There were two reported threats to the President in conjunction with his planned trip to attend the Army-Navy football game. One, relating to Thomas Vallee, is well documented in both Chicago Police and Secret Service PRS files. It was reexamined by the HSCA, which in turn put to rest several of the rumors which had grown up about Vallee in the years following the assassination of JFK.

The second threat remains far more interesting, precisely because it did not become part of the Secret Service records, at least not ones that were made available to the HSCA or later the Assassinations Records Review Board. The awareness of that threat comes solely from a former Secret Service Agent, Abraham Bolden, a former member of the Secret Service White House Detail, stationed in Chicago office in November, 1963.

I explore Bolden’s entire story in considerable detail in SWHT/2010; the key elements are simple. Immediately prior to JFK’s trip, the Secret Service office in Chicago received a teletype from the FBI, with a warning that individuals known to be traveling to Chicago might present a potential threat to the President. While Bolden was not directly involved in investigating that warning, it became general knowledge in the office that suspects were identified, put under surveillance and in the process two individuals were taken into custody while one or more others escaped.

Apparently noting specifically incriminating was established in regard to the two, Bolden stated that after they were questioned by the Secret Service they were handed off to Chicago Police and apparently released at some point without being charged. However, unlike the Vallee arrest and follow on Secret Service (PRS) monitoring, nothing on this incident has been released or is in available PRS files. Bolden himself says that the entire incident file was pulled back headquarters and the office was advised not to discuss it.

The HSCA attempted to investigate the Bolden story as it had Vallee and was largely stonewalled – although it did unearth a good deal about Bolden himself and how he was treated for revealing this incident.

Fortunately the ARRB revisited the Bolden story and obtained a series of interview documents which illustrate that there was serious stonewalling on the part of individuals in both the Chicago Secret Service and FBI offices in regard to a potential threat to JFK’s Chicago visit. Based on their work we also know that there were major security concerns in regard to JFK’s subsequent travel to Florida and that extensive precautions were taken by the Secret Service (including an outreach to the CIA’s JMWAVE station) in respect to threats from the Cuban exile community in Florida.

Worse yet, the ARRB discovered that even after being officially advised that no more JFK related files were to be destroyed prior to review, the Secret Service proceeded to destroy a series of boxes containing documents related to JFK’s travel during the fall of 1963.

This destruction certainly does nothing to resolve the suspicion that the Secret Service was aware of some sort of outstanding threat to the President.  There are other indications of this and I review them in SWHT/2010.

That’s the old news, the emerging story is to what extent we now have the ability to reverse engineer FBI investigations of 1962/63, and investigations which might indeed have led them to identify specific individuals traveling to Chicago that would represent a threat to JFK. Investigations that would also explain the decision to the Secret Services decision to essentially drop yet another incident reported to the Secret Service in November, an incident in which a Cuban exile engaged in weapons purchases told an FBI informant that everything was in place to move against Castro – once JFK was eliminated.

For future reference it should be noted that the ATF informant who provided the Echeveria information to the Secret Service had also reported on earlier weapons purchases financed by Paulino Sierra and his new JCGE movement. However Echevarria himself was a member of DRE, the student revolutionary group whose members had begun independently buying explosives and weapons in the Chicago area beginning in the late summer of 1963 – using money coming from former Havana casino operators in Miami.

In point of fact a related FBI inquiry into the Exhevaria information determined that DRE military leader Blanco-Fernandez reportedly traveled from Miami to Chicago in the November-December 1963 time frame – for the purposes of purchasing military equipment from the ATF’s informant, Thomas Mosley.

If the FBI did indeed warn the Chicago Secret Service office in regard to individuals traveling to Chicago who might pose a significant threat to President Kennedy, such a warning would have to originate in their ongoing work to block weapon sales to exile groups and to block Cuban exile military initiatives against Cuba originating from the United States.  They and other agencies had been given that assignment following the resolution of the Cuban missile crisis. The story of which groups and which individuals they were focused on that fall might give us an important clue as to any known threat to the President, and help explain why the Secret Service would remain so sensitive on the entire subject.


6 responses »

  1. JAMES D STUBBS says:

    Bolden’s case case is most interesting. I’m of two opinions. I believe that there was a threat against President Kennedy on 11/2/63 in Chicago, and that a lot has gone into keeping it covered up. I believe what Bolden has to say about it. As to his conviction, I’ve read the appellate court decision. It presents quite a different picture than what is frequently claimed on Bolden’s behalf. The general claim on behalf of Bolden is that he was set up. I haven’t seen or heard a reasonable explanation for the mechanics of doing that. Admittedly, there is much that has been suppressed in re the Chicago threat. But I’m not yet convinced that Mr. Bolden was set up because of it. BTW, I looked at the petition supporting a pardon for Mr. Bolden. As far as I can determine so far, there has been no indication of an AUSA taking the 5th in front of a 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals three judge panel. I suspect that this might fall into the same category as the misleading allegations of perjury in re Joseph Spagnoli.

