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Warren Commission Hearings: Vol. V - Page 102« Previous | Next »

(Testimony of J. Edgar Hoover)

Mr. Hoover.
security of the President and the successor to office. Just how far you are going to go for his protection and his security. I don't think you can get absolute security without almost establishing a police state, and we don't want that. You can't put security in a black groove or a white groove. It is in a gray groove, and certain chances have to be taken. You are dealing with a human being when you are dealing with the President of the United States. President Johnson is a very down to earth human being, and it makes the security problem all the more difficult, but you can't bar him from the people.
There are certain things that can be done, and I submitted a memorandum to the Secret Service, and to the White House on certain security steps that might be taken and tightened up. But you are dealing with the general public and that is what has given me great concern in the recent expansion, of the criteria for dissemination that we adopted after the assassination.
Prior to that time we reported to the Secret Service all information that dealt with individuals who were potential killers or by whom acts of violence might be anticipated. The Secret Service would take that information and would do with it as they saw fit. I gave great consideration to it because I am not very happy with the criteria expansion, but I felt we had to include subversives of various character, and extremists. We have, in turn, furnished their names to the Secret Service. I think 5,000 names up to the present time already have been submitted and there are at least three or four thousand more that will be submitted within the next few months.
Then you come to the problem of what you are going to do when the Secret Service gets those names. They have to call upon the local authorities. Just recently, in the city of Chicago, when the President was there, the local authorities were asked to give assistance as they usually do to the Secret Service and they went to the homes of some of these people, and it resulted really almost in a house arrest.
Now, I don't think there is any place in this country for that kind of thing, but these people who belonged to extreme subversive organizations or organizations that advocated the overthrow of government by force and violence were told that they couldn't leave their house or if they did they would be accompanied by a police officer. That gives me great concern because in New York City alone, you run into maybe three or four thousand such individuals who would be members of subversive organizations, and then you get into the twilight zone of subversive fronts.
Now, there again, merely because a man belongs to a subversive front organization, in my estimation doesn't mean that he is blacklisted and is a menace to the country for life. If he belongs to 20 of them, it certainly shows either one of two things, he is either very gullible and dumb or he is a menace. That has been my attitude in regard to Government service where you find a Government employee who belonged to one or two, maybe in his early days. I don't believe this necessarily makes him a security risk. Rather, this would be dependent on the degree of his activity in the front group and his purpose and intent in associating himself with it. But where he has belonged to 15, 18, 20 of them, I don't think he has enough good judgment to be in the Government.
Some ministers get drawn into organizations, some of which are under the domination of the Communist Party. Now, those ministers don't know that. They are just as loyal and patriotic as you and I are, but they happen to belong. Now, that is where the question of human judgment has to be used. We try to use it in selecting these names. But I was startled when I learned of the incident in Chicago because there you come pretty close to a house arrest and we don't want that. We don't want a gestapo. We have to, I think, maintain an even balance.
I think it was very well expressed----
Mr. Dulles.
May I ask you, Mr. Hoover, was this house arrest based on names you had furnished the Secret Service and they furnished the local authorities?
Mr. Hoover.
Yes, sir.
Representative Boggs.
That brings me back to the question I think I heard
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