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New Details About the Transfer of Power to LBJ


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New Details About the Transfer of Power to LBJ

By Steven M. Gillon

Resident Historian of the History Channel

The Huffington Post

November 3, 2009

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-m-gil...o_b_342822.html

Exactly when did doctors give up their efforts to save Kennedy's life? And when did Lyndon Johnson learn that JFK was dead? These are the central questions that need to be addressed in understanding the transfer of power on November 22, 1963. The questions may be obvious; the answers are not.

The Warren Commission concluded that Kennedy was shot at 12:30 pm. He was declared dead at 1:00 pm, and Johnson was informed at 1:20 pm. Most authors writing about the assassination, even those who question the conclusions of the Warren Commission, have accepted this timeline.

New documents recently opened to the public call into question key parts of this timeline. The first piece of evidence is a long memorandum prepared by Parkland hospital administrator Jack Price, who was standing outside Trauma Room #1 as President Kennedy was wheeled in on a stretcher. Price gave the memorandum, which outlined his actions over the next few hours, to author William Manchester. Last year, Manchester's children granted me access to their father's rich collection of materials housed at Wesleyan University for my new book, The Kennedy Assassination - 24 Hours After.

According to the document, Price wrote that Dr. Kemp Clark, one of a team of physicians working on Kennedy, came out of Trauma #1 "and told me that the president was dead and that he would sign the death certificate." Clark did not record the precise time of his conversation with Dr. Clark, but he did note that just after they finished speaking he walked down the hall and saw a priest come in the door. Price asked his assistant to escort the priest to the Trauma room.

The priest was the 70-year-old Reverend Oscar Huber. His arrival at the hospital is crucial to fixing an approximate time for when doctors had given up working on Kennedy. The most reliable source for establishing the time of Huber's arrival is Dave Powers. As a special assistant to the president, Powers played many roles - receptionist, gatekeeper, greeter, and repository of trivia. On trips like this one in Texas, he was responsible for keeping track of the schedule, making sure the presidential party did not fall too far behind.

As they were running into the hospital with the President's body, Powers had instructed secret service agent Jack Reedy to find a priest. For the next few minutes he kept checking his watch, asking the secret service: "What's the story on the priest?" Standing outside the emergency room with Mrs. Kennedy, he occupied himself by writing down everything he saw, including the names of the doctors as they responded to the call for help. "Now I was carrying the President's schedule and I was writing this thing down in pencil or ink," he told NBC newsman Sandor Vanocur in an oral history at the JFK Library.

In a handwritten note that he turned over to Manchester, Powers stated that he saw the priest coming down the hall at 12:50 pm. If true, it would mean that Dr. Clark had already determined that Kennedy was dead at least 10 minutes before the official time stated by the Warren Commission.

If the doctors were ready to declare Kennedy dead at 12:50 pm, why then was the official time listed as 1:00 pm?

The time of death was a fiction created to satisfy Mrs. Kennedy. According to Catholic doctrine, the last rites had to be delivered before the soul left the body. If her husband was already officially dead before Father Huber had a chance to administer the sacrament, it would not have been valid. "Father do you think the sacrament had effect," she asked Huber in the emergency room. He tried to ally her fears. "I am convinced that his soul had not left his body," he said. "This was a valid last sacrament."

Whether doctors had stopped working on JFK around 12:50 pm or at 1:00 pm, may seem like a minor point. The issue is vitally important, however, to understanding the timing of the transfer of power.

For the first few minutes after they arrived at Parkland Hospital, those around the President may have been able to maintain false hope that doctors could save Kennedy. But by roughly 12:50 pm, when Dr Clark told Jack Price that he was ready to sign the death certificate, it was clear that doctors had stopped trying to save his life. The President was dead, and everyone knew it. Within a few minutes, the secret service notified its office in Washington. Shortly after 1:00 pm, Robert Kennedy would get a phone call at his home in Virginia informing him that the wounds his brother suffered proved fatal.

Yet, Lyndon Johnson, standing in a cubicle a few yards away, was still in the dark. The chaos and confusion of the moment, and the profound sense of grief and loss among Kennedy's close aides, only partially explains the delay in telling LBJ that he was now President. Kennedy aides were in denial that their beloved JFK was dead, but also that LBJ, a man they despised, was now President.

