off and on the back of the limousine four different times on Main Street. So much for the president’s “order." No other agent attempted to get on the back of the car.

Hill deals with the infamous drinking incident at Kirkwood’s the night before JFK’s death in a very dismissive fashion on page 147. Hill was one of nine agents who drank the early morning of the assassination. Hill was also one of the four agents who drank alcohol who would go on to work the follow-up car in Dallas (the others were Paul Landis, Jack Ready and Glen Bennett).

On pages 153-154, Hill writes of the shooting sequence and, as he has done in the past (echoing the same thoughts as Dave Powers and Governor Connally on the matter), Hill states that all three shots made their mark and there was no missed shot: the first shot hit JFK, the second hit Connally, and the third was the fatal head shot. Again, he does not realize the grave contradiction to official history. In this regard, he once again repeats what he has written (and said) many times before: JFK had “a gaping hole in the back of his skull” (page 155).

Once again, as was noted in their prior works (and as I was the first to note in my own work): ”Normally [SAIC Gerald] Behn would be on the [Texas] trip, but as fate would have it, he had decided to take a few days off-his first vacation in years…” (page 156). “As fate would have it.” huh?

On page 178, Hill states his disagreement with the “magic bullet theory," stating that Governor Connally and his wife Nellie agreed with him. Hill cannot seem to understand you cannot have your cake and eat it, too: either there was a “magic bullet” or there were two assassins. Still, it is nice to have him on the record about this vital issue. And he seems unaware that as authors like Joe McBride have shown, Connally actually disagreed with the entire thesis of the Warren Report. (McBride, Into the Nightmare, p. 418)

Overall, I would assess Part 2 of the book-the Kennedy years- as largely repetitive from his and McCubbin’s past books, which all seem to tout the same recurring agenda in two parts: his adamant stand that there was only one assassin (despite his contradictory views as expressed by his statements about the wounds and the shooting sequence), and that the agents did the best they could, despite their feelings of failure (and making sure to put that false blame-the-victim nugget in there again for good measure). That said, there were some new tidbits of information about prior trips and, to be fair, the Kennedys shine through in a positive way in this section.

Part 3, the LBJ section, encompasses chapters 20-29 and is arguably the best part of the book- Hill really captures Johnson and the so-called “Johnson treatment” quite well. Even before the formal Johnson section of the book begins, the JFK section ends with Hill’s auspicious first greeting to LBJ in October 1964 when the President visited Jackie Kennedy in New York. Hill extended his hand to Johnson and said “Hello, Mr. President, I am Agent Clint Hill." LBJ simply ignored him, reached into his back pocket, pulled out a handkerchief, and blew his nose. Hill said the experience, witnessed by the agents of the White House detail who were guarding LBJ, was “humiliating."

Another minor error occurs on page 227 when Hill states that the Kennedys visited Mexico in 1961-it was actually 1962, as is correctly noted on page 114.

Hill succeeds the best here when he vividly describes Johnson’s interactions with himself and others, as well as the impromptu nature of the brusque Texan. Like the travels of Ike and JFK, the many travels, domestic and foreign, of Johnson are duly noted and Hill (and McCubbin) do an admirable job describing the interaction the president had with the hosts and with the spectators, as well as with the agents themselves. When the McCubbin “team” (either with Blaine or Hill) aren’t treading into controversial waters, they actually succeed with some well-written stories and presidential anecdotes. Perhaps this is why I liked Mrs. Kennedy and Me the most- other than a couple pages, it was harmless fun about the elegant First Lady and a touch of Camelot, albeit a tad maudlin and trite in places. In this regard, I believe Five Presidents is a very close second to that work, with Five Days In November being disposable and forgettable and The Kennedy Detail as the worst by a country mile for its deceit and deception. In fact, one could argue that Five Presidents, despite the Kennedy-era repetition and one page (page 142, to be exact) of controversy, is the best of the lot, but I digress.

What I think makes the LBJ section such a winner is not just that it is the longest section of the book, but that the “safe” button was switched to off and Hill is telling the true stories with the bark off, so to speak. It is actually a shame, for history’s sake, that an agenda pervaded two of the three earlier books (and a very small part of the other two, this one included) because, again, when McCubbin and Hill just tell the tales, I find myself begrudgingly admiring the vivid pictures of the presidents they draw. In hindsight, perhaps it was Blaine as the true culprit in all of this and Hill merely thought it was good to have in-house symmetry when a touch of the blame-the-victim (JFK) mantra was repeated in his books--less readers would be left to wonder why he appeared to disagree with his adamant colleague. Paradoxically, when it comes to Ike, Hill is diametrically opposed to Blaine (the above-mentioned open car versus Blaine’s claim of an Eisenhower preference for a closed car).

Funny enough, there is also fodder for the LBJ-did-it crowd on page 235: Hill, describing Johnson’s 1966 trip to Australia, wrote that the president “crouched down in the backseat…it was the only time I ever saw a president duck down in the rear seat of a car to avoid being seen.” Roger Stone and Phil Nelson, take note.

On pages 236-237, Hill describes the Melbourne, Australia trip, wherein angry Vietnam War protestors threw balloons filled with paint at the presidential limousine and, by extension, several of the agents surrounding the car. Hill again makes a minor error, stating that agents Rufus Youngblood and Lem Johns rode on the rear of the car when, in actual fact, it was Youngblood and Jerry Kivett, as several clear films and photos of the motorcade incident demonstrate, although Johns was indeed there and was also splattered with paint, albeit in his position walking by the automobile.

The travels and tribulations for LBJ continue through 1967 and 1968, as Hill does a good job of documenting the activities of President Johnson in relation to the monumental events of this two-year period. In particular, the assassinations of MLK (pages 278-286) and RFK (287-295), as well as the turbulent 1968 Democratic convention (pages 303-306), are remarkably described in the context of Hill’s and LBJ’s reaction to them. Interestingly, although Hill’s brother-in-law, fellow agent David Grant, is mentioned on one page (page 303), once again, as he did in his previous two books, Hill does not mention their family connection (although Blaine did so in The Kennedy Detail and in a conversation with myself in 2005, although nothing was mentioned when Grant and Hill appeared, separately, on the television documentary of the same name). As I describe in my forthcoming book The Not So Secret Service, I believe there was bad blood between the two near the end of Grant’s life, having something to do with his writing partner, among other things (Grant passed away 12/28/2013). Hill’s wife Gwen is mentioned in his obituary but Clint is not. As mentioned above, Hill is still legally married to Gwen[22]).

