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John Simkin

LBJ and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy

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Lyndon Johnson and Richard Russell Partnership: Part 1

In the first part of the seminar I have attempted to look at the evidence that links Lyndon Johnson with the assassination. I have concluded that although this evidence proves that LBJ played a crucial role in the cover-up, there is no evidence available that shows he was involved in the planning of the assassination. This does not mean that he did not take part in the conspiracy. In fact, I am pretty convinced that he did. What I am saying is that we are unlikely to ever find the evidence that this was the case. This is not surprising as LBJ was a master of concealing his true role in political events. However, I do believe that we do have evidence that helps to fully explain why JFK was assassinated.

The story begins in 1948 when Johnson attempted to be elected to the Senate. His main opponent in the Democratic primary in Texas (then a one party state, contested elections occurred in primaries, not in the general election) was Coke Stevenson. Johnson won by 87 votes but Stevenson accused him of ballot-rigging. The man suspected of organizing this was John Connally, the future governor of Texas. The same man who was in the car when Kennedy was assassinated.

Coke Stevenson obtained an injunction preventing Johnson's name from appearing on the ballot for the general election. Abe Fortas represented Johnson in this long-drawn out dispute. The case was investigated by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Johnson was eventually cleared by Hoover of corruption and was allowed to take his seat in the Senate. This marks the beginning of Hoover’s close relationship with Johnson.

Johnson already had a powerful friend in Congress: Sam Rayburn, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Rayburn, who did not have any children, had virtually adopted Johnson as his son. On the surface, Rayburn kept his distance from Johnson. Behind the scenes he was to play a crucial role in helping Johnson become an important political force.

Soon after Johnson entered the Senate he phoned a 20 year old Senate page called Bobby Baker: “Mr. Baker. I understand you know where the bodies are buried in the Senate. I appreciate it if you’d come by my office and talk to me.” (1) During their meeting Johnson told Baker “I want to know who’s the power over there, how you get things done, the best committees, the works.” Baker’s replied: “Dick Russell is the power”. (2)

Russell was the leader of the Southern Caucus. However, this was not enough to become the most powerful man in the Senate. Russell also had control over a significant number of other Democratic senators. More importantly, he also had a great deal of influence over some Republican senators. How did Baker know about this? Because Baker was involved in delivering the envelopes filled with cash. This is what Johnson meant when he said to Baker “you know where the bodies are buried”.

Baker not only knew who was willing to sell their votes, he knew who could be blackmailed into submission. As Evan Thomas pointed out Baker “made it his business to know things: who owed whom a favour, who was drunk, who was on the take, who was sleeping with his secretary.” (3) Baker was to be very useful to Johnson. It was the start of a very fruitful relationship.

Baker also told Johnson that Russell was a lonely bachelor. Johnson immediately realized that he could employ the same strategy with Russell that he had with Rayburn. He could become the loyal son that he never had. Interestingly, Johnson always avoided being in the company of Rayburn and Russell at the same time. It was very important that they both did not know that he treated them both the same. As Jim Rowe told Robert Caro: “Lyndon didn’t want his two daddies to see how he acted with the other one.” (4)

Russell was well-known to be the leader of those who were determined that no effective civil rights legislation should be passed by Congress. Russell told his constituents in 1935: "As one who was born and reared in the atmosphere of the Old South, with six generations of my forebears now resting beneath Southern soil, I am willing to go as far and make as great a sacrifice to preserve and insure white supremacy in the social, economic, and political life of our state as any man who lives within her borders." (5)

In 1935 Russell was involved in the fight against attempts to pass anti-lynching legislation. The 1935 Costigan-Wagner bill proposed federal trials for any law enforcement officers who failed to exercise their responsibilities during a lynching. Russell applied pressure on Franklin Roosevelt to persuade him not to support this bill. Roosevelt succumbed and refused to speak out in favour of the bill that would punish sheriffs who failed to protect their prisoners from lynch mobs. He argued that the white voters in the South would never forgive him if he supported the bill and he would therefore lose the 1936 presidential elections. (6)

Russell, like most politicians from the Deep South, was a racist. He was much more than that. He saw his role as a defender of those rights that had been threatened by the Confederate defeat in the Civil War. Russell knew he was outnumbered. To win the war he needed allies from outside the Deep South. Russell suspected he was destined to lose over the issue of civil rights unless he linked it up with another issue. That issue was one of government regulation. The sort of government regulation that had been introduced by Roosevelt as part of his New Deal. To people like Russell, this was an example of the evils of socialism and was part of the worldwide communist conspiracy. As one of fellow senators told Robert Caro: “There was no more ardent cold warrior in Congress than Dick Russell.” (7)

Russell was also an avid supporter of increased military spending. His dominance of the Armed Services Committee for more than a quarter of a century, helped him promote this cause. As he was also the leader of the Southern Caucus, he was also able to manipulate other important committees. As one reporter pointed out at the time: “It has not escaped the notice of other senators who are interested in projects for their districts or in good committee assignments for themselves that Russell, like the Lord, has the power both to give and to take away.” (8)

The situation was well summed up by the New York Times: “Like the Confederate commander of a century ago, Robert E. Lee, Richard Bevard Russell of Georgia is also a master of tactics and strategy and a much respected, even beloved adversary.” (9) Unknown to this reporter, senators from outside the Deep South also had other reasons to treat Russell with respect.

Russell was totally opposed to government regulation of industry. He was less vocal about this though as regulation brought in by Roosevelt had resulted in keeping down costs down of things like gas and electricity.

Russell’s power came from the way he linked these issues together. People like George and Herman Brown, Clint Murchison, Sid Richardson, H. L. Hunt, etc. were all racists who were willing to fund extreme right-wing groups. But more importantly than that, they were businessmen who wanted to make money. Russell knew that these men would be willing to pay a considerable amount of money out in bribes in order to get these profitable government contracts.

For example, George and Herman Brown’s company, Brown & Root was given a contract in 1941 to build sub-chasers and destroyers. This contract was eventually worth $357,000,000. Yet until they got the contract, Brown & Root had never built a single ship of any type. (10)

In December, 1948, Johnson went to see Russell. He asked if he could be a member of his Armed Services Committee. At first he was highly suspicious of Johnson. He was known to be a keen supporter of the New Deal and in favour of government regulation of industry. Johnson was also considered to be a liberal on civil rights issues. Russell was encouraged by the fact that Johnson was corrupt and willing to sell any of the ideals he appeared to have. This approach lost him the love of Helen Douglas, who was a genuine liberal, but after all, money and power were always more important to Johnson than sex. (11)

John Connally later recalled that when you saw the two men together “Russell would be doing the talking. He (Johnson) would be sitting quietly, listening, absorbing wisdom, very much the younger man sitting at the knees of the older man.” (12)

As with Rayburn, Johnson used Lady Bird to get close to Russell. She played the role of the dutiful daughter. It was not long before Russell was spending most weekends at Johnson’s home. Johnson’s daughter, Lynda Bird, later said: “Daddy was the kind of man who believed it was more important to invite Richard Russell… over for Sunday breakfast than to spend the time alone with the family. (13)

Johnson had to prove to Russell that he was willing to abandon his liberal past. This included his first speech in the Senate on 9th March, 1949. The speech was an attack on Harry Truman’s proposed civil rights legislation that would have given black Americans protection against lynching and discrimination in employment. It would also have made it easier for them to vote. In the speech Johnson argued that Truman’s proposals were a call “for depriving one minority (white people living in the Deep South) of its rights in order to extend rights to other minorities”. (14)

Johnson told the Senate that he also disliked lynching. However, lynching was already dying out and therefore “rendered such a law virtually unnecessary”. Johnson also objected to the idea that a “Federal Government can by law tell me whom I shall employ”.

Johnson had passed his first test. He had shown he was a loyal member of the Southern Caucus. However, in terms of his long term career, this was a dangerous thing to do. He therefore tried to give the impression he was never a member of this group. This has been accepted by many historians. In her book, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote: “he (Johnson) declined Russell’s invitation to join the Southern Caucus”. (15) In their biography, Lyndon B. Johnson: The Exercise of Power, Rowland Evans and Robert Novak wrote: “In his first weeks as a Senator… Johnson made clear that he would not attend the Southern Caucus.” (16)

This was of course completely untrue. As Robert Caro points out in his book, Master of the Senate, Richard Russell gave an interview in 1971 where he admitted that Johnson was a loyal member of the group. He added “He (Johnson) attended all of them (meetings of the Southern Caucus) until he was elected Leader”. Russell admitted that he went along with Johnson’s wishes to keep his attendance a secret. (17)

In 1948 there was only one senator from the South who was not a member of this group (Claude Pepper from Florida). The following year, another senator stopped attending. That was Estes Kefauver of Tennessee. Like Johnson, Kefauver had long-term ambitions to become president.

In 1949 Robert Kerr of Oklahoma attempted to introduce a bill which would have ended federal price control over natural gas. It had support from his own company, Kerr-McGee Oil Industries, as well as Humble Oil, Brown & Root, Phillips Petroleum, etc. Although passed by Congress, Truman vetoed the bill. (18)

The oil companies had to think of another way to remove federal price controls. Russell, decided that this was a task that was worth giving to Johnson. Russell therefore told Johnson to destroy Leland Olds, the head of the Federal Power Commission. Olds had been a radical journalist and a member of the American Labor Party in the 1920s. By the 1930s he was a loyal follower of Franklin D. Roosevelt and eventually he appointed him as head of the Federal Power Commission. In this post Olds advocated tough regulation of these industries. In 1948 he was nominated by Truman to serve a third term as chairman of the FPC.

As Robert Dalleck has pointed out in Lone Star Rising: “Texas oil and gas interests and anyone who saw those industries as synonymous with the well-being of the state viewed Olds as an unmitigated foe who would give the FPC an anti-industry and anti-Texas majority for several years.” (19)

It was vitally important to Russell’s backers that Olds was removed from office. The big producers were planning substantial price increases. It was claimed that an increase of five cents per one thousand cubic feet of natural gas would boost the value of the Texas Panhandle holdings of Phillips Petroleum by 400 million dollars.

Others wanting to put up prices was the Kerr-McGee Oil Company. Its owner, Robert Kerr, had just been elected to the Senate to represent Oklahoma and was desperate to get rid of Olds. Others who believed this included George and Herman Brown. They owned the Big Inch and Little Inch natural gas pipelines. The brothers, shared the view with Kerr, Murchison, and Richardson, that Olds would never allow these price increases. Therefore, Russell was supplied with the necessary amount of money to get him removed from power.

