Jump to content
The Education Forum

Robert McNamara and the assassination


Recommended Posts

Does anyone else find it odd that the Pentagon never informed its boss, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who was right there on the premises, that JFK had been assassinated?

According to McNamara, the story that General Taylor buzzed him and gave him the news is not true. According to McNamara, the story that some aide handed him a UPI dispatch about the shooting is not true either.

By McNamara's account (In Retrospect, p. 90), he was in a budget meeting when he received a phone call from Bobby Kennedy about 2 P.M. (1 P.M. Dallas time) informing him that JFK had been shot. McNamara says that "we simply did not know what to do," so he continued with his meeting on the budget. The meeting was adjourned about 45 minutes later when a second call came from Bobby (again, no word from anyone in the Pentagon to its boss) that JFK was dead.

In sum, the Secretary of Defense did not know that JFK had been shot till about half an hour after the fact (at which time he took no action whatsoever), and was not informed that the President was dead until about 45 minutes later. In neither instance did the information come from anyone in McNamara's own Defense Department. The news came from outside phone calls from the President's brother.

To me this is clear evidence of military complicity in the assassination. There is only one plausible explanation for the Pentagon not informing its civilian head and Cabinet member that the president had been assassinated. It was to keep him completely out of the way, like six other Cabinet members stranded together on an airplane over the Pacific Ocean, till "regime change" was successfully completed. All part of good planning.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does anyone else find it odd that the Pentagon never informed its boss, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who was right there on the premises, that JFK had been assassinated?

According to McNamara, the story that General Taylor buzzed him and gave him the news is not true. According to McNamara, the story that some aide handed him a UPI dispatch about the shooting is not true either.

By McNamara's account (In Retrospect, p. 90), he was in a budget meeting when he received a phone call from Bobby Kennedy about 2 P.M. (1 P.M. Dallas time) informing him that JFK had been shot. McNamara says that "we simply did not know what to do," so he continued with his meeting on the budget. The meeting was adjourned about 45 minutes later when a second call came from Bobby (again, no word from anyone in the Pentagon to its boss) that JFK was dead.

In sum, the Secretary of Defense did not know that JFK had been shot till about half an hour after the fact (at which time he took no action whatsoever), and was not informed that the President was dead until about 45 minutes later. In neither instance did the information come from anyone in McNamara's own Defense Department. The news came from outside phone calls from the President's brother.

To me this is clear evidence of military complicity in the assassination. There is only one plausible explanation for the Pentagon not informing its civilian head and Cabinet member that the president had been assassinated. It was to keep him completely out of the way, like six other Cabinet members stranded together on an airplane over the Pacific Ocean, till "regime change" was successfully completed. All part of good planning.

I agree Ron.

The question of Taylor's presence in Dallas is unresolved, imo, and the story of the JCS meeting with West German delegates at the time of the assassination must be regarded with suspicion in light of this and the fact that LeMay was in Michigan.

One could speculate that Taylor may have been in Dallas to ensure that JFK's body was removed from Dallas and taken to Bethesda for 'autopsy' post haste. Who's going to argue with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs?

Keeping civilian department heads out of the loop fits nicely into the overall picture.

No wonder McNamara doesn't like talking about the assassination. He probably watched the events transpire with the knowledge that he was powerless to intervene. Anyway, his new boss had an urgent assignment for him to keep his mind off Dallas. Something to do with Vietnam.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...

It was to keep him completely out of the way, like six other Cabinet members stranded together on an airplane over the Pacific Ocean, till "regime change" was successfully completed. All part of good planning.

Speaking of that unusual episode where the cabinet members were flown to two places, first Hawaii I think, then were en route to Japan when they got the news... Does anyone know how those meetings, necessitating flying long distances, originated? Who set up the meetings and/or told the cabinet members to attend?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does anyone else find it odd that the Pentagon never informed its boss, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who was right there on the premises, that JFK had been assassinated?

