Journeys & detours…to and from the serious, the sardonic, the senseless, the surreal, [and], the (not so) sanguine.
It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of régime claim that it is a democracy, and fear they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning.
George Orwell, author, novelist, essayist.
Some circumstantial evidence does exist, such as when you find a trout in the milk.
HD Thoreau, US essayist, author, philosopher, 1817-1862
– Blood, Bile and Bullets (On the Streets of Dallas and Beyond) –
For their part, both Bobby Kennedy (LBJ’s arch nemesis) and the deceased president’s widow Jackie appeared to have few illusions as to who they thought was the mastermind of JFK’s assassination. It is said that at one stage they’d written and were preparing to publish their own account of 11/22 – but this tome never saw the inside of a bookshop in no small part because it implicated Number 36 as The Usurper. The legal – and public relations – implications for both aspiring authors as well as the political ones for RFK, [that] of suggesting the new president was involved in offing his predecessor, were immense in this period of time.
It should be remembered this was pre-Watergate, and the presidency was still the highest office in the land. The president himself was routinely accorded a level of trust, respect, even reverence that couldn’t be easily impugned, at least by the faint hearted. It also underscores the enormity of the Assassination itself as an improbable event. As well it goes some way toward explaining why Johnson’s successor president Richard Nixon (of whom, more later) was able to hang in there as long as he did when the whole Watergate Thing went pear-shaped a decade later. Folks – even those that didn’t vote for Nixon – simply didn’t want to believe their president was – to use Tricky’s own memorable turn of phrase – a “crook”.
And as many LBJ theory pundits have observed, he was able to leverage the benefit of the doubt – a key, recurring motif in the overarching Johnson narrative from his boyhood to his teachers’ college days to the LBJ Ranch, to Congress, to the White House, and back to Texas again – in a way that few politicians before or since have been able to do so. Two later presidents – Reagan and Clinton – were also notably enduring if not endearing ‘proprietors’ of this highly sought after, platinum-coated political attribute, but LBJ was a Masterclass, a true pioneer in modern American politics in creating and sustaining in the first instance, then parlaying that particular trait, to his singular advantage. For his part, in this respect Number 36 showed ‘em all a clean pair of political sneakers, and indeed, possibly set the benchmark for the future!
In his own way LBJ pre-dated, embraced, and even embodied in his various actions and machinations president Nixon’s later notable sentiment if not the terminology, ‘when the president does it, it’s not illegal’. This was part of his consummate, incomparable political skill-set. The difference was that LBJ succeeded where Nixon later failed to sustain the “benefit of the doubt”. When Nixon was president, as he saw it the sky was the limit, and the power of the office conferred upon him enormous leverage. Yet whereas Nixon might’ve stretched the rules to their limits, LBJ broke everyone of them he could get his hands on. Number 37 might have been ‘Tricky’ as it were, but 36 was ‘Trickier’. For LBJ, the “sky” was for underachievers and timid seat warmers, and folks who played by the rules.
In fact we might surmise that Nixon in his most self-satisfied moments may have rationalised that if his predecessor could literally get away with murder, he was not going to have any problem getting away with a ‘third-rate burglary’ in a downtown Washington hotel, a loose description applied to the B&E incident that sparked off the whole Watergate Thing [and] which captivated the nation and the world, captured the political zeitgeist, and ultimately capsized his presidency. And if Americans had trouble believing their president was a “crook” pre-Watergate, then there is no way they would have accepted their president was a murderer, and therefore not much better than some generic, third world, tin-pot, sonofabitch Banana Republican despot, something that Bobby himself must have been acutely aware of, not to mention, decidedly conflicted about.
As for the ill-fated Bobby/Jackie manuscript, it remains among the mountain range of classified evidentiary artefacts and restricted archival documents. Apparently, even Bobby was seriously conflicted here – as Attorney General the person best positioned one imagines to push for a more thorough investigation at the time; he felt that if the real truth did come out, it would be disastrous for the country. And of course something like this could work against him if he decided to make a run for president himself. Which as we know he did. Indeed, fatefully so.
There is even evidence to indicate that RFK had genuine fears about the safety of his own family as well; ‘if they can kill the president, where’s that leave me and those close to me?’ When all is said and done, one can understand any or all of these responses. Moreover, there is firm evidence Bobby was keeping his powder dry, for the day when he became the POTUS himself, when he would then order a reopening of the case. Unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough to realise this, if indeed it was his game plan. Yet although we can never know for sure, it’s difficult to see how Bobby, once ensconced in the West Wing, would have been able to resist bringing to bear all the power of the Oval Office itself to get to the bottom of his brother’s murder. We can all but speculate. Oh, what might have been….!?
