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Warren Commission Report: Page 429« Previous | Next »

(CHAPTER VIII - The Protection of the President)

Intelligence Functions Relating to Presidential Protection at the Time of the Dallas Trip

A basic element of Presidential protection is the identification and elimination of possible sources of danger to the President before the danger becomes actual. The Secret Service has attempted to perform this function through the activities of its Protective Research Section and requests to other agencies, Federal and local, for useful information. The Commission has concluded that at the time of the assassination the arrangements relied upon by the Secret Service to perform this function were seriously deficient.


Adequacy of preventive intelligence operations of the Secret Service.--The main job of the Protective Research Section (PRS) is to collect, process, and evaluate information about persons or groups who may be a danger to the President. In addition to this function, PRS is responsible for such tasks as obtaining clearance of some categories of White House employees and all tradesmen who service the White House, the security processing of gifts sent to the President, and technical inspections against covert listening devices.9 At the time of the assassination PRS was a very small group, comprised of 12 specialists and 3 clerks.10


Many persons call themselves to the attention of PRS by attempting to visit, the President for bizarre reasons or by writing or in some other way attempting to communicate with him in a threatening or abusive manner or with undue persistence. Robert I. Bouck, special agent in charge of PRS, estimated that most of the material received by his office originated in this fashion or from the occasional investigations initiated by the Secret Service, while the balance was furnished to PRS by other Federal agencies, with primary source being the FBI.11 The total volume of information received by PRS has risen steadily. In 1943 PRS received approximately 9,000 items of information; in 1953 this had increased to more than 17,000 items; in 1963 the total exceeded 32,000 items.12 Since many items may pertain to a single case, these figures do not show the caseload. In the period from November 1961 to November 1963, PRS received items in 8,709 cases.13


Before the assassination of President Kennedy, PRS expressed its interest in receiving information on suspects in very general terms. For example, PRS instructed the White House mailroom, a source of much PRS data, to refer all communications on identified existing cases and, in addition, any communication "that in any way indicates anyone may have possible intention of harming the President." 14 Slightly more specific criteria were established for PRS personnel processing White House mail referred by the White House mailroom, but again the standards were very general.15 These instructions to PRS personnel appear to be the only instance where an effort was made to reduce the criteria to writing. 16 When requested to provide a specific statement of the standards employed by PRS in deciding what information to seek and retain, the Secret Service responded:

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