Wednesday, 09 April 2014 18:47

Vincent M. Palamara, Survivor's Guilt

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surivorsguiltAt the end, Palamara lists a very good chronicle of failures by the Secret Service in Dallas. It goes on for three pages. It is very provocative and even disturbing. The author uses it to crystallize the argument he has been making without being explicit about it [, concluding] that the Secret Service was not just negligent, but culpable in the assassination. With the amount of evidence in the first half of the book, it's hard to disagree with him, writes Jim DiEugenio.

 


Vince Palamara is, with little question, the critical author who has the most knowledge of the failures of the Secret Service in their obligation to protect President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. In other fields of knowledge and information e.g. who is the most outstanding expert in the medical field, on Jim Garrison, on the HSCA etc., there is some room for debate. But very few would argue about Palamara being on first base in regards to the Secret Service.

Well over a decade ago, Palamara put together a self-published manuscript of his work in that area. It was also called Survivor's Guilt. By his own admission, he then burnt out on the case. He succumbed to the hype about Vincent Bugliosi's colossal charade of a book, Reclaiming History. Impressed by the prosecutor's reputation, the author put together a You Tube video in which he said that Bugliosi had solved the case. Thankfully, several months later, Palamara then reversed himself on the subject of Reclaiming History. He has since written some good reviews for this site on books by Gerald Blaine and Clint Hill. He also has his own blog, and maintains a site which commemorates the heroism of Abraham Bolden. So today, Palamara is back in good standing among the critics.

The 2013 version of Survivor's Guilt runs to about 430 pages of text. In this reviewer's opinion, the first half of the book is rewarding, informative and well worth reading. That first half makes up one of the more distinctive efforts timed for the 50th anniversary of JFK's murder. It is well argued, profusely and accurately documented, and is quite frank and candid about what went wrong in Dealey Plaza, and why it is hard to buy the Secret Service's incredibly poor performance as a case of pure negligence. There are 18 chapters in the book. The first half, that is up to Chapter 9, makes up the worthwhile part of the work. So let us discuss that valuable part at this time.

I

Palamara begins the book with what most would think is some of his strongest material indicating a cover up after the fact by the Secret Service. In the days after the murder, there were questions as to why there were no agents riding on the rear bumper of Kennedy's limousine at the time of the shooting. After all, this is what the specially modeled bumper is designed for. But at the time the limousine entered Dealey Plaza, there were no agents in place on the rear bumper.

This is an important point to explore. Because if one buys the Warren Commission verdict of three shots from the rear, then having no agents on the rear of the car probably had an effect on the shooting. At the least, if they had been in place, it would have made it more difficult. The Warren Commission had questions about this also. (Palamara, p. 3) Therefore, Secret Service Director James Rowley had five affidavits prepared about their experiences with President Kennedy. As the author notes, "At first glance, all five reports appear to support the notion that President Kennedy did not want agents on or near the rear of his limousine." (ibid, emphasis added) The five reports were allegedly done by Jerry Behn, Floyd Boring, Emory Roberts, John Ready and Clint Hill.

The problem with this evidence is that it seems clearly coerced by Rowley. Why? Because when Palamara later interviewed many of these agents, they contradicted what they had written for the Commission. For instance, when Palamara talked to Boring, the agent said that Kennedy did not exercise control over them at all. (ibid, p. 6) Clint Hill told the author that Kennedy never told the agents not to ride on the car. But he further added that, "I had never heard the president ever question procedural recommendations by his Secret Service detail. (ibid, p. 14) In fact, earlier in the Dallas motorcade, Hill actually was on the bumper. (ibid, p. 11)

Palamara notes other oddities about these submissions. Three of the five reports are not even on official Secret Service stationery. They are on plain typing paper. Clint Hill's report is not even dated. Four of the five reports are based on exchanges with Boring. In other words, the agents heard this from him. Yet, as the author points out, this was later contradicted by Boring. Gerald Blaine even says there was a Secret Service meeting on November 25th, in which it was decided to cover up Kennedy's orders not to ride on the car. As Palamara points out, this is absurd. The implication is that Rowley made some of the agents switch the blame for the Secret Service's lack of protection to Kennedy.