The phrase “blood on the streets” is one that Hoover himself – indisputably modern American history’s Greatest Keeper of Ugly Secrets (including some of his own of course) – and Defender of the Big Red, White and Blue Lies – is on record as using in reference to someone asking him about what really happened, and, if it did, what might result from such a revelation. Whether Hoover may have included his own “blood” in that oblique aside is something that may or may not become clearer before 2067. In any event, insofar as we can gather, despite Joesten’s groundbreaking conclusions mentioned earlier, clearly mainstream America was not ready for them. Of course Shaw himself was acquitted so no joy there. Although only a minor player, had he been found guilty, there is every expectation that would have opened up myriad avenues for Joesten and other intrepid investigators to pursue the actuality of events, especially when the evidence was still fresh and key witnesses – friendly or hostile – were also “fresh”, that is, [still] on the right side of the grass.
Unfortunately, it was not to be.
From that point onward, along with the mortal remains of many folks who might’ve been able to ‘help police with their enquiries’ as it were (or might have even been suspected of thinking about it), LBJ’s name seemed to disappear from the conspiracy radar screen. The LBJ Pandora’s Box remained closed, at least for the time being.
Insofar as one can gather, it was only about 25 years ago that Johnson’s name was not just mentioned seriously again, but that he was also designated the principal perpetrator and prime suspect. By this time also there was much more information about Number 36’s highly suspect rise to power in Texas, his extreme personality disorders and highly manipulative, duplicitous behaviour, along with his numerous vices and unbridled, monumentally unprincipled corruption, both well before he assumed the duties of the highest office in the land, and during his tenure in it. This, not to mention his decidedly unsavoury ‘business’ associates and highly subservient cronies willing to do his every bidding; the extreme right-wing folks in the Texas oil business who constituted his financial power base; and those (equally right-wing) folk in the Texas establishment who constituted his political power base, beginning and ending with his long-time confidante and consigliore Edward Clark.
Then there is LBJ’s childhood obsession with becoming president, and his respective close connections to the CIA, selected Mafia figures, the US based anti-Castro Cuban exile diaspora and the US Military™. Along with these, there were his close relationships with key figures in these organisations and groups, all of whom who are variously and frequently mentioned – not coincidentally as it turned out – in most other theories that have been doing the rounds since the smoke cleared from the Dealey Plaza air on 11/22.
And if that isn’t enough, by this time there were revelations of LBJ’s exceedingly dodgy business dealings involving bribery, extortion, perverting the course of justice, and rampant corruption in the awarding of lucrative government agricultural and defense contracts, to name just a few. Many of his business dealings and political machinations were as illegal as they were immoral and unethical. In fact it is interesting that there are some parallels here with JFK’s own tarnished legacy. Whilst Kennedy’s skirt-chasing ways were at the time by no means common public knowledge, this is decidedly not the case now. The same can be said for LBJ, whose own political, business and financial machinations were relatively speaking little known back in those days; this is also of course definitely not the situation presently, despite the best efforts of at least two of LBJ’s most high profile biographers.
In any event Johnson’s utter contempt for the Kennedys, and above all, the untenable position he was in politically and legally at the time of the Assassination which almost certainly was going to land him in The Big House rather than The White House, [were] the main drivers for him embarking on the unthinkable.
And as indicated, there has been more time for a greater critical mass of folks to absorb the “improbable”. To loosely paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, there’s “nothing more numbing than an obvious fact.”
Arguably one of the most convincing arguments for The JFK Thing/LBJ Link, is Johnson’s long-standing personal relationship with J Edgar Hoover, a hombre then still very much at the peak of his powers, and without whom any possibility of a successful post assassination cover-up was out of the question. Edgar already had decidedly established ‘form’ before in denying the patently obvious – the existence of the Mafia in America; denying The JFK Thing was a giant conspiracy would not test him too much then. We will return to Hoover later in Parts 2 & 4; suffice it to say here that few politicians of any political stripe and any significant import – and for that matter, more crucially herein, few Oval Office occupants – throughout Hoover’s long, lingering reign, had a closer relationship with America’s Number One G-Man than did the Big Fella from Johnson City, TX., POTUS Number 36. That this was to come in handy doesn’t even begin to explain it.
It may seem redundant to state it, but in the modern American narrative, if one wants to know where all the important political bodies are buried, Hoover’s your man! And we do know Bobby frequently recalled Hoover virtually gloating when he informed him his brother was dead. For his part the FBI Director went to the races the following day (it was a Saturday after all), the very day after what was arguably the most significant Federal crime committed under his 48+ year watch as America’s numero uno ‘Badge’! Make of that what you will! But in Edgar’s eyes, the Crime of the Century had already been solved. Done and dusted. Possibly even before it was both planned then perpetrated. History has yet to record if The ‘Lone Haranguer’ and his ever-faithful sidekick (Clyde ‘Tonto’ Tolson, of whom more later) had a good day or a bad day at the races. It probably didn’t matter one way or another, as the Mob would’ve picked up the tab in any event.
In fact on this occasion even, they might have even been happy to break the ‘rules’ and accord Edgar ‘made-man’ status, an enticing prospect, to say the least.
