"JFK Revisited" Misleads on the Supposed Chicago Plot
Updated: Jan 8
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary, JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, misleads on the supposed Chicago Plot in November 1963. Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (1:23:31)
Screen shot from JFK Revisited
Whoopi Goldberg: Few people knew there had been at least two prior plots to kill President Kennedy in 1963. One was in Chicago on November 2nd, the second was in Tampa on November 18th.
Oliver Stone: Kennedy ended up not going to Chicago. Tell us about that plot.
Paul Bleau: An informant on October 31st, an informant named "Lee" gave a warning to the FBI stating that four Cubans were headed to Chicago to shoot Kennedy. The following day, a landlady, reported to the Chicago police that she had rented a room to four people that had rifles with telescopic sights and a sketch of the motorcade. The FBI passed that on to the Secret Service and the Secret Service botched the surveillance of these four individuals. Two of them escaped but they actually picked up two of the snipers, and they detained them. They were stonewalled by the snipers. They didn't get any information out of them. While this was going on, there was another threat coming in from another alternate 'patsy,' named Thomas Arthur Vallee, who making open and loud threats that he would assassinate Kennedy. They only picked him up when Kennedy cancelled his trip on November 2nd at 10 in the morning. What you found in Vallee, and the whole Chicago plot, has so many similarities to what eventually happened in Dallas, that it can't be considered coincidental. Vallee, if we compare him to Oswald, is an ex-Marine, he had been posted like Oswald in the far east on a station that was linked to the CIA because there were U2 surveillance planes on it. It was easy to portray him as disgruntled, anti-Kennedy, a loner, armed ... He had another intelligence link that he shared with Oswald. He trained Cuban exiles for combat, which was a CIA responsibility. And Oswald we know, at least offered to do that. He most likely did train Cuban exiles, but we know he tried to.
There's an awful lot to unpack, but let's start with the supposed plot. The source for this allegation comes from an article by Edwin Black from 1975.
"A few hours after that meeting adjourned, the phone rang in the Chicago office of the Secret Service. Agent Jay Lawrence Stocks was for a few hours the ranking agent, so he took the call. It was the Federal Bureau of Investigation calling from Washington. The FBI man warned Stocks of a serious and dangerous four-man conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy at the Army-Air Force game. The suspects were rightwing para-military fanatics armed with rifles and telescopic sights. The assassination itself would probably be attempted at one of the Northwest Expressway overpasses. This information came from an informant named 'Lee.'"
Where did Black's information come from? Well, he tells us:
"Our main supply of information was one of the Secret Service agents on duty at the time of the conspiracy. In cooperating with us, he broke the "old boy system" of the Secret Service and regulations forbidding press contacts among individual agents. His terms: total anonymity. His motive: a desire to set the record straight. We agreed."
So, there was one major source for Black's story. Here is how he pieced it all together:
"By playing one man's information off against another's, by comparing reactions to accusations, by the use of voice stress analysis and the polygraph (not as foolproof evidence, but merely a good gauge within limitations), by document analysis and other means, we were able to piece together the scenario. A scenario which has not been contradicted or even criticized by either the authorities or the principal players alleged to have taken part. "No comments," memory lapses, yes, But specific denials or contradictions -- not a one.
In fact, the more pieces we put together, the more reluctant the Secret Service or FBI people were. If that was any barometer of the reliability of our sources, then the scenario we recounted is accurate.
And do, without using the word proof, we repeat: there are strong indications there were four men in Chicago to assassinate John F. Kennedy, November 2, 1963 twenty days before Dallas."
Of course, Black cannot use the word proof. The only source for the allegations was former Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden. We know this from Bolden's interview with the HSCA:
To verify his information, Edwin Black had Bolden take a lie detector test:
"And in our man's case, the lie detector didn't come close to the deceit range, but did fall just short of the total truthfulness range ..."
The HSCA could find no corroborating evidence for Bolden's allegations. For instance, they interviewed former Secret Service agent Gary McLeod:
"He remembers reading the Edwin Black story in the Chicago Independent, several years ago, and couldn't imagine where he got the information pertaining to the four subjects suspected of being involved in a threat against the President and of Jack Stocks' surveillance. Agent McLeod stated that he felt sure that if this incident had occurred, he as part of the Chicago Field Office would have been aware or informed of what had taken place."
"The committee was unable to document the existence of the alleged assassination team. Specifically, no agent who had been assigned to Chicago confirmed any aspect of Bolden's version. One agent did state there had been a threat in Chicago during that period, but he was unable to recall details. Bolden did not link Vallee to the supposed four-man assassination team, although he claimed to remember Vallee's name in connection with a 1963 Chicago case.. He did not recognize Vallee's photograph when shown it by the committee."
