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Was the assassination planned in 1960? Johnson as Vice President.


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#1 John Simkin

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Posted 19 February 2006 - 08:56 AM

In 1960 Lyndon Johnson’s closest political supporters urged him to enter the race when John F. Kennedy emerged as favourite to win the Democratic Party nomination. Sam Rayburn was especially keen for Johnson to defeat Kennedy. So was John Connally who established a Citizens-for-Johnson Committee. As Ralph G. Martin, pointed out, Johnson felt no need to campaign against Kennedy as he was convinced he “would destroy himself on the religious issue”. (1)

Theodore H. White argued in “The Making of the President” that it was impossible for Johnson to win by taking on Kennedy from the beginning. “These men (Johnson, Rayburn and Connally) knew that the Johnson candidacy could not be muscled by seeking individual Convention delegates…. Their plans rested squarely on their control of Congress, on the enormous accumulation of political debts and uncashed obligations that, between them, Johnson and Rayburn had earned over years of the legislative trade.” (2)

It was not until 5th July, 1960, that Johnson finally declared himself an official candidate. Johnson had been forced to leave it as late as this because he was unwilling to resign as Majority leader of the Senate. He therefore had to wait until Rayburn and himself had recessed Congress on 3rd July. Johnson immediately went onto the attack by pointed out that: “Those who have engaged in active campaigns since January have missed hundreds of votes. This I could not do – for my country or my party. Someone had to tend the store.” (3)

Johnson now portrayed the front-runner as being “too young and “too inexperienced” (4) He also tried to get as Kennedy via his father. He described Joe Kennedy as being pro-Hitler. He was therefore opposing John Kennedy as he “did not want any Chamberlain umbrella man!” (5) Johnson also made reference to Kennedy’s health, pointing out that he had Addison’s disease. (6)

Despite this dirty tricks campaign, Johnson was unable to stop Kennedy being nominated. Johnson was obviously upset by this result but comforted himself with the fact that as Majority leader, he remained the second most powerful man in American politics. The great surprise is that Johnson was willing to sacrifice this power in order to become Kennedy’s running-mate.

In his book, The Making of the President, Theodore H. White, expresses shock at both Kennedy’s decision to offer Johnson’s the post, and his eventual acceptance of what appeared to be a demotion. White adds that this mystery will only be solved by “tomorrow’s historians”. (7)

The idea that Johnson should be Kennedy’s running-mate was first suggested by Philip Graham of the Washington Post. Graham, the key figure in the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird, had been campaigning strongly for Johnson to get the nomination. However, when Graham arrived at the Democratic Party Convention in Los Angeles on 8th July, Johnson told him that Kennedy would win by a landslide. Graham then had a meeting with Robert Kennedy and was finally convinced that Johnson had indeed lost his race to be the presidential candidate.

According to Katharine Graham, her husband and Joe Alsop, arranged a meeting with John Kennedy on 11th July. Alsop started the conversation with the following comment: “We’ve come to talk to you about the vice-presidency. Something may happen to you, and Symington is far too shallow a puddle for the United States to dive into.” Graham then explained the advantages that Johnson would “add to the ticket”. What is more, it would remove Johnson as leader of the Senate. (8)

Kennedy agreed that Johnson would be a great asset. He knew that Johnson could deliver Texas. As Victor Lasky pointed out: “Every phase of the state’s election machinery from precinct tally clerk to the State Board of Canvassers was in the hands of Organization (read LBJ) Democrats.” (9)

Hugh Sidey of Time Magazine, interviewed Kennedy on the eve of the Los Angeles convention. He later claimed that Kennedy told him: “if I had my choice I would have Lyndon Johnson as my running mate. And I’m going to offer it to him, but he isn’t going to take it.” (10)

After the meeting with Graham and Alsop, Kennedy told his aide, Kenneth P. O’Donnell, that it made sense to have Johnson on the ticket but he knew that he would never accept the position as it would mean he would lose his powerful position in the Senate. Kennedy assured O’Donnell that Stuart Symington, “who was acceptable to both the labor leaders and the Southerners” would be his running-mate. (11)

The mystery that has to be explained is not that Johnson was offered the post, but that he accepted it. Bobby Baker has provided an interesting account of the discussions that went on about the possibility of Johnson becoming Kennedy’s running-mate. Baker describes how Johnson told him that Kennedy was coming to see him at his hotel. John Connally was of the opinion that Kennedy would offer him the job. Johnson asked Baker what he should do. Baker replied: “It’s no disgrace to hold the second highest office in the land and be one heartbeat away from the presidency.” Connally added that Johnson would be able to deliver Texas for Kennedy.

