Thursday, 03 June 2021 06:00

Zero Fail: Déjà vu All Over Again

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Vince Palamara laments the resurrection of the “Kennedy ordered the Secret Service off of the back of the limousine” myth in Carol Leonnig’s new book Zero Fail and details some bizarre shenanigans happening on his Amazon author page as her book was released.

As someone who has written extensively about the Secret Service, especially the Kennedy years, I was looking forward to 3-time Pulitzer Prize winning author Carol Leonnig’s hyped book Zero Fail. While this is not a review of her book, per se, it is a tale of disappointment and how I was once again the victim of some sophisticated and sinister hacking, which directly affected my books and my work. This is something I went through back in 2010, when former Secret Service agent Gerald Blaine’s book The Kennedy Detail was in the news and again when my own book Survivor’s Guilt: The Secret Service & The Failure to Protect President Kennedy was coming out.

In the short days before Leonnig’s book was due to be released (5/18/21), I was admittedly quite excited about reading the book, even having it on pre-order from Amazon in anticipation. The author is a very respected journalist who had previously co-authored the number one best-selling anti-Trump book A Very Stable Genius. I had high hopes that, when Leonnig tackled the Kennedy era, in particular, she would put on her investigative reporter hat and do some digging to find the real truth on the matter of Kennedy’s Secret Service protection, or lack thereof, in Dallas.

Then, the flood of articles and media appearances began and my heart sank. Leonnig merely bought into the old canard that JFK ordered the agents off his limo and was reckless with his own security—the old blame-the-victim mantra—no doubt enhanced by personal interviews with former agent/authors Clint Hill and Gerald Blaine. I kept thinking to myself “surely this acclaimed author has to know of my work; she has to know there is a huge dissenting view on this matter.”[1] But, alas, Leonnig chose the lazy way out and didn’t do her own thinking on the subject.

That was the first part of my disappointment…then came the real shocker.

On the eve of her book being released, I went to my Amazon author page and, to my horror, I discovered that ALL FIVE OF MY BOOKS WERE GONE…gone! I immediately went to my bookmarks and found that the individual URLs were still there, but the books were gone from my author page. It gets worse.  When I did a search in Amazon using the terms “Vince Palamara”, “Vincent Palamara”, “Palamara”, “JFK assassination”, “Kennedy assassination” or “Secret Service”, none of my books—which were normally at or near the very top of these search terms, especially my latest Honest Answers About the Murder of President John F. Kennedy—were missing. Nothing was there!

By removing my books from my author page, they were essentially invisible to the potential buyer. Then I checked Josiah Thompson’s popular new book Last Second in Dallas.  Same thing, his was gone too! I also checked a few other very recent pro-conspiracy books…same fate. I let author Larry Hancock know of this alarming situation and he became an instant student of this hack and the ramifications of the disappearance of his books from Amazon. I also alerted Josiah to this drastic situation via a mutual friend, writer Matt Douthit. First and foremost, I fired off some edgy messages to Amazon’s support staff. It took about 6 hours or so, but the books slowly came back. But, and it’s a big but: There was no explanation from Amazon regarding how or why this happened! As someone told me: they wouldn’t hack their own products and “kill their own”, so to speak; they want the money and sales. This had to have been a nefarious hack with a purpose (for the record, no lone-nut books were harmed in the making of this hack. Also, older titles were not touched, either).

I cannot help but think that someone—knowing Leonnig’s red hot volume was due for release, and seeing all the hype articles and television appearances and the positive effect this would have on curious minds wishing to check out books related to the Secret Service and the Kennedy assassination like mine, Josiah’s, Larry’s and a couple others—somehow did a malicious hack to erase them from searches. With Amazon offering no explanation and realizing how highly unusual this was, what else was one to think? Since 2013, when my first book came out, and ever since, this has never happened before[2] and I make this statement as someone who admittedly checks out my books a few times daily to monitor for positive comments, negative comments, sales, and any potential mischief, so any other past hack would have been known to me.

This feeling is further enhanced due to this fact: I am the victim of previous harassment due to my work.

As readers of my detailed review of The Kennedy Detail well know[3], I am firmly convinced that Gerald Blaine’s book was written to counter my work on the Secret Service. In fact, both Gerald Blaine and Clint Hill took to C-SPAN to address some of my criticisms, even showing a You Tube video of myself speaking about their book[4] (Hill wrote the Foreword to Blaine’s book, contributed to its contents, did the book and media tours, and ended up in a romantic relationship with co-author Lisa McCubbin which led to three books: Mrs. Kennedy & Me[5], Five Days In November[6], and Five Presidents[7]). Keep in mind-this was all before my first book was published, although it was a self-published affair at the time with a link on my blog as part of my heavy online presence (I will return to this later).

I went on to write a critical review of Blaine’s book on Amazon which was deleted with no explanation, despite many “likes” and positive comments. Then it began: my blog was hacked and I temporarily could not add to it or see it online. The same thing happened to my You Tube channel. It took several days to get them back. But this was only the beginning. In the middle of 2013, I suddenly saw a drastic reduction in my online presence. All my many blogs and sites were still up, nothing had changed on my end, yet Google acted like most of my work didn’t exist, despite a heavy search-term presence from 1998 to mid-2013. Someone told me I was most likely the victim of algorithms and hidden HTML coding which made a lot of my work disappear despite still technically being online. When one did searches for “Clint Hill”, “Gerald Blaine”, “The Kennedy Detail” or (especially) “JFK Secret Service”, my work came up for years in commanding fashion with little or no competition. But 2013 was the 50th anniversary of the assassination, when the media was truly working overtime to close down dissent on the case and wrap it all up as “Oswald did it-get a life.”