Palamara further points out the absurdity of Blaine and Rowley's positions by mentioning the famous film of agent Donald Lawton being called off the back of the limousine by Emory Roberts as it pulled out of Love Field. Lawton memorably shrugs his shoulders in bewilderment three times as this recall. Palamara further adds that agent Henry Rybka was supposed to be in the follow up car. But, in fact, inexplicably, Rybka was left at the airport. (ibid, p. 9)

Further, and quite compellingly, Palamara now goes to other agents ignored by Rowley. He asks them if Kennedy ever directed the Secret Service not to ride on the back of the limousine. This list of agents goes on well into the double digits. It includes people like Winston Lawson , Rufus Youngblood, and Sam Kinney. Almost none of them back up what Rowley is proffering. For instance, Kinney states, "That is absolutely, positively false ... no, no, no. He [Kennedy] had nothing to do with that. No, never." (ibid, p. 27) Arthur Godfrey said, "That's a bunch of baloney; that's not true." When Palamara asked John F. Norris about the charge against Kennedy, he replied, "I would doubt that very much." (ibid, p. 28) Jerry O'Rourke wrote to the author, "Did President Kennedy order us off the steps of the limo? To my knowledge, President Kennedy never ordered us to leave the limo." (ibid, p. 37)

Clearly, from this opening episode the author is implying that there was some very odd behavior by the Secret Service in Dallas. And secondly, Rowley was intent on covering it up, by any means necessary. Even if it meant he was going to blame the victim for his own death. Palamara then goes on to mention how this myth then got enshrined in the literature by writers like William Manchester, Blaine and Ron Kessler. (ibid, pgs. 19, 20) In fact, Palamara points out that fellow Secret Service agent Talmadge Bailey told him that Blaine made up the information about the November 25, 1963 meeting. (ibid. p. 23) Palamara also points out that Blaine submitted what he termed to be contemporaneous handwritten notes to the National Archives. The author then notes glaring discrepancies which indicate that these "contemporaneous notes" were obviously composed at least months, if not years later. (ibid)

This opening chapter closes with more interesting evidence discrediting the "Kennedy ordered the agents off the car" myth. Roy Kellerman was the de facto man in charge of the Secret Service detail in Dallas. This was because, Gerald Behn, who should have been in charge on the ground, decided to take a leave at the time. Kellerman testified to the Warren Commission for two days. If Boring had actually relayed a Kennedy order to the Secret Service on this point, would not have Kellerman known about it? If that is so, then why did he not mention it during his two days of testimony? (ibid, p. 43)

II

In Chapter 2, Palamara notes another rather bizarre oddity about the failure of the Secret Service in Dallas.

Most informed observers understand that Dallas was not really in Kennedy's back pocket politically. In fact, there were many sectors of rightwing animus towards the president. And for a variety of reasons: civil rights, his failure to invade Cuba in 1961 or 1962, his attempt to lower the oil depletion allowance etc. In Miami when the Secret Service checked the security index, they came up with six pages of warnings about people like Orlando Bosch and Pedro Diaz Lanz.(p. 169) Yet, when Secret Service agents Winston Lawson and Kellerman checked the indices of the Protection Research Section (PRS) files for any threats on November 8th and 10th, none were found. Youngblood did a check on the morning of November 22nd. Again, no warnings turned up. This is astonishing; on many different levels. First of all, there was a Cuban exile community in Dallas. In fact, there was a small unit of Alpha 66 in town, one of the most high profile and militant anti-Castro groups in existence. Second, Dallas was the home of former General Edwin Walker. Kennedy had removed Walker from his command for passing out John Birch literature to his men. After this, Walker lived in Dallas. He became quite close to some extreme rightwing groups there. He was also active in the riots at Ole Miss over the entry of James Meredith, an entry which Kennedy backed forcefully. Third, a few months earlier, Kennedy's UN ambassador Adlai Stevenson had been in town. He was reportedly spat upon and even jostled with a placard. Fourth, in November, Joseph Milteer had already told FBI informant Willie Somersett about a coming assassination attempt on Kennedy from an office building with a high-powered rifle. Why did the Secret Service not have this information in their PRS files? Or anything about the failed attempt to kill Kennedy in Chicago, which predated all three checks.

