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.