Part 4 covers Hill’s involvement in the protection of Presidents Nixon and Ford and encompasses chapters 30-38. Although quite interesting in its own right. Hill was off the front lines of presidential protection and relegated to, first, the SAIC of the vice president’s detail for Spiro Agnew and, shortly thereafter, to Secret Service headquarters. He was first Deputy Assistant Director of Protective Forces, then later Assistant Director of the Presidential Protective Division (PPD). So the intimacy and interaction with both President Nixon and Ford pales in comparison to the prior three presidents, especially LBJ. That said, it is what it is; Hill was where he was in those moments in history. Still, there are several items of special interest. On page 367, after describing how fellow agent (since the Kennedy days) Hamilton Brown was angered by President Nixon’s disregard for security protocol by visiting anti-war demonstrators at the Lincoln Memorial on 5/9/70, Hill writes: “all of us were disgusted with the attitude of the president for placing himself in such a vulnerable position.” [23]

On page 376, Hill reveals that he was "one of very few people who knew about the [Nixon] taping system, and, as with all types of similar privileged information, it was kept very private, limited to people on a need-to-know basis.” After learning on page 381 that then-Secretary of the Treasury John Connally was instrumental in promoting Hill to his highest position in the Secret Service (the aforementioned Assistant Director of PPD), Hill describes the inner turmoil he felt in having to witness multiple viewings of the Zapruder film of the JFK assassination during Secret Service training classes.

On pages 388-391, Hill totally whitewashes the Bob Newbrand-as-informant matter. Agent Newbrand was used as a plant by Nixon and his henchmen to try to obtain information of a derogatory nature against Ted Kennedy.[24] Interestingly, Hill was in contact with Alexander Butterfield and James McCord (and agent Al Wong), principal people in the Watergate mess.

While the dismissal of agents Bob Taylor, the SAIC of PPD, and his assistant, Bill Duncan, by the Nixon/ Haldeman gang is relatively old news for those like myself who study these things (page 403), Hill adds that agent Art Godfrey was also a victim of the purge. To my knowledge, there is no evidence that Godfrey, whom I spoke to and corresponded with, was removed by Nixon’s hand (Director Rowley retired in October 1973). While Deputy Directors Rufus Youngblood and Lem Johns were ousted by the Haldeman gang a few years earlier. In fact, Godfrey was a favorite of Nixon, belonged to the February Group (die-hard Nixon loyalists), watched the Grand Prix with Nixon after the president’s fall from grace, and was even asked by Nixon’s best friend Bebe Rebozo to work for him.[25] Further, it is a matter of record that Godfrey retired in 1974, a year after this all took place, as ASAIC of PPD, not from some field office.[26] Godfrey served on PPD protecting Presidents Truman, Ike, JFK, LBJ and Nixon. Needless to say, I am skeptical of Hill’s assertion. Perhaps Hill is simply mistaken.

Chapters 37, 38 and the Epilogue contains some fascinating personal details of Hill’s final days as an agent and the troubled aftermath, as Hill has had trouble coping with his failure on 11/22/63. He goes into detail about his appearance on 60 Minutes in November 1975 (which aired the next month). Hill states that Mike Wallace’s interview was the first time, other than his Warren Commission testimony, that he had ever spoken to anyone about the assassination (pages 429 and 430). This is wrong; Hill was interviewed by William Manchester for his massive best-seller The Death of a President (on 11/18/64 and 5/20/65, to be exact). Manchester also talked to The Kennedy Detail’s Gerald Blaine, Gerald Behn, Bill Greer, Roy Kellerman, Lem Johns, and a host of other agents. However, to be fair to Hill, Blaine also denies ever talking to any author (including Manchester) before he wrote his book. [27] In addition, Hill also spoke about the assassination for 60 Minutes once again (November 1993), The History Channel’s The Secret Service (1995; also a home video), The Discovery Channel’s Inside the Secret Service (1995; also a home video), and National Geographic’s Inside The U.S. Secret Service (2004; also a DVD still available).

On the second to last page, Hill/McCubbin write: “As with our previous two books [28], our overriding concern was to present a factual account to preserve history, while also abiding by the Secret Service pledge to be worthy of trust and confidence.” I would say it is the latter part of that statement that has guided McCubbin, Hill and Blaine through all four books. Sometimes to extremes - don’t embarrass the agency (what J. Edgar Hoover would call “the bureau”) and protect reputations as they would protectees.
Nevertheless, with all the aforementioned points and previous disclaimers in mind, Five Presidents must be considered a worthy addition to anyone’s library. The first was the worst…they saved the best for last.



Footnotes:
[1] http://www.ctka.net/reviews/kennedydetailreview.html

[2] http://www.ctka.net/2014_reviews/survivors_guilt.html

[3] http://www.ctka.net/reviews/kennedydetailreview.html

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gRhG3ya7JE

[5] http://lisamccubbin.com/

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYpY8zI_wwA and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmCEx-f0dfI

[7] http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/features/why-i-blame-myself-for-jfks-death-248893.html

[8] http://ctka.net/reviews/slick_propaganda.html and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oALbLw4U7U0

[9] http://www.ctka.net/reviews/MrsKennedy_Hill_Review_Palamara.html

[10] A mostly repetitive photo book that appears to have been a cash grab for the 50th anniversary. Since this book is basically a shortened version of Mrs. Kennedy and Me with glossy photos, I chose not to formally review it.
[11] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbD1shPmla8 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bqE0rPJyGI

[12] JFK: The Final Hours 2013, National Geographic (also a DVD); see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNXJKs9xAMI