When did they finally tell Johnson the news? LBJ told the Warren Commission that White House appointments secretary Kenneth O'Donnell notified him of Kennedy's death at 1:20 pm.

Johnson's statement, however, does not stand up to scrutiny. Just as Kennedy aides pushed back the official time of death to 1:00 pm, it appears that Johnson may have pushed back the clock as well.

LBJ Secret service agent Emory Roberts directly contradicted LBJ's timeline. In a lengthy interview with Manchester, Roberts claimed that he was the one who broke the news. "At 1:13 pm I told Lyndon Johnson that President Kennedy was dead," he told Manchester. "One of my agents had told me that the President was dead and I checked with the agent outside the door of trauma room 1. I went to Johnson. Cliff Carter, Rufus Youngblood, Mrs. Johnson, and the President were there. I said, 'the President is dead, sir.'" According to Roberts, Johnson turned to Cliff Carter and told him to make a note of the time. "Someone mentioned that the time was 1:13 pm," he noted.

Oddly enough, Cliff Carter, LBJ's chief aide on the trip, contradicted his boss and supported Roberts' account. On the ride back to Washington on Air Force One, Carter dictated notes about the events he witnessed at Parkland Hospital. He observed that Roberts was the first to deliver the news, and that two minutes later O'Donnell entered the room and made the announcement again.

Carter repeated the story to Manchester. "There have been many wrong accounts of this." Roberts "did the notifying," he recalled. "He just said, 'Mr. Johnson, the President is dead.'"

How could Johnson have been mistaken about such important details? It's possible given the extraordinary pressure he was under that he simply misremembered the sequences of events. More likely, Johnson was using O'Donnell as political cover to blunt any criticism that might emerge from Kennedy loyalists, especially RFK, that he had been overeager to assume the presidency. Despite receiving a steady stream of pessimistic reports about Kennedy's condition, and being informed explicitly by the secret service that JFK was dead, Johnson refused to take charge until he received the word from O'Donnell.

Technically, the powers of the presidency transferred to Johnson at 12:30 pm when the fatal third bullet shattered Kennedy's brain. For a variety of reasons -chaos and confusion at the hospital, the grief of Kennedy's close advisors and friends, their distrust and disdain for the new President, and LBJ's insecurity -- the United States was without a functioning head of state for nearly 40 minutes.

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-m-gil...html?view=print

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I recall reading not long ago that Fr. Huber once also claimed (or told Jackie) that the sacrament was administered to JFK's bare forehead, when another source established that the head was wrapped in sheeting by the time the priest arrived. That may be on a thread here, but I didn't keep track of any lay conspiracies.

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  • 4 months later...

LBJ Secret service agent Emory Roberts directly contradicted LBJ's timeline. In a lengthy interview with Manchester, Roberts claimed that he was the one who broke the news. "At 1:13 pm I told Lyndon Johnson that President Kennedy was dead," he told Manchester. "One of my agents had told me that the President was dead and I checked with the agent outside the door of trauma room 1. I went to Johnson. Cliff Carter, Rufus Youngblood, Mrs. Johnson, and the President were there. I said, 'the President is dead, sir.'" According to Roberts, Johnson turned to Cliff Carter and told him to make a note of the time. "Someone mentioned that the time was 1:13 pm," he noted.

Oddly enough, Cliff Carter, LBJ's chief aide on the trip, contradicted his boss and supported Roberts' account. On the ride back to Washington on Air Force One, Carter dictated notes about the events he witnessed at Parkland Hospital. He observed that Roberts was the first to deliver the news, and that two minutes later O'Donnell entered the room and made the announcement again.

Carter repeated the story to Manchester. "There have been many wrong accounts of this." Roberts "did the notifying," he recalled. "He just said, 'Mr. Johnson, the President is dead.'"

How could Johnson have been mistaken about such important details? It's possible given the extraordinary pressure he was under that he simply misremembered the sequences of events. More likely, Johnson was using O'Donnell as political cover to blunt any criticism that might emerge from Kennedy loyalists, especially RFK, that he had been overeager to assume the presidency. Despite receiving a steady stream of pessimistic reports about Kennedy's condition, and being informed explicitly by the secret service that JFK was dead, Johnson refused to take charge until he received the word from O'Donnell.

