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  » Appendix XVIII
Warren Commission Report: Page 454« Previous | Next »

(CHAPTER VIII - The Protection of the President)

in an emergency. For instance, the lead car always is manned by Secret Service agents familiar with the area and with local law enforcement officials; the radio net in use in motorcades is elaborate and permits a number of different means of communication with various local points. A doctor is in the motorcade.211

This basic approach to the problem of planning for emergencies is sound. Any effort to prepare detailed contingency plans might well have the undesirable effect of inhibiting quick and imaginative responses. If the advance preparation is thorough, and the protective devices and techniques employed are sound, those in command should be able to direct the response appropriate to the emergency.

The Commission finds that the Secret Service agents in the motorcade who were immediately responsible for the President's safety reacted promptly at the time the shots were fired. Their actions demonstrate that the President and the Nation can expect courage and devotion to duty from the agents of the Secret Service.


The Commission's review of the provisions for Presidential protection at the time of President Kennedy's trip to Dallas demonstrates the need for substantial improvements. Since the assassination, the Secret Service and the Department of the Treasury have properly taken the initiative in reexamining major aspects of Presidential protection. Many changes have already been made and others are contemplated, some of them in response to the Commission's questions and informal suggestions.

Assassination a Federal Crime

There was no Federal criminal jurisdiction over the assassination of President Kennedy. Had there been reason to believe that the assassination was the result of a conspiracy, Federal jurisdiction could have been asserted; it has long been a Federal crime to conspire to injure any Federal officer, on account of, or while he is engaged in, the lawful discharge of the duties of his office.212 Murder of the President has never been covered by Federal law, however, so that once it became reasonably clear that the killing was the act of a single person, the State of Texas had exclusive jurisdiction.

It is anomalous that Congress has legislated in other ways touching upon the safety of the Chief Executive or other Federal officers, without making an attack on the President a crime. Threatening harm to the President is a Federal .offense, 213 as is advocacy of the overthrow of the Government by the assassination of any of its officers.214 The murder of Federal judges, U.S. attorneys and marshals, and a number of other specifically designated Federal law enforcement. officers is a Federal crime.215 Equally anomalous are statutory provisions which

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