[13] http://www.ctka.net/reviews/kennedydetailreview.html

[14] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgB2mnmiU-s

[15] George Drescher oral history, Herbert Hoover Library.
[16] Survivor’s Guilt (2013), pages 174-175, 403, 407-408.
[17] Out From The Shadow: The Story of Charles L Gittens Who Broke The Color Barrier In The United States Secret Service by Maurice Butler, KY: Xlibris, 2012, pp. 125-126.
[18] Survivor’s Guilt (2013), page 408.
[19] See photo in Survivor’s Guilt.
[20] See Survivor’s Guilt and my forthcoming book The Not So Secret Service.
[21] See my CTKA reviews of The Kennedy Detail, the accompanying documentary, and Mrs. Kennedy and Me, as well as my own book Survivor’s Guilt (especially chapter 1) and my upcoming book The Not So Secret Service.
[22] http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/washingtonpost/obituary.aspx?pid=168833469

[23] See my book Survivor’s Guilt, especially chapters 1 and 10.
[24] See my forthcoming book The Not So Secret Service.
[25] The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon (2000) by Anthony Summers, pages 247 and 262.
[26] Survivor’s Guilt, chapter 13.
[27] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxZVgPIt05o and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23K1J_cMt2c

[28] By definition and book order release, this statement omits The Kennedy Detail.


MRS. KENNEDY & ME: A Very Good Book with a Few pages of Trouble by Vince Palamara

MRS. KENNEDY & ME: A Very Good Book with a Few pages of Trouble


I. Introduction: Bad precedent
I so wanted to dislike this book. As the leading civilian literary expert on the Secret Service, I had previously----and rightfully---lambasted Lisa McCubbin's prior effort entitled The Kennedy Detail for its rewriting of history, blaming JFK for his own death and putting words in the late president's mouth that he never once uttered, as verified by the prior accounts of numerous top agents and White House aides, many of whom WERE there in Dallas (unlike former agent Gerald Blaine). As previously stated, it was my 22-page letter to former agent Clint Hill that angered him and his best friend to whom I had also spoken to, the aforementioned Blaine, that directly led to the writing of The Kennedy Detail and, by extension, the need to write a follow-up tome, Mrs. Kennedy & Me (whenever a book is even a mild best-seller, which their first effort was, it is almost a guarantee that, if there is any gas left in the tank, so to speak, a further literary work will be forthcoming). In fact, both agents Blaine and Hill debated the merits of my research on television and, if that weren't enough, I was mentioned on pages 359-360 of The Kennedy Detail (without naming me, of course). One could argue several other pages refer to my work, directly or indirectly, but I digress from the matter at hand.

II. My initial review: honesty prevails
Simply put, Mrs. Kennedy & Me is excellent: a literary home run, second only to another brand new work, the outstanding 2012 book Within Arm's Length by former agent Dan Emmett, as attaining the mantle of being the best book on the Secret Service by a former agent ever to date (1865-2012 and counting). I have to say in all honesty: Mr. Hill and Ms. McCubbin have a lot to be proud of in this book. it is consistently everything The Kennedy Detail is not: truthful, honest, no axe to grind, not dry or boring, well written, and coming from the perspective of a brave and dedicated public servant who WAS truly there. (To be fair, even The Kennedy Detail,and certainly the documentary it was based on, had its moments, although my judgment is rightfully clouded by what I and others feel are the purposeful untruths and propaganda contained throughout, as well as the exasperating third-person narrative interwoven throughout the book, making it hard to pin down exactly WHO was responsible for specific passages. President Kennedy did NOT order the agents off his limousine in Tampa, in Dallas, or anywhere else, for that matter- SAIC Behn, ASAIC Boring, ATSAIC Godfrey, many of their colleagues, and several prominent White House aides said so).

Do I still have misgivings about some of the agents on the Kennedy detail? Sure; that will never change. Am I also an ardent admirer of the Secret Service? You bet: the agency has a whole lot to be proud of. Clint Hill at least TRIED to do something that fateful day in Dallas and carried much guilt and depression over the sad events of that time and place. That is a whole lot more than several of his colleagues can lay claim to.