At this stage Johnson appeared to be against the idea. He told Baker that he would have “trouble with some of my Texas friends if I decide to run.” Sam Rayburn was one of these “Texas friends” who was strongly opposed to the suggestion that Johnson should become Kennedy’s running-mate. He quoted another Texan, John Nance Garner, who held the post under Franklin D. Roosevelt, as saying: “The office ain’t worth a pitcher of warm spit.” However, according to Baker, John Connally and Phil Graham “worked on” Rayburn until he “came round” to the idea that Johnson should become Kennedy’s running-mate.

There still remained a significant number of opponents to Johnson’s strategy. Baker adds in his autobiography that “several Texas congressmen, spoiled by LBJ’s special attentions to their pet legislative schemes, begged him not to leave his powerful Senate post.” (12)

According to Baker, one of Johnson’s political friends resorted to threats of violence against Johnson if he became the vice-presidential candidate. This was oil millionaire, Robert S. Kerr. In their book, The Case Against Congress, Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson claim that “Robert S. Kerr, oil millionaire, uranium king, cattle baron and Senator from Oklahoma… dominated the Senate’s back rooms in the late 1950s and early 1960s.” (13) Pearson and Anderson point out that Kerr main concern in Congress was to preserve the oil depletion allowance.

In “Wheeling and Dealing” Baker described what happened when Kerr arrived at the meeting in Johnson’s hotel room: “Kerr literally was livid. There were angry red splotches on his face. He glared at me, at LBJ, and at Lady Bird. ‘Get me my .38,’ he yelled. ‘I’m gonna kill every damn one of you. I can’t believe that my three best friends would betray me.’ Senator Kerr did not seem to be joking. As I attempted to calm him he kept shouting that we’d combined to ruin the Senate, ruin ourselves, and ruin him personally.”

Johnson responded to this outburst by telling Baker to take Kerr in the bathroom and “explain things to him”. Baker did this and after hearing about the reasons for Johnson’s decision to accept the post, “Senator Kerr put a burly arm around me and said, “Son, you are right and I was wrong. I’m sorry I mistreated you.”

What did Baker tell Kerr that dramatically changed his mind on this issue? According to Baker, he told Kerr: “If he’s elected vice-president, he’ll be an excellent conduit between the White House and the Hill.” What is more, if Kennedy is defeated, Johnson can blame it on Kennedy’s religion and be the likely victor in the attempt to be the Democratic Party candidate in the 1964 election. (14)

Kerr would have been well aware of this argument before he entered the bathroom with Baker. If Kerr did change his mind about Johnson’s becoming Kennedy’s running-mate, then Baker told him something else in the bathroom. Maybe he explained that Johnson would become president before 1964.

What we do know is that Kennedy’s close political advisers were shocked when Johnson accepted the post. They, like Kennedy himself, expected him to reject the offer. Why would Johnson give up his position as the second most powerful position in the country? Kenneth P. O’ Donnell was highly suspicious of Johnson’s motives. When he mentioned this to Kennedy he replied: “I’m forty-three years old, and I’m the healthiest candidate for President in the United States. You’ve traveled with me enough to know that. I’m not going to die in office. So the Vice-Presidency doesn’t mean anything. I’m thinking of something else, the leadership in the Senate. If we win, it will be by a small margin and I won’t be able to live with Lyndon Johnson as the leader of a small majority in the Senate.” (15)

The problem with this argument is that Johnson was also aware that as Vice President he would lose his political power. This is why Kennedy told his aides that Johnson would turn the offer down. Yet there is evidence that Johnson was desperate to become Kennedy’s running-mate. One of Kennedy’s most important advisers, Hyman Raskin, claims that Kennedy had a meeting with Johnson and Rayburn early on the morning after his nomination. According to all other sources, at this time, these two men were strongly opposed to the idea of Johnson becoming Kennedy’s running-mate. However, Kennedy told Raskin a different story. Johnson was very keen to join the ticket and “made an offer he could not refuse”. Raskin took this to mean that Kennedy was blackmailed into offering Johnson the post. (16)

This view is supported by another of Kennedy’s close advisers. Pierre Salinger was opposed to the idea of Johnson being Kennedy’s running-mate. He believed that the decision would lose more votes than it would gain. Salinger believed that Kennedy would lose the support of blacks and trade unionists if Johnson became the vice-presidential candidate. Although Johnson would deliver Texas his place on the ticket would mean Kennedy would lose California. A few days after the decision had been made, Salinger asked Kennedy why? He replied, "The whole story will never be known. And it's just as well that it won't be." Salinger also got the impression that Kennedy had been blackmailed into accepting Johnson. (17)

Kennedy must have been very concerned about this development. Why would Johnson blackmail him into accepting a post that had less power than the one that he already had? It only made sense if Johnson was going to continue using this strategy as vice president. Maybe this was only the first of many threats of blackmail. Would Johnson use his position to force Kennedy to appoint his friends such as John Connally and Fred Korth to important positions in his administration?