Further, there seems to have been some last minute switches in personnel in the November trips to Chicago, Miami, New York and Dallas. For instance, although Glen Bennett was on a temporary assignment for the Presidential Protection Division (PPD), he was on the trips to Tampa and Dallas. Yet, Bennett told the HSCA he was not on this Florida trip, which was on November 18th. (ibid, p. 62) Bennett was detailed from PRS to PPD and then onto protection duty in New York, Tampa and Dallas. Tim McIntyre also denied he was on protection details in November in Chicago and Miami. Yet, he was. This is interesting because there were threats on JFK's life in both Miami and Tampa. Therefore, PRS and the White House Secret Service detail should have been ratcheted up to the equivalent of Defcon 5 by Dallas. Especially after the (now famous) Chicago attempt on Kennedy's life. Yet, as everyone knows, most significantly the author, nothing of the sort happened in Dallas. In fact, as Palamara is at pains to show, quite the opposite occurred. Instead of a tightening of security around Kennedy, a loosening of security occurred. A loosening so blatant and extraordinary, that it seems today to cross over into the negligent. If not worse.

III

In Chapters 3 and 4, Palamara details two significant aspects of the Secret Service failure in Dallas. He devotes Chapter 3 to denuding another attempt by the White House detail to blame the victim for his own murder. With ample evidence, he shows that it was not Kennedy who wanted the bubble top removed in Dallas. That was a Secret Service decision. (p. 91)

Chapter 4 is devoted to the setting of the motorcade route. This is a key point. Because as anyone who has been to the Dealey Plaza, triple underpass site will know, the two turns made by the motorcade into the plaza, onto Houston and then Elm, created an almost ideal situation for what military assassins call an L shaped ambush. That is a slow moving target, vulnerable to snipers from concealed places at three points surrounding the target. In addition, the location allowed for easy exits since there were parking lots adjoining at least two sniper locations: the Depository and the grassy knoll. Palamara does some good and interesting work in regard to the mystery of how this bizarre, indefensible route was chosen. He states that considering the fact that agent Gerald Behn, White House assistant Ken O'Donnell and Kennedy advance man Jerry Bruno were all opposed to the Trade Mart as the dinner destination, its seems odd that it was ultimately chosen. (pgs. 98-101) As late as November 14th, there was no dogleg on the motorcade route. The route came straight down Main Street. (ibid, p. 102)

The author makes the case that the two men who added the dogleg onto Houston and Elm Streets were Secret Service agents Forrest Sorrels and Winston Lawson. There were other routes possible, and the motorcade route was not automatically determined by the selection of the Trade Mart. (ibid, p. 103) Palamara later adds that the final route was not actually decided upon until November 20th. He feels that this change, which included the dogleg, was kept secret after being authorized in Washington by agent Floyd Boring. In a suppressed Commission document the author found, the assistant police chief, Charles Batchelor, revealed that the secrecy about this change in the route made it hard for the local authorities to furnish any help to the Secret Service. (p. 105) Another witness, Sgt. Sam Bellah told the author that the police did not know about the route change until the evening of November 21st. Bellah said the original plan did not have the motorcade pass in front of the Texas School Book Depository. Bellah said that his commander, Captain Lawrence, came to his home late on the evening of the 21st. He took him to the triple underpass to show Bellah the new route for the motorcycle advance escort, of which Bellah was a part. (ibid) Bellah said that there was never any explanation as to why the route was changed at the last moment.

