JFK assassination changed Secret Service

November 30, 2013

While reforms and developments since 1963 may have added to the protective services for U.S. presidents and candidates, they did not continue to protect them all. The failure of the Secret Service in 1963 cannot be explained fully in hindsight about agency improvements since there were obvious breaches in standard security procedures on November 22, 1963 in Dallas that remain unexplained fully to this day.

JFK assassination changed Secret Service
By Gabriella Schwarz, CNN White House Producer
updated 7:52 AM EST, Sat November 23, 2013

President John F. Kennedy greets supporters during his visit to Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday, November 22, 1963. This month marks 50 years since his assassination in Dallas, an event that jarred the nation and fueled a multitude of conspiracy theories about whether Kennedy was killed by a single gunman acting alone in the Texas School Book Depository. Here are some images from that fateful day as it unfolded. President John F. Kennedy greets supporters during his visit to Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday, November 22, 1963. This month marks 50 years since his assassination in Dallas, an event that jarred the nation and fueled a multitude of conspiracy theories about whether Kennedy was killed by a single gunman acting alone in the Texas School Book Depository. Here are some images from that fateful day as it unfolded.

First lady Jacqueline Kennedy at a breakfast held by the Chamber of Commerce in Fort Worth with Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, left, and Kennedy.

The Kennedys arrive at Love Field in Dallas on a trip to advance the upcoming 1964 campaign.

About 11:45 a.m., Texas Gov. John B. Connally Jr., waving to the crowd, and the Kennedys depart Love Field for a 10-mile tour of Dallas. The President asked about the weather earlier in the day and opted not to have a top on the limousine.

The Kennedys and Connallys leave Love Field with Secret Service Agent Bill Greer driving the presidential limousine. The motorcade is on the way to the Trade Mart, where Kennedy is to speak at a sold-out luncheon.

Crowds line the street as Kennedy’s motorcade heads toward downtown Dallas. A group of White House staffers follows the motorcade in a bus several vehicles behind the presidential limousine.

Dallas Police Officer Bobby Hargis, background, is one of four motorcycle officers assigned to Kennedy’s car, which reaches Houston Street shortly before 12:30 p.m. “I thought, ‘Well, we’ve got it made now,’ ” Hargis said. “And then bam! It happens.”

Kennedy is seen approximately one minute before he is shot.

Seen through the limousine’s windshield as it proceeds along Elm Street past the Texas School Book Depository, Kennedy appears to raise his hand toward his head after being shot. The first lady holds Kennedy’s forearm in an effort to aid him.

Kennedy slumps against his wife as the bullet strikes him in the head. Connally, who is wounded in the attack, begins to turn around just to the left of Jackie Kennedy.

Kennedy slumps in the back seat of the car and his wife leans over to him as Secret Service Agent Clinton Hill rides on the back of the car.

The limousine carrying the mortally wounded President races toward the hospital seconds after three shots are fired. Two bullets hit Kennedy and one hit Connally. Hill rides on the back of the car as the wives cover their stricken husbands.

The limousine speeds along Elm Street toward the Stemmons Freeway overpass moments after shots are fired at Dealey Plaza.

Photographers are seen running shortly after the shooting.

Hurchel Jacks, Vice President Johnson’s driver in the motorcade, listens with others to news accounts on the car radio outside the Parkland Hospital emergency entrance. After the shots were fired, Jacks had rerouted the vice president’s car to safety. The ABC radio network broadcast the first nationwide news bulletin reporting that shots have been fired at the Kennedy motorcade.

Before 1 p.m., Dr. Tom Shires, with Parkland public relations director Steve Landregan, rear, describes the President’s wounds to the press. Four doctors worked on the stricken Kennedy in the emergency room.

American broadcast journalist and anchorman Walter Cronkite removes his glasses and prepares to announce Kennedy’s death. CBS broadcast the first nationwide TV news bulletin reporting on the shooting.

A photographer captures a New Yorker’s expression of shock upon hearing the news. At 1 p.m. the 46-year-old President of the United States is declared dead, becoming the fourth U.S. president killed in office.

After 2 p.m., Jacqueline Kennedy leaves Parkland Hospital with her slain husband’s body. She would ride in the back with the bronze casket. “I had a feeling that if somebody had literally fired a pistol in front of her face that she would just have blinked,” said Dallas Police Officer James Jennings, who helped put the casket in the hearse.

The hearse carrying Kennedy’s body pulls away from Parkland Hospital en route to the airport.

Lee Harvey Oswald, a 24-year-old ex-Marine, is arrested in the back of a movie theater where he fled after shooting Dallas Police Patrolman J.D. Tippit. That incident occurred approximately 45 minutes after the assassination.

Vice President Lyndon Johnson takes the oath of office to become the 36th president of the United States. He is sworn in by U.S. Federal Judge Sarah T. Hughes, left, with Jacqueline Kennedy by his side on Air Force One.

The casket containing the body of President Kennedy is moved to a Navy ambulance from the presidential plane. Jacqueline Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy stand behind on the elevator.

Jacqueline and Robert Kennedy get into the Navy ambulance with the president’s body at Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington. The body of the president is taken to Bethesda Naval Hospital for an immediate autopsy.