Kennedy must also have considered another possibility. Did Johnson plan to replace him as president? This seems to have been on Kennedy’s mind when he told Kenneth O’Donnell that he did not intend to die in office.

Given these events, it is possible that the assassination of John F. Kennedy was considered as early as 1960. If so, it is important to look closely at those people who played important roles in obtaining for Johnson the post of vice president.

Notes

1. Ralph G. Martin, A Hero For Our Time, 1983 (page 155)

2. Theodore H. White, The Making of the President, 1960 (page 53)

3. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968 (page 524)

4. Theodore H. White, The Making of the President, 1960 (page 160)

5. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968 (page 525)

6. Theodore H. White, The Making of the President, 1961 (page 160)

7. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968 (page 525)

8. Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1972 (page 117)

9. Theodore H. White, The Making of the President, 1960 (page 206)

10. Katharine Graham, Personal History, 1997 (pages 282-283)

11. Victor Lasky, It Didn’t Start With Watergate, 1977 (page 58)

12. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot, 1998 (page 122)

13. Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1972 (page 218)

14. Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing, 1978 (pages 123-126)

15. Drew Pearson & Jack Anderson, The Case Against Congress, 1968 (page 132)

16. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot, 1998 (page 126)

17. Pierre Salinger, With Kennedy, 1966

#2 Tim Carroll

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Posted 19 February 2006 - 08:36 PM

Given these events, it is possible that the assassination of John F. Kennedy was considered as early as 1960.

The sequence of events leading to Johnson's V.P. nomination implies that Kennedy was not expected to live to complete his term in office. Johnson had been conducting a whispering campaign about Kennedy's long-denied Addison's Disease. Additionally, Johnson's close friendship with J. Edgar Hoover probably made him aware of Kennedy's drug use and chronic venereal disease. Kennedy himself didn't expect to live long, so it's fair to consider that LBJ didn't either. The thinking in 1960 may well have been that Kennedy wouldn't need to be killed. It must have frustrated Johnson to see Kennedy's health actually improve during his last year of life.

T.C.

#3 Ron Ecker

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Posted 19 February 2006 - 10:29 PM

John,

Well done. Adds to the mystery of what LBJ knew and when he knew it. I'm inclined to believe that LBJ and his cronies figured JFK would die in office one way or the other. In 1960 assassination was only a contingency plan or worst case scenario in the back of their minds. When JFK didn't die after a couple of years, and LBJ's legal problems were growing simultaneously, they took matters into their own hands.

Ron

#4 Frank Agbat

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Posted 20 February 2006 - 12:44 AM

Any questioning eye cast in the direction of LBJ is, in my estimation, well deserved and appropriate. In the sphere of police work, it is completely normal and accepted practice to consider who would benefit from a given crime. It is also normal practice to consider one's associates and past reputation (although this is not sufficient in and of itself from a logical point of view, it is frequently used as a justification to explore by law enforcement).

In this high-profile case, the most obvious recipient of gain was none other than LBJ. I mean, after all, he merely inherited the single most powerful position in the world... Many have killed for far less gain...

I find LBJ a very logical starting point once the "vaguely motivated lone nut" theory is appropriately dismissed. It is an astonishing demonstration of power, however, that very little due diligence has been given to this line of reasoning. Apart from theories and a handful of books, LBJ has largely escaped the veritable magnifying glass that has peered at the likes of Castro, Oswald, MIC, Big Oil, Righties, and the CIA.

It is possible that we're looking too far down the food chain, and thinking too short-term in understanding motives and planning. Perhaps all the various motivations we have pondered are merely chaff, with the wheat escaping our view. The ODA, the Bay of Pigs, "softness on communism", "mafia crackdown", and the many other theories, may be convenient smokescreens; events and conflicts WILL happen during the course of a presidency. No planning is necessary -- the smokescreen is assured just by the nature and complexity of the office and the responsibilities thereof. If the roots of the plot are deeper (and, perhaps ultimately simpler), perhaps all that was necessary was waiting until the desired confusion was reached -- reached WITHOUT being directed by the actual players... (thus no trail, no linking, no easy to track evidence. Thus, 42 years of tire-spinning...)

As was said in "JFK": "There's smoke, but there's some fire, too." This thread needs to stay alive and active. You may very well be on to something, John.

#5 Jim Root

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Posted 20 February 2006 - 02:48 AM

John

Well written piece.