– Apocalypse Now or Later –
Prior to the JFK hit, these aforementioned “vices” of Johnson – of which there were many – most certainly according to numerous authoritative, reliable reports, and theories backed up by irresistible, and in most cases on the key facets of the case, irrefutable evidence and meticulous reporting by reputable investigative journalists – did not preclude murder – albeit murder by proxy. There were several of them in fact. And one of these may have been his own sister Josepha!
By all credible accounts, such was the cloth of the man they called LBJ.
Now Nixon is generally considered one of the most deranged, egomaniacal, venal, contemptible, amoral, delusional, corrupt, mendacious, criminally inclined, psycho-pathologically predisposed presidents in modern American history. However, it is LBJ who ticks all these boxes and several others Nixon wouldn’t have even thought of if he’d ‘done an FDR’ and served three plus terms and died on the Oval Office ‘john’ with his boots on.
The ’64 campaign slogan “All the way with LBJ” – used later also to great effect to drum up and sustain support in Australia for the Vietnam War and encourage our ongoing commitment to this misguided adventure in imperial geopolitical overreach and thinly disguised war mongering and profiteering – takes on a whole new meaning herein. Nixon was a National Hero! And that’s a big call by any stretch. To paraphrase Robin Williams, for readers who might be inclined to remember Tricky’s presidency (all) that favourably, you probably weren’t really (all) there. Remarkably, up close and personal like, avec warts and all, Johnson, as one observer has stated, was a man to see “with the bark off”. Be that as it may, it was what LBJ was like and what he was up to when we couldn’t “see” him “up close” as it were that should be of greater concern to us here, and this doesn’t just apply to The JFK Thing. LBJ was no ‘one-trick-pony’ by any stretch, no One Hit Wonder!
Two extraordinary examples suffice to support this. Wanna know where Nixon and his then national security advisor and later secretary of state Henry (The Peacemaker) Kissinger got their brilliant idea of bombing the bejesus out of Cambodia, one of history’s most misguided, disastrous, and tragic, military and political undertakings? Journalists and researchers Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan seem to suggest we look no further than LBJ! In 2006, Owen and Kiernan compiled and released new information revealing not only Cambodia had been bombed far more heavily than previously believed, but crucially claimed the bombing began much earlier than thought, that is, during LBJ’s tenure.
The implications for this are astonishing, as it has always been ‘Tricky Dicky’ and his offsider Kissinger claiming ‘bragging rights’ for taking this decision, with few arguing the toss. Indeed, they gave Kissinger, his secretary of state and partner-in-crime, a Nobel Peace Prize essentially for bombing Hanoi and generally facilitating the whole apocalyptic, genocidal, war crime crammed ‘Fun with Dick and Hank’ shebang in Indochina. To be sure, George Orwell would’ve been spinning furiously in his eternally designated plot of terra firma at the thought of this development; but the iconic Animal Farm and 1984 author might have taken some solace in knowing that Le Doc Tho, Hank’s opposite number on the North Vietnamese peace negotiating team – also a Nobel co-winner with Kissinger – at least had the decency to decline his.
OK, like Dick and Hank did, I digress…..
But before Tricky and Henry, LBJ was ‘there’. Although undertaken on a limited scale at first, Johnson had already authorised numerous sorties into the heart of Cambodia four years previously, thereby actually setting both the precedent and pretext for Nixon and Kissinger to finish the job by mercilessly firebombing a neutral, defenceless nation back to the Neolithic Age in the dubious cause of defending its own national security and in valiant defiance of the nefarious, ubiquitous and encroaching Red Menace, not to mention, in flagrant violation of international law, and without Congressional sanction.
As we now know, in the process, they sowed the seeds for one of the most efficient, brutal, and utterly preventable mass genocides in recent memory, an existential inferno fuelled it seems by nothing more or less dangerous than a deadly, futile manifestation of ideologically inspired delusion and psychopathological, quasi-political overreach, arguably one of the ‘best’ examples in Homo Sap’s ‘sorry ass’ history on the Big Blue Ball. But like Pol Pot and his murderous minions did, I digress here again.
– Give me Liberty, or Give me Death –
And according to Morrow, one of the least examined episodes in LBJ’s presidency is that he “personally ordered” Israel to bomb and destroy the USS Liberty and its entire crew of 294 Americans! Yes, you read that right. Astoundingly, when the mission went pear shaped and Middle East Sixth Fleet Commanders ordered the rescue of the Liberty crew, Morrow states that LBJ personally ordered that rescue operations be called back, “at least twice”.
Against all odds, the Liberty survived but after the attack, “34 Americans lay dead.” Except for a few dozen machine guns, the Liberty – a communications and surveillance vessel – was unarmed and defenceless against the far superior firepower of the Israeli armada that descended upon it with “relentless and unspeakable terror” from a very great height. Israel claimed that the whole affair had been a tragic accident based on “mistaken identification” of the ship. The American government “accepted” the ‘friendly fire’ explanation.