Another local policeman, Captain Orville Jones told author Larry Sneed the same thing. That the motorcade route was changed just prior to the 22nd. Jones told the author that many people he knew in the Secret Service did not approve of going through Dealey Plaza at all. There were other routes discussed which avoided the triple underpass. (ibid)

Another witness to this strange alteration was motorcycle officer Bobby Joe Dale. Dale said that there was more than one route discussed and reviewed by the police. In fact, three had been bandied about. Dale said it was not until Kennedy's arrival at Love Field that morning that he was alerted to what the actual route was going to be. (ibid, p. 106)

Winston Lawson told the Warren Commission that the dogleg was necessary, "Because it is my understanding there isn't any entrance to the freeway on Main Street." (ibid, p. 108) But as the HSCA correctly noted, " ... the Trade Mart was accessible from beyond the triple underpass in such a way that it was not necessary to enter the Elm Street ramp to the expressway. The motorcade could have proceeded westward through Dealey Plaza on Main Street, passed under the underpass and then proceeded on Industrial Boulevard to the Trade Mart." (ibid) In fact, this is the route that Jones thought Kennedy would take that day. As the HSCA attorney in charge of the motorcade route inquiry wrote, "Any map of Dallas in 1963 shows that it was easy to reach the Trade Mart on streets that join Main on the West side of the overpass."

Compounding this shockingly poor choice of a route was the fact that Secret Service protocol was then broken while it was being navigated. Two years before Kennedy's murder, Mike Torina, Chief Inspector, stated that whenever a motorcade must slow down for a turn, the entire intersection must be checked in advance.(p. 109) That did not occur here.

James Rowley wrote to the Commission that he had no knowledge of who actually released the motorcade route to the press. This seems another deception by Rowley. Palamara says it was Betty Forsling Harris a Dallas socialite on the local committee, who did so. She was working closely with representatives of John Connally, the Secret Service, and LBJ aide Bill Moyers. Palamara concludes that this false information was given out for purposes of plausible deniability. That is, the Secret Service could later say that the route was purposely advertised in more than one configuration to show that there was more than one option in hand. When, in reality, the Secret Service knew between November 18th and 20th what the actual route was, including the dogleg.

This is a quite disturbing issue. In and of itself it seems simply bizarre that Lawson and Sorrels would choose this incredibly dangerous route. But then to not protect the president as he was going through this dangerous path is even more bizarre.

Once this route was chosen, then the only way it could be made secure was by the Secret Service being supplemented by local law enforcement agents i.e. the police, the sheriff's office, military intelligence. Again, none of this happened. According to the author, Sheriff Decker told his men not to participate in any security operations. Palamara then writes that the local Dallas police force was called off the night before by the Secret Service. (p. 118) Captain Will Fritz was supposed to commander a detail riding behind the Vice-President with rapid-fire machine guns. According to two sources, this was changed the night before. Instead, this detail was sent to the Trade Mart to protect the speaker's stand.

Palamara now brings in witnesses like former Eisenhower press secretary Jim Haggerty, and former agent Darwin Horn who state that supplementing the Secret Service with local police was a common practice. He then quotes Winston Lawson as denying this before the Warren Commission under oath. His specific words were, "This was not usual procedure." (ibid)

Palamara now makes a penultimate point about the arrangement of the motorcade. Military aide Godfrey McHugh almost always rode in the president's car on these occasions. Yet, in Dallas, another anomaly took place. In Dallas, he was asked by the Secret Service "for the first time" to "ride in the back, instead, as normally I would do, between the driver and the Secret Service agent in charge of the trip." (p. 119) The reason given was this would allow the president fuller exposure to the crowd. As Air Force aide, one of McHugh's duties was to supervise Air Force One.

Finally, the author notes that Batchelor told the Commission that he did not think any local authorities were in place below Houston Street. He then quotes William Manchester as writing, "Possibly [Police Chief] Curry's department met its responsibilities by deciding to end supervision of Friday's crowd at Houston and Main, a block short of the ambush ... " Manchester then added, perhaps for ironic effect, "The weakest link in downtown Dallas was Dealey Plaza." (p. 120)

As Palamara points out with detailed accuracy, everything about this route, from its unnecessary choice, to the lack of supporting personnel, to the violation of protocol, to the secrecy about which route was actually to be used, to the almost incredible lack of protection at its most exposed point, cried out for a thorough investigation. To put it mildly, that did not happen.

IV

From here, Palamara now moves to probably his most grievous charge against the Secret Service. He calls it "security stripping". The author notes that as of November 10th, there were 18 motorcycles listed in the motorcade. Buy by November 21st, Winston Lawson had decreased the amount or motorcycles on either side of the limousine from four to two. (ibid, p. 131) At Love Field the orders were relayed for the cycles to ride to the rear of the car. Dallas policeman Marrion Baker wrote the author that he never got to the bottom of this strange order. Fellow policeman cyclist B. J. Martin said the same thing about this formation. That it was given to them at Love Field. And it was the weirdest formation he ever heard of. Martin said, "Ordinarily, you bracket the car with four motorcycles, one on each fender." (ibid, p. 133) HSCA attorney, Belford Lawson wrote about this matter: "The question that must be answered is why the instructions were given to the officers so shortly before the motorcade..." (ibid, p. 132) In fact, two of the motorcycle cops were so far to the rear of Kennedy, that they weren't even on the same street with him when he was shot. (ibid, p. 134)

By way of comparison, the author compares the protection in Tampa, with that in Dallas. There it was much tighter and there were police on top of tall buildings. (ibid, p. 136) Interestingly, Lawson was the advance man on presidential visits that year to Little Rock and Billings, Montana. Those records were destroyed in 1995, after the creation of the ARRB.

The HSCA shined a light of this issue when it wrote the following: "The Secret Service's alteration of the original Dallas Police Department motorcycle deployment plan prevented the use of maximum possible security precautions." It then continues with another comparison, "Surprisingly, the security measure used in the prior motorcades during the same Texas visit shows that the deployment of motorcycles in Dallas by the Secret Service may have been uniquely insecure." (ibid, pgs. 137-38)

Palamara now points out still another anomaly about the Dallas motorcade. There was a flat bed truck with the media aboard that was supposed to ride in front of the president's car. Again, according to members of the press, this was cancelled at the last minute. The press was moved much further back and placed in Chevy convertibles. (ibid, p. 139) Palamara fairly poses the question: "Was the motorcade manipulated to prevent photographic records of the crime from being made." (p. 139) Which they probably would have been if the truck was in front of Kennedy.

The same exchange of proximity applies to the president's physician George Burkley. Burkley said he virtually always rode in close proximity to the president. He could think of only one previous exception, the visit to Rome in July of 1963. But in Dallas, he was actually relegated to a bus at the rear of the motorcade. (ibid, p. 142) This, of course, delayed his reaction time in getting to the president. Towards the end of this discussion of the out of order cars, and passengers, Palamara then drips in another interesting tidbit. It was Lawson who was in charge of the car numbers for the motorcade. (p. 143) The author says these changes occurred somewhere between November 19th and the 22nd. And Lawson tried to pass them off to advance man Jack Puterbaugh. (ibid) But Palamara writes, Puterbaugh never made any mention of any such responsibility on his part. HSCA attorney Belford Lawson again summed the situation up well: "Why was there so much juggling around and controversy about seating at Love Field, and why was there so much constant repositioning and shuffling of dignitaries' cars in relation to press cars during the Texas trip?" Lawson then added another tantalizing question: "Why was the [Dallas] motorcade longer than any other motorcade on the Texas trip?" (ibid, p. 144) Unfortunately, the HSCA never answered these pointed and crucial questions in anywhere near a satisfactory manner.