During his first term as a Senator, Johnson was first elected minority whip then minority leader. He gained a position on the Senate Armed Services Committee and chaired several sub-committees of importance including the Senate Special Committee on Space and Astronautics.

Johnson was also involved with the Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1958 and the National Security Agency Act of 1959. All of these committee assignments as well as his position as Majority Leader of the Senate would provide Johnson with the type of intelligence briefings reserved for those at the top of the Congressional heap.

I tend to believe that the U-2 incident was an intelligence coup that was designed to disrupt the Paris Summit. If so one could also believe that it would be a good possibility that Johnson may have either been aware of or could have guessed at who or what agency was responsible for staging that event.

I have believed for years that the U-2 incident was an important event for Kennedy on his road to the White House. Being privy to the type of information that was available to Johnson in his position of power in the Senate, Johnson may have been easily led to "jump on the bandwagon" of the person (Kennedy) who had been "selected" to be the next President by the power elite. Johnson may also have realized that if Kennedy stumbled along the way this group of the "power elite" would have a reliable hand at hand to turn to.

This would be especially true if some of the same caliber of people that were suggesting him for the Vice-Presidendcy were amoung the group that had the ability to stage the U-2 incident.

Jim Root

#6 William Kelly

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Posted 20 February 2006 - 05:37 AM

John,

After the inaguration, LBJ reportedly shared a limo with Clare Booth Luce, to proceed to a luncheon, or the next function, and during the short ride, she asked LBJ why he took the VP and he reportedly responded that the fact that convinced him was that one in five presidents - 20%, died in office.

LBJ is also said to have quipped that he could improve those odds.

Without a doubt, the coup d'etat took place in the LA hotel rooms in 1960, and what happened in Dallas was the coup d' grace.

BK

#7 John Simkin

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Posted 20 February 2006 - 04:16 PM

Thought members might be interested in an email I received in response to my posting on this thread:

I've had the great good fortune to accidentally stumble across a number of people, each of whom contributed little bits of anecdotal knowledge. Because it is anecdotal, I cannot accord it any great weight, but thought you might be interested in the following bit of trivia.

About 20-plus years ago, I met a black man named Moses who told me he had been LBJ's limo driver at the '60 Democratic National Convention. He told me that he had overheard various conversations in the rear of his vehicle and that - contrary to popular wisdom and the received history - it was Rayburn who had tried to convince LBJ to accept the Veep slot on the '60 ticket. When Johnson demurred, saying it was a pointless and powerless position from him to fill, Rayburn said it would place him "within a heartbeat of the Presidency." Johnson said words to the effect of "So what? JFK's younger and healthier than me and will no doubt outlive me." Rayburn then concluded with "Accidents do happen, Lyndon."

Moses told me he thought it was a sinister comment at the time, and for that reason it stuck in his mind. When later events transpired to catapult LBJ into the Presidency, Moses could never shake the feeling that this had all been a contingency plan from the outset. He didn't strike me as a fantasist or liar. In fact, he was reluctant to tell me what he knew, and I think only relented because it was quite apparent to him that this Canadian chap with whom he was speaking - all fresh faced and ever so earnestly, naively interested in solving the crime of the century - wasn't a Yankee spook or conspirator who could do him harm.


#8 Mark Stapleton

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Posted 20 February 2006 - 11:17 PM

John,

I agree with the other members that you have put together the pieces nicely to establish a very interesting argument. Perhaps 1960 should be regarded as the date when control of the Executive by Suite 8F Group interests really began. The group's watchdog was installed as VP in preparation for bigger things to come.

Makes one wonder whether JFK's removal would have been necessary if he had "played the game" in regard to issues such as military expenditure, cold war rhetoric and largesse to oil and other big business. I think they might have left JFK alone, leaving LBJ to cry into a pitcher of warm spit.

#9 Lee Forman

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 12:09 AM

Great Post John.

From a National Security perspective - if the Schecter's are right, why would you tell Phil Graham something that you wouldn't even share with Truman? What branch of intelligence, and where was he stationed? Who did he report to? Why would the head of a newspaper be so intensely involved in US Politics? It's puzzling.

During World War II, Graham enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a private (1942) and rose to the rank of major. Katharine followed him on military assignments to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania up until 1945, when he went to the Pacific theatre as an intelligence officer of the Far East Air Force.


