By Stevie Hall*
Today marks 50 years since the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Although the former President’s life ended in such a short time, his efforts, aspirations, and even his assassination have left a mark on this country, and effects of each can be seen in present day.
After Kennedy’s death, many laws related to assassination were created to protect future presidents and other political leaders. Although the Secret Service began protecting the President, the Vice President, and others following the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, additional laws relate the security of our leaders.
Under the presidency of Gerald Ford, Executive Order (EO) 11905 was created to clarify the duties and roles of the intelligence departments and agencies, to assure compliance with the law within the management of these departments and agencies, and to ban political assassinations of foreign leaders. The Order states, “No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.” President Ford isn’t the only president that addressed the prohibition of assassination; both President Jimmy Carter and President Ronald Reagan upheld the prohibition of assassination in executive orders as well.
In 2000, the Presidential Threat Protection Act was created to protect the current President and the immediate family members of that president, as well as former Presidents, Vice-Presidents, President-elects, Vice President-elects and the immediate family members of each. The act, (18 USC § 879) prohibits and punishes any threats against these leaders of the United States. The law states the punishment for knowingly and willfully threatening to kill, kidnap, or inflict bodily harm on any of the previously mentioned parties, in any way (by mail, person, etc.), will result in a fine, and/or no more than 5 years in prison. § 1751 states that assassinating the president, or any of the former mentioned, is punishable by imprisonment for any term of years, a life sentence, or death.
President Kennedy’s assassination impacted the United States days, months, and years after its occurrence, and the impact is still prevalent today in our laws. The United States has made many efforts to not only protect the current President, but former presidents/elects, vice presidents/elects, and their immediate family members. Today we remember not only the impact of JFK during his term, but the impact this tragic event had on our law.