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The Secret Service’s Obstruction of Justice in the JFK Case


All the hoopla over President Trump’s “obstruction of justice” over his firing of former FBI Director James Comey Jr. reminds me of the Secret Service’s obstruction of justice relating to the JFK assassination, which, for some reason, failed to produce even a murmur of objection from the mainstream media.

The reason I put “obstruction of justice” in Trump’s case in quotation marks is because firing a FBI director does not, in and of itself, constitute the crime of obstruction of justice. The reason I don’t put quotation marks around obstruction of justice with respect to what the Secret Service did is because its actions constituted, without a doubt, the actual crime of obstruction of justice.

What did the Secret Service do to obstruct justice? It knowingly, deliberately, and intentionally destroyed official records in the JFK assassination with full knowledge that a law enacted by Congress expressly forbade the destruction of such records.

The matter began in 1991 with the release of Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, which posited that the assassination of John F. Kennedy was a regime-change operation carried out by the U.S. national-security establishment as a consequence of the vicious war that was being waged between JFK and the national-security establishment over the Cold War, Cuba, and the Soviet Union. (See FFF’s ebook JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne.)

At the end of the movie there was a trailer informing people of the vast amount of official records relating to the assassination that federal officials were keeping secret from the American people.

Keep in mind that after the Warren Report, the official government report that posited that Kennedy was killed by a man who was alleged to be a communist ex-U.S. Marine, was released, U.S. officials told the American people that the official records relating to the assassination would not be released for 75 years, by which time many people living in 1963 would be dead.

That movie trailer produced an outcry of public opinion, which drove Congress to enact the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, or simply the JFK Records Act. That law mandated that all federal agencies release their JFK-related records to the public. The deadline for release would be 25 years after the enactment of the Act, a deadline that expires in October of this year, when tens of thousands of long-secret records relating to the assassination are finally slated for disclosure.

To enforce the law, Congress brought into existence the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), which was in existence from 1992 to 1998.

After the enactment of the law, the National Archives specifically advised the Secret Service of the requirements of the law. Nonetheless, the Secret Service proceed to knowingly, deliberately, and intentionally, destroy records relating to Secret Service protection of the president for other trips taken in the fall of 1963. The records, of course, would have served as a point of comparison to Secret Service security measures prior to Dallas and those that were taken (or not taken) in Dallas.

It would be difficult to find a better example of obstruction of justice than that. Secret Service officials knew that the law prohibited the destruction of the records and they proceeded to destroy them anyway. Even worse, the boxes that contained the destroyed records were labeled “Retain permanently for eventual transfer to the National Archives or a Presidential Library.”

The Secret Service then decided to keep what it had done secret from the ARRB. The secrecy was finally pierced in 1995, when the ARRB discovered what the Secret Service had done. According to an online post by Vince Palamara,

On July 25, 1995 Review Board Chairman John R. Tunheim sent a powerfully worded letter to the Director of the Secret Service registering the Review Board’s displeasure about its recent discovery that the two boxes in question had been destroyed over a half a year previously. A letter from Board Chair Jack Tunheim (rather than David Marwell or Jeremy Gunn) addressed directly to the Head of the Secret Service (instead of to the administrative officials with whom the ARRB staff had been dealing) was a powerful signal that the Review Board was immensely displeased and took the matter very seriously.

Needless to say, the Secret Service’s response of “routine destruction” did not sit well with Tunheim. According to Inside the Assassination Records Review Board, the excellent 5-volume book by Douglas Horne, who served on the staff of the ARRB (and who will be a speaker at FFF’s upcoming June 3 conference “The National Security State and JFK”),

I reported to work at the ARRB on August 7, 1995, and I still distinctly recall that this controversy was raging full force during the first two weeks I was on the job. I recall both General Counsel Jeremy Gunn and Executive Director David Marwell being particularly upset; they were seriously considering holding public hearings in which the Secret Service officials responsible for said destruction would be called to account and castigated, in an open forum, with the media present…. Eventually – and unfortunately – tempers cooled and no public hearings were held.

Needless to say, no criminal indictments were ever issued against Secret Service officials for what was clearly the crime of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Of course, this wasn’t the first time the Secret Service had obstructed justice in the JFK case. As I detail in my ebook The Kennedy Autopsy, as soon as President Kennedy was declared dead, a team of armed Secret Service agents took possession of the body and, screaming profanities and brandishing guns, refused to permit the Dallas medical examiner to conduct an autopsy, which was required under Texas law. Their objective? To get the body out of Dallas’ Parkland Hospital, put it onto Air Force One (where Lyndon Johnson was waiting for it), and put it into the hands of the military, which then conducted an autopsy under highly secret and highly auspicious circumstances. (See not only The Kennedy Autopsy but also my article “The JFK Autopsy Cover-Up: The Testimony of Saundra Spencer.

This coming October, the National Archives is set to release tens of thousands of records relating to the assassination that federal agencies, including the CIA, wanted to keep secret until the very end. At this point, the only thing that can prevent the records from being disclosed is if the CIA or any other agency makes a request for continued secrecy, on grounds of “national security,” and President Trump grants such a request. Of course, another way to keep them secret is through more knowing, deliberate, and intentional illegal destruction of assassination-related records, like the Secret Service did back in the 1990s.


This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.