Philip Leslie Graham (July 18, 1915 – August 3, 1963) was publisher of The Washington Post from 1946 to 1963.


http://www.borrull.o...cia.php?id=9579

Their broad picture also contains intriguing footnotes. In 1948, for instance, accusations that Hiss and White were Soviet agents touched off a harsh political war over the issue of "communists in government." For security reasons, the existence of VENONA was tightly held. (The Schecters convincingly dash arguments, by Mr. Moynihan and others, that President Truman was never told of the intercepts.) When the Hiss and White names showed up in VENONA, Col. Carter Clarke, the head of Amy intelligence, feared that the program might be embroiled in politics.
As a prophylactic measure, he dispatched aide Oliver Kirby to "brief a small select group that included House Republican leader Les Arens and Washington Post publisher Philip Graham."
The revelations "deeply concerned" Mr. Graham. According to what Oliver Kirby told the Schecters, "Graham knew that the Democrats were in trouble. VENONA was a time bomb that could explode and destroy the party of the New Deal . . ." So his staunchly liberal paper did not endorse a candidate in the 1948 presidential election, and in 1952 he campaigned for Eisenhower over Adlai Stevenson. Mr. Graham never revealed that he knew the VENONA secret.



#10 John Dolva

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 12:45 AM

The Klan were very vigorous in pushing this view of LBJ. Among other things they warned him to take heed of what 'happened in Dallas'...

http://www.mdah.stat...29|1|1|1|25039|

The right wing in the south were in 1960 already launching this attack on 'the Counterfeit Confederate'... (scroll down to see the next 3 pages)

http://www.mdah.stat...29|1|1|1|25039|

Perhaps the real smoke screen here is LBJ's complicity? Perhaps just a 'puppet'? A 'scapegoat'?

#11 John Simkin

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 12:46 PM

It is important to try and work out what was said in the meetings that went on between John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson in the short period before the announcement was made concerning the vice presidency. We know from Kennedy’s political advisers that their poll results showed that Stuart Symington would make the best candidate. Johnson would win votes in the South but would lose a lot more in other parts of America. It was calculated that with Symington on the ticket they would lose Texas but win California. As a result of these discussions, Clark Clifford was dispatched to Symington to offer him the post. (1)

It is true that Kennedy did consider Johnson for the post. He told Hugh Sidey of Time Magazine that “if I had my choice I would have Lyndon Johnson as my running mate. And I’m going to offer it to him, but he isn’t going to take it.” (2) Kennedy said the same thing to Kenneth P. O’Donnell. Kennedy made clear he wanted Johnson as vice president because he did not want him as leader of the Senate. Kennedy was convinced that Johnson would block his legislation as majority leader. However, Kennedy added that Johnson would never be willing to accept the post because it would mean giving up the second most powerful position in American politics. (3)

Therefore, the story put forward by Hyman Raskin (4) and Pierre Salinger (5) that Kennedy was blackmailed into giving the post to Johnson is probably true. The next question was why would Johnson want this post? It was obviously a package deal. Johnson would want more than just being vice president. He would want other guarantees.

To answer this question we need to discover what the concerns were of Johnson’s backers. Some researchers have claimed that there were concerns about Kennedy’s policies on civil rights. This is not true. Kennedy was unwilling to give any commitment to pushing for new civil rights legislation. As Richard D. Mahoney points out in his book, Sons and Brothers: “As senator, Kennedy had zigzagged through the long obstacle course of civil rights legislation, siding in most cases, as a Ted Sorensen memo to Bobby proudly explained in December 1959, ‘with our friends in the South.’ He meant white friends.” (6)

As Mahoney goes on to point out: “The most entrenched and skilled leaders of that majority in the Senate – McClellan of Arkansas, Eastland of Mississippi, Ervin of North Carolina, and Fulbright of Arkansas – were all vehement opponents of civil rights as well as close friends of Bobby Kennedy.” Kennedy admits in several interviews that were recorded as part of the Oral History Project, that he had several conversations with people like McClellan and Eastland during the campaign to assure them that the Kennedy administration would not promote the “civil rights issue”. (7)

Harris Wofford, Kennedy’s special assistant for civil rights, supports this view in his memoirs, Of Kennedys and Kings. He points out that Kennedy was forced into taking a stand on the issue because of the activities of Martin Luther King and pressure groups like the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). For example, Kennedy did all he could to get the Freedom Riders to call off their activities in 1961. (8)

The issue that most concerned Johnson and his backers was Kennedy’s threat to the Texas oil industry. Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson were the most important supporters of the oil industry in Congress. In the 1950s Dwight Eisenhower had shown himself to be a good friend of Texas.
In the 1952 presidential election, the oil industry backed the Republican Party. This was reflected in Eisenhower’s appointment of Robert B. Anderson as Secretary of the Treasury. Before his appointment, Anderson was president of the Texas Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association. In this post he introduced legislation beneficial to the oil industry. (9)

One of Eisenhower’s first actions as president was to stop a grand jury investigation into the “International Petroleum Cartel”. Eisenhower justified his action as the need to maintain “national security”. Eisenhower’s behaviour had an impact on the oil lobby. “In 1956, officials at the nations biggest oil companies gave nearly $350,000 to Republicans while giving less than $15,000 to Democrats.” (10)

Eisenhower was personally rewarded by the oil industry. Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson reported that Eisenhower’s farm was paid for by three wealthy oilmen, W. Alton Jones, Billy Byers and George E. Allen. The Internal Revenue Service discovered that these three oilmen gave Eisenhower more than $500,000 at the same time he was making decisions favourable to the oil industry.

