While the October and November incidents in Chicago may not provide us with a deeper understanding of the actual attack in Dealy Plaza, they may reveal something about the context in which the Dallas attack developed in the fall of 1963.
Among the lessons to be found in Chicago is that there there is a very fundamental difference between the Vallee and Bolden incidents. The origin of the Vallee threat is known and documented and there is an extensive paper trail recording both the Secret Service and Chicago Police Department activities. Beyond that there is a paper trail extending over a number of years as Vallee was actually placed in the ongoing Secret Service PRS follow up program.
No such record exists for the the incident Abraham Bolden described, all we have is “negative imagery”, based in the fact that there appears to have been something going on in regard the JFK’s Chicago trip – and its last minute cancellation – that individual Secret Service and FBI members in their respective offices (even secretaries) simply refused to talk about in later years. It should also be noted that the “alert” in that incident came from the FBI and was apparently a notification that individuals were traveling to Chicago who might present some sort of a problem for the President’s visit (we don’t actually know that it was a threat warning per se). We do know from the follow on investigation of the third Chicago incident – the Echeverria remarks – that the FBI was reporting suspicious activities possibly relating to the President to the Secret Service. We also know from their Echeverria investigation that there were some plans among Cuban exiles to conduct a protest against JFK during his visit.
What we don’t know is why the Bolden incident would not have been documented – or if it was, at least to some extent, why the documents would have been taken out of Chicago and back to DC as Bolden describes. The most innocuous explanation would be that people were picked up, nothing was found which would have led to CPD booking them (as they had over a traffic charge with Vallee) and they were released, with the paperwork going into a PRS file in DC that we have never seen – or perhaps into the Secret Service trip files, some of which we know were destroyed as recently as the 1990s during the work of the ARRB. A more interesting thought is that the Secret Service was actually assembling a centralized Cuban related threat file which was never acknowledged and alter “disappeared” (perhaps similar to the CIA’s Cuban exile assassination investigative file and report that disappeared from JMWAVE).
While either explanation is unsatisfying, the third incident – the Echeverria remarks – was investigated in far more detail than has generally been discussed in JFK literature and is not the “black hole” that I imagined it to be (and wrote about with that mistaken impression in SWHT). That investigation does tell us a number of things, things that may indeed be relevant to the attack in Dallas. Or at least relevant to the idea that there was a growing amount of radical talk about JFK in certain Cuban exile circles, talk that was being taken seriously by both the FBI and the CIA – and even by the Secret Service, if only in Florida and not Texas.
We do know the CIA took threats coming out of the Cuban community in Miami seriously (such threats can be dated back to JFK’s appearance at the Orange Bowl at the return of the Cuban Brigade, when an IED was found placed at a location on his motorcade route). And we know that in November, 1963 the threat level was sufficient for the Secret Service to reach out to the CIA in identifying potential protests or violence which might occur during his visit. While no Dallas style motorcade was scheduled for Miami, a planned car trip from the airport to the hotel where he stayed was replaced with a helicopter flight.
But perhaps the most significant lesson from Chicago is that the FBI was very closely monitoring weapons sales to Cuban exiles, and the travel of those exiles in attempts to get weapons and explosives. During the latter half of 1963 that exile effort had substantially increased, as the Kennedy Administration moved to shut down exile military action from the continental United States and to support its new, highly deniable AMWORLD offshore initiative against Cuba.
This literally left most of the militant exile groups without support and on their own. It is in that context that we find the DRE associated Miami and LaCombe Louisiana bombing efforts, the ongoing weapons shopping trips from Miami, first to Chicago (where a trip by DRE military leader Blanco very likely produced the Echeverria comments) and by October/November to Dallas, Texas.
By that time the talk against JFK within DRE circles was becoming more than a little heated, there are reports of remarks in Dallas that were so heated that the speaker had to physically act to seize the tape recording which had been made of the meeting. And of an FBI investigation of exiles with bumper stickers literally saying “Kill JFK”.
In the end it all leads us to Dallas, and to a milieu of Cuban exile activity that might have served as a very valuable cover for individuals traveling from Miami who had something more radical in mind than simply purchasing weapons for a new series of raids on Cuba.