- Matt Ridley in 'Maybe We're All Conspiracy Theorists', The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 10-11, 2011
Two days after my dad's funeral in Port Charlotte, FL, on Sunday, July, 19, 2009, I found myself with some time on my hands and decided to trek down to the 'Books-a-Million' bookstore in Murdock about a half mile from The Days Inn where I was staying. My objective was to attempt to at least get a hold of Vince Bugliosi's book, 'Reclaiming History' - his Magnum Opus on the Kennedy assassination and the claim that the case was essentially a wrap and "Oswald done it". But rather than offer his brief (no pun intended) in a more or less digestible form, Bugliosi went off the deep end with over 1,518 pages of main text supplemented with a CD containing 958 pages of End Notes and 170 pages of footnotes. In other words, a total of 2,646 fulsome pages, to say what? That Oswald acted alone and oh by the way, the main evidence was his rifle and refusal to 'fess up!
Anyway, I was informed by a clerk at the Murdock 'Books-a-Million' that they didn't carry the "cinder block" (her appellation) and further, she was not aware of any stores in the area that did. It took up way too much space, was too heavy and bulky ...and besides...did I not know it was "remaindered" after a year? ("Remaindered" means a book's life expectancy for any kind of continued reader interest has basically expired and most of the left over copies, of which there were likely hundreds of thousands, are either scrapped or made available to discount book sellers, like Edward R. Hamilton Bookseller, of Falls Village, CT. )
Unable to get Bugliosi's monstrosity I passed the time reading an excellent book entitled 'The Riemann Hypothesis', by Karl Sabbagh (which I ultimately purchased).
Still, I had to deal with Bugliosi's claims in some way in one of the chapters (Three) of my own book: The JFK Assassination: The Final Analysis. Fortunately, on returning home, I found a distillation of Bugliosi's complaints in an AARP Magazine article entitled, 'Six Myths About JFK's Assassination'.
What I plan to do in this and the next several blogs is challenge each of Buglisoi's Myths, and show why his case falls apart, and indeed, why he's compiled 2,646 pages of content for nothing. This is why I refer to the work as a "magnificent obsession" predicated on delusion. (For those who'd like a comprehensive review of Bugliosi' book, you can check out James Di Eugenio's online, entitled, 'Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman and Bugliosi's Bungle'. )
How did comedian and HBO mini-series (e.g. 'The Pacific') producer Hanks get into the picture? Well, evidently Tom plans to do a 13-part series next year - based on Bugliosi's material - for a 50th anniversary "last chance" effort to disabuse thinking Americans of conspiracy in the JFK assassination. Nice try, Tom, but you're wasting your time and HBO's money, as I will show. The balance of evidence is that Bugliosi doesn't have a clue, and the size of his book cannot be interpreted as any barometer of facts, history or truth!
Anyway, let's go to some of Bugliosi's "myths":
Myth 1 : LBJ was involved:
Here, Bugliosi is hostage to his own emotional impediments, as I believe too many Americans have been, for over 49 years. Simply put, their brains melt down into cognitive dissonant mode when remotely confronted with the probability (which too many deem "unthinkable"). In fact, Johnson is the leading suspect as facilitator, who had more than ample means, motive and opportunity to organize the motorcade route, personnel, motorcade seating etc., and we know he controlled the investigation that followed (via the bogus Warren Commission). Some have opined this basis is such a “gimme”, based on past human history (the ‘Et tu, Brute’ paradigm) that it’s a no—brainer. Well, perhaps for Italians (familiar with the Borgias) not for Mom, Apple pie, Flag –waving Americans!
Now the term "involved" is tricky so we need to make clear the level of involvement. No one would say LBJ was the prime "mastermind" or "architect" here, only that he was aware of the clique that was (likely an alliance of Big Oil, military higher ups - such as Gen. Curtis Le May, sick of what they saw as Kennedy "appeasement" -especially in the Bay of Pigs, and then the Oct. 1962 Cuban Missile crisis- and renegade CIA assets) and that he'd "cooperate" with them. The payoff? Finally having his dream come true and sitting in the Oval office. (In return, most serious researchers believe he signed National Security Action Memorandum 273, to overturn Kennedy's NSAM-263 - which otherwise would have seen all U.S. military pull out of Viet Nam by the end of 1965. In other words, the price for getting his wish was giving the militarists and Oil men their war.)