In their book, The Case Against Congress, Pearson and Anderson point out that on 19th January, 1961, the day before he left the White House, “Eisenhower signed a procedural instruction on the importation of residual oil that required all importers to move over and sacrifice 15 per cent of their quotas to newcomers who wanted a share of the action.” One of the major beneficiaries of this last-minute executive order was a company called Cities Service. The chief executive of Cities Service was W. Alton Jones, one of the men who helped pay for Eisenhower’s farm.

Three months later, Jones flew in a small plane to visit the retired president. The plane crashed and Jones was killed. In his briefcase was found $61,000 in cash. No one was ever able to explain why Jones was taking such a large sum of money to Eisenhower. (11)

As a U.S. senator, John F. Kennedy voted to reduce the depletion allowance. (12) Texas oilmen were obviously concerned when Kennedy became the front-runner in the 1960 presidential election. It is true that Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn were in a position to try and block the move in Congress. (13) However, Kennedy had the potential to draw attention to this unfair tax loophole. As Sam Rayburn pointed out, if the oil depletion allowance was debated in Congress: “They’d cut it to fifteen, ten, five percent – maybe even take it away altogether. Do you think you could convince a Detroit factory worker that the depletion allowance is a good thing? Once it got on the floor, it would be cut to ribbons.” (14)

In order to win votes in Texas, Kennedy changed his position on the oil depletion allowance. This was probably something that was negotiated by Johnson. In October, 1960, Kennedy wrote a letter to his Texas campaign manager outlying his policies on the oil industry. He said he wanted to make “clear my recognition of the value and importance of the oil depletion allowance. I realize its purpose and value… The oil-depletion allowance has served us well”. (15)

Kennedy’s support for the oil industry was reflected in the appointment of John Connolly as Navy Secretary. Connolly was of course Sid Richardson’s attorney and a long-time lobbyist for the oil industry. This was a post that brought with it the power to issue lucrative contracts to Texas oil companies. When Connolly resigned to become governor of Texas, he was replaced by another one of Johnson’s Texan friends, Fred Korth. He was of course forced to resign in October, 1963, as a result of another Texan corruption scandal, the awarding of the TFX contract to General Dynamics. (16)

The person who decided on the oil depletion allowance was the Secretary of the Treasury. This post was held by Clarence Douglas Dillon. This was a surprising appointment because Dillon had been a major contributor to the presidential campaign of Dwight D. Eisenhower. As a reward Dillon was appointed as Ambassador to France. In 1959 Eisenhower appointed him as Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs. He was therefore responsible for the economic policies and programs of the Department of State and for coordinating the Mutual Security Program. Dillon attended several Foreign Ministers meetings. In 1959 he was one of the founders of the Inter-American Development Bank.

Why then did Kennedy appoint someone who was clearly someone who had spent his adult life attacking the policies of the Democratic Party? The answer appears in Katharine Graham’s book, Personal History: “Right after the election, he (Phil Graham) started talking to and writing the president-elect about appointments to the new administration. Both Phil and Joe Alsop thought Kennedy ought to appoint our friend Douglas Dillon as secretary of the Treasury. Dillon was a liberal Republican who had served as undersecretary of state in the Eisenhower administration and had contributed to the Nixon campaign, so this didn't seem like a strong possibility.” (17)

Therefore, the same people, Phil Graham and Joe Alsop, who convinced Kennedy to take Johnson as vice president, were also behind the appointment of Clarence Douglas Dillon. Were they also working on behalf of Johnson and Rayburn when they put forward Dillon’s name? Was his role to block any attempts to reduce the oil depletion allowance?