From here Palamara now segues to violations of Secret Service protocol according to various manuals. A prime example was the overpass over Elm Street . It should have been cleared of bystanders. It was not. (ibid, p. 144) Buildings were not checked. Even on the dogleg through the Plaza. Buildings should have been checked in the dogleg onto Houston Street. They were not. (ibid, p. 146)According to inspector Michael Torina, agents and police officers should have been standing atop tall buildings. (p. 147) There should have been policemen facing the crowds. As they had been in Fort Worth. There also should have been military officers on hand, as they had been in San Antonio the day before. (p. 150)

And, of course, there was the incident at the late night bar called The Cellar. This is where several agents spent the night before drinking hard alcohol. The agents stayed there until at least 3:00 AM. Some stayed even later than that. This was an obvious violation of rules of conduct since the morning call was at seven. But further, the Secret Service then hired local firemen to protect the president while they were partying. In a high-risk city like Dallas. Yet, no one was punished for this clear violation. As many have asked, how can agents react quickly and smoothly with so much alcohol in them. (pgs. 150) Palamara compares the reaction time of Johnson's Secret Service protector, Rufus Youngblood, which was almost instant, with JFK's which was very slow. Perhaps fatally slow. Or as former Secret Service officer John Norris stated in colorful language, "Except for George Hickey and Clint Hill, everybody else just basically sat there with their thumbs up their butts while the president was gunned down in front of them." (Palamara, p. 152) Making this violation even worse was Hill's comments on the later Secret Service sex scandal in Cartagena Columbia. Hill said, "There's no tolerance at all , no room for any misbehavior in the Secret Service. There's no loose chain. You are on the clock from the time you leave, until the time you return home." As many know, Rowley deliberately chose not to punish anyone even though he knew about the incident.

As the author then notes, what makes all this malfeasance even more suspicious is that there seems to be an institutional memory about it. For as Palamara notes in the book, in January of 1995, the Secret Service destroyed some records, including presidential protection survey reports for some of Kennedy's visits in the fall of 1963. (p. 161) This was after the formation of the Assassination Records Review Board. Further, it was discovered that agent James Mostrovito did destroy documents, but he also got rid of a vial containing a portion of Kennedy's brain. He then went on to a career in the CIA.

The author concludes this section of the book with a look at the behavior of agent Bill Greer, the driver of Kennedy's car. He first notes that ordinarily, the Secret Service liked to maintain speeds of at least 20-30 MPH. Which was much faster than what Dealey Plaza allowed. He also adds that, at the first shot, Greer slowed the car down. He then turned around. Kellerman shouted, "Let's get out of here!" But Greer did not. He disobeyed a superior and turned around again. (p. 188)

Later on, Greer and Kellerman said there was bullet expelled from the president's body through cardiac massage. (p. 195) Further, even though agent Richard Johnsen was an important witness to the chain of possession of CE 399, he was not interviewed by the FBI or the WC. The author then makes an error in his discussion of the provenance of CE 399. He writes that Elmer Lee Todd initialed CE 399. Not so. Hoover said this happened. But his initials are not on the bullet today. Which is utterly bizarre. Palamara recovers a bit when he then writes that Dr. Robert Shaw announced that CE 399 was still in Connally's leg, when in fact, according to the Commission it was being carried on a plane to Washington. And secondly, as Robert Harris has noted, Connally wrote that a bullet fell out of his body after CE 399 was discovered. (Palamara pgs. 197-98)

Palamara goes on with Secret Service malfeasance in the wake of Kennedy's murder. The Secret Service did not produce the clothing of the president when the doctors asked for it at Bethesda. A roll of 120 film was destroyed by a Secret Service agent that night. (ibid, p. 199) Admiral David Osborne sated that an intact bullet fell out of Kennedy's clothing at Bethesda. Osborne added, "Several people had it. I know the Secret Service had it..." And Palamara also notes the role of the infamous Secret Service agent Elmer Moore in altering the first day testimony of the Parkland doctors about the direction of the bullet that pierced Kennedy's throat. Originally reported as being an entrance wound, after Moore was done massaging the testimony of the doctors and nurses at Parkland, the Commission had enough leeway to make this an exit wound for the SBT.