Now this historical nugget may seem for most folks something well and truly out of left-field, and it is to be sure not one that gets a lot of airplay. This is despite numerous books written about the Liberty incident, with the following by way of example being two highly credible accounts. James Ennes, a retired US Naval Officer and a survivor of the attack, wrote a book called Assault on the USS Liberty, wherein he documents his experiences and his own investigations into what actually happened.
And investigative journalist Peter Hounam, also wrote Operation Cyanide: Why the Bombing of the USS Liberty nearly caused World War III. Along with the excellent 2002 BBC documentary by Christopher Mitchell, USS Liberty: Dead in the Water, these sources and one or two others are essential for those wanting to find out more about this incident. The “official” story of the Liberty is that on June 8, 1967, at the height of the Six Day War with Egypt, the Israelis “accidentally bombed” the ship off the coast of Egypt and killed 34 American sailors. According to many, this is not what took place. Morrow sums things up this way. By his account, Johnson, who was being crapped on from great heights in the polls over ‘Nam and looking down the barrel of a general election loss in 1968, “ordered the Israelis to bomb the Liberty” in order to create a casus belli (a pretext for war) so he could secure a Gulf of Tonkin (GoT) style resolution – a clear reference to LBJ’s previous ‘form’ in this regard, and what we may regard as Number 36’s ‘Apocalypse Now or Later’ moment.
In this of course Morrow is referring to his notorious, criminally inspired, politically contrived pretext for unilaterally and massively escalating the whole ‘Nam Thing from the off – [so as] to “explode the world into war”. With the Liberty incident, it was much the same but this time in the Middle East. Morrow explains LBJ’s ‘rationale’ this way: in Johnson’s mind, in America “everybody” loves an “outraged and indignant president” who will use the full force of the US MilitaryTM at the slightest provocation, even a US government initiated ‘false flag’ attack a la the GoT ‘Nam shit that Johnson had earlier pulled successfully.
Readers unfamiliar with the revelations contained in these reflective historical anecdotes, make of all that what you will. But for better or worse, you ‘heard’ it here ‘first’ as it were! If nothing else they surely help paint a very different picture of Number 36, his motives, his means, his methods, his madness, and his impact not just on America, but the world.
And if that is not enough, the following should tell us even more about LBJ’s character and personality, which if one had to sum him up in one word, we might charitably say “colourful”. As incredible as it might sound to some folk, some commentators have even suggested that when it came to skirt-chasing, LBJ would’ve made JFK look like a model of monastic moderation, a not insignificant achievement to be sure, yet one that is not without veracity it would seem.
One story doing the rounds on this score (sorry) is that LBJ would spit the presidential dummy if and when he overheard aides or members of his Secret Service detail reflecting on the whoring ways and ‘sexcapades’ of his predecessor. He would slam his ample fist on the Oval Office desk and declare in his booming, unsentimental, take no prisoners, old-school Texan oil-town voice that: “I got more pussy by accident than Kennedy ever got by looking for it….”….or words to such effect!
Although it’s unclear if LBJ did indeed get so much “pussy” he had to put an ‘extra man on’ as it were, he cut to the chase on the matter. Any suggestion his predecessor was climbing the blossom trees in the White House Rose Garden to get away from it (‘it’ being the aforementioned) clearly rankled him, a view he evidently made plain to anyone in his inner circle who had the temerity to mention such within the Oval Earshot. The Oval One himself was having none of that! At least one Secret Service agent recalled years being bitch slapped by the president for allowing his trouble and strife to enter the Oval Office to catch the POTUS in full steam ahead mode on the Oval Desk with one of the White House interns. Coitus interruptus indeed!
“All the way with LBJ” as they used to say then? Something like that!
In any event, one would have thought LBJ had enough on his presidential ‘to do’ list without having to worry about defending his prowess in sexual conquest. Politically speaking, he had a full dance card as it were, not the least of which was growing opposition to the rapidly escalating, increasingly controversial, out of control Vietnam War, especially evidenced by the mounting body-bags. And as we’ve seen, to deal with as well, he already had B-52’s bombing the bejesus out of neighbouring, neutral Cambodia unbeknown to the US public and media, not to mention its allies much less the international community; the burgeoning, volatile civil rights movement, and corresponding rise of Black Power; the peace movement and rise of left-wing (or New Left) radicalism; widespread, deep seated social and political unrest, generational discord and racial violence; and his own increasingly erratic, manic, deranged, maniacal grasp on reality. And that was just for starters!
LBJ might have had a lot of balls in the air, but he had well, a “lot of balls”; yet apparently he still found time to ‘contemplate’ the removal of J Edgar Hoover from office. And he would need both if he was seriously considering Hoover’s enforced retirement! Raining down on a defenceless, neutral country the Ordnance of Oblivion in defiance of international law was easy. Removing Hoover was in another ball-park in a different county.
– The Skunk Inside the Tent –
The story has it that a Cabinet meeting was called in the West Wing, with one main agenda item. It was taken as a given at this meeting that Edgar would be asked to finally relinquish his role. Ostensibly, the only decision required was how it was going to be done, and how it might be explained to the American public and media, so as to minimise any political blowback from such a decision. Many hours of intense discussion and debate ensued, with little progress being made as to how they would resolve the dilemma. In the end this apparently all became a bit too much for a president not known for his patience; he suddenly broke off the discussion and refused to proceed with the sacking.