That aside, Mrs. Kennedy & Me is highly recommended to everyone for its honesty and rich body of true, first-hand accounts of guarding First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Too bad this book wasn't even longer and The Kennedy Detail did not exist, but one cannot ask for everything.
III. On second thought
The assassination-related part of this book aside, I obviously quite liked this book- there are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. However, upon reflection, there are several items in the assassination-related section (and elsewhere) that should be duly noted. (Indeed, I later added a disclaimer to my online review noting this dissent). On pages 55-56, Hill talks about the benefits of Jackie Kennedy keeping a low profile during her trip to New York as beneficial to security: “The fewer people who know your intended destination or route, the better. A police escort would have just drawn attention to us, so we kept the motorcade to as few vehicles as possible.” Indeed, on yet another trip to New York in early 1963, this one involving both Jackie and JFK, Hill records Jackie as stating: “We want to keep it private…No police escorts, no motorcades, no official functions. We just want to enjoy the city like we used to.” However, this very same situation for President Kennedy in New York, the very same city, in mid-November 1963 was viewed not as a virtue but as a detriment to his safety and welfare by several writers after his assassination.[1] Today, these kinds of trips are known by the Secret Service as “OTR”s, or “off the records”, and they are quite effective, now as then, in their element of surprise from potential assassins. Indeed, Hill writes: “It was a real challenge for the Secret Service agents to keep these presidential movements private yet still maintain an adequate amount of protection, without police escorts or blocking the streets, but we managed.” That was their job and they did it well…until November 22, 1963.
In addition, this book vividly demonstrates that Jackie DID indeed travel with JFK on many trips other than the fateful Texas venture in November 1963: New York, Florida, Boston, Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada, Germany, etc.
Page 136 has an item of much interest to those contrasting the measures used in Dallas: “The lead vehicle in the motorcade was a press truck---an open flatbed truck with rails around the outside---filled with about a dozen photographers. This was typical when you expected large crowds along a motorcade route for a president, but I’d never seen it, prior to this trip [Pakistan], for a first lady (Hill’s emphasis).” Dallas Morning News reporter Tom Dillard testified to the Warren Commission:
“We lost our position at the airport. I understood we were to have been quite a bit closer. We were assigned as the prime photographic car which, as you probably know, normally a truck precedes the President on these things [motorcades] and certain representatives of the photographic press ride with the truck. In this case, as you know, we didn’t have any and this car that I was in was to take photographs which was of spot-news nature.”[2] (Emphasis added)
On page 202, there is a photo of the agents surrounding the presidential limousine at the Orange Bowl in Miami in December 1962: agents Gerald Blaine (of Kennedy Detail infamy), Ken Giannoules, Clint Hill, Paul Landis, Frank Yeager (uncredited), Ron Pontius (uncredited), and Bob Lilley (also uncredited). Hill writes: “I and the other agents jogged alongside the car, constantly scanning the crowd for any sign of disturbance or disruption, as we headed toward the waiting helicopter outside the arena.” On page 212, Hill says: “There would always be at least five or six Secret Service agents around the president, and trailing close behind the president’s limousine was the not so unobtrusive follow-up car.”
IV. Déjà vu All Over Again
Still, all things considered, pretty smooth sailing so far- a good book about Jackie Kennedy and Clint Hill; great human interest anecdotes and dialogue. However, the party ends briefly on pages 270-271, wherein Hill does his best Gerald Blaine “imitation” and seeks to rewrite a little history to suit his own ends. Hill states that it was November 20, 1963, when he saw ASAIC Floyd Boring (the planner of the Texas trip[3]) and, conveniently[4], fellow ASAIC Roy Kellerman (the agent nominally in charge of the Dallas trip) by the Secret Service office in the White House, as he correctly notes that SAIC Gerald Behn was on vacation at the time. It was here that Boring—with Kellerman strangely silent by his side---conveyed to Hill that JFK allegedly ordered the agents off the limousine in Tampa on 11/18/63, something this author is adamant, based on years of research and interviews with Boring, Behn, and many of their colleagues, never happened.
When asked if Hill was aware of what allegedly went down in Tampa, Hill states: “I didn’t recall anything out of the ordinary [on the radio].” Hill, “quoting” Boring (who passed away 2/1/08), writes: “(as Boring) We had a long motorcade in Tampa, and it was decided that we should keep two guys on the back of the car for the entire route---just for added precaution.” Hill further writes (as himself): “I nodded. That wasn’t all that unusual.” Then, in a little jumbled thought/ sentence, Hill (once again as Boring), adds: “So, we had Chuck Zboril and Don Lawton on the back of the car the ENTIRE way,” Floyd said. “But PARTWAY through the motorcade, in an area where the crowds had thinned, the president requested we remove the agents from the back of the car (emphasis added).” On page 271, Hill writes: “Really? I asked. I had NEVER heard the president ever question procedural recommendations by his Secret Service detail (emphasis added).”
Hill writes: “What was the reason?” Writing “as” Floyd Boring again (with, again, a strangely silent Roy Kellerman, assuming he was really there and this really took place as written): “He said now that we’re heading into the campaign, he doesn’t want it to look like we’re crowding him. And the word is [FROM WHOM?], from now on, you don’t get on the back of the car unless the situation absolutely warrants it.” “Okay,” I said. “Understood.” Nothing is in writing, Kellerman is silent, Behn is on vacation, and we are to just take Hill at his word that this 2012 reconstruction is the gospel.
Congressman Sam Gibbons, who actually rode a mere foot away in the car with JFK, wrote to me in a letter 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.” Also, photographer Tony Zappone, then a 16-year-old witness to the motorcade in Tampa (one of whose photos for this motorcade was ironically used in The Kennedy Detail!), told me that the agents were “definitely on the back of the car for most of the day until they started back for MacDill AFB at the end of the day.” (Emphasis added) Win Lawson wrote to this reviewer on 1/12/04, before this book was even a thought, and said: “I do not know of any standing orders for the agents to stay off the back of the car. After all, foot holds and handholds were built into that particular vehicle... it never came to my attention as such.” (emphasis added). FLOYD BORING himself told me “[JFK] was a very easy-going guy ... he didn’t interfere with our actions at all.” In a later interview, Boring expounded further: “Well that’s not true. That’s not true. He was a very nice man; he never interfered with us at all.” If that weren’t enough, Boring also wrote the author: “He [JFK] was very cooperative with the Secret Service.”
As for ASAIC Floyd Boring, this reviewer has no doubt that Boring DID INDEED CONVEY the fraudulent notion that JFK had asked that the agents remove themselves from the limo between 11/18-11/19/63, but that the former agent was telling the TRUTH of the matter when he spoke to me years later. You see, Clint Hill wrote in his 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 President’s 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)
Mr. Hill’s undated report was presumably written in April 1964, as the other four reports submitted to the Warren Commission were written at that time.[5] Why Mr. Hill could not “remember” the specific name of the agent who gave him JFK’s alleged desires is very troubling. He revealed it on March 9, 1964, presumably before his report was written, in his (obviously pre-rehearsed) testimony under oath to the future Senator Arlen Specter, then a lawyer with the Warren Commission[6]:
Specter: Did you have any other occasion en route from Love Field to downtown Dallas to leave the follow-up car and mount that portion of the President’s car [rear portion of limousine]?
Hill: I did the same thing approximately four times.
Specter: What are the standard regulations and practices, if any, governing such an action on your part?
Hill: It is left to the agent’s discretion more or less to move to that particular position when he feels that there is a danger to the President: to place himself as close to the President or the First Lady as my case was, as possible, which I did.
Specter: Are those practices specified in any written documents of the Secret Service?
Hill: No, they are not.
Specter: Now, had there been any instruction or comment about your performance of that type of a duty with respect to anything President Kennedy himself had said in the period immediately preceding the trip to Texas?
Hill: Yes, sir; there was. The preceding Monday, the President was on a trip to Tampa, Florida, and he requested that the agents not ride on either of those two steps.
Specter: And to whom did the President make that request?
Hill: Assistant Special Agent in Charge Boring.
Specter: Was Assistant Special Agent in Charge Boring the individual in charge of that trip to Florida?
Hill: He was riding in the Presidential automobile on that trip in Florida, and I presume that he was. I was not along.
Specter: Well, on that occasion would he have been in a position comparable to that occupied by Special Agent Kellerman on this trip to Texas?
Hill: Yes sir; the same position.
Specter: And Special Agent Boring informed you of that instruction by President Kennedy?
Hill: Yes sir, he did.
Specter: Did he make it a point to inform other special agents of that same instruction?
Hill: I believe that he did, sir.
Specter: And, as a result of what President Kennedy said to him, did he instruct you to observe that Presidential admonition?
Hill: Yes, sir.
Specter: How, if at all, did that instruction of President Kennedy affect your action and—your action in safeguarding him on this trip to Dallas?
Hill: We did not ride on the rear portions of the automobile. I did on those four occasions because the motorcycles had to drop back and there was no protection on the left-hand side of the car. (Emphasis added throughout)
However, keeping in mind what Boring told this reviewer, the ARRB’s Doug Horne—by request of this author—interviewed Mr. Boring regarding this matter on 9/18/96. Horne wrote: “Mr. Boring was asked to read pages 136–137 of Clint Hill’s Warren Commission testimony, in which Clint Hill recounted that Floyd Boring had told him just days prior to the assassination that during the President’s Tampa trip on Monday, November 18, 1963, JFK had requested that agents not ride on the rear steps of the limousine, and that Boring had also so informed other agents of the White House detail, and that as a result, agents in Dallas (except Clint Hill, on brief occasions) did not ride on the rear steps of the limousine. Mr. Boring affirmed that he did make these statements to Clint Hill, but stated that he was not relaying a policy change, but rather simply telling an anecdote about the President’s kindness and consideration in Tampa in not wanting agents to have to ride on the rear of the Lincoln limousine when it was not necessary to do so because of a lack of crowds along the street.” (emphasis added)
Hill on limo

