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Warren Commission Report: Page 459« Previous | Next »

(CHAPTER VIII - The Protection of the President)

associated with the life of the Presidential family in all its ramifications and alert to every danger that might befall it, and ready at any instant to hazard great danger to themselves in the performance of their tremendous responsibility. It is suggested that an organization shorn of its power to investigate all the possibilities of danger to the 'President and becoming merely the recipient of information gathered by others would become limited solely to acts of physical alertness and personal courage incident to its responsibilities. So circumscribed, it could not maintain the esprit de corps or the necessary alertness for this unique and challenging responsibility.

While in accordance with its mandate this Commission has necessarily examined into the functioning of the various Federal agencies concerned with the tragic trip of President Kennedy to Dallas and while it has arrived at certain conclusions in respect thereto, it seems clear that it was not within the Commission's responsibility to make specific recommendations as to the long- range organization of the President's protection, except as conclusions flowing directly from its examination of the President's assassination can be drawn. The Commission was not asked to apply itself as did the Hoover Commission in 1949, for examples to a determination of the optimum organization of the President's protection. It would have been necessary for the Commission to take considerable testimony, much of it extraneous to the facts of the assassination of President Kennedy, to put it in a position to reach final conclusions in this respect. There are always dangers of divided responsibility, duplication, and confusion of authority where more than one agency is operating in the same field; but on the other hand the protection of the President is in a real sense a Government-wide responsibility which must necessarily assumed by the Department of State the FBI, the CIA, and the military intelligence agencies as well as the Secret Service. Moreover, a number of imponderable questions have to be weighed if any change in the intimate association now established between the Secret Service and the President and his family is contemplated.

These considerations have induced the Commission to believe that the determination of whether or not there should be a relocation of responsibilities and functions should be left to the Executive and the Congress, perhaps upon recommendations based on further studies by the Cabinet-level committee recommended above or the National Security Council.

Pending any such determination, however, this Commission is convinced of the necessity of better coordination and direction of the activities of all existing agencies of Government which are in a position to and do, furnish information and services related to the security of the President. The Commission feels the Secret Service and the FBI, as well as the State Department and the CIA when the President travels abroad, could .improve their existing capacities and procedures so as to lessen the chances of assassination. Without, therefore, coming to final conclusions respecting the long-range organization of the President's security, the Commission believes

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