    • larryjoe2 says:

      I’m not in a position to judge the legal aspects of the Bolden case although the initial Judge’s behavior does seem quite strange to me, speaking as a novice. That part was included just to give the full picture/context surrounding Mr. Bolden. What is clear to me is that that the FBI and for that matter separately the ATF brought individuals to the attention of the Secret Service that should have been investigated far more seriously than they were, both before and following the assassination.

      Most significantly, the Chicago incidents suggest that this potential threat came out of people that the FBI was monitoring over weapons purchasing activity. That gives a serious lead since during 1963 that applied primarily to two groups – the Sierra Juanta which was active beginning in late spring through summer but had largely ceased by fall and the DRE who had been attempting to buy weapons and explosives in the Chicago area from the fall of 1962 through the end of 1963. That does not exclude JURE and some individual efforts but the JCGE and the DRE were clearly the major targets of interest for the FBI, ATF and even CIA in 1963.

      In that sense, the Chicago threat is going to lead us back to some familiar names.

      • JAMES D STUBBS says:

        What’s interesting is that the FBI turned over such information as the Chicago threat to the Secret Service. There was no love lost between the two agencies. I would have expected Hoover to run such a threat to ground with his people. He certainly seems to have stepped on the Secret Service’s attempt to investigate after the assassination.

      • larryjoe2 says:

        In regard to the FBI the explanation may be the classic issue of holding back in order to continue surveillance, work up some levels within the organizations (including funding) and do a major bust. In other words protect your informants by not bringing charges, leave them in place and expand surveillance. Pretty much SOP with no questions right up to November 22 when it all falls apart. My friend Stu Wexler have repeatedly tracked FBI activities like that, where minor and on occasion even major crimes are ignored to leave an informant in place to build a case against high level people and on occasion even organizations.

        Specifically in regard to the DRE weapons buying, we know that people like Victor Hernandez committed Federal crimes including interstate transport of explosives and weapons…as well as conspiracy to violate neutrality acts etc. Even more interestingly major gambling figures like Mike McClaney could have been charged with the same crimes…instead, it appears no charges at all were filed and everybody just walked. That occurred at a time when the FBI was expending major effort trying to crack such activities and it could have been an example.

        The only thing that makes sense is that charges were withheld as a prelude to building a more massive case. I’ll get to some of that in Part III which goes beyond Chicago to New Orleans, Miami and Dallas.

        Yet while that might explain the FBI’s actions, what about the Secret Service? Perhaps the trip to Chicago was cancelled for other reasons than the threats – does that mean JFK was not briefed that threats existed? Certainly the threats in Miami were real and the Secret Service took special precautions.

        Beyond that there seems to be reason to feel that JFK knew he was at some sort of risk that fall…was that just a gut feeling on his part or did he receive any briefings on the subject from the Secret Service. It seems all we can do is try to reverse engineer what the Secret Service may not want to have go on public record.

  2. Peter Johnsen says:

    On an unrelated topic Larry, in your book SWHT p105, you say that Oswald’s trip to Mexici City was an extension of his FPFC role but also possibly to establish himself in an anti-American role with the Cuban Embassy. But hadn’t Oswald already failed this test in USSR? The Russians basically dismissed him there?

    • larryjoe2 says:

      Peter, I have to say that my concept of what happened in Mexico City is going though a good bit of revision – or at least a good deal of questioning. I do believe that what went on in the Cuban embassy may have involved different levels and different agendas within the CIA. There are certainly signs that it was conducted as a test, with the potential of collecting damaging evidence that could have been used in propaganda against the FPCC if they had issued a travel permit for Oswald (very much an extension of what occurred in New Orleans and the resultant INCA record and media campaign that was prepared but never really launched due to the assassination).

      The application could also have been a test for expanding the AMSANTA joint FBI/CIA project – which mysteriously terminated after having begun as a major intelligence collection success.

      On your point, Oswald himself had dismissed himself in regard to Russia with his manuscript diatribe against the Soviet system and Russia’s using the CPUSA and other parties simply as nationalist tools. On the other hand, he actually seems to have respected the Castro/Socialist revolution so rejecting American nationalism and accepting the Cuban revolution was still on the table.

      Beyond that the apparent disconnects in intelligence being shared within the Agency and with the FBI and other services do suggest some sort of high level counter intelligence game….there is no good reason why his information should have been segregated within the CIA unless there was indeed some CI possibly CI/SIG effort in play and certainly it appears that the CIA lied to itself internally as well as to the FBI.

      Having said all that, I am now not fully convinced that Lee Oswald was the individual in the Cuban embassy and possibly not the Soviet embassy, there really should be pictures, the telephone call tapes really should still exist and there is a huge problem with the photo represented to have been presented with his passport application.

      Obviously this is an area of great debate and I’ll leave it at that. For myself I’m beginning to look at it as something of a diversion, one that draws us away from the actual Dallas conspiracy, the ambush in the Plaza and the individuals who may have been involved. Not an easy thing to say after all the time many of us have invested in Mexico City but I have to call it as I see it and right now Mexico City visit that I would probably have to revise or present some alternatives to if I were to do a new version SWHT.

      The good news is that this blog offers me the opportunity to stay as current as possible on what has my attention so thanks for the question!

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