V

The above constitutes what I believe to be the contributions of (considerable) value in this book. From about page 210 on, that is approximately the second half, the quality of the work drops off. And the approach changes. As does the level of the analysis. For instance, at around this point, Palamara begins to rely upon witnesses like Gerry Patrick Hemming, a man who the late, great Gaeton Fonzi warned us all about. Recall, Hemming is the guy who confirmed the Marita Lorenz assassination caravan. Palamara interviewed him twice. (pgs. 213-14) As if that is not enough, the author now brings in DNC advance man Martin Underwood in a big way. (p. 214) Underwood is the guy who the lamentable Gus Russo dug up to try and say that Fabian Escalante and the Cuban G-2 were actually in on the Kennedy murder plot. When Underwood testified before the ARRB, as they revealed in their report, it turned out his so-called contemporaneous notes on official stationary were neither contemporaneous nor official. This was such a blatant Russo ploy, even Max Holland saw through it. I mean when one Oswald did it zealot goes after another zealot, you know the witness has problems. As Underwood does.

Underwood tells the author that CIA station chief Win Scott told him things he never told anyone. Including his wives and son. Underwood was on a mission for LBJ. LBJ wanted to know what really happened with the JFK case. So Marty goes to talk to Scott in Mexico. Scott tells this low level flunky that the CIA, FBI and the Mob all knew Kennedy was going to be hit. But not just that. They all knew it was going to be on 11/22/63 in Dallas! But eve that it not good enough for Underwood, who here actually goes beyond his flights of fancy for Russo. Let me quote what Underwood tells Palamara: "His number was on the board. I found out later, if they missed him in Dallas, they were thinking of getting him at the LBJ ranch." (p. 215) This is Alex Jones stuff. But now, good ole Marty goes to see Sam Giancana. Sam tells him to tell Johnson that the Mafia had him on their hit list also.

But Underwood now tells the author that 18 hours before the landing at Love Field, they were getting all sorts of solid reports about Kennedy being assassinated in Texas. Well, Underwood now goes to the president and tells him about this. What does JFK say? According to Underwood, he replies with "Marty, you worry about me to much." (ibid)

Enough about Underwood.

From here, Palamara now begins a long section of the book which he would have been well advised to forsake. For literally scores of pages, he catalogues the names of dozens of Secret Service agents and what their performance was like in relation to the JFK assassination. I did not understand why he did this. In the fine opening 200 pages of the book, Palamara clearly named the agents he felt should have been seriously investigated, and why. Further, many of the people he names here had little or nothing to do with the assassination. So this gets both superfluous and boring. It's not all like that of course. But the author would have been much better off trimming this section down by at least 50%. It goes on for more than a hundred pages.

At the end, Palamara concludes with a couple of more dubious chapters. In Chapter 15, where he talks about a motive for the Secret Service to go along with a plot, he actually brings up Sy Hersh's excremental book, The Dark Side of Camelot. In other words because Kennedy was having affairs, the Secret Service looked askance at him as being of low character. (p. 385) I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at this. These are the same guys who Abe Bolden said were heavy drinkers and also serial womanizers. But yet, they could not stomach Kennedy's philandering? Which we know through many good sources was exaggerated. In fact, by these same Secret Service agents who Hersh enlisted in his cause.

The author gets back on track a bit by mentioning Elmer Moore's rightwing politics and his outburst against Kennedy for selling out the country to the Reds. This seems much more realistic as a motive for complicity.

At the end, Palamara lists a very good chronicle of failures by the Secret Service in Dallas. (p. 387) It goes on for three pages. It is very provocative and even disturbing. The author uses it to crystallize the argument he has been making without being explicit about it. That is, after explaining all these serious lapses in protection which enabled the murder to take place, he concludes that the Secret Service was not just negligent, but culpable in the assassination. With the amount of evidence in the first half of the book, it's hard to disagree with him.

In sum, I feel about this work as I do about Doug Horne's multi- volume set. Palamara needed an editor to control his excesses. If he had done that a book worth reading would have been sterling.

Last modified on Saturday, 19 November 2016 19:36
James DiEugenio

One of the most respected researchers and writers on the political assassinations of the 1960s, Jim DiEugenio is the author of two books, Destiny Betrayed (1992/2012) and Reclaiming Parkland (2013/2016), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).   See "About Us" for a fuller bio.

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