The first black man assigned to the U.S. Secret Service White House detail is speaking out about the recent security lapses surrounding President Obama and the First Family. In a letter to Blackmansstreet.Today and The NorthStar News & Analysis, Abraham Bolden, Sr., writes:
“I am concerned. I am sorry to see that not much has changed since I was on the detail in 1961. At that time, and for the past 50 years, agents have consistently denied that dereliction of duty and irresponsible conduct was endemic within the Secret Service. I paid a very high price for trying to reveal what I perceived to be practices that compromised the safety of this nation’s chief executive by some of the agents surrounding the president.”
Bolden was a Secret Service agent based in Chicago when President John F. Kennedy met him on a visit to the city and urged he apply for the White House detail. In 1961 Bolden became the first African American to join the group.
But Bolden quickly experienced racism and unprofessional behavior by his fellow agents. He explains in his bookThe Echo from Dealey Plaza that the training was inadequate and drinking on the job by agents was common. Agents said they would never take a bullet for Kennedy because of his positions on civil rights. One agent told him in front of colleagues, “You will always be a nigger. So act like one.”
Bolden (pictured above) left the presidential detail before the 1963 assassination of Kennedy, moved back to Chicago and continued to work for the Secret Service. He told colleagues before and after Kennedy’s murder about the sloppy behavior and good old boy culture that permeated the presidential detail. See Abraham Bolden
Bolden’s comments in a letter to BlackMansstreet.Today and The NorthStar News & Analysis follow the resignation of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson. Two weeks ago, a man scaled the White House fence and got into the living quarters of the First Family. Last month in Atlanta a private security guard with a criminal history wore a gun as he rode an elevator with the president. In 2011, a sniper shot and hit the White House several times but it took the Secret Service four days to determine that shots had been fired.
Some would say that Bolden’s warning has no credibility. He left the Secret Service under a cloud after colleagues claimed he sold a government document to men he was investigating. He was brought to trial and convicted of the charge in 1964 and served three years.
But Bolden has stood by his innocence from day one, and he has worked for more than 40 years to have his conviction expunged. Bolden writes the Secret Service sought to ruin his reputation because it wanted to hide its complicity in the Kennedy assassination. He states that the judge in his trial told the jury before they began deliberations that Bolden was guilty. Later, a key prosecution witness admitted under oath he had committed perjury in his testimony against Bolden.
And Bolden has never backed down from his statements on the behavior of the presidential detail that was supposed to guard Kennedy.