The House Select Committee on Assassinations reported that it investigated “alleged Secret Service complicity in the assassination” and concluded that the Secret Service was not involved. However, the HSCA declared that “the Secret Service was deficient in the performance of its duties.” Among its findings, the HSCA noted: (1) that President Kennedy had not received adequate protection in Dallas, (2) that the Secret Service possessed information that was not properly analyzed, investigated, or used by the Secret Service in connection with the President’s trip to Dallas, and (3) that the Secret Service agents in the motorcade were inadequately prepared to protect the President from a sniper. The HSCA specifically noted:
No actions were taken by the agent in the right front seat of the Presidential limousine [ Roy Kellerman ] to cover the President with his body, although it would have been consistent with Secret Service procedure for him to have done so. The primary function of the agent was to remain at all times in close proximity to the President in the event of such emergencies.
Some argue that the lack of Secret Service protection occurred because Kennedy himself had asked that the Secret Service make itself discreet during the Dallas visit. However, Vince Palamara, who interviewed several Secret Service agents assigned to the Kennedy detail, disputes this. Palamara reports that Secret Service driver Sam Kinney told him that requests—such as removing the bubble top from the limousine in Dallas, not having agents positioned beside the limousine’s rear bumper, and reducing the number of Dallas police motorcycle outriders near the limousine’s rear bumper—were not made by Kennedy.
In The Echo from Dealey Plaza, Abraham Bolden—the first African American on the White House Secret Service detail—claimed to have overheard agents say that they would not protect Kennedy from would-be assassins.
Questions regarding the forthrightness of the Secret Service increased in the 1990s when the Assassination Records Review Board—which was created when Congress passed the JFK Records Act—requested access to Secret Service records. The Review Board was told by the Secret Service that in January 1995, in violation of the JFK Records Act, the Secret Service destroyed protective survey reports that covered JFK’s trips from September 24 through November 8, 1963.
In 1966, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison began an investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy. Garrison’s investigation led him to conclude that a group of right-wing extremists, including David Ferrie and Guy Banister, were involved with elements of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Garrison would later claim that the motive for the assassination was anger over Kennedy’s attempts to obtain a peace settlement in both Cuba and Vietnam. Garrison also came to believe that New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw was part of the conspiracy and that Clay Shaw used the pseudonym “Clay Bertrand.” Garrison further believed that Shaw, Banister, and Ferrie conspired to set up Oswald as a patsy in the JFK assassination. On March 1, 1967, Garrison arrested and charged Shaw with conspiring to assassinate President Kennedy. On January 29, 1969, Clay Shaw was brought to trial on these charges, and the jury found him not guilty.
In 2003, Judyth Vary Baker—whose employment records show that she worked at the Reily Coffee Company in New Orleans at the same time Oswald did—appeared in an episode of Nigel Turner’s documentary television series, The Men Who Killed Kennedy. Baker claimed that in 1963 she was recruited by Dr. Canute Michaelson to work with Dr. Alton Ochsner and Dr. Mary Sherman on a clandestine CIA project to develop a biological weapon that could be used to assassinate Fidel Castro. According to Baker, she and Oswald were hired by Reily in the spring of 1963 as a “cover” for the operation. Baker further claimed that she and Oswald began an affair, and that later Oswald told her about Merida, Mexico—a city where he suggested they might begin their lives over again. According to John McAdams, Baker presents a “classic case of pushing the limits of plausibility too far.” Others on both sides of the research community have widely dismissed her claims.