SS Agent Clint Hill rides on the rear of the Presidential limousine during the Dallas motorcade, November 22, 1963.

This reviewer finds this admission startling, especially because the one agent who decided to ride on the rear of the limousine in Dallas anyway—and on at least four different occasions—was none other than Clint Hill himself.
Returning to Hill’s book, Hill writes on pages 276-277: “What was most useful, from the Secret Service standpoint, were the special handles on the trunk and the steps on the rear bumper area where two additional agents could ride, and have immediate access to the occupants, should the need arise.” Then, in an awkward sentence, Hill continues: “But, as I’d been told the day before, the president did not want us there, on the back of the car.” Lisa McCubbin was also the co-author of Gerald Blaine’s The Kennedy Detail : boy, does this stuff sound familiar---the mantra of JFK-is-to-blame.
V. Other items of interest
After noting that President Kennedy trusted Kellerman “completely” (page 274) and wrongly noting that the SS-100-X was in service since March 1961 (page 276; it was actually in service since June 1961, 3 months later), Hill totally gleans over the infamous drinking incident of 11/21-11/22/63 involving NINE agents of the Secret Service, including Clint Hill himself, Paul Landis, Glen Bennett, and Jack Ready! Interestingly, they were all from Shift Leader Emory Roberts’ particular shift. Significantly, none of the agents from the V.P. LBJ detail were involved in the drinking incident.[7]
Regarding the issue of the bubbletop, although Hill states (on page 284) that agent Lawson conveyed to Sam Kinney, the driver of the follow-up car, that the bubbletop was to be removed in Dallas, Sam told this reviewer on 10/19/92 and, again, on 3/4/94 and 4/15/94: “It was my fault the top was off [the limousine in Dallas]—I am the sole responsibility of that.”[8] In addition, Kinney’s oft-ignored report dated November 30, 1963 confirms this fact[9], as does the former agent’s recently-released February 26, 1978 HSCA interview:
“... SA Kinney indicated that he felt that his was the responsibility for making the final decision about whether to use the bubble-top.”[10]
Hill, in his zeal to show how “normal” it was for JFK not to use the bubbletop, makes an error, as well as many omissions- he writes:
“It was the same whether he was in Berlin, Dublin [wrong-JFK used the top on part of this trip, in bad AND good weather!], Honolulu, Tampa, San Antonio, or San Jose, Costa Rica.”
What Hill omits are the many times JFK used a PARTIAL top (just the front and back with the middle open) OR the FULL top (New York Spring 1963, several motorcades in D.C., Venezuela, and many other trips). [11]
On page 286, Hill states that Bill Greer, the driver of JFK’s car, was “a Catholic”, yet his own son Richard told me on two occasions that his father was a Methodist. (When asked, “What did your father think of JFK?”, Richard did not respond the first time. When this author asked him a second time, Greer responded: “Well, we’re Methodists … and JFK was Catholic.”)![12] In addition, Hill states that Greer “spoke with a bit of a brogue”, something not in evidence on his lengthy 1970 interview available on my You Tube Channel.[13]
VI. VERY interesting
On page 287, Hill describes the makeup of the follow-up car and writes: “Glen Bennett from the Protective Research Section, handling intelligence (emphasis added).” Oh, really? Thanks for the confirmation, Clint. Officially-speaking, he was NOT acting as an active PRS agent that day…well, at least according to your own colleagues who spoke to me.[14] For his part, former WHD agent J. Walter Coughlin, who assisted fellow agent Dennis R. Halterman on the advance for the San Antonio part of the Texas trip (November 21, 1963), wrote the author: “I can only add the following—I was not in Dallas so my knowledge is hearsay from good friends who were there." Glen Bennett was on all these trips [second New York, Florida, and Texas] not as a member of PRS but as a temporary shift agent in that so many of us (shift agents) were out on advance. "This I do know to be a fact and read nothing more into it.”
Furthermore, the author must have touched a nerve in Coughlin. Winston Lawson wrote the author:
I understand from my friend Walt Coughlin that you wondered why Glen Bennett from PRS was on the trip [note: the author did not tell Coughlin, who lives in Texas, about the author’s contact with Lawson, who lives in Virginia, regarding this or any other question]. Nothing sinister about it and had nothing to do with threats or intelligence. There were so many trips, MD and FL, just prior to TX and so many stops in TX that the small WH Detail was decimated supplying advance people. A number of temporarily assigned agents were on all 3 shifts in TX … I believe Walt had been on an advance before he went to his stop in TX.”
Clearly, we have a conflict: the written record, my research, and Clint Hill’s account versus Walt Coughlin’s and Win Lawson’s statements to myself.
Was PRS Agent Glen Bennett monitoring mortal threats to JFK’s life, made in the month of November, and was this covered up afterwards? Is this the reason for the conflicting accounts—and the timing—of Bennett’s participation in the second New York trip, the Florida trip, and the Texas trip?
Did Bennett ride in the follow-up car and participate on these trips for this purpose? I strongly believe this to be the case. Thanks again, Clint, for the confirmation.
VII. And another thing (or two)
On pages 288-289, Hill mentions that JFK looked back at him on two different occasions during the fateful Dallas motorcade--when Hill briefly rode on the rear of the car on Main St, as depicted in the photo on page 289-- yet did not say anything. JFK not saying anything speaks volumes, in and of itself. Mainly, that he did not care, one way or the other, if the agents were there doing their duty or not. But what is most troubling is the fact that no films or photos this author has ever seen reveal JFK allegedly turning to look at Hill in the first place! Hmmm…
Just to reiterate the point of SAIC Behn’s absence from the Texas trip and its importance further, Hill writes (on page 297): “Jerry Behn…was with the president all the time, just like I was with Mrs. Kennedy. They had a great relationship. The president loved him, trusted him…Jerry decided to take a week off…His first annual leave in three years.” Kind of convenient.
VIII. Another mantra: the back of the head
On pages 290, 291, 305, and 306, Clint Hill states firmly, as he has many times in the past[15], that the BACK of JFK’s head was gone, thus indicating that President Kennedy was shot from the front, as entrance wounds leave small holes, while exit wounds leave large holes. Page 290: “…blood, brain matter, and bone fragments exploded from the back of the president’s head. The president’s blood, parts of his skull, bits of his brain were splattered all over me---on my face, my clothes, in my hair.” Page 291: “His eyes were fixed, and I could see inside the back of his head. I could see inside the back of the president’s head.” Page 305: (at the autopsy) “the wound in the upper-right rear of the head.” Page 306: “It looked like somebody had flipped open the back of his head, stuck in an ice-cream scoop and removed a portion of the brain…”
IX. In the final analysis
Unlike The Kennedy Detail, Clint Hill has written (again, with Lisa McCubbin) a fine book. That said, it is best to take some of his pre-assassination “reenactments” of statements made by others (“faction”?) with a huge grain of salt, while also noting—with interest---those assassination and post-assassination revelations and statements that do ring true and are of interest to all.