According to McNamara, the story that General Taylor buzzed him and gave him the news is not true. According to McNamara, the story that some aide handed him a UPI dispatch about the shooting is not true either.

By McNamara's account (In Retrospect, p. 90), he was in a budget meeting when he received a phone call from Bobby Kennedy about 2 P.M. (1 P.M. Dallas time) informing him that JFK had been shot. McNamara says that "we simply did not know what to do," so he continued with his meeting on the budget. The meeting was adjourned about 45 minutes later when a second call came from Bobby (again, no word from anyone in the Pentagon to its boss) that JFK was dead.

In sum, the Secretary of Defense did not know that JFK had been shot till about half an hour after the fact (at which time he took no action whatsoever), and was not informed that the President was dead until about 45 minutes later. In neither instance did the information come from anyone in McNamara's own Defense Department. The news came from outside phone calls from the President's brother.

To me this is clear evidence of military complicity in the assassination. There is only one plausible explanation for the Pentagon not informing its civilian head and Cabinet member that the president had been assassinated. It was to keep him completely out of the way, like six other Cabinet members stranded together on an airplane over the Pacific Ocean, till "regime change" was successfully completed. All part of good planning.

Robert McNamara is portrayed as a supporter of JFK's move to the left in 1963. However, McNamara had a motive for wanting JFK removed from office in 1963. Both McNamara and LBJ were under investigation over the TFX scandal at the time. Evidence from Evelyn Lincoln suggests that JFK was determined to "clean up" this corruption in his government.

In the last few months of Eisenhower’s administration the Air Force began to argue that it needed a successor to its F-105 tactical fighter. This became known as the TFX/ F-111 project. In January, 1961, Robert McNamara, changed the TFX from an Air Force program to a joint Air Force-Navy under-taking. On 1st October, the two services sent the aircraft industry the request for proposals on the TFX and the accompanying work statement, with instructions to submit the bids by 1st December, 1961. Three of the bids were submitted by individual companies: the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, the North American Aviation Corporation and the Boeing Company. The other three bids represented team efforts: Republic Aviation & Chance Vought; General Dynamics Corporation & Grumman Aircraft; and McDonnell Aircraft & Douglas Aircraft. (1)

It soon became clear that Boeing was expected to get the contract. Its main competitor was the General Dynamics/Grumman bid. General Dynamics had been America’s leading military contractors during the early stages of the Cold War. For example, in 1958 it obtained $2,239,000,000 worth of government business. This was a higher figure than those obtained by its competitors, such as Lockheed, Boeing, McDonnell and North American. (2) More than 80 percent of the firm’s business came from the government. (3) However, the company lost $27 million in 1960 and $143 million in 1961. According to an article by Richard Austin Smith in Fortune Magazine, General Dynamics was close to bankruptcy. Smith claimed that “unless it gets the contract for the joint Navy-Air Force fighter (TFX)… the company was down the road to receivership”. (4)

General Dynamics had several factors in its favour. The president of the company was Frank Pace, the Secretary of the Army (April, 1950-January, 1953). The Deputy Secretary of Defence in 1962 was Roswell Gilpatric, who before he took up the post, was chief counsel for General Dynamics. The Secretary of the Navy was John Connally, a politician from Texas, the state where General Dynamics had its main plant. When he left the job in 1962 he was replaced by another Texan, Fred Korth. According to author Seth Kantor, Korth, the former president of the Continental National Bank of Fort Worth, Texas, only got the job as Secretary of the Navy after strong lobbying from Johnson. (5) A few weeks after taking the post, Korth overruled top Navy officers who had proposed that the X-22 contract be given to Douglas Aircraft Corporation. Instead he insisted the contract be granted to the more expensive bid of the Bell Aerosystem Development Company. This was a subsidiary of Bell Aerospace Corporation of Forth Worth, Texas. (6) For many years Korth had been a director of Bell (7). The chairman of the company, Lawrence Bell, was a fellow member of the Suite 8F Group.

