Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions on the JFK Assassination (4a): The Warren Commission

BACKGROUND: Arguably, the Warren Commission lies at the heart of the near 50-year old coverup of the facts pertaining to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The players, the investigation itself, and above all the person who orchestrated it: Lyndon Baines Johnson.("The best way to commit the perfect crime is to be in charge of the investigation that follows.”) Among the chief clues for Johnson's involvement, is the fact that the members were all hand-selected -appointed by LBJ who, in the words of researcher Russ Baker:

"was the chief beneficiary of the assassination, having immediately replaced the dead President to become the 36th President of the United States."

Obviously, this alone doesn't amount to much unless we also dig deeper and understand what the deep politics were leading up to the hit. 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. (In fact, as the authors of Dallas 1963 document, there was actually a brawl on the convention floor (unattended to by the national media) between the Texas delegation and Massachusetts when Kennedy was nominated on the first go round and LBJ wasn't.

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.

Beyond all this, Johnson's own words comprise perhaps the biggest 'smoking gun'. They were caught on tape in a phone call to Sen. Richard Russell, after LBJ had been initially rejected by Earl Warren to lead the Commission. Johnson needed the credibility of Warren so the media would accept the commission as a bona fide government entity as opposed to a creature of Johnson's whim and machinations. (Johnson’s first kneejerk reaction was to form a “Texas Commission” to look into the assassination, with staff entirely composed of Texans.). Anyway, Johnson's taped words were - after speaking to Warren (cf. Michael R. Beschloss, Taking Charge:The Johnson White House Tapes 1963-64, 1997, p. 72, as cited by Russ Baker, in 'Family of Secrets', p. 46):

"Warren told me he wouldn't do it under any circumstances...He came down here and told me 'No'...twice. And I just pulled out what[FBI Director} Hoover told me about a little incident in Mexico City....And he started crying and said: 'I won't turn you down...I'll just do whatever you say.'

Texas hogswill? Hardly. Not when seen in the context of other LBJ actions. What we have here is insight into the man's character and that he wasn't anything near the upstanding "liberal" Prez so many of his followers (like Bill Moyers) have made him out to be. It shows he'd resort to blackmail to coerce the Chief Justice to confer gravitas on his commission - and in so doing it shows he'd stoop to anything to have that commission be a political whitewash. Now on to the questions:

Who were the Warren Commissioners?

In alphabetical order, the Warren Commissioners were:

Rep. Hale Boggs
Sen. John Sherman Cooper
Mr. Allen Dulles
Rep. Gerald R. Ford
Mr. John J. McCloy
Sen. Richard B. Russell
Chief Justice Earl Warren

What were the backgrounds of the Commissioners?

Hale Boggs

Hale Boggs was a representative from Louisiana. By 1971 he began to have reservations about the Warren Commission. About a year later Boggs was killed in a mysterious plane crash in Alaska.

John Sherman Cooper

John Sherman Cooper was a Republican Senator from Kentucky, with diplomatic corps background. Also, he joined forces with Richard Russell and threatened to write a minority report if the Commission did not stress the 'information gap' regarding Oswald's alleged activities in Mexico City.

Allen Dulles:

Allen Dulles, was the CIA Director until fired by JFK after the Bay of Pigs. Up to that time, Dulles "was the CIA", he shaped it into an invisible government during his eight years as head of the agency. Without a doubt Dulles controlled much of the information, files available to the Commission. If it didn't meet his covert agenda, the Commission didn't see it. This includes Oswald's 201 files.

Gerald R. Ford:

Gerald R. Ford was a Republican Michigan House Representative. Ford was also the author of a subsequent book 'Portrait of the Assassin' about Lee Harvey Oswald's role as the alleged lone assassin. Ford - since further files have been released- is perhaps most infamous for altereing key words, sentences in an autopsy report to mislead on the location of the bullet to Kennedy's back. He altered the report to try to portray the bullet as striking in the base of the neck. To see more on this, including the actual changed notes, as well as a NY Times piece on it, check out my Oct. 20 blog ('Joe Klein Loses It').

He also denied that he used "secret materials (not previously published by the Commission) for his book on Oswald and when questioned about this in his 1973 vice presidential confirmation hearings, would deny it.