Abraham Bolden was certainly influenced by the assassination community. He was interviewed by Bud Fensterwald in 1968, and all of a sudden, two names from the Garrison investigation popped up:
Screen shot from JFK Revisited
Of course, the story about Vallee is mostly true. The Secret Service learned of him on October 30, 1963. They discovered he had several weapons and had asked for the day off when Kennedy was visiting on November 2, 1963. The had Vallee watched and arrested him when he made an illegal left turn. They then found an M-1 rifle and 2,500 rounds of ammunition in his apartment.
But, JFK Revisited also includes some buff factoids. Vallee was stationed at Camp Otsu in Japan, but it was not a U-2 base when he was there. Not that that matters at all. The allegation that Vallee "trained Cuban exiles for combat," comes directly from Vallee himself. Here is an excerpt from Black's article:
"He also gave specifics about this CIA assignment to train exiles to assassinate Castro."
But, Black never mentions any specifics, except for this:
"Vallee was recruited about the same time to train members of a fiercely anti-Castro guerilla group. Objective: the assassination of Fidel Castro. Training locale: in and around Levittown, Long Island."
Levittown, Long Island? I have seen no documents to confirm this. But we do know that Vallee suffered from mental problems. Does he seem like a likely candidate to be hired by the CIA to train Cuban exiles?
Vallee was discharged before Castro came to power, and so if he trained exiles it would have been after his stint in the Marines. But, would the CIA hire him given his psychiatric record, or after his arrest in Chicago in November 1963?
I was particularly interested to see how James DiEugenio discusses Vallee/Bolden in his book, The JFK Assassination. Since he wrote the screenplay for JFK Revisited, his book must contain the evidence to sustain the allegations.
Chapter 10, "Chicago and Mexico City," has a section on the Chicago Plot, and one on Abraham Bolden. There are only 31 footnotes in these two sections, and here is a summary of his citations:
James Douglass 10
Edwin Black's article 3
Abraham Bolden's book 11
Newspaper articles 2
No documents are cited, just conspiracy sources. If you then check James Douglass' book, JFK and the Unspeakable, you find that his footnotes on the Chicago plot are all either from Bolden's book, an interview with Abraham Bolden, or the Edwin Black article. But there is one citation that is interesting. Here is the quote from JFK and the Unspeakable: (page 201)
"[Secret Service agent] Martineau set up a twenty-four hour surveillance of the men's boarding house. He passed out to his agents four photos of the men allegedly involved in the plots."
His source for the photos is Sherman Skolnick's suit against the National Archives in 1970. Given the fact that Sherman Skolnick was a fabulist and made up all sorts of stuff, I doubt that there are actually photos. Skolnick was actually on to the story about the Chicago plot and Abraham Bolden before Edwin Black. He disseminated a lot of nonsense. Take this excerpt from an interview with Art Kevin in 1970:
James DiEugenio claims that Bolden wanted to tell the Warren Commission about the Chicago plot: (page 275 in Destiny Betrayed)
"Back in Washington, in May of 1964, he tried to contact the Warren Commission. He wanted to tell them about the Chicago plot and the lax standards of the Secret Service White House detail, which he had seen up close."
Bolden did want to testify, but not about the supposed Chicago plot:
Chicago Daily News, May 22, 1964
There is no evidence to support the allegations of a plot in Chicago in November of 1963. There might well have been one, but JFK Revisited just repeats stories that have been told before - and no evidence has materialized to support the claims.
However, the HSCA reviewed these documents before they were destroyed and they did not find evidence of any threat. Here is an excerpt from my essay, "Did the ARRB Prove a Conspiracy in the JFK Assassination?"
In episode 4, Tunheim and Samoluk discuss the Secret Service destruction of two boxes of domestic survey reports, Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (19:25)
Judge Tunheim: They destroyed a group of records which involved threats to President Kennedy in the fall of 1963. They have what they're called threat sheets and there were many threats made to President Kennedy's life during the year 1963. They fought us on the release of those records. They even enlisted Vice President Gore's wife to help them because she had a very legitimate concern for mental health records. And the idea was that this might disclose the names of people who had mental health problems.
No doubt Tunheim and Samoluk were right to be upset about the destruction of two boxes of records. But right after their appearance in JFK: Destiny Betrayed, the documentary moves to supposed plots against JFK in Chicago and Miami. The juxtaposition is not by accident - since there is no documentary evidence that there was a threat in Chicago, JFK; Destiny Betrayed uses Tunheim and Samoluk to imply that the destroyed records contained valuable information related to the supposed plot.
The Secret Service wrote a letter to the ARRB noting that "the folder concerning the canceled trip to Chicago would only have contained a preliminary survey report, if any document at all, since final reports are not conducted when a trip is canceled." Preliminary survey reports are just the basic plans for a trip.
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