Kennedy was to change his mind on the oil depletion allowance when he became president. One study showed that the depletion allowance was saving oilmen in the region of $300 million a year. (18) An investigation by “representatives on Capitol Hill estimated that the depletion allowance had cost American taxpayers $140 billion in revenue” (over 700 billion in today’s prices). (19)

In 1963 Kennedy announced his intention to close a number of corporate tax loopholes, including the depletion allowance. Was this the policy that got Kennedy killed? What we do know is that Johnson cancelled Kennedy’s tax reforms and the oil depletion allowance remained in operation. (20)

Notes

1. Ralph G. Martin, A Hero For Our Times, 1983 (pages 156-7)

2. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot, 1998 (page 122)

3. Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1972 (page 221)

4. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot, 1998 (page 126)

5. Pierre Salinger, With Kennedy, 1966 (page 87)

6. Richard D. Mahoney, Sons and Brothers, 1999 (page 117)

7. Edwin Guthman and Jeffrey Shulman (ed.), Robert Kennedy in his Own Words, 1988

8. Harris Wofford, Of Kennedy and Kings, 1980 (pages 103-200)

9. Robert Sherrill, The Accidental President, 1967 (pages 142-147)

10. Robert Bryce, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, 2004 (page 91)

11. Drew Pearson & Jack Anderson, The Case Against Congress, 1968 (pages 438-440)

12. Jim Marrs, Crossfire, 1989, (page 277)

13. Anthony Champagne, Congressman Sam Rayburn, 1984 (pages 151 -155)

14. John Bainbridge, The Super-Americans, 1961 (page 218)

15. Robert Bryce, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, 2004 (page 92)

16. Robert Sherrill, The Accidental President, 1967 (page 144)

17. Katharine Graham, Personal History, 1997 (page 292)

18. Robert Bryce, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, 2004 (page 92)

19. Jim Marrs, Crossfire, 1989, (page 277)

20. Robert Bryce, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, 2004 (page 93)

#12 John Dolva

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 01:12 PM

Some researchers have claimed that there were concerns about Kennedy’s policies on civil rights. This is not true. Kennedy was unwilling to give any commitment to pushing for new civil rights legislation. As Richard D. Mahoney points out in his book, Sons and Brothers: “As senator, Kennedy had zigzagged through the long obstacle course of civil rights legislation, siding in most cases, as a Ted Sorensen memo to Bobby proudly explained in December 1959, ‘with our friends in the South.’ He meant white friends.” (6)

As Mahoney goes on to point out: “The most entrenched and skilled leaders of that majority in the Senate – McClellan of Arkansas, Eastland of Mississippi, Ervin of North Carolina, and Fulbright of Arkansas – were all vehement opponents of civil rights as well as close friends of Bobby Kennedy.” Kennedy admits in several interviews that were recorded as part of the Oral History Project, that he had several conversations with people like McClellan and Eastland during the campaign to assure them that the Kennedy administration would not promote the “civil rights issue”. (7)


Perhaps, John. However: "Coretta King also worked closely with her husband and was present at many of the major civil rights events of the 1950s and 1960s. In 1957, she accompanied her husband on a trip to Europe and to Ghana to mark that country's independence. In 1959, the Kings traveled to India, where Coretta King sang spirituals at events where her husband spoke. In 1960, after the family moved from Montgomery to Atlanta, she helped gain her husband's release from a Georgia prison by appealing to presidential candidate John F. Kennedy for his assistance. Kennedy's willingness to intervene to help the jailed civil rights leader contributed to the crucial support he received from African-American voters in the 1960 election."

as well as his support of MLK being a very significant factor in Kennedy's victory

Johnson declared to Negro leaders in 1960 that they can expect more in the next 4 years than they have had in the past 100. Is it reasonable to expect that Johnson would say such a thing because he knows Kennedy's true stance on this? Johnson was the 'Countefeit Confederate' to the south, a traitor, largely because of his stand on the 1957 bill. I'm not trying to rehabilitate Johnson, but I think some of the premises of this thesis are based on a slanted view to fit. I think the 'truth' is more complex.

Edited by John Dolva, 21 February 2006 - 01:13 PM.


#13 Dawn Meredith

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 01:19 PM

[quote name='John Simkin' date='Feb 21 2006, 01:46 PM' post='55989']
As a U.S. senator, John F. Kennedy voted to reduce the depletion allowance. (12) Texas oilmen were obviously concerned when Kennedy became the front-runner in the 1960 presidential election. It is true that Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn were in a position to try and block the move in Congress. However, Kennedy had the potential to draw attention to this unfair tax loophole. As Sam Rayburn pointed out, if the oil depletion allowance was debated in Congress: “They’d cut it to fifteen, ten, five percent – maybe even take it away altogether. Do you think you could convince a Detroit factory worker that the depletion allowance is a good thing? Once it got on the floor, it would be cut to ribbons.” (12)

In order to win votes in Texas, Kennedy changed his position on the oil depletion allowance. This was probably something that was negotiated by Johnson. In October, 1960, Kennedy wrote a letter to his Texas campaign manager outlying his policies on the oil industry. He said he wanted to make “clear my recognition of the value and
importance of the oil depletion allowance. I realize its purpose and value… The oil-depletion allowance has served us well”. (13)




