There was NO Assassination Plot in Chicago
Updated: Nov 1
I have written about this supposed plot many times (see the links section below). There is absolutely NO evidence that there was a plot against JFK in Chicago.
Chad Nagle's article is not footnoted. It starts off by passing off some allegations as facts:
In Chicago 60 years ago today, the Secret Service arrested two members of a four-man sniper team on suspicion of planning to assassinate President Kennedy on his visit to the city the next day. This information is according to ex-Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden, who in a 1978 interview with House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) testified that the FBI revealed the plot to Chicago’s Secret Service, telling them that “the suspects were rightwing para-military fanatics” and the assassination “would probably be attempted at one of the Northwest Expressway overpasses.”
There is no evidence that the Secret Service arrested two members of a four-man sniper team. The allegation originates from Abraham Bolden who was the source for Edwin Black's article about the supposed Chicago Plot in 1975. However, Abraham Bolden's stories about this plot have changed considerably over the years.
The article continues:
The two suspects, detained at Secret Service headquarters in Chicago through the night, stonewalled the interrogators and remained anonymous thereafter. The FBI’s informant, according to Bolden, had identified himself only as “Lee.” Bolden also added that one of the members of the sniper team had a “Spanish-sounding name.”
There is no corroborative evidence for any of these claims -- all of which come from Abraham Bolden. Bolden certainly likes to drop names. When he talked to Mark Lane in 1967 and to Bernard Fensterwald in 1968, he tied the alleged Chicago plot to the Garrison Investigation. Here is an excerpt from his interview with Bud Fensterwald:
In December 1967, Jim Garrison indicted Edgar Eugene Bradley for conspiring to kill JFK, a charge that had absolutely no foundation. Garrison also believed that Manuel Garcia Gonzalez was one of the gunmen on the grassy knoll.
Conspiracy theorists no longer bring up the names of Bradley and Gonzalez as two of the men involved in the plot
Nagle then turns to Thomas Vallee:
The Secret Service had learned two days earlier, on Oct. 30, of a threat to JFK in Chicago. The city’s police had been surveilling ex-Marine Thomas Arthur Vallee, pulled him over, and found an M1 rifle, a handgun, and 3,000 rounds of ammunition in his car. Vallee’s landlady had reported him after he said he was taking the day off on Nov. 2, the day Kennedy was scheduled to arrive. Vallee had been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and was openly scornful of the president and his policies.
Vallee had significant mental issues. It is not clear that he threatened the life of JFK -- certainly his landlord was alarmed, and he did not like JFK, but there is no evidence of an actual threat. Of course, Vallee's supposed threat, is not a plot.
The reason for PRS interest is "subj was reported by confidential source to have made critical remarks re JFK adm."
Just critical remarks? Was there really a threat?
Vallee’s workplace, IPP Litho Plate, was on the third floor of a building in downtown Chicago that resembled the Texas School Book Depository, and in front of which JFK’s motorcade would have had to slow to a crawl to make a hairpin turn, as it did in Dallas.
But yet Vallee took the day off work. The Edwin Black article claims that the attempt on Kennedy's life "would probably be attempted at one of the Northwest Expressway overpasses."
The HSCA discovered other similarities between the backgrounds of Vallee and Lee Harvey Oswald, accused assassin of JFK. For example, like Oswald, Vallee had worked at the base for the CIA’s U-2 spy plane in Atsugi, Japan, as a radar operator. Vallee trained anti-Castro Cuban exiles in the U.S., as Oswald had offered to do in New Orleans in the summer of 1963. Both were seen to hold extreme views.
Vallee did not work at Atsugi. Vallee was stationed at Camp Otsu in Japan, but it was not a U-2 base when he was there. There is no evidence that Vallee trained any anti-Castro Cuban exiles in the United States. The HSCA did not "discover" any of this.
Vallee was released on the evening of Nov. 2, by which time JFK’s trip to Chicago had been canceled for reasons that remain unknown.
Here is page one from the Chicago Daily News of November 2, 1963:
Here is page one from the Chicago Tribune from November 3, 1963:
The Diem story was big -- just look at the headlines. There was no ambiguity about why JFK's plans were canceled.
Conspiracy theorists maintain that Kennedy's trip was canceled because of the supposed plot. Note that the plot was uncovered on October 30th, some three days before JFK's visit. Here is an excerpt from Edwin Black's article "The Plot to Kill JFK in Chicago" from the Chicago Independent:
A few hours after that meeting [a coordination meeting between the Secret Service and the Mayor's office on October 30] 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.
Had they really uncovered a serious plot against Kennedy on October 30th, his plans would have been cancelled well before the trip.
Here is page one of the HSCA's Outside Contact Report with Pierre Salinger, JFK's press secretary:
Nagle then goes on to mention the HSCA Final Report. Here is what he doesn't report:
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.
Nagle also does not tell his readers about Bolden's May 1964 press conference in Chicago in which he discussed his various issues with the Secret Service. Bolden didn't say one word about a supposed plot against JFK in Chicago. In fact, Bolden never said anything about this plot until 1967, well after the FBI and the Warren Commission's investigation.
Did Bolden not realize there might be a connection between the Chicago plot and the actual assassination in Dallas? Why keep this secret from investigators? From the public?
Was it because there was no assassination plot in Chicago?
Previous Relevant Blog Posts
The HSCA did speak to Edwin Black. It was a memorable interview.
There is no evidence of a plot in Chicago against JFK.
Bolden's story about the supposed Chicago plot has changed over the years.
An examination of supposed other plots against JFK.
Bolden didn't say one word about a supposed plot against JFK in Chicago.