News / USA

Agents Say JFK Assassination Transformed Secret Service

Kane Farabaugh
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, stunned the world.  President Kennedy’s death put the Secret Service on the defensive. It's the organization that protects the president and his family. In conversations with several former Secret Service agents, The assassination, and later attempts on Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, led to changes in how the President and first family are safeguarded.

On November 22, 1963, when shots rang out in Dallas, Secret Service Agent Clint Hill was in the best position to react.  His analysis of that day is simple.

“There’s no question that we failed in providing protection to President Kennedy," said Hill.

Agent Gerald Blaine, also in Texas that day, but not in Dallas.  He says a lack of manpower was partly responsible.
 
 “In 1963 we had 330 agents, and we had about 34 agents on the White House detail," said Blaine.

The agents were visible.  Some ran alongside or stood on cars in the presidential motorcade.  But Blaine says they couldn't communicate with each other.

 “We didn’t have radios.  We operated through hand signals.  We had photographs of subjects that we had concerns about, and we would memorize those subjects. We had to rely on each other to work together as a team," he said.

Author Lisa McCubbin collaborated with Blaine on the book The Kennedy Detail.  She says weaknesses exposed by the Kennedy assassination forced a change in how the Secret Service was funded.

“So it made them realize even more how important their mission was, and they were able then to convince Congress to get more money.  They had been asking for more money for years and years to get more people.  They knew they couldn’t protect the president with what they had," said McCubbin.

Clint Hill stayed with the Secret Service after the assassination.  He rose to Assistant Director and witnessed changes in the agency - no more travel in open automobiles, and more agents, more money, and better communication.

But several months after Hill retired from the Secret Service in 1975, despite the increased protection, not once but twice assailants tried to kill President Gerald Ford during separate visits to California.

And in 1981, another disaster narrowly averted.

President Ronald Reagan, emerging from a Washington hotel, was shot by John Hinckley Jr.  

Reagan was rushed to a nearby hospital for life-saving surgery.

Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy was shot in the abdomen. Press Secretary James Brady was struck in the head and seriously disabled.  But no one died in the attack, and McCarthy says the incident led to even more changes.

 “After that, metal detectors were used to screen anyone who gets near the president. And the legacy is, since that time, there has not been an attack on any of our presidents by the historic assassin which is the lone gunman," said  McCarthy.

Though technology has improved protection of the President considerably since the Kennedy assassination 50 years ago, recent threats against current President Barack Obama are a constant reminder of the important  mission played by those charged with protecting the chief executive of the United States.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Al Eng
November 19, 2013 7:33 PM
Yeah just pave over history. Makes sense.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More