POST SCRIPT
It was recently announced that the first book Clint Hill was involved with, Lisa McCubbin’s and Gerald Blaine’s The Kennedy Detail, will be made into a movie, set for release in 2013, the 50th anniversary of the assassination.[16] The movie should be about Abe Bolden.  That is a great story and a truthful one. That said, Mark Lane’s movie, that will include former Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden, is set to be released soon.[17] That should even out the playing field a little more. Lane’s movie with Bolden will hopefully fill in the blanks left by the Secret Service destruction of records.
According to Ch. 8 of the ARRB’s Final Report (1998):
Congress passed the JFK Act of 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 his murder would be relevant.
As the ARRB’s Doug Horne wrote in a memo dated April 16, 1996: “The ‘final decision’ to approve the Texas trip made ‘late Tuesday night’ indicates that decision came on September 24, 1963 … the Secret Service Protective Survey Reports … which were destroyed in 1995 commence with trip files starting on this same date: September 24, 1963.”
In addition, the ARRB’s Joan Zimmerman noted in a May 1, 1997 Memorandum To File:
“Thus far, the US Secret Service collection is in 6 gray archive boxes for documents, 7 large, flat gray boxes with newspapers and clippings, and 1 small box with a tape cassette … In Box 5 there are three folders marked “trip file”. All are empty.” The chairman of the ARRB, Judge Jack Tunheim, stated: “The Secret Service destroyed records after we were on the job and working. They claimed it was a mistake that it was just by the normal progression of records destruction.”[18]
More important are the Florida/Chicago Secret Service Advance reports that the Secret Service intentionally destroyed after being asked for them by the ARRB, and that, according to The Kennedy Detail, Gerald Blaine has copies of and preserved.[19] The largest number of known destroyed JFK documents for the U.S. Secret Service was implemented by James Mastrovito, publicly recorded in the ARRB Collection, Joan Zimmerman Correspondence File, Created 04/01/97 CALL REPORT/PUBLIC. USSS Records.
Mastrovito destroyed a vial containing a portion of JFK's brain, along with 5 or 6 file cabinets of material, according to the two page document.[20]
JAMES MASTROVITO WENT ON TO A CAREER IN THE CIA AND HE WAS A FORMER MEMBER OF JFK'S WHITE HOUSE DETAIL![21] (emphasis added)



[2] 6 H 163. As the author presented at the COPA ’96 and JFK Lancer ’97 conferences, the press photographers frequently rode in a flatbed truck in front of the motorcade pro-cession [films courtesy JFK Library; see also John F. Kennedy: A Life in Pictures, pp. 178–180, 183, 231]. Photographer Tony Zappone confirmed to the author on December 18, 2003 that a flatbed truck was used for the photographers in Tampa, Florida, on November 18, 1963.
[3] See my CTKA review of “The Kennedy Detail”
[4] Ibid; Kellerman was conveniently absent from Blaine’s alleged 11/25/63 meeting
[6] 2 H 136-137
[9] 18 H 730
[10] RIF#180–10078–10493
[11] See the images on my blog and on my You Tube channel videos. See also http://www.assassinationresearch.com/v4n1/v4n1chapter03.pdf
[15] Hill’s November 30, 1963 report: 18 H 740–5. WC testimony: 2 H 141, 143 (See also the 2004 National Geographic documentary, Inside the U.S. Secret Service). See also “The Kennedy Detail”, pages 216-217, 266+ media appearances
[18] CBS News, December 13, 1999.
[19] E-mail from researcher Bill Kelly 4/18/12

Slick Propaganda: A Review of The Discovery Channel documentary, The Kennedy Detail (based on the 2010 Gerald Blaine book of the same title) by Vince Palamara

Slick Propaganda:

A Review of The Discovery Channel documentary, The Kennedy Detail (based on the 2010 Gerald Blaine book of the same title)

by Vince Palamara

Before I even begin to discuss this two-hour program, it is necessary for one to have read my lengthy review of the book of the same name, The Kennedy Detail.1 This Discovery Channel documentary originally aired—twice—on 12/2/10 and, again, on 12/4/10 (It was originally supposed to debut on the 47th anniversary of the assassination on 11/22/10 but, for some reason or reasons unknown, the show aired a week and a half later. Like the release of the book on 11/2/10, Election Day, the marketing strategy of Blaine’s work was a tad suspect, in my opinion, but I digress). As one who has interviewed and corresponded with most of the Secret Service agents who served under JFK2, I was most looking forward to this documentary, as there can be an appeal to an audio/visual format of one’s point-of-view that can get lost in translation in strict black and white writings. That said, as with the book of the same name, there are some things to commend in The Kennedy Detail television special, while there are also several noteworthy items to condemn or, at the very least, tread cautiously on.
I must give credit where credit is due: I was most impressed with many of the visuals—the many sundry films and photographs used—in this documentary. In addition, I was also heartened to see then-and–now photographs of the agents and some of their wives, as well. For the record, the JFK Secret Service agents involved in the production were (naturally) Gerald Blaine (in Austin on 11/22/63), Clint Hill (in Dallas on 11/22/63), Paul Landis (same), Winston Lawson (same), David Grant (same, albeit at the Trade Mart), Ron Pontius (the 11/21/63 Houston lead advance agent), and, oddly enough, Toby Chandler (attending Secret Service school in Washington, D.C. on 11/22/63), "as well as Tom Wells (with Caroline Kennedy at the White House on 11/22/63).". The non-assassination aspects of this program were, by and large, entertaining and somewhat riveting at times; in this regard, I don’t have much of a problem with these areas of the production, per se, except with the almost too saccharine “Camelot” portrayal of the Kennedys and the “choir-boy,” near angelic image that was portrayed of the agents themselves, traits also to be found in the book, as well. Then again, regarding the latter image portrayal, one would think it would be in Blaine’s best interest to put the best foot forward, so to speak, and present the agents in the finest light possible, especially in light of their miserable failings on 11/22/63, the day President Kennedy was assassinated under their watch.