John J. McCloy:

McCloy, as many sources note, could almost be an honorary member of the Rockefeller family. The law firm he was associated with had represented Standard Oil, a Rockefeller property, in the 1920's and 1930's." (Coup d'etat in the United States, p. 184) McCloy's career, it should be noted, began long before and lasted long after Kennedy's presidency. In addition to being on the WC, McCloy was chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank, a member of the CFR (Council of Foreign Relations) and of the Ford Foundation' as well as President of the World Bank; High Commissioner in Germany after World War II; and a representative of the major oil companies. McCloy was also the one who engineered the merger of the Chase and Manhattan banks into the Chase Manhattan.(ibid. ).

An insight into the McCloy's character is provided by the fact that he was the one who supervised the infamous wartime internment program, in which more than 100,000 Japanese- American citizens were rounded up and placed in prison camps. His fascist nature also emerged when asked about this policy and he responded: "Why the Constitution is just a scrap of paper to me"

Richard B. Russell:

Richard B. Russell was a Democratic Senator from Georgia. Like Cooper and Boggs, he parted company with many of the Commission's findings. In January 1970, for example, he publicly expressed doubts about the validity of the Commission's findings on a WAB-TV interview taped in Atlanta. A short time later he died of 'natural causes'.

Earl Warren:

Chief Justice at the time, and originally appointed to the Supreme Court by President Eisenhower in 1953. On examining the composition of the Commission - particularly its Rockefeller finance-intelligence links, it's clear that Warren was merely a "titular head of the Warren Commission" with the real power and direction emanating from 'elsewhere'- like Dulles. As we saw Warren was forcibly "drafted" by LBJ using blackmail - compliments of some of Hoover's choice files.

Who were the 'key players' on the Commission?

According to the sheer proportion of questions asked, the two 'key players' were: Allan Dulles (the CIA's man on the commission - never mind he was fired, he was still the primary liasion with the 'company') and Gerald Ford (the FBI's man on the Commission) ('Treachery in Dallas', 1995: Brown, W., Carroll & Graf Publishers, p. 278)

Of all 7 commissioners, Dulles asked the highest frequency of questions: 2,514 (ibid.) and Ford was next with 1, 722 (ibid.)

Other commissioners and frequencies (op.cit., p278):

John Sherman Cooper - 926

John McCloy - 795

Earl Warren - 608

Hale Boggs - 460

Richard Russell - 249

This is a grand total of 6,964 total questions asked by the seven formal Commissioners per se, of which 4,236 or nearly 61% were asked by Dulles and Ford.

Were the Commissioners the only ones that asked questions?

No. A total of 30,133 other questions were asked by Commission Staff Counsels (e.g. David Belin, William Coleman etc.) with the Commissioners present.

This means there were only a total of (6,964/ 37,097) or about 18.8% of questions that were by the Commissioners themselves, of witnesses in their presence. However, the ancillary support staff asked another 72,833 questions with the seven Commissioners *not* present.(op.cit., pp278-81).

This means that a total of only (6,964/ 109,930) or 6.33% of questions were asked directly by the seven Commissioners themselves - of the total questions asked by them and their support staff or counsels etc.

This minuscule proportion comports with a comment made by McCloy himself, to wit: (op. cit., p276):

"The commissioners themselves regarded their committment to the investigation as a part time responsibility....There was neither the time *nor the political will* to conduct a thorough investigation."

Point: If most of the key players (e.g. Ford, McCloy, Dulles) knew the whole thing was a sham and a whitewash, compliments of LBJ, why would they bother to invest anything more than part time attention?

McCloy's remark, clearly, is a direct admission that the WC scope was delimited from the outset - not only by dint of volume of work to do, but because political issues were at work (i.e. Saving LBJ's ass.) This is something the Warren Commission adherents must acknowledge, at the very least, if they are to be taken honestly. Such remarks (as have circulated among some true lone nut believers from time to time)like: "the Commissioners all had full jobs, they did this part time" - is certainly not commendable. Indeed, it shows the Warren Commission for the snow job it was, i.e. that it invoked the name cachet of these seven gentlemen (dubious for 3 of them), to bestow the aura of 'official sanction', then used lower level lawyers and lackeys for the real work. The crucial work of questioning witnesses and asking real questions - not 'mock' questions.

Finally, it is worthwhile to note (ibid.):

"The Warren Commission asked 109,930 questions to 488 witnesses from February 3, 1964, to September 15, 1964. It is a clear indication of the uselessness of the commission's work that they were 'created' on November 29, 1963, but heard no witnesses for sixty six (66) days."

To be continued...

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