Kennedy was to change his mind on the oil depletion allowance when he became president. One study showed that the depletion allowance was saving oilmen in the region of $300 million a year. (16) An investigation by “representatives on Capitol Hill estimated that the depletion allowance had cost American taxpayers $140 billion in revenue” (over 700 billion in today’s prices). (17)

In 1963 Kennedy announced his intention to close a number of corporate tax loopholes, including the depletion allowance. Was this the policy that got Kennedy killed? What we do know is that Johnson cancelled Kennedy’s tax reforms and the oil depletion allowance remained in operation. (18)
Notes



JFK was politically pragmatic in courting the TX. oilmen. But by 63 he was a changed man in so many regards. These changes can be perhaps likened to the situation with the Mob, except that backing was really at the behest of old Joe, and it was brother Bob who turned the tables here.

In appeasing the Tx oilmen and then, in 63, declaring his intention to alter the oil depletion allowance JFK certainly sealed his fate with those with ample means, motive and opportunity. It has been argued- falsely I believe- that the assassination was payback for turning on the Mafia. I do not think that the entire US government would have covered for the MOb. Nor did the Mob have the power to accomplish all that was accomplished in Dallas.

I have always believed it happened in TX because it could. The murder and the assurance of a forever cover-up. Now just who and what group(s) have this kind of power?

Look at life today and I think the answer is pretty clear. They are still in power.

#14 John Simkin

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 03:17 PM

Johnson declared to Negro leaders in 1960 that they can expect more in the next 4 years than they have had in the past 100. Is it reasonable to expect that Johnson would say such a thing because he knows Kennedy's true stance on this? Johnson was the 'Countefeit Confederate' to the south, a traitor, largely because of his stand on the 1957 bill. I'm not trying to rehabilitate Johnson, but I think some of the premises of this thesis are based on a slanted view to fit. I think the 'truth' is more complex.


But Lyndon Johnson emasculated the 1957 Civil Rights Act. That is why the civil rights supporters in the Kennedy team were so angry when he selected Johnson as his running-mate. Civil rights activists like Joe Rauh and Walter Reuther threatened to bring the matter to a floor fight at the convention. As a result, Johnson wrote a letter to the rebels promising to support any civil rights legislation proposed by Kennedy.

Have you read Edwin Guthman and Jeffrey Shulman (ed.), Robert Kennedy in his Own Words, 1988? He is very honest about his attitude towards the civil rights movement in 1960. He also explains how he arranged to have Harris Wofford sacked because he was too committed to the civil rights movement.

It is also worth reading the following for an account of Kennedy’s views on civil rights during this period: Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1972, Pierre Salinger, With Kennedy, 1966, Richard D. Mahoney, Sons and Brothers, 1999, and Harris Wofford, Of Kennedy and Kings, 1980.

It has to remembered that the JFK of 1963 was very different from the JFK of 1960. The RFK of 1968 was also very different from the RFK of 1963. That is why JFK and RFK were so dangerous to right-wing establishment and why they had to be killed.

#15 John Dolva

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 03:47 PM


Johnson declared to Negro leaders in 1960 that they can expect more in the next 4 years than they have had in the past 100. Is it reasonable to expect that Johnson would say such a thing because he knows Kennedy's true stance on this? Johnson was the 'Countefeit Confederate' to the south, a traitor, largely because of his stand on the 1957 bill. I'm not trying to rehabilitate Johnson, but I think some of the premises of this thesis are based on a slanted view to fit. I think the 'truth' is more complex.


But Lyndon Johnson emasculated the 1957 Civil Rights Act. That is why the civil rights supporters in the Kennedy team were so angry when he selected Johnson as his running-mate. Civil rights activists like Joe Rauh and Walter Reuther threatened to bring the matter to a floor fight at the convention. As a result, Johnson wrote a letter to the rebels promising to support any civil rights legislation proposed by Kennedy.

Have you read Edwin Guthman and Jeffrey Shulman (ed.), Robert Kennedy in his Own Words, 1988? He is very honest about his attitude towards the civil rights movement in 1960. He also explains how he arranged to have Harris Wofford sacked because he was too committed to the civil rights movement.

It is also worth reading the following for an account of Kennedy’s views on civil rights during this period: Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1972, Pierre Salinger, With Kennedy, 1966, Richard D. Mahoney, Sons and Brothers, 1999, and Harris Wofford, Of Kennedy and Kings, 1980.

It has to remembered that the JFK of 1963 was very different from the JFK of 1960. The RFK of 1968 was also very different from the RFK of 1963. That is why JFK and RFK were so dangerous to right-wing establishment and why they had to be killed.


Yes, but what made him the traitor was his later pledge to support this. The south power structure were unbendingly committed to segregation.

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