History is an important basis by which to logically justify this claim, so it's critical we know some details. There was first Johnson's profound sense of entitlement to the highest office. Johnson personally felt Jack stole the 1960 nomination from him using a political end around worked out by the Kennedy campaign planners, including his father Joe in cahoots with Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago. Johnson felt a supreme entitlement to the Presidency (some would say he believed he had a destiny), based on his Senate leadership, but he was wrong. Jack Kennedy outmaneuvered him in the primaries and had the mainstays of the Party sign on to ensure his success at the LA Convention.
But instead of acting like a grownup, LBJ forever pouted and held in his grievance that the office had been "stolen", by his overt and covert behavior. This is very well confirmed in Evelyn Lincoln’s book: Kennedy and Johnson, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1968, pp. 149-151. Therein JFK’s former Secretary makes known how LBJ would enter the West Wing each morning – through one of the doors into her office, and "hang around". On one occasion, Kennedy surprised him by already being present in his office. He later went to Lincoln and asked her: “What is he doing in these offices?” Clearly, LBJ felt he belonged in those (West Wing) offices, perhaps one reason he once suggested “sharing” the presidency as “co-president”. (Jack wouldn't take him remotely seriously, dismissing the suggestiion as a poor joke before shagging LBJ back to his own humble digs- and providing him with extra make-work!)While the Bill Sol Estes circus slowly seeped into the background by mid-1963, the same couldn’t be said for Johnson’s close personal friend, Robert G. (“Bobby”) Baker- the Secretary to the Senate Democratic Caucus, and key player as the Baker scandal erupted. The scandal revolved around Baker’s influence peddling and by mid –September it had become embarrasingly public. Kennedy, always leery of his political self-interest, gave the go-ahead for full and open investigation, leading to Baker’s public resignation on Oct. 7, 1963.
Kennedy ultimately realized that any 1964 ticket with LBJ would be irreparably tarred, and this probably resulted in his expressed intent to have him removed, as signified by his last dictation to Secretary Evelyn Lincoln, before his Texas trip (documented in her aforementioned book). This assuredly signed Kennedy’s death warrant. It meant that Johnson had to organize some way of eliminating Kennedy, since there was no other way to ascend to the highest office. LBJ knew from his pal Hoover that even JFK’s dalliances wouldn’t cost him politically, he was too popular, charismatic.
It appears certain that by October, 1963, Johnson made known his wishes to be part of expediting any assassination effort up to and including laying down the motorcade route and possibly choosing the personnel to ride in the key cars. The most likely and plausible link or contact was probably Texas Oilman H.L Hunt who himself detested JFK as a "communist", and was responsible for having produced the ‘Wanted for Treason’ posters put up all over Dallas on the day of the assassination. Readers can view one of the posters at this link from an earlier blog (the content concerning Gen. Curtis LeMay will also be of interest):
Hunt also had lambasted JFK’s Catholicism in his ‘Facts Forum’ talk radio show. The connection to Johnson was exposed when the Senate commenced an investigation into Hunt for violating federal election laws (in the 1960 campaign) after he dispatched 200,000 pamphlets excoriating JFK’s Catholicism and instilling the fear that the pope would rule and religious freedoms be destroyed. The Senate investigation was called off after Hunt apologized, saying he was “only trying to help Lyndon".
Ex post facto, the most revealing evidence for Johnson’s complicity in the assassination was his deplorable and criminal behavior starting with the strategic destruction of evidence. Worse, it was done with unseemly haste. Within just 12-72 hours of the assassination, all of the following evidence was either confiscated, totally compromised, lost, or destroyed:
-The alleged Mannlicher-Carcano rifle (remains at National Archives – inaccessible)
- Kennedy’s brain (missing from the time the body arrived at Bethesda)
- All of Kennedy’s clothing (ordered destroyed)
- The blood spattered and bullet- impacted limousine (ordered dispatched to Ohio, where it was disassembled, then completely rebuilt)
- Zapruder film (seized and altered with attempted juxtaposition of frames at TIME-Life, Inc.)
