News / USA

Kennedy Assassination Transformed US Secret Service

TEXT SIZE - +
Kane Farabaugh

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, 48 years ago, stunned the world.  It was the first time since 1901- when President William McKinley was killed - that a U.S. president fell to an assassin’s bullet.

The Secret Service is responsible for protecting the president and his family.  President Kennedy’s death put the service on the defensive. In conversations with several former Secret Service agents, our correspondent reports that the assassination, and later attempts on Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, led to changes in how the President and first family are protected.

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 for President Kennedy," said Hill.

Agent Gerald Blaine was also in Texas that day, but not in Dallas. He says a lack of manpower was partly responsible. “In 1963 we had 330 agents; 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," he said. "We operated through hand signals. We had photographs of subjects that we had concerns about, and we would memorize those subjects. And we had to rely on each other to work together as a team."

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," said McCubbin. "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."

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 Hill suffered from guilt after the assassination. He retired in 1975.

Several months later, not once but twice, assailants tried to kill President Gerald Ford during visits he made to California.

And in 1981, another disaster was 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.

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

Though the assassination of President Kennedy was a transforming event for the Secret Service, recent incidents are a reminder that the president is still a target.

At 21-year-old Idaho man is under arrest for allegedly firing several shots at the White House on November 11.

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid