Security Requirements/Lapses During the Dallas Motorcade
Both the Warren Commission Report of 1964 and the House Committee on Assassinations Report of 1978 criticized the Secret Service for their actions on November 22, 1963. In both reports, it was decided that the men assigned to protect President John Kennedy had not done a proper job of establishing security for his Dallas motorcade on that fateful day. Let’s take a look at the procedures the agents were supposed to follow and what actually happened.
There were November presidential motorcades planned in four Texas cities: Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Dallas. The security protocol required for motorcades was the same in all four cities.
Required Protocols Were:
- On any motorcade parade route: All windows in building of two or more stories were required to be closed and under observation until the motorcade had passed.
- Motorcade speed must be at least forty miles per hour.
- At any turn, the corner must be secured as must open areas like the Grassy Knoll. Any bridge under which or over which the president’s vehicle must travel has be cleared and under observation.
- Security personnel must ride at the side and at the rear of the president’s vehicle. Local law enforcement personnel on motorcycles should ride alongside the president’s vehicle.
Were all such requirements followed for President Kennedy’s motorcade through Dallas on November 22, 1963?
- The route chosen involved two sharp turns, requiring the president’s vehicle to be slowed to ten miles per hour or less. On a dry run, the Dallas Chief of Station for the Secret Service, Forrest Sorrels said: “We’d be sitting ducks here.” Never-the-less, over the objections of Kennedy’s advance team, he approved the route just the same.
- The street-corners at each of the two required turns were not secured or under observation during the motorcade.
- The windows of the Texas Book Depository Building on the right side of Elm Street were not closed, nor were they under observation. (In fact, none of the windows in multi-story buildings along the parade route were required to be closed or under observation.)
- The Grassy Knoll on the right of Elm Street was not secured or under observation during the parade.
- The overpass under which the president’s vehicle had to drive was not secured or under observation during the motorcade. In fact, it was full of observers. (When questioned, about these lapses in security protocol, Service spokesmen claimed that they were too short-handed to fulfill the above demands.)
- Secret Service agents were removed from the sides and rear of the president’s vehicle. Instead, they rode in a vehicle following or walked well behind the president’s auto.
- The motorcycle escort was removed by the ranking Secret Service agent on the scene at Love Field from the sides to the rear of the president’s vehicle.
- The president’s military adviser was removed from his customary place in the center of the front seat of the president’s vehicle at the direction of the ranking Secret Service agent on the scene at Love Field. (When questioned about these changes in protocol, the Secret Service spokesmen claimed that President Kennedy himself had ordered the removals/changes mention above. Contrary testimony by Kennedy aides insisted that JFK had always deferred to the security requirements suggested by the Secret Service and would have never intervened in such a manner.)
In the photograph below, you can see the local motorcycle policeman rode to the rear of the president’s vehicle, not alongside. The suited figure at the top right of the photo is a Secret Service agent who would normally be alongside the president’s vehicle. With the changes ordered by the Secret Service man in charge, he president was obviously exposed to the max on all sides.
Thus, Secret Service personnel failed to enforce routine security protocols for the Dallas motorcade.
see: The Kennedy Assassination: Why Was Kennedy Killed? Vol 2 at www.the kennedymurder.com