Police mug shot of Lee Harvey Oswald. He is arraigned in the slaying of Officer Tippit on November 22 and/or the murder of the president the next day. As Oswald is being transferred from the Dallas city jail to the county jail, nightclub owner Jack Ruby shoots and kills him, an event captured live on TV. Ruby is arrested immediately.

A man holds up a copy of the New York World-Telegram featuring the news of the assassination. Major television and radio networks devote continuous news coverage to the events of the day, canceling all entertainment and all commercials. Many theaters, stores and businesses, including stock exchanges and government offices, are closed.

The assassination of JFK set in motion a series of reforms to the Secret Service
Secret Service today has 3,400 agents compared to 350 when JFK was assassinated
The agency’s budget has increased from $5.5 million in 1963 to $1.6 billion over 50 years
Spokesman: “As the threats change, the Secret Service has changed”

Washington (CNN) — In the Secret Service, there is pre-Kennedy and post-Kennedy.

The shots fired by Lee Harvey Oswald that killed President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, set in motion a series of reforms to the Secret Service, the agency in charge of protecting America’s most powerful leaders.

In the 50 years since the assassination of America’s 35th president, the Secret Service force has increased nearly tenfold and its budget grown by roughly 58% a year.

The organization that exists today has 3,400 agents and budget of $1.6 billion, a significant increase from the 350 agents and budget of $5.5 million in 1963, according to Secret Service spokesman Special Agent Brian Leary.

“As the threats change, the Secret Service has changed,” Leary said.

The Warren Commission, established after the Kennedy assassination, created the “intelligence division” designed to expand and improve relations with other agencies, including state and local law enforcement and mental health institutions, and the “technical security division” that assesses the security of an environment, including air quality and fire safety. In the 1970s the organization expanded to include a counter-sniper unit and counter-assault teams.

50 years on, nation pauses to remember Kennedy’s death

The uncovered limousine that Kennedy rode through Dallas a half-century ago is hard to imagine in today.

According to former agent Jerry Blaine, who co-wrote “The Kennedy Detail” and was with the former president when he was shot, Kennedy chafed at the close proximity of his protective detail and was quoted saying “Have the Ivy League charlatans drop back to the follow-up car … we’ve got an election coming up. The whole point is for me to be accessible to the people.”

Today, President Barack Obama is transported in a limousine known as “The Beast,” which could be described as an armored safe on wheels. Its doors alone weigh as much as those on a Boeing 757, according to a Discovery Channel special on the Secret Service. Obama has called the car “a fortified limousine” and while in Tanzania earlier this year contrasted the current state of presidential travel with that of Robert F. Kennedy, who visited the country while he was a U.S. senator in 1966.

JFK assassination a collective memory for American children

“It was a little different back then. Kennedy and his wife, Ethel, rode in the back of an open truck,” Obama said at the state house in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in July. “The Secret Service has me and Michelle inside a fortified limousine. We call it ‘The Beast.’ As Kennedy’s truck made its way through the crowds, he picked up two boys and let them ride alongside them. The Secret Service doesn’t let me do these things.”

Leary also pointed to other present-day protocols, including covered arrivals and departures, extensive use of magnetometers and separation from the media, many of which were instituted after the March 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan and designed to increase the safety of America’s presidents.

For agents who receive months of extensive training, historic events like those targeted attacks on Kennedy and Reagan serve as moments from which to learn. Leary said agents “learn from all incidents” to improve upon protective operations, which extend beyond the commander in chief.

Former presidents, their spouses and children were added to the protected list in 1965, major candidates and their spouses in 1968, foreign heads of state in 1971 and the coordination of special events like inaugurations in 1998. The extensive vetting process of presidential site visits, known as “advance,” has also grown. Leary described the advance protocols as “comprehensive” and said they include close cooperation with state and local officials surrounding everything from the president’s arrival at the airport to the motorcade route. It’s a process, about which the president references, most recently, at least publicly, at a June fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in Miami Beach.

“Opening up your house is a big deal on any occasion. When you’ve got Secret Service and everybody else running around, moving furniture, potentially bumping into that painting that’s probably worth a lot of money … that makes you more stressed,” Obama told Democratic donors. “So can you all please move away from the painting? Just wanted to make that point.”

And just as often, a more serious tone from the president about his protection is expressed.

“As president, I get to meet and work with a lot of extraordinary law enforcement officers every single day, from men and women who protect me and my family — the folks in the Secret Service — to local police who help out on motorcades in events around the country,” Obama said at a Top Cops ceremony at the White House in May. “I’m incredibly grateful that all these law enforcement officers are doing such outstanding work.

One Response to JFK assassination changed Secret Service

  1. December 2, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    As Mark Lane pointed out via closed-circuit TV in Dallas last weekend, the CIA had printed credentials for the Secret Service during JFK’s visit. This explains how a gunman behind the picket fence, upon being stopped by a Dallas cop immediately after the assassination, was able to flash a Secret Service I.D. and be let go, even as the Secret Service claimed (correctly) that they had no agents in that area.

    I trust the Secret Service is printing its own credentials in 2013.

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