Korth also became very involved in discussions about the TFX contract. Korth, was the former president of the Continental Bank, which had loaned General Dynamics considerable sums of money during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Korth later told the McClellan committee that investigated the granting of the TFX contract to General Dynamics “that because of his peculiar position he had deliberately refrained from taking a directing hand in this decision (within the Navy) until the last possible moment.” (8).

As I. F. Stone pointed out, it was “the last possible moment” which counted. “Three times the Pentagon’s Source Selection Board found that Boeing’s bid was better and cheaper than that of General Dynamics and three times the bids were sent back for fresh submissions by the two bidders and fresh reviews. On the fourth round, the military still held that Boeing was better but found at last that the General Dynamics bid was also acceptable.” (9)

Stone goes on to argue: “The only document the McClellan committee investigators were able to find in the Pentagon in favour of that award, according to their testimony, was a five-page memorandum signed by McNamara, Korth, and Eugene Zuckert, then Secretary of the Air Force.”

Zuckert was a close friend of Tommy Corcoran who helped to get him a post with the legal staff of the fledgling Securities and Exchange Commission in 1937. He was also closely associated with John McCone. Zuckert worked with McCone as a member of the Atomic Energy Commission in the early 1950s.

McNamara justified his support for General Dynamics because “Boeing had from the very beginning consistently chosen more technically risky tradeoffs in an effort to achieve operational features which exceeded the required performance characteristics.” (10)

The TFX program involved the building of 1,700 planes for the Navy and the Air Force. The contract was estimated to be worth over $6.5 billion, making it the largest contract for military planes in the nation’s history. (11)

On 24th October, 1962, Seth Kantor reported in the Fort Worth Press that: “General Dynamics of Fort Worth will get the multibillion-dollar defence contract to build the supersonic TFX Air Force and Navy fighter plane, the Fort Worth Press learned today from top Government sources.” (12)

This was confirmed the following month when the Pentagon announced that the TFX contract would be awarded to General Dynamics. Henry M. Jackson was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Government Operations Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He learned that: “Boeing’s bid was substantially lower than its competitor’s. Reports indicated Boeing’s bid was $100 million lower on an initial development contract and that the cost difference might run as high as $400 million on the total $6.5 billion procurement.” (13)

On 12th December, Lyndon Johnson visited Forth Worth to join in the festivities at the General Dynamics plant. Congressman James Wright, the Texas Democrat representing the Fort Worth district introduced Johnson as the “greatest Texan of them all”. He pointed out that Johnson had played an important role in obtaining the TFX contract. Wright added “you have to have friends and they have to stick with you through thick and thin even if you do have merit on your side.” (14)

During the McClellan's Permanent Investigations Committee hearings into the contract, Senator Sam Ervin asked Robert McNamara “whether or not there was any connection whatever between your selection of General Dynamics, and the fact that the Vice President of the United States happens to be a resident of the state in which that company has one of its principal, if not its principal office.” At this point McNamara was close to tears and commented that: “Last night when I got home at midnight, after preparing for today’s hearing, my wife told me that my own 12-year-old son had asked how long it would take for his father to prove his honesty.” (15)

McNamara rejected the idea that Johnson was involved in the decision but evidence was to emerge that he did play an important role in the awarding of the TFX project to General Dynamics. For example, William Proxmire found some interesting information on the TFX project while investigating the role played by Richard Russell in the granting of the C-5A contract to Lockheed. The C-5A was built in Marietta, Georgia, the state that Russell represented. The Air Force Contract Selection Board originally selected Boeing that was located in the states of Washington and Kansas. However, Proxmire claimed that Russell was able to persuade the board to change its mind and give the C-5A contract to Lockhead.

