A recent article in Vanity Fair, written by Susan Cheever, purports to blow the lid off the behavior of Secret Service agents in Dallas on November 21-22, 1963. As usual, though, popular magazines and “investigative reporters” are slow to catch up to the inside facts of how and why JFK was killed. Cheever’s revelations may seem earth-shattering to the uninformed, but long-time assassination researchers yawn at her supposed bombshells.
For instance, anyone who has seriously investigated the Secret Service’s actions in Dallas has known for almost 50 years that key members of JFK’s protection detail were drunk or hungover during the fatal motorcade. At least six, and probably closer to nine, agents had partied at a notorious local club until the early morning hours of November 22. The club, The Cellar, was known for catering to cops, politicians, reporters, and Mafia types. Cheever thinks she has uncovered dynamite; in reality she is 50 years late to the party. She writes:
“It took the Cellar’s owner, Pat Kirkwood, however, more than 20 years to provide a more detailed account of the night. In the letters he wrote in 1963, he was certain that none of the Secret Service agents in his establishment had been drinking. Then, in 1984, as Jim Marrs would note in his book Crossfire, published five years later, Kirkwood opened up in an article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, recounting the glory days of the club and explaining that although he did not ‘officially’ serve liquor, he actually handed out large quantities of booze, especially to people like lawyers and politicians and policemen who might later be helpful. ‘About 3:30,’ Kirkwood said, “these Secret Service men were sitting around giggling about how the firemen were guarding the president over at the Hotel Texas.’
“Cellar manager Jimmy Hill would also tell his side of the story in that same Star-Telegram article: ‘After the agents were there we got a call from the White House asking us not to say anything about them drinking because their image had suffered enough as it was. We didn’t say anything but those guys were bombed. They were drinking pure Everclear.” (Everclear is a strong intoxicant—either 151- or 190-proof—and was known at the time as a spike for drinks such as a Salty Dick.) In addition, the waitresses at the Cellar—a late-night drawing card for the club—were scantily clad. These underdressed women sometimes attended to over-served men, and if their testimony was ever provided, it has never surfaced.’”
Cheever, in a half-hearted attempt to be thorough, also quotes Abraham Bolden, the first African-American Secret Service agent. “‘I knew it would happen. I told those playboys that someone was going to get the president killed if they kept acting like they did. Now it’s happened,’ said Bolden. Today, Bolden, a 79-year-old retiree in Chicago, thinks that drinking definitely had something to do with the ‘lackadaisical’ Secret Service performance when the Kennedy motorcade was under attack. ‘The biggest problem I ran into with the Secret Service when I was an agent was their constant drinking,’ he told me.”
What Cheever doesn’t reveal is that Bolden’s book contains much more explicit and explosive indictments of the Secret Service in JFK’s time. Bolden asserted that several agents regularly professed their hatred of the president and insisted they would step aside if anyone tried to assassinate him. Not exactly the best attitude for those entrusted with Kennedy’s life. But Cheever ignores this. She never even hints that perhaps the Secret Service was in on the hit, despite overwhelming and long-standing evidence that it was. Cheever ascribes the agents’ culpable behavior to negligence or drunkenness. High treason and conspiracy to commit murder aren’t considerations.
However, the evidence for Secret Service participation in the plot and the cover-up is overwhelming. I believe at least four agents could have been tried and convicted as accomplices to murder: Roy Kellerman, Winston Lawson, William Greer, and Emory Roberts. For 50 years, though, no mainstream media outlet has dared to explore this dark alley because doing so would lead to back to the real brains behind the dirty project: Lyndon Johnson and the CIA, the men who recruited into the plot Secret Service agents who hated Kennedy and wanted him dead.