It is something of an understatement to say his aides, advisors and Cabinet colleagues were stunned. When they pressed the president to explain his change of heart, he simply replied, again in his colourfully idiosyncratic sub Mason-Dixon Line drawl: “Ah’d rather have the skunk on the insaahde of the tent pissin’ out, than [the skunk] on the outsaade of the tent pissin’ in”!
Although it may not be a truly representative case in point, such a response just has to be one of the most impressive, memorable examples of objective, rational, considered albeit self-interested decision making by any POTUS before or since! And even though some say this anecdote is apocryphal, regardless, the response from Johnson is totally in keeping with his less than presidential manner and style. In any event, Johnson’s decision effectively put paid during his reign to any further discussion about removing Hoover from the food chain.
Not that there was ever any serious intention on LBJ’s part to do such. For the president it appears it was just another dog ‘n pony show for those members of his cabinet and senior aides who were for various reasons not big Hoover fans, and genuinely felt the Director had overstayed his welcome. But as LBJ well knew, Hoover himself had skin in the JFK game, and his tenure at the FBI remained secure. They were in this together. And always had been from the off. Yet at the same time, whilst it’s unlikely LBJ ever seriously considered Hoover’s removal, likewise it’s inconceivable to think Edgar might’ve taken LBJ down if he had been forcefully removed from his position; this is certainly not without as it were fingering himself. Oh, those tangled webs indeed!
And while we’re on the subject of ‘pissing’, for an avowedly idiosyncratic individual with an already established reputation for ‘syphoning the python’ in the nearest sink, dropping his daks and exposing his ‘wedding tackle’ in mixed company, even blithely conducting high-level meetings with aides and visitors alike whilst sitting on the oval shaped ‘Dalton Chair’, as hinted at before, such a response should not be seen as implausible or out of character. Whatever their achievements, failures and peccadilloes (and every president has all three, more or less for better or worse), for his part LBJ was a ‘class act’ to be sure, not!
Indeed, LBJ was in a “class” of his own.
As for his own continued position on said “food-chain”, although under the Constitution Johnson was entitled to do so, he decided not to run for the presidency again in 1968. According to some reports, in doing so he knowingly paved the way for his old Senate mucker mate, ostensible party political opponent, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Richard Nixon, to win the election that year and take over as POTUS in 1969 after his then chief political rival in his own Democratic party Bobbie Kennedy, like his big bro’, was himself assassinated under circumstances that were as dodgy as that of Jack’s.
– Inside Job or Whack-job –
Of course all of this should be placed in the context that with JFK’s offing, there were almost as many conspiracy theories as there were people who hated him and had the motive if not the means to do so; there were, as is obvious by now, a lot of folk with a mortal hard-on for Jack’s premature departure from the White House – indeed, preferably from this mortal coil – by any means possible. Some of these folk were more obvious that others. But always it seems, LBJ was – and still is – the key.
That Johnson should have been – and was according to some folk – one of the most “obvious” suspects from the off was and is axiomatic; as indicated though, he disappeared off the radar for almost half a century. This had a lot to do presumably with the untimely, inexplicable demise of many folk who have been repeatedly linked to the Tall Texan’s Grand Scheme, nothing less than his hostile, ruthless, bloody takeover of America Inc. Now these folks included literally dozens of mysterious and improbable sudden deaths often under inexplicable circumstances, including ‘heart attacks’, ‘car accidents’, ‘suicides’, ‘cancers’, along with uncharacteristic disappearances, actual murders and violent deaths etc.
It probably wasn’t until a History Channel (HC) documentary series called The Men Who Killed Kennedy – The Guilty Men (itself based on an earlier two-part UK documentary aired in 1988), that in 2003 resurrected the LBJ theory and gave it a whole new lease of life. Unlike the Stone film, this documentary did not demur in pointing the finger directly at Number 36. About the only ‘usual suspects’ that weren’t seriously considered in this epic documentary by way of their supposed involvement was Mossad, the formidable Israeli intelligence agency, although for many no doubt this may suggest that the Israelis have been able to cover their tuches better than the rest. Kudos to them I say, that being the case.
And yet oy vey there is a Mossad link – albeit indirect – to The JFK Thing. At least one account ties the Israelis with the mysterious, as yet unexplained murder in 1964 of Mary Meyer, one of Jack’s former mistresses and the estranged wife of Cord Meyer, the high-level CIA player of the era mentioned earlier, who himself has sometimes been mentioned as one of the CIA’s insiders in connection with The Company’s purported involvement in the Assassination and/or its cover-up.
As for Mary Meyer, few question she was one of Jack’s favourites, and it wasn’t just because she was a ‘party girl’ who liked to stay up late and do the ‘wild thing’ with the president during his own personal, not infrequent, ‘missile crises’, an otherwise attractive proposition for this ‘toe-ey’, speed fuelled, insomniac, party-boy POTUS. Whilst a story we will return to later in Part Three, it’s both instructive and interesting to note herein that Meyer, an intelligent, beautiful – with his scandalously keen eye for a ‘plum looker’, this was invariably a standard prerequisite for the president – and an intriguing, engaging, enigmatic woman, may at this point, have even been a pivotal player in The JFK Thing.
Now apart from getting him high on LSD and pot on numerous occasions and frolicking with the president in the West Wing, she possibly began to – portentously some suggest – influence and shape his view of the world. And although it’s well documented – if not generally well known – JFK had an almost Elvis-like appetite for drugs of all sorts, some of the suggestions he was offed because folk were “concerned” their president was something of a deviant, sex-crazed, deranged, out of control, bull-goose ‘loonie-toon’ speed freak – and worst of all, one who had his finger ‘on the thermo-nuclear button’ to boot – would seem to be way off the mark.
For all his miscalculations, faults and missteps, Kennedy showed decidedly more restraint in this regard than some of his Joint Chiefs (‘Bombsaway’ Le May anyone? again!), military & security advisors, and aides who were getting in the president’s ear during both the BoP misadventure and the Cuban Missile Crisis, and we more or less know how those two events played out. And it wasn’t Kennedy who came up with what must have been the mother of all “bull-goose ‘loonie-toon’” false flag schemes – the so-called Operation Northwoods. Indeed, it was Kennedy who nixed this idea when it was presented to him. As far as Jack was concerned, Northwoods was as hair-brained as they come.
According to James Bradford in his book Body of Secrets, the scheme – which he suggests may have even been Ike’s idea – called for innocent people to be murdered on American soil; for boats carrying Cuban refugees fleeing the country to be sunk at sea; for people to be framed for bombings they did not commit and for planes to be hijacked; and for a sustained campaign of violent terrorism to be launched in major US cities such as New York, Miami and Washington. Using manufactured evidence, all of these violent attacks would be blamed on Castro and his agents, thus giving the Joint Chiefs of Staff – all of whom had signed off on the lunatic proposition – the pretext they needed to launch their war.
Folks not familiar with the Northwoods parable can be forgiven because it is not one you will find in any of your high school history textbooks, then or now. Moreover, other folks not given to contemplating the possibility that 9/11 might have been an inside job after all, may wish to acquaint themselves with Bradford’s book about Northwoods and indeed, America’s dark history of the false flag op. As we have seen time and time again, the mindset for such actions by the US power elites has always been there. And it is reasonable to assume it is still there now. And it has to be said that Kennedy’s lack of enthusiasm for Northwoods – he reportedly walked out of the room in dismay when it was presented to him by Chairman General Lemnitzer and his JCOS cohort – may have delivered another nail in his coffin.
– Peace, Love and Understanding (What’s So Funny ‘Bout?) –
To the extent they actually were, it’s uncertain if JFK’s ‘evolving’ views of the world and the geopolitical dynamics of the time might have been as ‘influenced’ by the well-documented, mellowing, benevolent impact of the ‘herb superb’ along with the blissful, transcendent, utopian visions induced by the acid that Mary provided him – as she herself purportedly had influenced the president – on this we can all but mischievously speculate. However derived though, this particular ‘worldview’ – one that appeared to officially and publicly debut in the president’s seminal, oft-quoted June 1963 American University address (his famous Pax Americana – or what we might call his “Peace, Love and Understanding” – speech), about five months before Dallas – was one unlikely to endear him to the Power Elite.
It was one message that the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, US MilitaryTM, the Cuban Exiles and sundry BoP refugees, civilian defense contractors, private security firms, and many in Congress as well just did not want to hear, especially from their president.
And the “message” was? Some warm, fuzzy, silly nonsense about “peaceful co-existence” with the USSR! Shit next thing you know, the POTUS will have us all wrapping our arms around the Cubans and the Soviets and pissing in each others pockets while having a geopolitical ‘group hug’! This was not, and was never going to be, in the national security or the foreign policy brochure! As for why the president’s former playmate and drug buddy Mary Meyer was offed and whether her death indeed had anything to do with The JFK Thing, to this day no-one knows exactly why, although her former husband Cord had reportedly accused the CIA – his former employer by this stage – of being involved in her murder. Oh once more, [the] irony!
In recalling Turner’s documentary then, whilst it included examinations of all the most plausible ‘inside job’ theories, it was hard to escape the conclusion the filmmaker felt the most credible theory was that LBJ did indeed go “all the way”, albeit with a lot of encouragement to plan and execute the plot from the off, and a lot of conspiratorial support post-assassination to ensure the truth remained out there forever and a day, an overarching objective that appears to be a work in progress 50 years later. The fact the HC episode positing the LBJ theory was the last in the series may be a telling point itself, suggesting Turner was saving the ‘best for last’.