Proxmire quotes Howard Atherton, the mayor of Marietta, as saying that “Russell was key to landing the contract”. Atherton added that Russell believed that Robert McNamara was going ahead with the C-5A in order to “give the plane to Boeing because Boeing got left out on the TFX fighter.” According to Atherton, Russell got the contract after talking to Lyndon Johnson. Atherton added, “without Russell, we wouldn’t have gotten the contract”. (16)

On 26th June, 1963, Clark R. Mollenhoff managed to interview Robert McNamara about his role in awarding the TFX contract to General Dynamics. McNamara claimed that Johnson had applied no political pressure on him concerning the contract. He admitted that he knew all about Fred Korth’s business relationship with General Dynamics and Bell Aerospace. He also revealed he was aware of Roswell Gilpatric’s role “as a lawyer for General Dynamics just prior to coming into government, the role of Gilpatric’s law firm in continuing to represent General Dynamics, and the amount of money Gilpatric had received from the law firm since becoming Deputy Defence Secretary”. However, he was convinced that this did not influence the decision made by Korth and Gilpatric. (17)

Several journalists speculated that Johnson and his friends in Texas had played a key role in obtaining the TFX contract for General Dynamics. (18) When "reporters discovered that the Continental National Bank of Fort Worth, was the principal money source for the General Dynamics plant" in October, 1963, Fred Korth was forced to resign as Secretary of the Navy. (19)

Hanson W. Baldwin believed that the main villain was Robert McNamara. In an article in the Saturday Evening Post, Baldwin wrote: “Mr. McNamara has pressured the Joint Chiefs of Staff to sign written statements testifying to Congress that the Administration’s defence budget is adequate. He has censored, deleted and altered statements to Congress by the chiefs of the services and their secretaries. He has downgraded, ignored, bypassed or overruled the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff… It places more and more power over the military-industrial complex in the hands of a few men in the executive branch of the government. The dollar volumes of military contracts amount to more than $20 billion annually, with billions more in backlog orders outstanding. The individual services no longer have the final power to contract… The awarding or cancellation of contracts… is now ultimately controlled by a very few men in the top echelons of the Defence Department.” (20)

Johnson’s role in these events was confirmed when Don B. Reynolds testified in a secret session of the Senate Rules Committee. As Victor Lasky pointed out, Reynolds “spoke of the time Bobby Baker opened a satchel full of paper money which he said was a $100,000 payoff for Johnson for pushing through a $7billion TFX plane contract.” (21) This testimony took place on the day that JFK was assassinated in Dallas. (22) Once in power, LBJ was able to keep this information suppressed until it posed no threat to his position.

Notes

1. Robert J. Art, The TFX Decision: McNamara and the Military, 1968 (pages 62-63)

2. William Proxmire, speech in the Senate, 24th March, 1969

3. I. F. Stone, The New York Review of Books, 1st January, 1969

4. Richard Austin Smith, Fortune Magazine, February, 1962

5. Seth Kantor, Who Was Jack Ruby?, 1978 (page 19)

6. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Despoilers of Democracy, 1965 (pages 133-137)

7. Award of the X-22 (VTOL) Research and Development Contract, 1964 (page 9)

8. Robert J. Art, The TFX Decision, 1968 (page 5)

9. I. F. Stone, The New York Review of Books, 1st January, 1969

10. Quoted by Frederic M. Scherer, The Weapons Acquisition Process: Economic Incentives, 1964 (page 37)

11. TFX Contract Investigations Hearing Report, March 1963 (pages 3-4)

12. Seth Kantor, Fort Worth Press (24th October, 1962)

13. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Pentagon, 1967 (pages 299-300)

14. Fort Worth Telegram (13th December, 1962)

15. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Despoilers of Democracy, 1965 (page 171)

16. William Proxmire, Report from Wasteland: America’s Military-Industrial Complex, 1970 (pages 100-102)

17. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Despoilers of Democracy, 1965 (pages 188-193)

18. See “Missiles and Rockets” (11th February, 1963) and Aviation Week & Space Technology (25th February, 1963)

19. Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 1993 (page 220)

20. Hanson W. Baldwin, Saturday Evening Post (9th March, 1963)

21. Victor Lasky, It Didn’t Start With Watergate, 1977 (page 144)

22. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKreynoldsD.htm

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...