Russell decided that Johnson, as a well-known supporter of the New Deal, would make the ideal candidate to destroy Olds. As John Connally pointed out: “This (the defeat of Olds) was the real bread-and-butter issue to these oilmen. So this would prove whether Lyndon was reliable, that he was no New Dealer. This was his chance to get in with dozens of oilmen – to bring very powerful rich men into his fold who had never been for him, and were still suspicious of him.” (20)

Johnson was appointed chairman of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, that was to look at the record of Olds. Russell and Johnson packed this subcommittee with their supporters. Alvin Wirtz, the lobbyist for many Texas oil and natural gas companies, was put in charge of research into Olds’ background. Edward Clark helped him in this task. Clark, the owner of 40,000 shares in a Texas oil company (purchased at seven cents a share) was employed by Clint Murchison as his legal and political adviser. Clark said he was only in it for the money and could not care about communists, Wirtz, on the other hand “hated Reds almost as intensely as he did blacks”. (21)

In his career, Olds had written over 1,800 articles. Wirtz found 54 which he felt could be used against Olds. These were mainly written in the 1920s when Olds had been a socialist. During the hearings these articles were used to accuse Olds of being a Marxist. At the end of the subcommittee’s hearings, Johnson was able to get a unanimous report that Truman’s nomination as head of the Federal Power Commission should be rejected.

In the debate in the Senate only Wayne Morse (Oregon), Hubert Humphrey (Minnesota), William Langer (North Dakota), Paul Douglas (Illinois) and George Aiken (Vermont) were willing to speak up for Leland Olds. Humphrey made a passionate speech in defence of Olds:

“If Mr. Olds had the courage to stand up in the 1920s and say that he did not like the kind of rotten business practice, God bless him. Those who should be on trial tonight are those who sat serenely and did not raise a finger of protest when millions of people were robbed, families were broken, homes were destroyed, and businesses were bankrupted.”

Humphrey could do nothing against Johnson’s unanimous report claiming that Olds was a communist. On 12th October, 1949, the Senate rejected him by 53 to 15. To celebrate their victory, Sid Richardson hosted a week long party on his private island in the Gulf of Mexico (St. Joseph Island). Johnson and Richardson were joined by oil millionaires, Clint Murchison, Herman Brown, Amon Carter and Myron Blalock. (22)

Mon Wallgren, a former senator, was appointed as the new head of the Federal Power Commission. During Wallgren’s chairmanship, the policies and regulations that Leland Olds had instituted were removed.

Some of Johnson’s friends were deeply shocked by his destruction of Olds. Tommy Corcoran, no liberal, told Johnson that “it was the rottenest thing he’d ever done”. Ben Cohen described Johnson’s role in this as “shameful”. (23)

As Alfred Steinberg has pointed out, one of Harry Truman’s major objectives was to “eliminate existing special favouritism… by knocking out tax havens and the major loopholes, his economists estimated, tax revenues would increase by four billion dollars. Unfortunately for Truman, the major tax haven was the 27.5 per cent depletion allowance to oil producers, which reduced their tax bills to an insignificant level and made millionaires a common sight in the industry.” (24)

This measure had been introduced during the depression in the late 1920s. It was seen as a temporary measure but the Southern Caucus, organized by Richard Russell, managed to protect it from both Roosevelt and Truman. As the man behind the original legislation, Tom Connally from Texas said, “it became political suicide for any congressman from any oil state to oppose the depletion allowance.” (25)

Russell now arranged for Johnson to become Ernest McFarland’s chief whip. McFarland was the ineffective Senate Majority Leader. Johnson gradually took over McFarland’s duties.

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Lyndon Johnson and Richard Russell Partnership: Part 2

In 1952 the group led by Russell faced a serious problem. The two candidates Adlai Stevenson (Democrat) and Dwight Eisenhower (Republican), both posed a threat to the interests of the oil and gas industry. Eventually it was decided to back Eisenhower. Clint Murchison and Sid Richardson agreed to provide Eisenhower with a large sum of money. They also agreed to join forces with J. Edgar Hoover to run a smear campaign against Stevenson. (26)

Part of the deal was that Eisenhower should appoint Robert Anderson as his Navy Secretary. Anderson was a close friend of Lyndon Johnson. During the Second World War Anderson purchased the KTBC Radio Station. (27) In 1943 he sold it to Johnson for $17,500. By 1951 the station was earning $3,000 a week. (28)

According to Robert Sherrill (29):

Anderson, a resident of landlocked Fort Worth, knew nothing of naval affairs before he got the post, but that hardly matters; all he needed to know was that Texas is the largest oil-producing state and that the Navy is the largest consumer of oil as well as leaser of valuable lands to favored oil firms. From this producer-consumer relationship things work out rather naturally, and it was this elementary knowledge that later made John Connally (who had for several years, through the good offices of his mentor Lyndon Johnson, been serving as Sid Richardson's attorney and who later became executor of the Richardson estate) and Fred Korth, also residents of Fort Worth, such able secretaries of the Navy, by Texas standards.

Soon after being elected, Eisenhower stopped a grand jury investigation into the “International Petroleum Cartel” citing reasons of “national security”. (30) Eisenhower had already starting paying back the generous support he had received from the oil industry.

In 1954 Paul Douglas began making speeches in the Senate about the need for tax reforms in order to eliminate special privileges such as the oil depletion allowance. Douglas attempted to join the important Finance Committee. He held seniority priority and should have been given one of the two available seats on the committee. Johnson had to apply considerable pressure on Harry Byrd, the chairman of the Finance Committee, to stop this happening. (31)

In 1955 Johnson became majority leader of the Senate. Russell and Johnson now had complete control over all the important Senate committees. This was proving to be an expensive business. The money used to bribe these politicians came from Russell’s network of businessmen. These were men usually involved in the oil and armaments industries.

The collection of this money was arranged by a team of men. This included Edward Clark, Bobby Baker, Tommy Corcoran, John Connally, Cliff Carter, Jesse Kellem and Walter Jenkins. The money was collected in cash and then delivered to the politicians in paper envelopes by Baker. This was an important part of the process as it openly implicated these politicians in political corruption. Once in, it was impossible to get out. They could be relied upon to do as they were told for the rest of their political careers.

Johnson did not have his money delivered in this way. According to Edward Clark, these companies purchased advertising time on Johnson’s radio station, KTBC (32). This was confirmed by Don Reynolds in his testimony to the Senate Rules Committee (33).

In 1956 Richardson and Murchison tried to persuade Eisenhower to drop Nixon and select Anderson as his running mate. Eisenhower refused. He was no doubt worried why these Texas oil millionaires wanted their man to have a job with such little power as a Vice President. Did they expect Eisenhower to die in office?

Johnson attempted to become the Democratic Party presidential candidate in 1956. He failed and once again it confirmed to the Southern Caucus that it was probably impossible for one of them to ever get the nomination. Adlai Stevenson was elected as the Democratic candidate. Johnson refused to campaign for him and his business friends gave their cash to Eisenhower instead. He told friends that he was not upset when Stevenson was once again defeated by Eisenhower.

According to John Connally, large sums of money was given to Johnson throughout the 1950s for distribution to his political friends. “I handled inordinate amounts of cash”. A great deal of this came from Clint Murchison. Connally said this increased after he became Richardson’s personal attorney in 1951. (34)

Cornel Wilde worked for the Gulf Oil Corporation. In 1959 he took over from David Searls as chief paymaster to Johnson. He testified that he made regular payments of $10,000 to Walter Jenkins. (35)

This money was classed as “campaign contributions”. Edward Clark told Robert Caro that: “If Johnson wanted to give some senator money… Johnson would pass the word to give money to me or Jesse Kellam or Cliff Carter, and it would find its way into Johnson’s hands”. Bobby Baker had been used for transporting money but by 1959 Carter and Clark no longer trusted him. Clark reports that he did not trust Carter either and felt like Baker, was keeping some of the cash being provided by these companies. (36)

By the mid 1950s virtually every politician in Washington knew what was happening. Some because they were receiving the bribes. Others, because they had rejected approaches to join the network being run by Russell and Johnson.

In 1956 there was another attempt to end all federal price control over natural gas. Sam Rayburn played an important role in getting it through the House of Representatives. This is not surprising as according to John Connally, he alone had been responsible for a million and a half dollars of lobbying. (37)

Paul Douglas and William Langer led the fight against the bill. Their campaigned was helped by an amazing speech by Francis Case of South Dakota. (38) Up until this time Case had been a supporter of the bill. However, he announced that he had been offered a $25,000 bribe by the Superior Oil Company to guarantee his vote. As a man of principal, he thought he should announce this fact to the Senate.

Johnson responded by claiming that Case had himself come under pressure to make this statement by people who wanted to retain federal price controls. Johnson argued: “In all my twenty-five years in Washington I have never seen a campaign of intimidation equal to the campaign put on by the opponents of this bill.” (39)

Johnson pushed on with the bill and it was eventually passed by 53 votes to 38. However, three days later, Eisenhower, vetoed the bill on grounds of immoral lobbying. Eisenhower confided in his diary that this had been “the most flagrant kind of lobbying that has been brought to my attention”. He added that there was a “great stench around the passing of this bill” and the people involved were “so arrogant and so much in defiance of acceptable standards of propriety as to risk creating doubt among the American people concerning the integrity of governmental processes”. (40)

Senators called for an investigation into the lobbying of the oil industry by Thomas Hennings, the chairman of the subcommittee on Privileges and Elections. Johnson was unwilling to allow a senator not under his control to look into the matter. Instead he set up a select committee chaired by Walter George of Georgia, a member of the Southern Caucus. (41) Johnson had again exposed himself as being in the pay of the oil industry. (42)

Drew Pearson of the Washington Post picked up on this story and wrote a series of articles about Lyndon Johnson and the oil industry. (43) Pearson claimed that Johnson was the “real godfather of the bill”. Pearson explored Johnson’s relationship with George and Herman Brown. He reported on the large sums of money that had been flowing from Brown & Root, the “big gas pipeline company” to Johnson. He also referred to the large government contracts that the company had obtained during the Second World War.

Pearson also quoted a Senate report that pointed out there was “no room for a general contractor like Brown & Root on Federal projects”. Nevertheless, Johnson had helped them win several contracts including one to build air-naval bases in Spain.”