- The original autopsy notes of Dr. J.J. Humes (Humes burned them).
- Kennedy’s skull (re-imaged using mattes in re-done autopsy photos to make the massive wounds appear in the front and the entry wound in the rear- to comport with the Warren Commission Single Bullet theory)
Note that none of these could be done by the Mafia, angry Cubans or even rogue CIA agents. The orders had to come from the top, since the evidence was all material, and in addition under control (at various times) of federal agencies, including: FBI, and Secret Service. In fact, the relevant records disclose that none other than long time LBJ right hand man Cliff Carter (one of the co-conspirators found guilty by a 1984 grand jury in the Henry Harvey Marshall slaying) gave orders for the actions which, if refused, were followed up by Johnson himself making telephone demands.(cf. Noel Twyman, in Bloody Treason, p. 792)
Johnson also violated federal and state law with this type of usurpation, destruction of material evidence, not to mention hijacking Kennedy’s body instead of allowing the autopsy to be performed at the same Parkland Hospital in Dallas. But, of course, in that event the body would be out of Johnson’s control and he’d be unable to order removal of the brain (with the bullet cavitation path), or have the staff he needed rebuild Kennedy’s cranium to conform to the rear shot, lone –nut myth. The deliberate delay of Johnson in remaining in Dallas (until the oath of office was taken) also plays into this. As Noel Twyman observes (op. cit. p. 797):
“Johnson’s insistence on taking the oath in Dallas and delaying the flight back to Washington raises the suspicion that he wanted to take control of Kennedy’s body, which was also placed on Air Force One.”
More ominously, after settling in with the power of the presidency at his disposal, Johnson’s first kneejerk reaction was to form a “Texas Commission” to look into the assassination, with staff entirely composed of Texans. When eyebrows were raised and not a few tongues, he changed tactics and instead (ibid.):
“..ordered that the entire investigation be conducted by the FBI under the supervision of J. Edgar Hoover. Furthermore, he ordered all other investigations under federal government or local government to be stopped. This placed Johnson in virtual control of the investigation through J. Edgar Hoover, who detested the Kennedys and had everything to gain by John Kennedy’s death, and everything to lose if Kennedy lived.”
Why, if Johnson had been seriously committed to learning the truth in the assassination, would he go this route? Why terminate all other investigations when they might turn up significant leads and critical information that his Warren Commission couldn’t? Why appoint Hoover at the helm, when it was already revealed he failed to act on known information that Carlos Marcello planned to eliminate Kennedy, from as far back as September, 1962, thus making Hoover a traitor? (See, e.g.: Mark North: 1991, Act of Treason: The Role of J. Edgar Hoover in the Assassination of President Kennedy,Carroll & Graf Publishers).
Again, the purpose was to control all key material evidence: allow what could be easily ambiguated or compromised, and reject the rest. Also, hand-pick a “commission" that would knuckle under both to Hoover, and to Allan Dulles, the former CIA Director fired by JFK after the Bay of Pigs, and (incredibly) named as one of the key Commission members by LBJ.
Thus, by way of his creation of The Warren Commission on November 29, 1963, LBJ acquired the total power to block any House, Senate or Texas state investigations, while awarding himself the power to control all evidence that might possibly surface, and either ignore it, suppress it or allow it to be distorted- thereby further distancing himself, all in the name of “seeking justice”. To quote a notable wit: “To commit the perfect crime it is only necessary to be in charge of the investigation that follows.”
Hence, it’s logically plausible that by examining the warp and woof of Johnson’s Commission, we can at least gain an approximate perception of his degree of involvement, ex post facto. If the inquiry itself was a sham, and a put-on, then more than likely the whole Warren Commission was merely the contrived, complex pseudo-legal artifice to conceal LBJ’s cooperation or compliance in the actual Kennedy killing.
Readers can see my in -depth skewering of the Warren Commission (as a Whitewash) in the context of Stephen King's recent novel, 'November 22, 1963':