With more conspiracy theories floating around than explanations, the assassination of John F. Kennedy has always lent itself to intense scrutiny. But what if the secret service agents on the scene were to blame for that fateful day?
A new report by Vanity Fair claims that several secret service agents were out late the night before at a local watering hole called the Cellar. The bar’s owner, Pat Kirkwood, wrote letters after Kennedy’s assassination saying he didn’t see the agents drinking (it was a “dry” bar), but in 1984 Kirkwood changed his tune and admitted that the Cellar supplied policemen and politicians with liquor.
Chief Justice Earl Warren, who headed the Warren Commission investigation into the assassination, allegedly questioned the agents’ actions, according to author Philip Shenon.
“Don’t you think that if a man went to bed reasonably early, and hadn’t been drinking the night before he would be more alert than if he stayed up until three or five o’clock in the morning going to beatnik joints and doing some drinking along the way?”
The next day, Nov. 22, 1963, President Kennedy got into a limousine with Jackie Kennedy, the Texas governor and his wife because he reportedly didn’t like secret service agents blocking his view or preventing him from greeting people. That would be the last car ride for the president, as footage from Abraham Zapruder shows he was shot several times, ultimately killing him.
Clint Hill, one of the agents who had partied the night before and was working for the president the day of his murder, later confessed the guilt weighs on him for not having responded faster.
“It was my fault,” he said. “If I had reacted just a little bit quicker. . . . I’ll live with that to my grave.”