Johnson was now in serious trouble and sought a private meeting with Pearson. He offered the journalist a deal, if Pearson dropped the investigation, he would support Estes Kefauver, in the forthcoming primaries. Pearson surprisingly accepted this deal. He wrote in his diary: “I figured I might do that much for Estes (Kefauver). This is the first time I’ve ever made a deal like this, and I feel unhappy about it. With the Presidency of the United States at stake, maybe it’s justified, maybe not – I don’t know.” (44)

The decision by Eisenhower to veto this bill angered the oil industry. Once again Sid Richardson and Clint Murchison began negotiations with Eisenhower. In June, 1957, Eisenhower agreed to appoint their man, Robert Anderson, as his Secretary of the Treasury (45):

Eisenhower, on the urging of Richardson and Lyndon Johnson, named him to the office of Secretary of Treasury, and on June 21 (1957), ten days after selling his gift oil property, Anderson was free and clear to tell the Senate Finance Committee that he held no property that would conflict with his interest in the cabinet post.

A few weeks later Anderson was appointed to a cabinet committee to "study" the oil import situation; out of this study came the present-day program which benefits the major oil companies, the international oil giants primarily, by about one billion dollars a year.

Liberals in the Senate became angry in 1957 over Eisenhower’s Civil Rights Bill. They first of all complained about the weakness of the original bill. Then they turned on Johnson when he assigned the bill to the Judiciary Committee. This was under the chairmanship of James Eastland, the most extreme racist in the Senate. As one historian pointed out, this resulted in the bill “being buried” by Eastland. (46) Joseph Rauh commented that it was now abundantly clear that Johnson was “running the Democratic party for the benefit of the Southern conservative viewpoint.” (47)

Johnson came under attack from members of his own party. Joe Clark from Pennsylvania campaigned for more northern liberals on the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. Johnson refused and Clarke later told a friend: “I despised the guy… He was a typical Texan wheeler-dealer with no ethical sense whatsoever, but a great pragmatic ability to get things done”. (48)

On 23rd February, 1959, William Proxmire made a speech where he accused Johnson of using doctorial methods to control what was going on in the Senate: “There has never been a time when power has been as sharply concentrated as it is today in the Senate.” Proxmire pointed out that Johnson had developed a system that gave him “one-man rule”. He had that at no time in the senate’s history had power been “so sharply concentrated.” (49)

Johnson responded that: “I do not know how anyone can force a senator to do anything. I have never tried to do so.” (50) A few days later, in the full hearing of more than eighty senators, Johnson screamed out instructions to Allen Frear of Delaware, during a vote on removing a special tax loophole that had been enjoyed by the Du Pont Corporation. Frear was known as “200 per cent Johnson man”. However, on this occasion he seems to have got confused about which way he should have voted. “Change your vote, Allen!” shouted Johnson. Frear did as he was ordered and voted for the amendment. Clearly, Johnson had not been receiving any money from Du Pont Corporation. During the trial of Bobby Baker it emerged that Frear had been receiving regular envelopes stuffed with cash from Robert Kerr of Kerr-McGee Oil Industries. (51)

Proxmire received a lot of private support from senators. However, they asked him to keep their names out of it. Proxmire said that a typical response was: “You’re right. Keep it up, give it to him. But there was nothing open about that because frankly they were afraid of him. They feared his power.” (52)

Richard Russell told Proxmire that his behaviour “reminded him of a bull who had charged a locomotive train… That was the bravest bull I ever saw, but I can’t say a lot for his judgment. (53)

In January 1960, Albert Gore joined the attack. He stated that the Senate Democratic Policy Committee “should represent all the Democrats in the Senate, not merely one.” Johnson eventually agreed to hold a meeting for Democrats in the Senate. However, Johnson won an easy victory in persuading them to accept him as “total boss of the Policy Committee”. Only 12 voted against Johnson. This reflects the small number of senators not under his control. (54)

According to Drew Pearson, during the summer of 1960, Henry Luce, the publisher, “secretly assigned ace reporter Herbert Solow to dig up the facts about… Johnson’s radio and television holdings”. Solow came back with a report that… Johnson radio-television empire had prospered while Johnson served on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee which votes out funds to the Federal Communications Commission.” The story never appeared in Luce’s magazines. Pearson speculated that as Luce was supporting Nixon, the Solow material was only going to be used if Johnson won the nomination. (55)

By 1960 some took the view that Johnson’s power was in decline. The events of recent years had shown clearly that he was under the control of the oil industry in Texas. His manipulation of the people under his control illustrated that he was totally opposed to black civil rights. Although he had attempted to disguise the fact that he was a key member of the Southern Caucus, this strategy had failed. Johnson now knew he would find it impossible ever to get the Democratic Party nomination.

The Southern Caucus realised that Johnson would not win the 1960 nomination. Therefore they had to do a deal with John F. Kennedy, the man who seemed certain to win the prize. Robert Kennedy was dispatched to negotiate the Southern Caucus. In the book, Robert Kennedy: In His Own Words, he admits that he had talks with Jim Eastland, John Stennis, Dick Russell, Herman Talmadge and George Smathers about future policy. As a result deals were done concerning both civil rights and labour legislation. However, it is not reported if they discussed the 27.5 per cent depletion allowance. (56)

As I have explained earlier, John Kennedy’s decision to select Johnson as his running mate surprised both men’s advisers. The key question is why did Johnson give up his considerable power in the Senate in order to be marginalized by Kennedy as his vice president?

One man who realized this was significant was Dwight Eisenhower. He devoted his last speech as president to something he called the "Military Industrial Complex". (57)

Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.

This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen...

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

As Robert Higgs has pointed out, the Military Industrial Complex began during the Second World War (58):

The government itself became the dominant investor, providing more than $17 billion, or two-thirds of all investment, during the war. Besides bankrolling ammunition plants, the government built shipyards, steel and aluminum mills, chemical plants, and many other industrial facilities. Thanks to government investment and purchases, the infant aircraft industry soared to become the nation's largest, building 297,000 aircraft by the war's end. One might justifiably call this government investment "war socialism."

But it had a peculiarly American twist that makes "war fascism" a more accurate description. Most of the government-financed plants were operated not directly by the government but by a relatively small group of contractors. Just twenty-six firms enjoyed the use of half the value of all governmentally financed industrial facilities leased to private contractors as of June 30, 1944. The top 168 contractors using such plants enjoyed the use of more than eighty-three percent of all such facilities by value. This concentration had important implications for the character of the postwar industrial structure because the operator of a government-owned, contractor-operated facility usually held an option to buy it after the war, and many contractors did exercise their options.

The arrangements created in 1940 and refined during the next five years completely transformed the relations between the government and its military contractors. In the words of Elberton Smith, the official army historian of the mobilization, the relationship "was gradually transformed from an 'arms length' relationship between two more or less equal parties in a business transaction into an undefined but intimate relationship." The hostility that businessmen had felt toward the government in 1940 evolved into a keen appreciation of how much a company could gain by working hand-in-glove with the military.

Eisenhower's speech was written by Malcolm Moos. He later pointed out that the text of the speech was altered at the last moment. The group that Eisenhower was warning about was originally described as the “Military Industrial Congressional Complex”. Objections were raised and Eisenhower agreed to remove the word Congressional.

This fact provides new meaning to this speech. Eisenhower was actually referring to the group in Congress run by Johnson and Russell. Eisenhower was also aware that these politicians were being funded by people like Clint Murchison and Herman Brown. In 1952 Eisenhower had agreed for their man, Robert Anderson, to enter his cabinet. Later he was to hold the important post as Secretary of the Treasury. In this post he introduced legislation beneficial to the oil industry. (59)

Eisenhower had been fully comprised during his own presidency. He had been unable to act after he had taken the money in order to allow Robert Anderson into his government. All Eisenhower could do was warn Kennedy of the problems that he faced. As Pat Speer has pointed out, Kennedy visited Eisenhower a week before assuming power. According to Eisenhower’s diary, the two men talked about a scandal involving Anderson. (60)

During the Kennedy presidency Johnson had to rely on Russell to keep control of the Congress. The money needed to do this was in short supply. Three of their main financial sponsors had died: Sid Richardson (September, 1959), Herman Brown (November, 1962) and Robert Kerr (January, 1963).

The civil rights issue had also become a big political issue. The Freedom Riders had caused significant embarrassment to the Kennedy administration. Robert Kennedy was furious when he discovered that J. Edgar Hoover had failed to take action when he received information from Gary Rowe (an undercover FBI agent) that the Ku Klux Klan planned to beat up the riders in Birmingham, Alabama. Rowe later told Henry Wofford, Kennedy’s special adviser on civil rights, that instead of stopping the violence, FBI agents had been “taking movies of the beatings.” (61)

Robert Kennedy began to realize that it was impossible to come to any acceptable agreement with the political leaders of the Deep South. (62) He decided to send in marshals to protect the Freedom Riders. He was pleased to discover that this action was popular with the public. A Gallup poll showed that 70% approved of Kennedy’s action. More importantly, around 50% of those question in the Deep South also thought Kennedy was right to do this. (63) Kennedy began to wonder whether it would be possible for a strong civil rights bill to get through Congress.

Kennedy had also started to take on the oil industry. The Kennedy Act, passed on 16th October, 1962, removed the distinction between repatriated profits and profits reinvested abroad. While this law applied to industry as a whole, it especially affected the oil companies. It was estimated that as a result of this legislation, wealthy oilmen saw a fall in their earnings on foreign investment from 30 per cent to 15 per cent. (64)

On 17th January, 1963, President Kennedy presented his proposals for tax reform. This included relieving the tax burdens of low-income and elderly citizens. Kennedy also claimed he wanted to remove special privileges and loopholes. He even said he wanted to do away with the oil depletion allowance.

The oil depletion allowance permitted oil producers to treat up to 27.5 per cent of their income as tax exempt. It was originally introduced to compensate for the depletion of fixed oil reserves. In reality, it gave the oil industry a lower tax rate. It was estimated that oilmen might lose nearly $300 million a year if the depletion allowance was diminished. Kennedy defended this action by arguing that “no one industry should be permitted to obtain an undue tax advantage over all others.” (65)

As Donald Gibson has pointed out in his book Battling Wall Street: “He (Kennedy) “focused on large oil and gas producers who were manipulating a 1954 law to avoid taxes and gain an advantage over smaller producers. He also proposed changes in foreign tax credits which allowed U.S. based oil, gas, and mineral companies to avoid paying U.S. taxes.” (66)

The Russell/Johnson group was facing another problem in 1963. The Billie Sol Estes and Bobby Baker scandals were being reported for the first time. People like Ralph Hill and Don Reynolds were willing to testify before the Senate Rules Committee. In October, 1963, Fred Korth, the Navy Secretary, was forced to resign over the FX Scandal. The following month Reynolds was due to testify that Johnson also received a $100,000 payment for arranging the FX contract. (67)

During these weeks of gradual revelation and proposed government legislation, the Russell/Johnson group must have considered the possibility of assassinating Kennedy. With Johnson as president, all those problems could be dealt with. Johnson would not only be able to halt the legislation, he would also be in a great position to cover-up both the scandals and the assassination.