Yet another equally telling fact is that Turner’s film caused an almighty uproar from no less than two former Oval Ones; these were Jimmy Carter (Number 39) and Gerald Ford (Number 38). The latter was the then only surviving member of the now discredited Warren Commission established to investigate the Assassination and which determined that LHO was the one and only gunman/perp, and crucially, [that] there was only one bullet.
Predictably, LBJ’s widow Lady Bird Johnson and her family also objected to the documentary, along with other notable figures such as Jack Valenti, a former associate, acolyte and ‘friend’ of LBJ. There was also LBJ’s former advisor, loyal aide and then White House press secretary Bill Moyers (yes, that Bill Moyers; like Johnny Walker, still going strong). At all events they threatened a libel action, and the History Channel was forced to issue an apology and back away from any future airings of the episode in question, along with some of its revelations and conclusions. But as of this writing it is still available on YouTube, and is a must watch for truth seekers, and even those folk who simply like a good murder mystery! You can’t do better than this one.
– Here lies Lyndon, now and then! –
Now we can explain the long-suffering Ladybird Johnson being upset at the suggestion that her pre-deceased husband pulled off the Crime of the Century; after all, whatever suspicions she may have felt, what widow would want to go to her eternally designated plot of terra firma knowing and accepting that [that] same dead spouse – and former US president no less – was not just a vicious, amoral, corrupt criminal socio-psychopath of the highest order, but a ruthless, stone cold-blooded serial killer from his trademark, custom Stetson down to his hand-made Texas boot-straps?
“Here lies Lyndon, he hath lived the lie, and he now lies dead, gone and disgraced”. Or: “Here Lies Lyndon, in Death as in Life!” Or: “Here lies Lyndon, His Holy Grail = His Poisoned Chalice”. Or, this author’s personal, ‘home-made’, favourite: “Here lies Lyndon, now and then!”
Not exactly heartwarming legacies to be sure!
Even more disconcerting may have been the realisation that if LBJ was The Man After All, he’d have made Aaron Burr and Benedict Arnold look like quintessential American patriots, and then she’d need to accept that her family and descendants would have to live with such a monumentally ignominious and ineradicable legacy. Clearly, it would have been a heavy burden for any family to bear. Yet what is even more interesting is that – in the Land of Libel and Litigation – the Johnson family almost certainly could have sued the History Channel, with or without an apology. Again, this raises another big question: Why didn’t they take up this option to do this if they were so convinced of the program’s lack of authenticity and veracity?
We may never know exactly why, but undoubtedly the family had enough awareness, if not acceptance, of their deceased patriarch’s less than illustrious past – even without any involvement in JFK’s murder – that to sue would open up a Pandora’s Box of unthinkable magnitude. To be sure, as we have seen, it’s not as if the History Channel documentary was the first or only public airing of this theory, which itself begs the question why others have not been similarly threatened legally. And the family must have realised similar such revelations would also come to light. It’d be like playing legal Whack-a-Mole keeping a lid on them all!
Now the Johnsons may or may not have had queues of aspiring career-minded litigants offering their services pro-bono to chase such a suit and thereby stamp their name on what would certainly have been one of American legal history’s most scrutinized cases. Meanwhile though, back at the LBJ Ranch, the family’s enthusiasm for pursuing a lawsuit would’ve been thin on the ground, if seriously discussed.
Given what we now know about LBJ and his rise to power, it’s reasonable to assume they might have viewed any decision to sue the HC as a no–brainer, itself possibly the same belated conclusion would-be litigators arrived at and who might’ve considered this an otherwise attractive, career defining case to sink their teeth into. The Pandora’s Box may not have opened, but it was showing signs of stirring to life. In this milieu then, the Johnsons were never going to go there no matter how hard they thought about it.
As for Jack Valenti, he was a well-known LBJ loyalist and sycophant, or in current parlance, one of LBJ’s ‘bitches’; he had ‘em in spades, so no real mystery there. Valenti was once quoted as saying, “I sleep each night a little better, a little more confidently, because Lyndon Johnson is my president.” A glorified gopher then? He also described LBJ as the “most intelligent man” he had ever known, so clearly he was a fan. To paraphrase one of Johnson’s many colourful and evocative turns of phrase, Valenti was one of those folks who – presumably to the general delight and applause of Big Apple window shoppers – wouldn’t think twice about ‘kissing his (LBJ’s) bare ass in Macy’s department store display window at high noon and telling him (i.e. LBJ), it smelt like the Yellow Rose of Texas’.
The same can be said pretty much of Bill Moyers, who himself plainly was just as enamoured of LBJ, and was rumoured at one point to be considering writing a biography of the man. Had he followed through on this, it’s likely it would have been more of a hagiography; like Valenti, he was smitten with Johnson, and to again borrow from their patron’s pricelessly evocative patois, Moyer’s ‘pecker was in LBJ’s pocket’. What the liberal Moyer thinks of this now given more recent speculation as to his former boss’s less than illustrious past is anyone’s guess. What say you Bill? Still think LBJ wasn’t in on the Crime of the Century?