There is an old saying: “The devil is in the details.” It is with this in mind that a look at some of those details, mentioned in the program or avoided, as they pertain to the Secret Service and the assassination of JFK, is in order now.
  • In a curious and ironic program note, the 2009 Discovery Channel documentary Secrets of the Secret Service aired right before both initial airings of The Kennedy Detail program and, in this show, an official Secret Service documentary, the narrator, as well as a couple former agents, Joseph Funk and Joe Petro, briefly mention the mistakes the agents made with regard to the assassination that go directly against what is being espoused in the Blaine production; quite a noticeable contrast, to say the least, and one that many people, myself included, noticed immediately.3 In general, the “blame-the-victim” (i.e., JFK) notion that is such part and parcel of both the Blaine book and documentary is largely replaced by rightfully noting the mistakes made by the agency: taking the president through Dealey Plaza, in particular, as well as the equally false “blame-the-staff” idea, a notion Blaine does not even mention in his book and is, for the record—like blaming JFK for the security deficiencies—false. Specifically, the most alarming contrast with The Kennedy Detail program is what The Secrets of the Secret Service decided to deal with that the Blaine show strangely avoided.
  • Although it is mentioned in his book4: the infamous WFAA/ABC black and white video of an agent being recalled at Love Field during the start of the motorcade in Dallas was not included in The Kennedy Detail program. The Secrets program did show the clip of an agent complaining for being left behind at Love Field, which is quite an endorsement considering that, once again, this is an official Secret Service documentary made with agency input. (As mentioned in my review of the book, many other people agreed with my opinion of what is being shown in this footage, including, notably, former JFK agent Larry Newman, the Henry Rybka family, and countless authors and researchers who have viewed the video, not to mention the 3 million plus people who have viewed this controversial video, popularized by myself, on YouTube.5) It is strange that Blaine's program chose not to show this footage even to debunk it. Equally disturbing is the aforementioned contrast between his views, as espoused only in his book, and my views, as displayed on the very same network on the very same night of Blaine’s documentary! To his “credit”, Blaine and Hill both endorse their book point-of-view regarding the Love Field agent recall video during their joint appearance on C-SPAN on 11/28/10.6
  • Ironically, my view that my letter to Mr. Hill was the catalyst for the Blaine book was discussed by the agents and host Brian Lamb on the show (I was also noted in a major review of the book in the Vancouver Sun7 ). For her part, co-author Lisa McCubbin posted the following on 11/24/10 on the official Facebook edition of The Kennedy Detail:
Contrary to Vince Palamara's claims, the book was absolutely NOT written to counteract his letter to Clint Hill. Mr. Hill never read Palamara's letter—it went straight into the trash. Gerald Blaine wrote this book on his volition, and Mr. Hill contributed after much deliberation.8 (emphasis added)
For his part, Hill told Brian Lamb on the aforementioned C-SPAN program four days later:
I recall receiving a letter which I sent back to him. I didn’t bother with it…he called me and I said ”Hello” but that was about it. But he alleges that because he sent me a letter 22 pages in length apparently, and that I discussed [it] with Jerry. I forgot that I ever got a 22-page letter from this particular individual until I heard him say it on TV and I never discussed it with Jerry or anybody else because it wasn’t important to me.9 (emphasis added)
Yet, in the biggest contradiction of all, Blaine quoted from my letter to Hill when I spoke to him on 6/10/05 and mentioned his deep friendship with Hill, as well, extending back to the late 1950’s. For the record, I received Hill’s signed receipt for the letter and it was never returned to me.10 For his part, Blaine stated on the very same C-SPAN program: “I have never talked to any author of a book”. Another blatant falsehood that went unchallenged: Blaine was interviewed on 5/12/65 for Manchester’s massive best-selling The Death of a President (Blaine is thanked in Manchester’s One Brief Shining Moment, as well) and he was interviewed 2/7/04 and 6/10/05, not to mention e-mail correspondence, by myself for my book Survivor’s Guilt: The Secret Service & The Failure To Protect The President.11
Bear with this seeming digression just a tad more, for it does indeed bear directly on both Blaine’s book and on the documentary under specific discussion herein. On the C-SPAN appearance with Hill, regarding myself, Blaine stated: “I am familiar with him, I don’t know him… My assessment of Mr. Palamara is that he called probably all of the agents [true], and what agent who answers a phone is going to answer a question ”Was President Kennedy easy to protect?” [many of them did, and, like Blaine, told me that JFK was a very nice man, never interfered with the actions of the Secret Service at all, nor did President Kennedy ever order the agents off his limousine] Well, probably he was too easy to protect because he was assassinated [what?]. But the fact that the agents aren’t going to tell him anything [many told me information of much value, Blaine included] and he alludes to the fact that when I wrote the book, most of these people were dead. Well, I worked with these people, I knew them like brothers and I knew exactly what was going on and always respected Jim Rowley because he stood up to the issue and said ”Look, we can’t say the President invited himself to be killed so let’s squash this.” So that was the word throughout the Secret Service and he—Mr. Palamara is—there are a number of things that had happened [sic] that he has no credibility [your opinion, Mr. Blaine], he is a self-described expert in his area which I don’t know what it is, he was born after the assassination [as was your co-author, Lisa McCubbin!] and he keeps creating solutions to the assassination until they are proven wrong [again, your opinion, Mr. Blaine].”
  • But Blaine wasn’t finished with me just yet: “The Zapruder film, when the Zapruder film was run at normal speed, another theme that Palamara throws out is that Bill Greer stopped the car, when it’s run at its normal speed, you will notice the car absolutely does not stop at all. This happened in less than six seconds after the President was hit in the throat and moving along.” (emphasis added) Oh, so you agree with my “theory” that JFK was shot in the neck from the FRONT, do you, Mr. Blaine? And there were close to sixty witnesses to the limousine slowing or stopping, including seven Secret Service agents and Jacqueline Kennedy—not my theory, just the facts.12
  • Returning directly to The Kennedy Detail documentary, Ron Pontius specifically refers to one of my articles13 (also a part of a chapter in my book14) without naming me.15 As the narrator, Martin Sheen, notes: “The most painful theories point fingers at the agents themselves.” To his credit, Pontius mentioned earlier in the program how the threats to Kennedy’s life increased dramatically over those directed toward Eisenhower when JFK took office.16 That said, the same narrator later mentioned that “Dallas worried the men on the detail,”17 a notion seemingly not made manifest in the security preparations for the fateful Dallas trip.
  • Keeping all of these points into focus, as with the book itself, it is the fraudulent allegations that JFK ordered the agents off the limousine in Tampa, Florida on 11/18/63, which allegedly were made into standing orders for Kennedy’s trip to Texas four days later, that is given a spotlight herein. Blaine’s words are simply incredible (literally, not credible) and deserve to be quoted, verbatim, here: “President Kennedy made a decision, and he politely told everybody, ‘You know, we’re starting the campaign now, and the people are my asset,’" said agent Jerry Blaine. "And so, we all of a sudden understood. It left a firm command to stay off the back of the car."18
Huh? “Everybody”? THAT alleged statement “left a firm command”? As I stated in the review for Blaine’s book, not only do many films and photos depict the agents (still) riding on (or walking/ jogging very near) the rear of the limousine in Tampa19, including a few shown in this documentary, Congressman Sam Gibbons, who actually rode a mere foot away in the presidential limo with JFK, wrote to me in a letter 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.” Also, photographer Tony Zappone, then a 16-year-old witness to the motorcade in Tampa (one of whose photos for this motorcade was ironically used in The Kennedy Detail!), told me that the agents were “definitely on the back of the car for most of the day until they started back for MacDill AFB at the end of the day.”20 Agent Hill fibs and blames the entering of the freeway via Dealey Plaza as the reason agents weren’t on the back of the car during the shooting21, neglecting to mention the fact that, during prior trips, the agents rode on the rear of the car at fast highway speeds, including in Tampa four days before, as well as in Berlin and Bogota, Columbia, to name just a couple others.22 Again, please see my detailed review of The Kennedy Detail book for much more on this.23
While it is nice to see Toby Chandler and David Grant talk about JFK, they add little or nothing to the assassination debate itself (and neither Grant nor Hill mention the fact that Grant is Clint Hill’s brother in-law, a fact revealed to myself when I spoke to Gerald Blaine on 6/10/05). For his part, Paul Landis lambastes researchers for “having a field day” with conspiracy theories, yet doesn’t mention that he, himself, tremendously helped these “theorists” via his reports (plural) describing a shot to JFK from the front.24 Hill further confirms that the back of JFK’s head was gone.25 Finally, Agent Lawson says that there were only three shots, yet fails to mention that, around the very same time as the filming of this documentary, he also stated that he “saw a huge hole in the back of the president’s head.”26
Is it any wonder, then, why I refer to The Kennedy Detail Discovery Channel documentary as being slick propaganda, designed to blame President Kennedy for his own assassination by falsely stating that he ordered the agents off his limousine, as well as propagating the whole Oswald-acted-alone mantra?
Viewer beware.

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End Notes

4. See especially pages 359-360. See also my video rebuttals to Blaine’s take on what is being depicted: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gB8WmbvmTw and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDhvGHrM_dQ&feature=related
9. Hill, referring to myself, added: “And so far as him being an expert, I don’t know where the expert part came from. I spent a long time in the Secret Service in protection and I’m not an expert, but apparently he became an expert somewhere up in Pennsylvania, I don’t know where.” See also 1:08 of: http://news.discovery.com/videos/history-kennedy-detail-confronting-conspiracies.html
20. E-mail to Vince Palamara from Tony Zappone dated 10/20/10
24. Landis’s report dated November 27, 1963: 18 H 758–9; Landis’s detailed report dated November 30, 1963: 18 H 751–7; HSCA Report, pp. 89, 606 (referencing Landis’s interview, February 17, 1979 outside contact report, JFK Document 014571)
25. Hill’s November 30, 1963 report: 18 H 740–5. (See also the 2004 National Geographic documentary, Inside the U.S. Secret Service.)
26. See article in The Virginian-Pilot ,June 17, 2010, by Bill Bartel: http://hamptonroads.com/2010/06/do-you-remember-where-you-were-he-does-jfk#rfq