They had a major problem. How could they possibly arrange the assassination of Kennedy without it ever being linked back to them. After all, it was clear to all who would be the major beneficiaries of the death of Kennedy. Looking at Johnson’s past record, he is likely to have had the idea of getting another group to carry out the deed. No doubt he had a few conversations with his mate J. Edgar Hoover about this. Clint Murchison was also likely to have been involved in these discussions. Hoover’s preference would have been a communist conspiracy. Especially if it included those subversive left-wing groups such as Fair Play for Cuba Committee and the Socialist Worker Party. Maybe someone like David Morales (68) was brought in to discuss the logistics of the operation. He had plenty of friends in organisations such as Interpen (69) and Alpha 66 (70) who might carry out such an operation.

The problem with this analysis concerns the outcome of these events. Some got everything they wanted out of the operation. That includes Johnson and the Texas oil men. However, Hoover did not get his communist conspiracy, the Cubans did not the overthrow of Castro and Russell and the racists in the Deep South were unable to prevent the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. What went wrong? Or was there someone else pulling the strings.

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Notes and References

1. Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing, 1978, page 34

2. Robert Parker, Capitol Hill in Black and White, 1986

3. Evan Thomas, The Man to See, 1991, page 182

4. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 211

5. Richard Russell, letter to Eugene Talmadge (9th December, 1935)

6. Lynching: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAlynching.htm

7. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 180

8. Meg Greenfield, The Man who led leads the Southern Senators, The Reporter (21st May, 1964)

9. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 202

10. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 406

11. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, pages 141-45

12. John Connally, In History’s Shadow, 1993

13. Jan Jarboe Russell, Lady Bird, 1999, Page 155

14. Lyndon Johnson, speech in the Senate, 9th March, 1949

15. Doris Kearns, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, 1976, page 106

16. Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, Lyndon B. Johnson: The Exercise of Power, 1966, page 32

17. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 219

18. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968, page 432

19. Robert Dalleck, Lone Star Rising, 1999 page 375

20. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 248

21. Edward Clark: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKclarkE.htm

22. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 305

23. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 288

24. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968, page 292-293

25. Tom Connally, My Name is Tom Connally, 1954

26. Anthony Summers, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, (1993) page 181

27. Robert Dallek, Lone Star Rising (1991) page 247

28. Robert A. Caro, Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate (2002) page 424

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

30. Jim Marrs, Crossfire (1989) page 276

31. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968, page 406-407

32. Robert Caro, Means of Ascent (1990) page 103

33. Don Reynolds, testimony before the Senate Rules Committee (23rd November, 1963).

34. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 407

35. Securities and Exchange Commission v Gulf Oil Corporation (26th April, 1978)

36. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 407

37. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968, page 432

38. Francis Case, speech in the Senate (3rd February, 1956)

39. Lyndon Johnson, speech in the Senate (3rd February, 1956)

40. Dwight Eisenhower, diary entry (11th February, 1956)

41. Robert Dallek, Lone Star Rising (1991) page 498

42. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968, page 433

43. Drew Pearson, Washington Post (26th 27th and 28th April, 1956)

44. Jack Anderson, Confessions of a Muckraker (1979) page 315

45. Robert Sherrill, The Accidental President (1967) page 145

46. Robert Dallek, Lone Star Rising (1991) page 498

47. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy (1968) page 436

48. Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, LBJ: Exercise of Power (1968) page 213

49. Robert Dallek, Lone Star Rising (1991) page 548

50. Lyndon Johnson, speech in Senate (28th May, 1959)

51. Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing (1978) pages 158-162

52. William Proxmire, Lyndon Johnson and the U.S. Senate (1986)

53. Robert Dallek, Lone Star Rising (1991) page 548

54. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy (1968) pages 512-513

55. Robert Dallek, Lone Star Rising (1991) page 571

56. Robert Kennedy, In His Own Words (1988)

57. Dwight Eisenhower, television speech (17th January, 1961)

58. Robert Higgs, World War II and the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex, Freedom Daily Magazine (May, 1995)

59. Robert Sherrill, The Accidental President (1967) page 145

60. Stephen Ambrose, Eisenhower the President (1984) page 607

61. Henry Woffard, Of Kennedys & Kings (1980) page 152

62. Robert Kennedy, In His Own Words (1988) pages 82-102

63. Gallup Poll, June, 1961

64. Jim Marrs, Crossfire (1989) page 277

65. John F. Kennedy, speech (17th January, 1963)

66. Donald Gibson, Battling Wall Street (1994) page 23

67. Fred Korth: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKkorth.htm

68. David Morales: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKmorales.htm

69. Interpen: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKinterpen.htm

70. Alpha 66: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKalpha.htm

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Notes and References

1. Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing, 1978, page 34

2. Robert Parker, Capitol Hill in Black and White, 1986

3. Evan Thomas, The Man to See, 1991,  page 182

4. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 211

5. Richard Russell, letter to Eugene Talmadge (9th December, 1935)

6. Lynching: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAlynching.htm

7. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 180

8. Meg Greenfield, The Man who led leads the Southern Senators, The Reporter (21st May, 1964)

9. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 202

10. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 406

11. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, pages 141-45

12. John Connally, In History’s Shadow, 1993

13. Jan Jarboe Russell, Lady Bird, 1999, Page 155

14. Lyndon Johnson, speech in the Senate,  9th March, 1949

15. Doris Kearns, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, 1976,  page 106

16. Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, Lyndon B. Johnson: The Exercise of Power, 1966, page 32

17.  Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 219

18. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968, page 432

19. Robert Dalleck, Lone Star Rising, 1999 page 375

20.  Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 248

21. Edward Clark: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKclarkE.htm

22.  Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 305

23.  Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 288

24. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968, page 292-293

25. Tom Connally, My Name is Tom Connally, 1954

26. Anthony Summers, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, (1993) page 181

27.  Robert Dallek, Lone Star Rising (1991) page 247

28.  Robert A. Caro, Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate (2002) page 424

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

30. Jim Marrs, Crossfire (1989) page 276

31. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968, page 406-407

32. Robert Caro, Means of Ascent (1990) page 103

33. Don Reynolds, testimony before the Senate Rules Committee (23rd November, 1963).

34.  Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 407

35. Securities and Exchange Commission v Gulf Oil Corporation (26th April, 1978)

36. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate, 2002, page 407

37. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968, page 432

38. Francis Case, speech in the Senate (3rd February, 1956)

39. Lyndon Johnson, speech in the Senate (3rd February, 1956)

40. Dwight Eisenhower, diary entry (11th February, 1956)

41. Robert Dallek, Lone Star Rising (1991) page 498

42. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968, page 433

43. Drew Pearson, Washington Post (26th 27th and 28th April, 1956)

44. Jack Anderson, Confessions of a Muckraker (1979) page 315

45. Robert Sherrill, The Accidental President (1967) page 145

46. Robert Dallek, Lone Star Rising (1991) page 498

47. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy (1968) page 436

48. Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, LBJ: Exercise of Power (1968) page 213

49. Robert Dallek, Lone Star Rising (1991) page 548

50. Lyndon Johnson, speech in Senate (28th May, 1959)

51. Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing (1978) pages 158-162

52. William Proxmire, Lyndon Johnson and the U.S. Senate (1986)

53. Robert Dallek, Lone Star Rising (1991) page 548

54. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy (1968) pages 512-513

55. Robert Dallek, Lone Star Rising (1991) page 571

56. Robert Kennedy, In His Own Words (1988)

57. Dwight Eisenhower, television speech (17th January, 1961)

58. Robert Higgs, World War II and the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex, Freedom Daily Magazine (May, 1995)

59. Robert Sherrill, The Accidental President (1967) page 145

60. Stephen Ambrose, Eisenhower the President (1984) page 607

61. Henry Woffard, Of Kennedys & Kings (1980) page 152

62. Robert Kennedy, In His Own Words (1988) pages 82-102

63. Gallup Poll, June, 1961

64. Jim Marrs, Crossfire (1989) page 277

65. John F. Kennedy, speech (17th January, 1963)

66. Donald Gibson, Battling Wall Street (1994) page 23

67. Fred Korth: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKkorth.htm

68. David Morales: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKmorales.htm

69. Interpen: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKinterpen.htm

70. Alpha 66: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKalpha.htm

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Tremenduous civil rights progress has occured in our country in the last forty years and a large part of the progress is attributable to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Whatever else may be said (rightly) about him, LBJ must be given credit for that.

LBJ once remarked that his support for civil rights would probably cause the Democrats to lose the South forever (words to that effect - I do not recall the exact quote with precision).  He was correct.   A political realignment did start in the late 1960s with the "Southern strategy" of Richard Nixon. 

JFK was the last Democrat elected President whose home state was north of the Mason-Dixon line.

I was never a fan of LBJ.  I read A Texan Looks at Lyndon when it was first published (in 1964. I believe) and I knew he was corrupt.  I remember the Bobby Baker and Billie Sol Estes scandals.  I dxo not believe LBJ's War on Poverty accomplished much.  And we can all agree on how he mishandled the War in Vietnam.  But he deserves credit for championing the Voting Rights Act of 1965 even when he realized his party would probably pay a dear price for it.

Many historians argue that the good will that LBJ had as a result of the assassination of JFK helped the passage of the Civil Rights Act.  It may also be true that only a Southern Democrat was in a position to accomplish the passage of controversial civil rights (just as only a Republican conservative could make the opening to Red China).

So if the motive behind the assassination was to preserve the "Southern way of life", the conspirators were a bunch of dam fools!

I agree, that if my theory is to stand up, that JFK was assassinated because of his change in position on topics such as civil rights, the Cold War and the MICC, then I have to explain why LBJ forced Richard Russell and his fellow racists to accept the 1965 Civil Rights Act. This is even more surprising given LBJ long record of public hostility to civil rights.

Johnson first speech in the Senate was an attack on Harry Truman’s proposed civil rights legislation that would have given black Americans protection against lynching and discrimination in employment. It would also have made it easier for them to vote. In the speech Johnson argued that Truman’s proposals were a call “for depriving one minority (white people living in the Deep South) of its rights in order to extend rights to other minorities”. (1)

Liberals in the Senate became angry with Johnson in 1957 over Eisenhower’s Civil Rights Bill. They first of all complained about the weakness of the original bill. Then they turned on Johnson when he assigned the bill to the Judiciary Committee. This was under the chairmanship of James Eastland, the most extreme racist in the Senate. As one historian pointed out, this resulted in the bill “being buried” by Eastland. (2) Joseph Rauh commented that it was now abundantly clear that Johnson was “running the Democratic party for the benefit of the Southern conservative viewpoint.” (3) This is why the civil rights activists were so upset when LBJ was selected as JFK's running mate.

The fact that LBJ was a racist is not only shown by his political record. It is also supported by information from his friends who claim he was a nasty racist in private (apparently he called his black servants “niggers” in front of people).

There is two possible reasons for this action. LBJ was being blackmailed by a liberal in JFK’s government who knew who was responsible for the assassination. This helps to explain why Richard Russell changed his mind on the subject.

When the bill was first introduced Russell told the Senate: "We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our (Southern) states." Russell organized 18 Southern Democratic senators in filibustering this bill. With the help of conservatives in the Republican Party he would have had no difficulty in blocking the bill.

Although in public LBJ and Russell were in great conflict over the civil rights bill, this is not reflected in the taped telephone conversations between the two men. In fact, they appear to be the best of friends and the issue is never raised.

On the 15th June, 1964, Russell privately told Mike Mansfield and Hubert Humphrey, the two leading supporters of the Civil Rights Act, that he would bring an end to the filibuster that was blocking the vote on the bill. This resulted in a vote being taken and it was passed by 73 votes to 27.

Why did Russell do this? Had he been converted to the issue of civil rights? No. One answer is that both Johnson and Russell were being blackmailed into passing this legislation.

There is another possibility. When LBJ signed the 1965 Civil Rights Act he made a prophecy that he was “signing away the south for 50 years”. This proved accurate. In fact, the Democrats have never recovered the vote of the white racists in the Deep South. This is the electorate that now gives its support to the Republican Party. A new alliance has therefore taken place between the white racists, right-wing conservatives and Christian fundamentalists.

Maybe that was the long-term objective. It has resulted in the liberals in America losing all political power. Was that the long-term objective of the conspiracy?

Notes

1. Lyndon Johnson, speech in the Senate, 9th March, 1949

2. Robert Dallek, Lone Star Rising (1991) page 498

3. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy (1968) page 436

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Understand again that I was never a fan of LBJ but perhaps, just perhaps, he was not the racist you think he was, despite his use of the "N" word.  Consider this quotation from Johnson's biographer Robert Dallek when he appeared on the PBS program Booknotes (September 22, 1991):

"I told a lot of unpleasant things about Johnson in this book, but I also see him as a man of great vision and thoughtfulness about what needed to be done to change the South, to improve the condition of the South, to bring the South into the mainstream of American economic and political life. What Johnson wanted to do from very early on in his career - see this was the impulse that came out of the New Deal. In 1938 there was a famous report issued by the New Deal saying that the South was the country's number one economic problem and that changes had to be made. Johnson saw this. He jumped onto this report and tried to use it as a springboard to help the South. The objective was to take these New Deal programs, to take the federal government largess - the CCC and the NYA, the PWA, the Rural Electrification Administration, the Tennessee Valley Authority -- and build a new infrastructure in the South, change the condition of the tenant farmers, improve the standard of living of laborers and in that way, help the South's economy and bring it into the mainstream of the country's life.

"But there was something else Johnson understood early on, which was that the South couldn't do this fully until it ended racial segregation. He understood that segregation in the South not only segregated the races, but segregated the South from the rest of the nation. So from early in his career, he was thinking about this. Now, this is not to say that Lyndon Johnson got on a soapbox in 1937 or '38 running for Congress and began shouting in Texas, 'Well let's have a civil rights bill that will overcome segregation.'

"He was too much the politician to ever do that. What he does is behind the scenes. For example, when he's head of the National Youth Administration, he would occasionally spend the night at a black college. He wanted to see how the programs were working and how they were helping the young black students. If this were known in this era of strict segregation, it would have been severe injury of his chances for running for a congressional office. But it does it out of a kind of compassion, and he's not doing it because New Dealers are so committed to black rights at this time. They're not. The Roosevelt administration was not making great advances at all on the civil rights front.

"So Johnson does it out of a genuine compassion, I think, for the suffering of these people. He gets to Congress. One New Deal farm administrator says, In '38 the'Johnson began to raise unshirted hell about the fact that black farmers were getting a smaller share of the pie than the white farmers.'  There's the first federal housing act passed, and Johnson's one of the three congressmen that takes advantage of this. He gets public housing for Austin, Texas, and he wants to have public housing built not only for poor whites, but for blacks and Hispanics. He tells the city fathers, 'This is what you've got to do. Let's go for this, and we'll improve the well-being of the poorest people in our city.' So there is a genuine compassion on this man's part." [Emphas supplied.]

Or consider these words from Johnson's first State of the Union Address:

"Let me make one principle of this administration abundantly clear: All of these increased opportunities -- in employment, in education, in housing, and in every field -- must be open to Americans of every color. As far as the writ of Federal law will run, we must abolish not some, but all racial discrimination. For this is not merely an economic issue, or a social, political, or international issue. It is a moral issue, and it must be met by the passage this session of the bill now pending in the House.

"All members of the public should have equal access to facilities open to the public. All members of the public should be equally eligible for Federal benefits that are financed by the public. All members of the public should have an equal chance to vote for public officials and to send their children to good public schools and to contribute their talents to the public good.

"Today, Americans of all races stand side by side in Berlin and in Viet Nam. They died side by side in Korea. Surely they can work and eat and travel side by side in their own country."

Lyndon Johnson was also, of course, the first president to appoint a black man to the Supreme Court.

I respectfully submit that LBJ's unpublicized acts in the thirties and the clear passion of his langauge in his State of the Union demonstrate that he was not the typical Southern Democrat racist.

Robert Dallek is of course fully aware of LBJ’s racist past. It is fully documented in his book, Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times. (1) Historians such as J. Evetts Haley (2) , Joachim Joesten (3), Robert A. Caro (4), Alfred Steinberg (5), Robert Sherrill (6), Rowland Evans and Robert Novak (7) have pointed out that in the early 1930s LBJ appeared to hold left of centre political opinions. Although he was not noted as a civil rights campaigner, he definitely had a deep sympathy for the plight of poor whites. Of course, this was not an unusual position to take during the Depression. It has to be remembered that in the 1930s Huey Long became a popular politician in the Deep South with a plan to redistribute wealth. Long told the Senate: "Unless we provide for redistribution of wealth in this country, the country is doomed." He added the nation faced a choice, it could limit large fortunes and provide a decent standard of life for its citizens, or it could wait for the inevitable revolution.

Johnson’s reputation as a liberal increased with his close involvement with the administration of the New Deal. However, as he told Herman Brown in 1937, this was a very complex issue and it was wrong to see him as a liberal. In fact, he was like all leading politicians in Texas, a staunch right-winger. (10)

As his biographers have pointed out, it was virtually impossible for someone to hold left of centre views and make it in politics in Texas. Only someone like Ralph Yarborough managed to do this. (11)

Dallek takes the view that LBJ retained these liberal views from his youth and once in power became determined to get the law changed. This is a nice idea but I cannot think of one example in world history where this has happened. There is a reason for this. It is called Leon Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance theory. Festinger discovered that in time people’s view of the world reflects their behaviour. (12) This is the basis of anti-racist discrimination laws. If you can make people behave in a certain way for any length of time, their opinions will change accordingly. Therefore I believe it is impossible for me to believe that LBJ had retained his liberal beliefs of his youth. In fact, to cope with the guilt he must have felt, he needed to really believe in the stances that he took over issues like civil rights.

Others have argued that LBJ remained a racist but was concerned about his place in history. If this was true, why was he not concerned about this in other aspects of his policy. For example, today, LBJ is more remembered for escalation the Vietnam War than getting the 1965 Civil Rights Act passed.

The other issue that needs to be addressed is why LBJ was allowed to do this. Throughout his career his political decisions had been under the control of his financial backers. People like George and Herman Brown, Sid Richardson, Clint Murchison, H. L Hunt, etc. As well as all being oil billionaires they had something else in common – they were all white supremacists. Over the years they had invested millions of dollars in funding organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan and the John Birch Society. It is true that Herman Brown and Sid Richardson were dead by 1965 but the others were still alive and very much active in politics. They also knew where all the bodies were buried and could have brought him down anytime they liked. Yet Richard Russell and the financial supporters of the Southern Caucus, decided to step back and allow the legislation to be passed. It is one of the largest political mysteries of modern times. It can only be answered by being aware of information that has never entered the public domain.

Notes and References

1. Robert Dallek, Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times (1991

2. J. Evetts Haley, A Texan Looks at Lyndon (1964) page 199.

3. Joachim Joesten, The Dark Side of Lyndon Baines Johnson (1968)

4. Robert Caro, Means of Ascent, 1990

5. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy, 1968

6. Robert Sherrill, The Accidental President, 1967

7. Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, LBJ: Exercise of Power (1968)

8. Huey Long: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAlongH.htm

9. Huey Long, speech in the Senate, February, 1934

10. Robert Caro, Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, 1982, page 472

11. Ralph Yarborough: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKyarborough.htm

12. http://www.dmu.ac.uk/~jamesa/learning/dissonance.htm

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The idea that LBJ was blackmailed into supporting the Civil Rights Act by a liberal who had evidence to link him to the assassination makes little sense.  First, where did the liberal get the evidence?  Second, why would the liberal decide that rather than immediately bringing the evidence to the attention of the chief law enforcement officer of the United States (who happened to be the victim's brother) or to the Warren Commission he will instead use the evidence he has so quickly acquired to blackmail LBJ into supporting the Civil Rights Act (an act of blackmail that must have occured before LBJ's State of the Union address).  Well, unlike most blackmailers, this blackmailer is a man of his word, for not only does he not come forward with his evidence after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, he does not come forward with it after LBJ is no longer president; in fact, he does not come forward with it even after LBJ is dead.  What a man of integrity this blackmailer must have been!  Perhaps, after all, there is honor among blackmailers, if not among thieves!

Any thoughts on who this blackmailer was?  Maybe the blackmailer was in fact behind the assassination; planted the evidence to frame LBJ; and then used the evidence to get LBJ to force passage of the civil rights acts, which was his ultimate motive in the assassination.  (No--this is tongue-in-cheek.)

If LBJ could kill Kennedy and cover it up, why couldn't he just kill the blackmailer--a fate often met by blackmailers, after all.  And it wouldn't even take a presidential commission to cover it up.

Again, remember, there is no question in my mind that LBJ was vile, corrupt, uncouth, and maybe even an abuser of dogs.  But I do not see him embracing the civil rights legislation out of blackmail.  I think he wanted to secure his place in history (which is probably the primary objective of most presidents) and, as Dallek noted, he recognized that if the South was to become an economic power in the United States it would have to end segregation.

Lyndon Johnson was right about civil rights.

Robert Kennedy is one possibility. This would help to explain why he kept quiet about his suspicions that his brother had been killed as a result of a conspiracy. From comments made soon after the assassination he thought it was a CIA/Anti-Castro Cuban plot. He probably suspected that LBJ was involved in the conspiracy. Anyway, he definitely knew he was involved in the cover-up.

However, I reject this idea. The main reason was that RFK detested LBJ. He would have hated the idea of LBJ getting the credit for civil rights legislation. Anyway, RFK was not fully committed to civil rights in 1964 (see the private interviews he gave to John Bartlow Martin and Anthony Lewis during this period). (1) However, I do suspect that RFK would have revealed what he knew about the assassination if he had gained power in 1968. That is why he had to die when he did.

My candidate would be Ralph Yarborough. (2) Unlike LBJ, Yarborough retained his commitment to civil rights. He was the only member of the Senate representing a former Confederate state to vote for every significant piece of civil rights legislation that was passed in the 1950s and 1960s.

Yarborough came from Texas and was fully aware of how LBJ had corrupted every senior politician in the state. Although LBJ and Richard Russell (3) were unable to get Yarborough to sell out his principles on civil rights, he was drawn into the network of corruption based around the activities of the oil billionaires. This was the main method of keeping people quiet about the MICC. Once part of the network, it was impossible to expose it.

Yarborough was appalled by the assassination of JFK. He was not the only one in the LBJ network who thought they had gone too far this time. Richard Russell was another. This was one of the reasons he was reluctant to join the Warren Commission.

Yarborough knew that if he came out with what he knew he would be exposed as someone who was also politically corrupt. Like Robert Kennedy, Yarborough was very protective of his reputation. Yarborough therefore calculated that he could gain maximum revenge by forcing LBJ and Russell to pass the 1965 Civil Rights Act.

You ask why Yarborough was allowed to live if he knew so much about LBJ and the assassination? I imagine for the same reasons why two other men that I know of are still alive although they have a considerable amount of information about the assassination. What you do is you place the documentary evidence that you have with your lawyer. This is locked away with instructions for it to be opened if you die in suspicious circumstances. Photocopies of this information is placed with several other people with the same instructions. Once this has been done, the person is safe.

Notes

(1) Edwin Guthman & Jeffrey Shulman, Robert Kennedy in His Own Words (1988)

(2) http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKyarborough.htm

(3) http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKrussell.htm

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As I have argued earlier, the Military Industrial Congressional Complex network began in 1937 when Lyndon Johnson joined up with the Brown brothers. Herman Brown (1) died in 1962. George Brown (2) decided to sell the business to Halliburton. As well as joining Halliburton, he also served on the board of other companies involved in the MICC.

During the Vietnam War Brown & Root won a $380 million contract to build airports, bases, hospitals and other facilities for the U.S. Navy in South Vietnam. By 1967, the General Accounting Office had condemned Brown and Root “for massive accounting lapses”. Brown & Root became a target for anti-war protesters who called the firm the embodiment of the "military-industrial complex" (3).

Current criticism over Halliburton's lucrative Iraq contracts has some historians drawing parallels to a similar controversy involving the company during Lyndon B. Johnson's administration. Nearly 40 years ago, Halliburton faced almost identical charges over its work for the U.S. government in Vietnam - allegations of overcharging, sweetheart contracts from the White House and war profiteering. Back then, the company's close ties to President Johnson became a liability.

In his book, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America's Superstate, Robert Bryce argues that Texas’ powerful crony network, centered around the energy industry, has come to dominate national politics. Bryce traces how Texas energy companies and law firms have propelled politicians from Lyndon B. Johnson to George W. Bush to power and how the candidates rewarded their backing once in office. (4)

Dan Briody’s book, The Halliburton Agenda, explains the workings of the MICC works in America today. (5) In 1992 Dick Cheney, head of the US Department of Defence, gave a $3.9m contract (a further $5m was added later) to Kellog Brown & Root (KBR), a subsidiary of Halliburton. The contract involved writing a report about how private contractors could help the Pentagon deal with 13 different “hot spots” around the world.

The KBR report remains a classified document. However, the report convinced Cheney to award a umbrella contract to one company to deal with these problems. This contract, which became known as the Logistics Civil Augmentation Programme (Logcap), was of course awarded to KBR. It is an unique contract and is effectively a blank cheque from the government. KBR makes it money from a built in profit percentage. When your profit is a percentage of the cost, the more you spend, the more you make.

KBR’s first task was to go to Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope. KBR arrived before the US Army. Over the next few months KBR made a profit of $109.7m. In August 1994 KBR made $6.3m in Rwanda. Later that year they received $150m profit from its work in Haiti. KBR made its money from building base camps, supplying troops with food and water, fuel and munitions, cleaning latrines and washing clothes.

The contract came up for renewal in 1997. By this time Cheney had been appointed as CEO of Halliburton. The Clinton administration gave the contract to Dyncorp. The contract came to an end in 2001. Cheney was now back in power and KBR won back the Logcap contract. This time it was granted for ten years. The beauty of this contract is that it does not matter where the US armed forces are in action, the KBR makes money from its activities. However, the longer the troops stay, the more money it makes.

KBR is now busy in Iraq (it also built the detention cells in Guantanamo Bay). What is more Halliburton was given the contract for restoring the Iraqi oil infrastructure (no competitive bid took place).

Cheney sold his stock options in Halliburton for $30m when he became vice president. He claimed he had got rid of all his financial interests in Halliburton. However, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) discovered that he has been receiving yearly sums from Halliburton: $205,298 (2001), $162,392 (2002), etc. They also found he still holds 433,333 unexercised stock options in Halliburton.

Notes and References

1. Herman Brown: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKbrownH.htm

2. George Brown: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKbrownG.htm

3. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1569483

4. Robert Bryce, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America's Superstate (2004)

5. Dan Briody, The Halliburton Agenda (2004)

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For logical reasons (as well as any evidence) I reject the theory that members of the MICC planned the assassination.

John admits much of his scenario is speculation and he offers no clue as to what members of the MICC were involved.  The motive for the MICC to kill Kennedy was purely economic.  John suggests some rich old bastards were greedy enough not only to overlook whatever religious or moral scruples they might have for murder, but also to risk the death penalty.  I strongly suggest this scenario makes little sense.  Historically, assassinations are either motivated by political considerations or the acts of "lone nuts" (yes, I believe there have been some "lone nut" assassinations).  Granted, some murders are motivated by hope of economic gain but in most cases I believe such murders are perpetrated by people who are not already filthy rich….

So, in summary, I think the involvement of anti-Castro Cubans and rogue elements of the CIA is possible but I highly doubt some rich old bastards killed JFK to put a few more bucks in their pocket at the risk of capital prosecution.

This statement reflects our different political ideology. I believe that economics is at the core of all political decision making. Therefore it is economics that will explain the JFK assassination. As I pointed out at the beginning of the thread, JFK posed a serious threat to the wealth of the Texas oilmen. As a result of the Kennedy wealthy oilmen had seen a fall in their earnings on foreign investment from 30 per cent to 15 per cent. It is estimated that the proposed removal of the oil depletion allowance would result in a loss of around $300 million a year. (1) We are talking about large sums of money. In fact, when the oil depletion allowance was eventually reduced, it resulted in Clint Murchison going bankrupt. This was an issue of survival. They could not continue in business without the oil depletion allowance.

As far as the people involved I would claim that the key members of the MICC in 1963 included Lyndon Johnson (2) , Richard Russell (3), George Brown (4), Clint Murchison (5) and John McCone (6).

It is of course impossible to say if any of these men were involved in the decision to assassinate JFK. They would never have left any evidence behind that would have won a conviction in court. People with that sort of power work like that. You say: “John suggests some rich old bastards were greedy enough not only to overlook whatever religious or moral scruples they might have for murder, but also to risk the death penalty.” My point is that “rich old bastards” never put themselves at risk of the death penalty. That is one of the advantages of being rich and powerful. You get other people to do the killing for you.

Moreover, let us assume the MICC conspirators were friends of LBJ (e.g., George Root and Murchison).  I suggest if they were smart enough to plan the assassination, they realized they could accomplish their purpose of replacing JFK with LBJ simply by waiting until after the election and then using the undisclosed sexual scandals to remove him from office.  Beside avoiding the risk of the death penalty, this method would remove Kennedy in a scandal while they surely must have known his murder would make him a martyr.

This strategy was not adopted because it would not have worked. I assume that when you talk about JFK’s “sex scandals” you are referring to his relationship with Ellen Romesch. It is true that JFK had been sleeping with a Soviet spy. However, LBJ’s supporters could not use this story to impeach JFK. Any investigation into this affair would have revealed how JFK met Romesch. As Bobby Baker revealed in Wheeling and Dealing, he was the one who got JFK involved with Romesch. Everybody knew that Baker was LBJ’s fixer. (7) It would have been clear to everyone concerned that JFK had been set up by LBJ. He would never have been able to replace JFK in 1964.

Anyway, LBJ would not have been vice president in 1964. You seem to have forgotten that Don Reynolds testified in a secret session of the House Senate Rules Committee on the day that that JFK was assassinated, that LBJ had been getting a rake-off for setting up the TFX contract. (8) LBJ’s friend, Fred Korth, had already been forced to resign as Navy Secretary because of this contract. (9) It was only by becoming president on the 22nd November that LBJ could survive. If he had left it any later, LBJ would himself have been impeached. This would have resulted in a full exposure of how LBJ and the MICC was controlling the distribution of arms contracts.

Notes and References

1. Jim Marrs, Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, 1989, page 277

2. Lyndon Johnson: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAjohnsonLB.htm

3. Richard Russell: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKrussell.htm

4. George Brown: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKbrownG.htm

5. Clint Murchison: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKmurchison.htm

6. John McCone: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKmccone.htm

7. Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing, 1978, pages 78-79

8. Don Reynolds: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKreynoldsD.htm

9. Fred Korth: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKkorth.htm

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Now, I want to say that I want to use several posts to discuss specific suggestions John has made. Here I will comment on the suggestion that the Malcolm Wallace fingerprint was planted to ensure LBJ's cover-up of the assassination.

First, the use of the Malcolm Wallace fingerprint to frame LBJ to ensure his participation in the cover-up. If LBJ's good friend Hoover discovered a Wallace fingerprint early on (in time to motivate the cover-up) and (as John's scenario suggests) he knew Johnson was being framed, why did he just not get rid of the evidence? Why would it be left in the TSBD to be discovered later?

Obviously any explanation of the assassination needs to account for the Wallace fingerprint. Presumably, there are only four possibilities: 1) interpretation error, not really his fingerprint; 2) planted, for whatever reason, but much closer to the date of the discovery of the print; 3) although it has not yet been discovered, Wallace had a part-time job in the TSBD; or 4)Wallace did in fact participate in the assassination (with or without LBJ's knowledge).

I am myself slightly uncomfortable about the Malcolm Wallace fingerprint. I am not sure it existed. Even if it did, I am not sure Hoover was aware of it at this stage of the investigation. Hoover had files on all leading American politicians and would have known a great deal about Johnson’s past. Hoover would have been aware that Wallace was a problem for Johnson. However, from the LBJ’s tapes it would seem that Johnson was in control of the situation. Hoover would have been unhappy with Johnson’s decision to go for the “non-political, lone gunman” theory. Yet he eventually agreed to this strategy. As I have explained, there were political reasons why Hoover did this. Maybe LBJ blackmailed him into this position. We know via Bobby Baker’s Wheeling and Dealing (1) and Robert Caro's Master of the Senate (2) that like Hoover, LBJ had files on everyone who was anyone. Hoover was himself very vulnerable (his homosexuality along with his passion for wearing women’s clothes). Apparently there were photographs of this that were in the possession of Meyer Lansky. According to Lansky, this was the reason why Hoover claimed that the Mafia did not exist. These photographs might have been obtained by Carlos Marcello who spent holidays with Hoover and Clyde Tolson. (3)

Other than the fingerprint, Loy Factor is the other source of information on this. Factor claims that Oswald, Wallace and himself were the three gunman in the TSBD. Factor is another James Files. He was serving a 44 year sentence for murder and had nothing to lose and a great deal to gain by making this confession. Interesting, Glen Sample, Factor’s leading advocate (4) insists that the Wallace fingerprint is not genuine. (5)

Notes and References

1. Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing (1978)

2. Robert Caro, Master of the Senate (2002)

3. Anthony Summers, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover (1993) pages 242-245

4. Mark Collum and Glen Sample, The Men on the Sixth Floor (1995)

5. http://home.comcast.net/~dperry1943/drbrown.html

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LBJ and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy: Part 1[/color]

In 1968 Evelyn Lincoln (14) published her book, Kennedy and Johnson. It included the following passage:

As Mr. Kennedy sat in the rocker in my office, his head resting on its back he placed his left leg across his right knee. He rocked slightly as he talked. In a slow pensive voice he said to me, 'You know if I am re-elected in sixty-four, I am going to spend more and more time toward making government service an honorable career. I would like to tailor the executive and legislative branches of government so that they can keep up with the tremendous strides and progress being made in other fields.' 'I am going to advocate changing some of the outmoded rules and regulations in the Congress, such as the seniority rule. To do this I will need as a running mate in sixty-four a man who believes as I do.' Mrs. Lincoln went on to write "I was fascinated by this conversation and wrote it down verbatim in my diary. Now I asked, 'Who is your choice as a running-mate?' 'He looked straight ahead, and without hesitating he replied, 'at this time I am thinking about Governor Terry Sanford of North Carolina. But it will not be Lyndon.' (15)

The following year W. Penn Jones (16) claimed that in 1963 Kennedy decided that Johnson was to be replaced by George Smathers (17):

Bobby Baker was about the first person in Washington to know that Lyndon Johnson was to be dumped as the Vice-Presidential candidate in 1964. Baker knew that President Kennedy had offered the spot on the ticket to Senator George Smathers of Florida... Baker knew because his secretary. Miss Nancy Carole Tyler, roomed with one of George Smathers' secretaries. Miss Mary Jo Kopechne had been another of Smathers' secretaries. Now both Miss Tyler and Miss Kopechne have died strangely. (18)

It has been argued that the possible loss of the vice presidency provided Johnson with a motive to remove Kennedy from power. However, Robert Kennedy rejected the idea that his brother intended to replace Johnson as Vice President. He told John Bartlow Martin in 1964: “There was never any intention of dropping him (Johnson). There was never even any discussion about dropping him.” (19)

John, your post notes the conflict in recollection (or accuracy) over whether JFK was going to dump LBJ in 1964. I think the statement by RFK was probably correct. It would no political sense for JFK to dump Lyndon before the 1964 election. After the election would be a different story.

I recently came across this passage from Ch 56 of Richard Reeves "President Kennedy: Profile of Power." It refers to JFK's political discussions with Sen George Smathers in Miami on Monday, November 18, 1963:

[smathers] brought up newspaper stories that Kennedy was considering dropping Lyndon Johnson as his running mate. "George, you have some intelligence, I presume," Kennedy said sarcastically. "Can you see me now in a terrible fight with Lyndon Johnson, which means I'll blow the South? You know, I love this job, I love every second of it.. . Smathers, you just haven't got any sense, and if Lyndon thinks that, he ought to think about it. I don't want to get licked. I really don't care whether Lyndon gets licked, but I don't want to get licked and he's going to be my vice-president because he helps me!"

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John, your post notes the conflict in recollection (or accuracy) over whether JFK was going to dump LBJ in 1964.  I think the statement by RFK was probably correct.  It would no political sense for JFK to dump Lyndon before the 1964 election.  After the election would be a different story.

I recently came across this passage from Ch 56 of Richard Reeves "President Kennedy: Profile of Power."  It refers to JFK's political discussions with Sen George Smathers in Miami on Monday, November 18, 1963:

[smathers] brought up newspaper stories that Kennedy was considering dropping Lyndon Johnson as his running mate.  "George, you have some intelligence, I presume," Kennedy said sarcastically.  "Can you see me now in a terrible fight with Lyndon Johnson, which means I'll blow the South?  You know, I love this job, I love every second of it.. . Smathers, you just haven't got any sense, and if Lyndon thinks that, he ought to think about it.  I don't want to get licked.  I really don't care whether Lyndon gets licked, but I don't want to get licked and he's going to be my vice-president because he helps me!"

There is no doubt Robert Kennedy claimed that there was no attempt to dump Johnson in 1963. He told John Bartlow Martin in 1964: “There was never any intention of dropping him. There was never even any discussion about dropping him.” (1) However, Penn Jones claims that Johnson was to be replaced with George Smathers. (2) I think this is highly unlikely as by 1963 JFK and Smathers were in dispute over Cuba. Smathers had been trying to pressurize JFK into ousting the Castro government. This pressure was relentless and JFK eventually lost his temper and told him that he must never mention this subject again. The two men had been close (both privately and politically). By 1963 JFK’s views had changed dramatically. The two men had in fact fallen out during the 1960 presidential campaign. JFK was furious with Smathers for supporting LBJ during the campaign for the nomination. Smathers even refused to help JFK get the Florida vote. At the time, JFK feared that this would stop him getting the nomination. If JFK had agreed that Smathers would be his running-mate in 1964, it was as a result of extreme pressure (or blackmail) from the Southern Caucus.

Evelyn Lincoln claims that JFK told her he intended to replace Johnson. This is reported in her book Kennedy and Johnson. (3) Lincoln says that JFK was thinking of appointing Terry Sanford. If this is not true, what motive would Lincoln have for lying? In fact, we now know she was telling the truth. Lincoln’s papers were donated to the Kennedy Library. These were released to JFK researchers in 1997. It was discovered that there are contemporaneous stenography notes corroborating her 1968 claim that LBJ was going to be dumped. (4)

The real question is why did Robert Kennedy lie about this issue? The answer is contained in the RFK interview with Martin. (5) RFK is clearly uneasy when Martin returns to the issue of dumping Johnson. Martin is under the impression that JFK was considering dumping LBJ because of the Bobby Baker case. RFK replies:

There were a lot of stories that my brother and I were interested in dumping Lyndon Johnson and that I’d started the Bobby Baker case in order to give us a handle to dump Lyndon Johnson. Well, number one, there was no plan to dump Lyndon Johnson. That didn’t make any sense. Number two, I hadn’t gotten really involved in the Bobby Baker case until after a good number of newspaper stories had appeared about it.

This is again a lie. RFK had been investigating the Baker case for sometime. How do we know? Well the main figure in the Senate trying to raise the links between LBJ and the Baker scandal was John Williams, the Republican senator for Delaware. Burkett Van Kirk, who was chief counsel for the Republican minority on the Senate Rules Committee, admitted in an interview he gave in 1997 that RFK had been leaking information about Baker to Williams. Van Kirk claims that the Kennedy brothers were doing this because they were trying to dump Johnson. (6)

Unfortunately this strategy backfired. Johnson found out what the Kennedy’s were up to. He knew how to get the Kennedys to change their mind on this issue. He therefore tipped off Hoover about the brothers involvement with Ellen Rometsch. When Hoover told the Kennedys that Rometsch was a Soviet spy they knew they were in serious trouble. Especially when they heard from Baker that he had “tapes and photographs” of these sexual activities. (7) They did not only involve Rometsch. They also included JFK having sex with Maria Novotny and Suzy Chang. (8) That was a problem because these two women, both initially from communist countries, had been named as part of the spy ring that had trapped John Profumo, the British War Minister, a few months earlier. RFK became convinced that if this story got out, JFK would be forced to resign.

It was these attempts by RFK to suppress this story that led to assassination of JFK. I will look at this issue in more depth in a later posting.

Notes and References

1. Edwin Guthman & Jeffrry Shulman (ed.), Robert Kennedy: In His Own Words (1988) page 336.

2. W. Penn Jones Jr, Texas Midlothian Mirror (31st July, 1969)

3. Evelyn Lincoln, Kennedy and Johnson (1968)

4. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot (1997) page 408

5. 1. Edwin Guthman & Jeffrry Shulman (ed.), Robert Kennedy: In His Own Words (1988) page 389.

6. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot (1997) page 406

7. Telephone conversation between Lyndon B. Johnson and George Smathers (10th January, 1964)

8. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot (1997) page 391

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John, your post notes the conflict in recollection (or accuracy) over whether JFK was going to dump LBJ in 1964.  I think the statement by RFK was probably correct.  It would no political sense for JFK to dump Lyndon before the 1964 election.  After the election would be a different story.