Yet, whether either of these folks knew of any involvement on LBJ’s part in the Assassination is uncertain, but for them to even acknowledge the possibility of such of their former idol – however plausible the prospect and regardless of the evidence put forward, and even with or without their prior knowledge of his involvement – would not have been a good look for either of them after all these years and especially after their well documented, public devotion.
As for Ford’s response to the suggestion LBJ was ‘The Man Most Likely’ – himself being at that time the only surviving member of the much discredited Warren Commission set up (and micro-managed) by LBJ and J Edgar Hoover to ‘investigate’ the Hit – his is not considered an especially memorable legacy in the grand scheme of things either as a president or in general, as a public figure.
Insofar as his reaction to the documentary’s claims goes, bearing in mind the critical role he played in the Commission’s investigation and its widely discredited official findings, we can all but observe that – in the cherished, immortalised vernacular of the notoriously sordid, infamous, sex, secrets ‘n spies scandal that in 1962 rocked the British Government to its foundations – aka the UK Profumo Affair – ‘well, he would say that wouldn’t he’?
Considering then that Ford was arguably one of the most uninspiring and ineffectual individuals ever to hold the title of POTUS, his own already diminished legacy would have been irrevocably tarnished, indeed obliterated, by any concessions to the integrity and veracity of the HC documentary’s claims or that the Warren Commission was a fraud. Either way, his ‘contribution’ to finding the truth via Warren will be forever tainted either by his ineptitude as a Commission member or his out and out complicity in conspiring with co-members and others higher up to cover up the real facts of the Assassination.
And this was a man of whom Johnson – who’d personally appointed him to the Commission – once famously said in a characteristically colourful, albeit pejorative reference to his ‘smarts’ that he [Ford] ‘couldn’t chew gum and fart at the same time’, the ‘sentiment’ presumably indicating that to achieve such a simple, cognitive goal, one only required minimal synaptic effort, and was one LBJ clearly didn’t feel Ford was up to making on the fly as it were.
At this point even, for its part, the Johnson family may still be trying to preserve whatever’s left of the legendary benefit of the doubt the Big Texan commanded with consummate ease throughout his lifetime and career. But any future public investigations into their patriarch’s past with or without a JFK reference point, along with any other newer revelations and allegations expected to come to light in the lead-up to the Anniversary, would all but obliterate any remaining reserves of doubt in the American political and public consciousness regarding Number 36. They may need to revise and update all the school textbooks, demolish the LBJ Presidential Library brick by book as a mark of respect to democracy, and rewrite the official historical record, and possibly even the Constitution and Bill of Rights while they are at it.
And that, maybe just for starters.
Which brings to mind just one new book that is coming out in November. Authored by high-profile, long-time, diehard Republican, lobbyist and political consultant Roger Stone, it is called The Man Who Killed Kennedy – The Case Against LBJ. It not only seems to ‘confirm’ once again the Johnson theory. Stone’s book also apparently singles out for further scrutiny Gerald Ford’s role in or connections to the grand scheme of things JFK.
And although we will return to Stone’s highly anticipated tome later, at this point we can only guess as to what new information comes to light here if at all about Ford and any connection. In any event Ford was a perfect fit for the profile of the type of folk LBJ wanted on Warren. In Johnson’s estimation it would seem, Ford was akin to one of Lenin’s “useful idiots”. And it would seem a choice that worked for LBJ in that Number 38 was still in his corner till his (Ford’s) dying day, the unflattering chewing gum/flatulence remark notwithstanding. But at this point LBJ is still the main game herein. Ford may have just been a willing, pliant pawn in the Grandmaster’s Game.
Jimmy Carter’s response was the more puzzling then and even now is not easy to explain. We can only surmise that the former Georgian peanut farmer – himself an underachieving commander in chief by any measure – either simply didn’t want to open old wounds or couldn’t handle the truth himself; that a former Democratic president like himself would off his likewise Democratic predecessor so he could assume power just like they did (and occasionally still do) in tin-pot, cut-rate, piss-ant, third world backwaters, [was] something Carter would have been decidedly conflicted about. Surely this was no way to run a democracy!
And whilst on that subject, when one considers Carter’s later reinvention, indeed redemption, as an international champion of democracy in developing nations in particular – evidenced by his tireless, high-profile efforts over the years to encourage and foster the spread of democracy, and monitor the ‘fair and free’ elections of many of those sundry, aforementioned, “tin-pot, cut-rate, piss-ant, third world backwaters” – a disconnect becomes quite apparent with respect to Number 39. And that “disconnect” comes with – as it so often does in the American Narrative – a truckload of exquisitely unbearable irony!
End Part Two….To Be Continued……Part Three on November 15.
© GJ Maybury aka The Trojan Goat 2009-2013
- Roger Stone’s JFK Assassination Book Is Out (economicpolicyjournal.com)
- The Rehabilitation of Richard Nixon (twolittleislands.wordpress.com)
- LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s Pre-Election Deal With Saigon (historynet.com)