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David Talbot : Grant Stockdale

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On page 147 of the book you quote a discussion that took place between JFK and Grant Stockdale, his ambassador to Ireland, while they were sailing off Palm Beach. You quote JFK as saying: “Stock, do you think I’ll be assassinated.” Stockdale replies: “Chief, don’t even think about such a thing. Of course you won’t.”

Are you aware that on 26th November, 1963, Grant Stockdale flew to Washington and talked with Robert and Edward Kennedy about the assassination of his brother. On his return Stockdale told several of his friends that "the world was closing in." On 1st December, he spoke to his attorney, William Frates who later recalled: "He started talking. It didn't make much sense. He said something about 'those guys' trying to get him. Then about the assassination."

Edward Grant Stockdale died on 2nd December, 1963 when he fell (or was pushed) from his office on the thirteenth story of the Dupont Building in Miami. Stockdale did not leave a suicide note but his friend, George Smathers, claimed that he had become depressed as a result of the death of JFK. Stockdale’s wife also went along with this suicide theory.

However, Stockdale’s daughter tells a different story. She claimed in June 2004: “Kennedy asked Daddy to go to the Air Force Base South of Miami to see if (against Kennedy's orders) bombs were being loaded on the planes. Bombs were being loaded on the planes!! I believe one of the reasons Daddy was killed was because he knew that the Government was being run by the Military Complex. The Military Complex didn't want the American People to realize (and still don't) that they were calling the shots. Daddy knew he was being followed... & he told Mom that they were going to get him... and they did. There was an attempt on my life also several days after Daddy's funeral. I realize now that this was a scare tactic to silence my Mother... i.e. if you speak about anything, Your kids are dead. It worked!!”

It is possible that Stockdale had given RFK other information about the assassination. For example, he was involved with Bobby Baker, George Smathers, Fred Black and mobsters Ed Levenson and Benny Sigelbaum in a company called Serve-U-Corporation. This was part of the vending-machine scandal that was being investigated by the Senate Rule Committee in 1963. In fact, I suspect that it was these investigations that resulted in Stockdale’s resignation as ambassador to Ireland.

Stockdale was clearly shocked and frightened by RFK’s response to his information. This now makes sense in light of what now know about RFK’s attitude to the days following the assassination of his brother. It was clearly not in RFK’s interest to reveal at this time the possibility that his brother had been assassinated by a team that had been trained by the CIA to kill Castro.

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