I recently came across this passage from Ch 56 of Richard Reeves "President Kennedy: Profile of Power."  It refers to JFK's political discussions with Sen George Smathers in Miami on Monday, November 18, 1963:

[smathers] brought up newspaper stories that Kennedy was considering dropping Lyndon Johnson as his running mate.  "George, you have some intelligence, I presume," Kennedy said sarcastically.  "Can you see me now in a terrible fight with Lyndon Johnson, which means I'll blow the South?  You know, I love this job, I love every second of it.. . Smathers, you just haven't got any sense, and if Lyndon thinks that, he ought to think about it.  I don't want to get licked.  I really don't care whether Lyndon gets licked, but I don't want to get licked and he's going to be my vice-president because he helps me!"

There is no doubt Robert Kennedy claimed that there was no attempt to dump Johnson in 1963. He told John Bartlow Martin in 1964: “There was never any intention of dropping him. There was never even any discussion about dropping him.” (1) However, Penn Jones claims that Johnson was to be replaced with George Smathers. (2) I think this is highly unlikely as by 1963 JFK and Smathers were in dispute over Cuba. Smathers had been trying to pressurize JFK into ousting the Castro government. This pressure was relentless and JFK eventually lost his temper and told him that he must never mention this subject again. The two men had been close (both privately and politically). By 1963 JFK’s views had changed dramatically. The two men had in fact fallen out during the 1960 presidential campaign. JFK was furious with Smathers for supporting LBJ during the campaign for the nomination. Smathers even refused to help JFK get the Florida vote. At the time, JFK feared that this would stop him getting the nomination. If JFK had agreed that Smathers would be his running-mate in 1964, it was as a result of extreme pressure (or blackmail) from the Southern Caucus.

Evelyn Lincoln claims that JFK told her he intended to replace Johnson. This is reported in her book Kennedy and Johnson. (3) Lincoln says that JFK was thinking of appointing Terry Sanford. If this is not true, what motive would Lincoln have for lying? In fact, we now know she was telling the truth. Lincoln’s papers were donated to the Kennedy Library. These were released to JFK researchers in 1997. It was discovered that there are contemporaneous stenography notes corroborating her 1968 claim that LBJ was going to be dumped. (4)

The real question is why did Robert Kennedy lie about this issue? The answer is contained in the RFK interview with Martin. (5) RFK is clearly uneasy when Martin returns to the issue of dumping Johnson. Martin is under the impression that JFK was considering dumping LBJ because of the Bobby Baker case. RFK replies:

There were a lot of stories that my brother and I were interested in dumping Lyndon Johnson and that I’d started the Bobby Baker case in order to give us a handle to dump Lyndon Johnson. Well, number one, there was no plan to dump Lyndon Johnson. That didn’t make any sense. Number two, I hadn’t gotten really involved in the Bobby Baker case until after a good number of newspaper stories had appeared about it.

This is again a lie. RFK had been investigating the Baker case for sometime. How do we know? Well the main figure in the Senate trying to raise the links between LBJ and the Baker scandal was John Williams, the Republican senator for Delaware. Burkett Van Kirk, who was chief counsel for the Republican minority on the Senate Rules Committee, admitted in an interview he gave in 1997 that RFK had been leaking information about Baker to Williams. Van Kirk claims that the Kennedy brothers were doing this because they were trying to dump Johnson. (6)

Unfortunately this strategy backfired. Johnson found out what the Kennedy’s were up to. He knew how to get the Kennedys to change their mind on this issue. He therefore tipped off Hoover about the brothers involvement with Ellen Rometsch. When Hoover told the Kennedys that Rometsch was a Soviet spy they knew they were in serious trouble. Especially when they heard from Baker that he had “tapes and photographs” of these sexual activities. (7) They did not only involve Rometsch. They also included JFK having sex with Maria Novotny and Suzy Chang. (8) That was a problem because these two women, both initially from communist countries, had been named as part of the spy ring that had trapped John Profumo, the British War Minister, a few months earlier. RFK became convinced that if this story got out, JFK would be forced to resign.

It was these attempts by RFK to suppress this story that led to assassination of JFK. I will look at this issue in more depth in a later posting.

Notes and References

1. Edwin Guthman & Jeffrry Shulman (ed.), Robert Kennedy: In His Own Words (1988) page 336.

2. W. Penn Jones Jr, Texas Midlothian Mirror (31st July, 1969)

3. Evelyn Lincoln, Kennedy and Johnson (1968)

4. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot (1997) page 408

5. 1. Edwin Guthman & Jeffrry Shulman (ed.), Robert Kennedy: In His Own Words (1988) page 389.

6. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot (1997) page 406

7. Telephone conversation between Lyndon B. Johnson and George Smathers (10th January, 1964)

8. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot (1997) page 391

Incredible post, John!

No question JFK would have had to resign if the stories you have refered to were made public. Perhaps your follow-up post will respond to this issue: if anyone such as LBJ or Hoover had wanted to get rid of JFK all they would have had to do was publicize the stories.

Accepting your scenario, is it possible someone could have suggested to Bobby, to the effect, if these stories had come out your brother would have had to resign in disgrace and history would record him as the first president ever to resign. Now we have made him a martyr just like Lincoln.

Finally, although I have not read the Guthman-Schulman book, I'm quite sure that in that book RFK denied that there had ever been plots to kill Castro, a demonstable falsehood because the CIA had briefed him on the CIA/Mafia polts on May 7, 1962. So many of his "own words" as recorded by those men are subject to question.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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Incredible post, John! 

No question JFK would have had to resign if the stories you have refered to were made public.  Perhaps your follow-up post will respond to this but if anyone such as LBJ or Hoover had wanted to get rid of JFK all they would have had to do was publicize the stories.

Hoover and LBJ were unwilling to reveal the story as they know that it would have also led to their downfall. This is what RFK tells Hoover on 28th October when he orders him to suppress the story. This is why LBJ was so clever by getting Baker to set up the Honey Pot trap at the Quorum Club and at Carole Tyler’s house. This not only involved filming the sexual antics of all the leading senators. It also included obtaining evidence that they were taking bribes from the MICC. This made it impossible for any of them to give evidence. This included his two main critics, John Williams and Hugh Scott. This is made clear by Johnson telephone conversation to George Smathers on 10th January, 1964. The result was that after the assassination of JFK, none of them, including RFK, could say why it really happened. The cover up was complete.

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LBJ and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy: Part 3

A close examination of Johnson’s taped telephone conversations in the weeks following the assassination reveal that he spent a large part of his time attempting to cover up another story. This is the story of a man called Don B. Reynolds (62)

Reynolds was a U.S. consular official in Berlin after the war. On his return to the United States he established a company called Don Reynolds Associates in Silver Spring, Maryland. Reynolds was a friend of Bobby Baker (63) , who was at this time working for Johnson. In 1957 Reynolds was asked to arrange Johnson's life insurance policy.

In 1963 Senator John Williams of Delaware began investigating the activities of Bobby Baker. As a result of his work, Baker resigned as the secretary to Johnson  on 9th October, 1963. During his investigations Williams met Reynolds and persuaded him to appear before a secret session of the Senate Rules Committee.

Reynolds told B. Everett Jordan and his committee on 22nd November, 1963, that Johnson had demanded that he provided kickbacks in return for him agreeing to this life insurance policy. This included a $585 Magnavox stereo. Reynolds also had to pay for $1,200 worth of advertising on KTBC, Johnson's television station in Austin. Reynolds had paperwork for this transaction including a delivery note that indicated the stereo had been sent to the home of Johnson.

Reynolds also told the Senate Rules Committee of seeing a suitcase full of money which Bobby Baker had described as a "$100,000 payoff to Johnson for his role in securing the Fort Worth TFX contract". His testimony came to an end when news arrived that President Kennedy had been assassinated.

As soon as Johnson returned to Washington he contacted B. Everett Jordan to find out what Reynolds had said about Johnson. It was worse than he thought. He was particularly concerned about Reynolds’ comments about the TFX contract. This story dates back to when Kennedy appointment of Fred Korth (63) as his Navy Secretary. According to insiders, Korth only got the post after intense lobbying by Johnson. Korth had been president of the Continental National Bank of Fort Worth, Texas, and a long time friend of Johnson.

Soon afterwards, Korth awarded a $7 billion contract for a fighter plane, the TFX, to General Dynamics, a company based in Texas. Rumours soon began to circulate that both Johnson and Korth had received kickbacks for this order. Korth was forced to resign and Johnson was expected to go the same way. As Peter Scott points out in his book, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK:

According to President Kennedy's secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, Bobby Kennedy was also investigating Bobby Baker for tax evasion and fraud. This had reached the point where the President himself discussed the Baker investigation with his secretary, and allegedly told her that his running mate in 1964 would not be Lyndon Johnson. The date of this discussion was November 19, 1963, the day before the President left for Texas.

A Senate Rules Committee investigation into the Bobby Baker scandal was indeed moving rapidly to implicate Lyndon Johnson, and on a matter concerning a concurrent scandal and investigation. This was the award of a $7-billion contract for a fighter plane, the TFX, to a General Dynamics plant in Fort Worth. Navy Secretary Fred Korth, a former bank president and a Johnson man, had been forced to resign in October 1963, after reporters discovered that his bank, the Continental National Bank of Fort Worth, was the principal money source for the General Dynamics plant. (64)

The testimony of Reynolds brought Johnson back to the heart of the scandal. He could only survive if he could stop Reynolds’ testimony from being published. Johnson got his aide, Walter Jenkins, to talk to Jordan. As Bobby Baker reveals in Wheeling and Dealing (65), Jordan was one of those politicians under Johnson’s control. On 6th December, 1963, Jordan told Jenkins “… they ain’t going to get anything out of Everett. I can tell you that… I’m trying to keep the Bobby (Baker) thing from spreading… Because hell, I don’t want to see it spread either. it might spread (to) a place where we don't want it spread… Mighty hard to put out a fire out when it gets out of control."

Understanding what this comment means is crucial in grasping how Lyndon Johnson covered up both his involvement in the TFX scandal and the Kennedy assassination.

I recently came across a discussion of how the Baker scandal was "contained" after LBJ became president. From Ch 14 of Rick Perlstein's "Before the Storm" (2001):

"In late January [of 1964] when Republicans tried to get Walter Jenkins, Johnson's most intimate aide, to testify before a Senate subcommittee investigation, Johnson put in the fix. Two psychiatrists appeared to testify that an appearance would – literally - kill him. [Republican] Carl Curtis moved to call Jenkins to the stand anyway. He lost 6-3 in a party line vote. . . . Curtis lost again when he moved to make the record of the session public. The investigation closed without a single Administration witness being called."

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