But this was only the start of my troubles.

My first book Survivor’s Guilt was due out in October of 2013. Gerald Blaine marked my book as “to read” on Good Reads; Lisa McCubbin gave it a one-star rating on Good Reads before it even came out; and former JFK Secret Service agent Chuck Zboril gave my book a one-star review on Amazon when it did come out, which prompted a specific friend of Blaine’s (whom I will not name for legal reasons and to give him any notoriety), a person formerly in military intelligence who had also worked for the United States Post Office, to begin bothering me online with many nasty comments on both Amazon and my blogs. What was truly bizarre about this individual was that he seemed to be able to track my every moment online and know when I was at work!

Which relates to this, not once but twice I was called to a private conference room at work, as a woman from Human Resources (HR) alerted me to the fact that the same above noted individual wrote to the CEO of my company attempting to get me fired for:

a) my unpatriotic attacks on Blaine and

b) doing these things on company time.

Neither of these had any merit.  My reviews of Blaine’s book never crossed the line into libel and I only wrote my criticisms at home, not on the clock at work. In any event, the lady from HR informed me that (luckily) the CEO never sees his mail first, as they always screen it and, more importantly, they sided with me: nothing I did went against company policy, it was under the First Amendment protection. In fact, they added that they would seek legal remedies against him if he ever wrote again!

I also had the kindle version of my first book disappear for a couple days from Amazon.  I had to fight to get it back: no explanation was forthcoming. In addition, all my hundreds of reviews on Amazon were wiped out—the excuse being that someone—I wonder who—reported my reviews as “biased” (!).  So they all went away. I am no longer able to write reviews for books; I can only edit my book page, because I am an author of five books.

In the interest of transparency, there may have been a specific reason why I became the target of this harassment. I wrote an e-mail to Stephen Gyllenhaal, the director of Gerald Blaine and Clint Hill’s then upcoming Hollywood movie The Kennedy Detail (based on Blaine’s book).  I alerted the director of my criticisms of Blaine’s book in no uncertain terms. The letter, while G-rated and professional, seems to have had an impact. Not long after, Blaine’s proposed movie sank without a trace and the once impressive website they had for the movie-in-progress (with several Academy Award winning production people included) likewise disappeared.

Which leads us to the present day. Zero Fail may be an epic professional fail when it comes to its Kennedy-era chapter. But it achieved its goal: the whole blame-the-victim mantra is once again alive and well (Leonnig’s book is another massive number-one best-seller). I must say that I am heartened by a few Amazon reviews of her book which duly note the truth about my work:

The media hype for this book is all wrong! With all due respect, the Kennedy Detail agents are on record many years ago debunking the notion that President Kennedy had asked them to get away from the limo or order the bubble top off or reduce the number of motorcycles. What’s more, the Secret Service was the only boss the president of the United States truly has, to quote from Presidents Truman, Johnson, and Clinton. Author Vincent Palamara has proven this in multiple books he has written.

How can you take this book seriously when she gets the part about JFK so wrong. The notion that JFK told the SSA not to ride the limo in Dallas has long been disproved. He never interfered with the SSAs and what they wanted to do. There are numerous SSA agents who have stated this on the record. You can see them on YouTube - or read their written statements. The notion that JFK interfered was promoted by a select few SSA's to deflect blame from the agency for their MASSIVE failure that day in Dallas. The salacious press of the day ate it up and fiction became fact—for a while—until it was debunked. The fact that this author is oblivious to this and still repeats those old canards causes me to question the rest of her "investigatory" prowess.

Renowned author Vince Palamara, via his many interviews with the vast majority of the Secret Service agents who guarded JFK, as well as sundry White House aides, has demonstrated overwhelmingly that President Kennedy did not order the agents off his limousine or even interfere with the agent’s actions at all. Special Agent in Charge of the White House Detail Gerald Behn (who outranks anyone Leonnig interviewed in extreme old age if at all) told Palamara that President Kennedy never ordered the agents off his car. Agents Floyd Boring, Sam Sulliman, Robert Lilley, and many others said the same thing. What’s more, presidential aide Dave Powers and Florida Congressman Sam Gibbons (who rode with Kennedy during the entire 28-mile Tampa motorcade) said the same thing.

The moral to this story—my story—is this: if one thinks that the Kennedy assassination is not a current event in some respects, you are wrong. There are still those who will do anything they can to tamp down on dissent.

[1] She does indeed: she references my fourth book Who’s Who in the Secret Service on page 504 of her book, as well as citing a video on my You Tube page.

[2] Technically, a much smaller hack had happened on Amazon just to myself on one form of my first book before. I will get to this shortly.

[3] Please see Kennedys And King - Gerald Blaine, The Kennedy Detail.

[4] Please see JFK Secret Service Agent Clint Hill vs Vince Palamara Part 1 - YouTube and JFK Secret Service Agent Clint Hill vs Vince Palamara Part 2 - YouTube.

[5] Please see Kennedys And King - Clint Hill, Mrs. Kennedy and Me.

[6] Not reviewed by myself because it was basically a rehash of his first book with many photos related to those five days in November 1963.

[7] Please see Kennedys And King - Clint Hill, with Lisa McCubbin, Five Presidents.

Vince Palamara

Vince Palamara is without a doubt the leading expert on the Secret Service.  His 20 years spent reviewing documents and interviewing agents assigned to the Kennedy detail culminated in his book, Survivor's Guilt.  He has made numerous media appearances, and his original research materials are now stored at NARA.  Vince has also written JFK: From Parkland to Bethesda, a compendium of the medical testimony. He is currently finishing a third book presenting a wider ranging look at the Secret Service under several administrations. Read more here.

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