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Were Secret Service Agents too Hungover to Protect JFK?

Questions raised over whether late drinking session affected response of men charged with protecting President

Five seconds in Dallas changed the course of American history, and the men haunted most by the memories of that day are the ones who could have had a hand in preventing the tragedy.

The assassination of John F Kennedy more than 50 years ago has become a subject of intense scrutiny, with countless books and more than a dozen films devoted to investigating the shooting and its related conspiracy theories.

But agents’ testimony and the findings of the Warren Commission point to simple steps that might have averted Kennedy’s death, namely having the Secret Service agents better prepared for protecting Kennedy instead of staying out late and drinking the night [amazon asin=1629144894&template=*lrc ad (left)]before.

With the Secret Service in the midst of several scandals,Vanity Fair has taken another look at the readiness of the agency in 1963 and found the hard partying and lackadaisical attitude that plagues the agency now was a problem even then.

Veteran CBS broadcaster Bob Schieffer was just a beat reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1963, but he recalled on the night before the assassination being in the company of several Secret Service agents into the early hours.

Nine agents had wandered over to the Fort Worth Press Club from the Hotel Texas around midnight, searching for a bite to eat after a [amazon asin=1439193886&template=*lrc ad (right)]long day working the escort detail for the president’s trip to Texas.

Finding the food already gone, agents made do with some scotch and sodas and a couple cans of beer before seven of the agents followed journalists to the Cellar, a late-night hangout in town.

‘The Cellar was an all-night San Francisco–style coffee house down the street and some of the visiting reporters had heard about it and wanted to see it,’ Schieffer explains.

‘So we all went over there and some of the agents came along. The place didn’t have a liquor license, but they did serve liquor to friends—usually grain alcohol and Kool-Aid.’

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