New Details About the Transfer of Power to LBJ

By Steven M. Gillon

Resident Historian of the History Channel

The Huffington Post

November 3, 2009

Is this the same "Resident Historian of the History Channel" who is overseeing the proposed Kennedy bashing "docu-drama"?

BK

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Yeah, the big issue for the History Channel and its resident historian is when LBJ got the news, not whether or not he had any hand in the crime. The latter is not even in the realm of possibility. Valenti, Moyers et al already took care of that.

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Is there something seemingly unrelated that LBJ may have been notified of at 1.20?

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New Details About the Transfer of Power to LBJ

By Steven M. Gillon

Resident Historian of the History Channel

The Huffington Post

November 3, 2009

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-m-gil...o_b_342822.html

Technically, the powers of the presidency transferred to Johnson at 12:30 pm when the fatal third bullet shattered Kennedy's brain. For a variety of reasons -chaos and confusion at the hospital, the grief of Kennedy's close advisors and friends, their distrust and disdain for the new President, and LBJ's insecurity -- the United States was without a functioning head of state for nearly 40 minutes.

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-m-gil...html?view=print

Kennedy was dead at 12:30 when his brains and blood flew behind him from the fatal shot from the front. There was no need to attempt reviving him, and there would not have been had he not been the President of the United States. Too bad, then the neck wound would not have been altered.

Nevertheless, Johnson was President as you say the moment that JFK was not able to perform his duties, which he was clearly not after being shot to pieces in Dealy Plaza ending at 12:30.

Professor Gillon believes that Johnson's handling of that day were the beginning of his end; rather than coming later when the Vietnam War blew up in his face.

Grab onto something and make a name for yourself;

And redeem yourself in the process from your association from something such as "The Guilty Men".

I would not have a problem with that if the Professor did not endorse the official version by boldly saying in his recent History Channel production, while Kennedy is obviously hit from the front, as seen in the Zapruder Film that was shown, that he was hit from behind by the alleged lone assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.

My only question is; Is Professor Gillon visually impaired?

It is obvious that Steve Gillon is lying about JFK's manner of death. He is not visually impaired nor is he stupid.

Shame on you Mr. Gillon.

Edited by Peter McGuire
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  • 1 month later...
New Details About the Transfer of Power to LBJ

By Steven M. Gillon

Resident Historian of the History Channel

The Huffington Post

November 3, 2009

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-m-gil...o_b_342822.html

Exactly when did doctors give up their efforts to save Kennedy's life? And when did Lyndon Johnson learn that JFK was dead? These are the central questions that need to be addressed in understanding the transfer of power on November 22, 1963. The questions may be obvious; the answers are not.

The Warren Commission concluded that Kennedy was shot at 12:30 pm. He was declared dead at 1:00 pm, and Johnson was informed at 1:20 pm. Most authors writing about the assassination, even those who question the conclusions of the Warren Commission, have accepted this timeline.

New documents recently opened to the public call into question key parts of this timeline. The first piece of evidence is a long memorandum prepared by Parkland hospital administrator Jack Price, who was standing outside Trauma Room #1 as President Kennedy was wheeled in on a stretcher. Price gave the memorandum, which outlined his actions over the next few hours, to author William Manchester. Last year, Manchester's children granted me access to their father's rich collection of materials housed at Wesleyan University for my new book, The Kennedy Assassination - 24 Hours After.

According to the document, Price wrote that Dr. Kemp Clark, one of a team of physicians working on Kennedy, came out of Trauma #1 "and told me that the president was dead and that he would sign the death certificate." Clark did not record the precise time of his conversation with Dr. Clark, but he did note that just after they finished speaking he walked down the hall and saw a priest come in the door. Price asked his assistant to escort the priest to the Trauma room.

The priest was the 70-year-old Reverend Oscar Huber. His arrival at the hospital is crucial to fixing an approximate time for when doctors had given up working on Kennedy. The most reliable source for establishing the time of Huber's arrival is Dave Powers. As a special assistant to the president, Powers played many roles - receptionist, gatekeeper, greeter, and repository of trivia. On trips like this one in Texas, he was responsible for keeping track of the schedule, making sure the presidential party did not fall too far behind.

As they were running into the hospital with the President's body, Powers had instructed secret service agent Jack Reedy to find a priest. For the next few minutes he kept checking his watch, asking the secret service: "What's the story on the priest?" Standing outside the emergency room with Mrs. Kennedy, he occupied himself by writing down everything he saw, including the names of the doctors as they responded to the call for help. "Now I was carrying the President's schedule and I was writing this thing down in pencil or ink," he told NBC newsman Sandor Vanocur in an oral history at the JFK Library.

In a handwritten note that he turned over to Manchester, Powers stated that he saw the priest coming down the hall at 12:50 pm. If true, it would mean that Dr. Clark had already determined that Kennedy was dead at least 10 minutes before the official time stated by the Warren Commission.

If the doctors were ready to declare Kennedy dead at 12:50 pm, why then was the official time listed as 1:00 pm?

The time of death was a fiction created to satisfy Mrs. Kennedy. According to Catholic doctrine, the last rites had to be delivered before the soul left the body. If her husband was already officially dead before Father Huber had a chance to administer the sacrament, it would not have been valid. "Father do you think the sacrament had effect," she asked Huber in the emergency room. He tried to ally her fears. "I am convinced that his soul had not left his body," he said. "This was a valid last sacrament."

Whether doctors had stopped working on JFK around 12:50 pm or at 1:00 pm, may seem like a minor point. The issue is vitally important, however, to understanding the timing of the transfer of power.

For the first few minutes after they arrived at Parkland Hospital, those around the President may have been able to maintain false hope that doctors could save Kennedy. But by roughly 12:50 pm, when Dr Clark told Jack Price that he was ready to sign the death certificate, it was clear that doctors had stopped trying to save his life. The President was dead, and everyone knew it. Within a few minutes, the secret service notified its office in Washington. Shortly after 1:00 pm, Robert Kennedy would get a phone call at his home in Virginia informing him that the wounds his brother suffered proved fatal.

Yet, Lyndon Johnson, standing in a cubicle a few yards away, was still in the dark. The chaos and confusion of the moment, and the profound sense of grief and loss among Kennedy's close aides, only partially explains the delay in telling LBJ that he was now President. Kennedy aides were in denial that their beloved JFK was dead, but also that LBJ, a man they despised, was now President.

When did they finally tell Johnson the news? LBJ told the Warren Commission that White House appointments secretary Kenneth O'Donnell notified him of Kennedy's death at 1:20 pm.

Johnson's statement, however, does not stand up to scrutiny. Just as Kennedy aides pushed back the official time of death to 1:00 pm, it appears that Johnson may have pushed back the clock as well.

LBJ Secret service agent Emory Roberts directly contradicted LBJ's timeline. In a lengthy interview with Manchester, Roberts claimed that he was the one who broke the news. "At 1:13 pm I told Lyndon Johnson that President Kennedy was dead," he told Manchester. "One of my agents had told me that the President was dead and I checked with the agent outside the door of trauma room 1. I went to Johnson. Cliff Carter, Rufus Youngblood, Mrs. Johnson, and the President were there. I said, 'the President is dead, sir.'" According to Roberts, Johnson turned to Cliff Carter and told him to make a note of the time. "Someone mentioned that the time was 1:13 pm," he noted.

Oddly enough, Cliff Carter, LBJ's chief aide on the trip, contradicted his boss and supported Roberts' account. On the ride back to Washington on Air Force One, Carter dictated notes about the events he witnessed at Parkland Hospital. He observed that Roberts was the first to deliver the news, and that two minutes later O'Donnell entered the room and made the announcement again.

Carter repeated the story to Manchester. "There have been many wrong accounts of this." Roberts "did the notifying," he recalled. "He just said, 'Mr. Johnson, the President is dead.'"

How could Johnson have been mistaken about such important details? It's possible given the extraordinary pressure he was under that he simply misremembered the sequences of events. More likely, Johnson was using O'Donnell as political cover to blunt any criticism that might emerge from Kennedy loyalists, especially RFK, that he had been overeager to assume the presidency. Despite receiving a steady stream of pessimistic reports about Kennedy's condition, and being informed explicitly by the secret service that JFK was dead, Johnson refused to take charge until he received the word from O'Donnell.

Technically, the powers of the presidency transferred to Johnson at 12:30 pm when the fatal third bullet shattered Kennedy's brain. For a variety of reasons -chaos and confusion at the hospital, the grief of Kennedy's close advisors and friends, their distrust and disdain for the new President, and LBJ's insecurity -- the United States was without a functioning head of state for nearly 40 minutes.

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-m-gil...html?view=print

The article is excerpted from the book The Kennedy Assassination—24 Hours After by Gillon. The only thing of consequence in that book is Johnson's hysterical breakdown which was observed by General McHugh. Gillon didn't figure out why Johnson had his breakdown, but managed to use it as the centerpiece of the book. In every other respect, the book is simply another retread of so many other apologetic books about the poor misunderstood president. He seemingly takes Johnson’s side consistently against everyone else with whom he engages in his chronic and legendary fights; in one of the oddest parts, he actually put the blame on RFK for mistreating Johnson at Andrews, this after Johnson forcefully took over Air Force One and lied about RFK's (non) agreement that the oath of office should be done in Dallas. After everything Johnson did in the first few hours, Gillon puts the blame on RFK for treating Johnson shabbily. The word McHugh used to describe Johnson's behavior was "obscene." The book is worthless as an objective source of information on Johnson since it appears to have been written as a paean to a wonderful and magnanimous president, one completely unrecognizable to most rational and objective people as being LBJ.

As to the material above, the truth is that Johnson lied about numerous things that day, the timing of his getting the message being only one. There are many other things that need to be investigated about the cache of records which Gillon was given access to by Manchester's children, starting with the many pages he was forced into deleting from his book by RFK and Jackie, for fear of pissing off Johnson and losing his political career. The question must be asked: "What was in those pages?" And further, the 200 additional pages which he voluntarily cut himself "which I felt was personal or which would injure the prestige of people now in public office." Manchester supposedly sealed them away for 100 years (until 2067) yet his children can select willy-nilly someone whose motives they may not understand and allow them the privilege of seeing this material? According to Lawrence Van Gelder's book "The Untold Story: Why the Kennedys Lost the Book Battle," some of this censured information concerning Johnson's behavior and the tenseness on board AF-1 included:

"members of the Kennedy party-in effect holding Johnson responsible for the assassination-refused to sit with him on the return flight from Dallas; that he had been brusquely blocked off from the coffin when the plane landed at Andrews AFB; that his general conduct toward Mrs. Kennedy on the plane was heavy-handed; that he had insisted she appear for his oath-taking. and prior to the settlement of the lawsuit, it was leaked that Schlesinger-within hours after the assassination-had inquired about dumping Johnson as a candidate in 1964."

I sure hope the Manchester family stood guard as they allowed him to look at this material.

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New Details About the Transfer of Power to LBJ

By Steven M. Gillon

Resident Historian of the History Channel

The Huffington Post

November 3, 2009

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-m-gil...o_b_342822.html

Exactly when did doctors give up their efforts to save Kennedy's life? And when did Lyndon Johnson learn that JFK was dead? These are the central questions that need to be addressed in understanding the transfer of power on November 22, 1963. The questions may be obvious; the answers are not.

The Warren Commission concluded that Kennedy was shot at 12:30 pm. He was declared dead at 1:00 pm, and Johnson was informed at 1:20 pm. Most authors writing about the assassination, even those who question the conclusions of the Warren Commission, have accepted this timeline.

New documents recently opened to the public call into question key parts of this timeline. The first piece of evidence is a long memorandum prepared by Parkland hospital administrator Jack Price, who was standing outside Trauma Room #1 as President Kennedy was wheeled in on a stretcher. Price gave the memorandum, which outlined his actions over the next few hours, to author William Manchester. Last year, Manchester's children granted me access to their father's rich collection of materials housed at Wesleyan University for my new book, The Kennedy Assassination - 24 Hours After.

According to the document, Price wrote that Dr. Kemp Clark, one of a team of physicians working on Kennedy, came out of Trauma #1 "and told me that the president was dead and that he would sign the death certificate." Clark did not record the precise time of his conversation with Dr. Clark, but he did note that just after they finished speaking he walked down the hall and saw a priest come in the door. Price asked his assistant to escort the priest to the Trauma room.

The priest was the 70-year-old Reverend Oscar Huber. His arrival at the hospital is crucial to fixing an approximate time for when doctors had given up working on Kennedy. The most reliable source for establishing the time of Huber's arrival is Dave Powers. As a special assistant to the president, Powers played many roles - receptionist, gatekeeper, greeter, and repository of trivia. On trips like this one in Texas, he was responsible for keeping track of the schedule, making sure the presidential party did not fall too far behind.

As they were running into the hospital with the President's body, Powers had instructed secret service agent Jack Reedy to find a priest. For the next few minutes he kept checking his watch, asking the secret service: "What's the story on the priest?" Standing outside the emergency room with Mrs. Kennedy, he occupied himself by writing down everything he saw, including the names of the doctors as they responded to the call for help. "Now I was carrying the President's schedule and I was writing this thing down in pencil or ink," he told NBC newsman Sandor Vanocur in an oral history at the JFK Library.

In a handwritten note that he turned over to Manchester, Powers stated that he saw the priest coming down the hall at 12:50 pm. If true, it would mean that Dr. Clark had already determined that Kennedy was dead at least 10 minutes before the official time stated by the Warren Commission.

If the doctors were ready to declare Kennedy dead at 12:50 pm, why then was the official time listed as 1:00 pm?

The time of death was a fiction created to satisfy Mrs. Kennedy. According to Catholic doctrine, the last rites had to be delivered before the soul left the body. If her husband was already officially dead before Father Huber had a chance to administer the sacrament, it would not have been valid. "Father do you think the sacrament had effect," she asked Huber in the emergency room. He tried to ally her fears. "I am convinced that his soul had not left his body," he said. "This was a valid last sacrament."

Whether doctors had stopped working on JFK around 12:50 pm or at 1:00 pm, may seem like a minor point. The issue is vitally important, however, to understanding the timing of the transfer of power.

For the first few minutes after they arrived at Parkland Hospital, those around the President may have been able to maintain false hope that doctors could save Kennedy. But by roughly 12:50 pm, when Dr Clark told Jack Price that he was ready to sign the death certificate, it was clear that doctors had stopped trying to save his life. The President was dead, and everyone knew it. Within a few minutes, the secret service notified its office in Washington. Shortly after 1:00 pm, Robert Kennedy would get a phone call at his home in Virginia informing him that the wounds his brother suffered proved fatal.

Yet, Lyndon Johnson, standing in a cubicle a few yards away, was still in the dark. The chaos and confusion of the moment, and the profound sense of grief and loss among Kennedy's close aides, only partially explains the delay in telling LBJ that he was now President. Kennedy aides were in denial that their beloved JFK was dead, but also that LBJ, a man they despised, was now President.

When did they finally tell Johnson the news? LBJ told the Warren Commission that White House appointments secretary Kenneth O'Donnell notified him of Kennedy's death at 1:20 pm.

Johnson's statement, however, does not stand up to scrutiny. Just as Kennedy aides pushed back the official time of death to 1:00 pm, it appears that Johnson may have pushed back the clock as well.

LBJ Secret service agent Emory Roberts directly contradicted LBJ's timeline. In a lengthy interview with Manchester, Roberts claimed that he was the one who broke the news. "At 1:13 pm I told Lyndon Johnson that President Kennedy was dead," he told Manchester. "One of my agents had told me that the President was dead and I checked with the agent outside the door of trauma room 1. I went to Johnson. Cliff Carter, Rufus Youngblood, Mrs. Johnson, and the President were there. I said, 'the President is dead, sir.'" According to Roberts, Johnson turned to Cliff Carter and told him to make a note of the time. "Someone mentioned that the time was 1:13 pm," he noted.

Oddly enough, Cliff Carter, LBJ's chief aide on the trip, contradicted his boss and supported Roberts' account. On the ride back to Washington on Air Force One, Carter dictated notes about the events he witnessed at Parkland Hospital. He observed that Roberts was the first to deliver the news, and that two minutes later O'Donnell entered the room and made the announcement again.

Carter repeated the story to Manchester. "There have been many wrong accounts of this." Roberts "did the notifying," he recalled. "He just said, 'Mr. Johnson, the President is dead.'"

How could Johnson have been mistaken about such important details? It's possible given the extraordinary pressure he was under that he simply misremembered the sequences of events. More likely, Johnson was using O'Donnell as political cover to blunt any criticism that might emerge from Kennedy loyalists, especially RFK, that he had been overeager to assume the presidency. Despite receiving a steady stream of pessimistic reports about Kennedy's condition, and being informed explicitly by the secret service that JFK was dead, Johnson refused to take charge until he received the word from O'Donnell.

Technically, the powers of the presidency transferred to Johnson at 12:30 pm when the fatal third bullet shattered Kennedy's brain. For a variety of reasons -chaos and confusion at the hospital, the grief of Kennedy's close advisors and friends, their distrust and disdain for the new President, and LBJ's insecurity -- the United States was without a functioning head of state for nearly 40 minutes.

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-m-gil...html?view=print

The article is excerpted from the book The Kennedy Assassination—24 Hours After by Gillon. The only thing of consequence in that book is Johnson's hysterical breakdown which was observed by General McHugh. Gillon didn't figure out why Johnson had his breakdown, but managed to use it as the centerpiece of the book. In every other respect, the book is simply another retread of so many other apologetic books about the poor misunderstood president. He seemingly takes Johnson's side consistently against everyone else with whom he engages in his chronic and legendary fights; in one of the oddest parts, he actually put the blame on RFK for mistreating Johnson at Andrews, this after Johnson forcefully took over Air Force One and lied about RFK's (non) agreement that the oath of office should be done in Dallas. After everything Johnson did in the first few hours, Gillon puts the blame on RFK for treating Johnson shabbily. The word McHugh used to describe Johnson's behavior was "obscene." The book is worthless as an objective source of information on Johnson since it appears to have been written as a paean to a wonderful and magnanimous president, one completely unrecognizable to most rational and objective people as being LBJ.

As to the material above, the truth is that Johnson lied about numerous things that day, the timing of his getting the message being only one. There are many other things that need to be investigated about the cache of records which Gillon was given access to by Manchester's children, starting with the many pages he was forced into deleting from his book by RFK and Jackie, for fear of pissing off Johnson and losing his political career. The question must be asked: "What was in those pages?" And further, the 200 additional pages which he voluntarily cut himself "which I felt was personal or which would injure the prestige of people now in public office." Manchester supposedly sealed them away for 100 years (until 2067) yet his children can select willy-nilly someone whose motives they may not understand and allow them the privilege of seeing this material? According to Lawrence Van Gelder's book "The Untold Story: Why the Kennedys Lost the Book Battle," some of this censured information concerning Johnson's behavior and the tenseness on board AF-1 included:

"members of the Kennedy party-in effect holding Johnson responsible for the assassination-refused to sit with him on the return flight from Dallas; that he had been brusquely blocked off from the coffin when the plane landed at Andrews AFB; that his general conduct toward Mrs. Kennedy on the plane was heavy-handed; that he had insisted she appear for his oath-taking. and prior to the settlement of the lawsuit, it was leaked that Schlesinger-within hours after the assassination-had inquired about dumping Johnson as a candidate in 1964."

I sure hope the Manchester family stood guard as they allowed him to look at this material.

Thanks for filling us in on that Phil. I saw part of the documentary on TV and thought that it was a great idea - chronicling the first 24 hours, as the Devil's in the details, but you are right, Gillon leaves out the Devil and he is most certainly there.

One thing that bothered me viewing the film was the treatment of the AF One tape recordings and transcripts of the radio transmissions, which were over an open airways and anyone with the proper frequencies could have listened in and did.

Gillon says that it was on the return trip that LBJ learned that Oswald was the assassin and there was no conspiracy, but that is no where on the existing tapes or transcripts and Gillon uses it without telling anyone that fact. Both Manchester and White read the transcript the White House provided them to read and quote but not keep, so now we don't even have that transcript, and while I don't know if Gillon tells you that in the book, they certainly don't explain it in the film.

I guess this is the kind of stuff we can expect from the History Channell over the next three years of anniversaries.

BK

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