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Did the USN et al, believe LBJ's WWIII scenario?


Tom Neal
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LBJ 'persuaded' Richard Russell and Earl Warren to 'accept' their assignments to the WC claiming that a finding other than 'LHO the Lone Nut' would result in WWIII. Did he make the same claim to the USN presumably via the SECDEF, who passed this order down to the commanding officer at Bethesda, or did Johnson simply give an order to falsify the autopsy per Lone Nut requirements directly to RADM Calvin B. Galloway, commanding officer of the Naval Medical Complex?

If neither of the above, the alternative seems to be a "Seven Days in May" military scenario. Were the Bethesda personnel acting on orders from the Chief of Naval Operations, ADM David L. McDonald, or RADM Galloway?

To put it more succinctly, was the hospital acting on LBJ's orders given post assassination, or was it a Naval Operation planned prior to the assassination? Of course, as a prerequisite, the Navy would have expected LBJ's cooperation post autopsy in this scenario...

Any takers?

Tom

Edited by Tom Neal
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Hi Tom,


I think Johnson’s initial instinct was to gain control of events and not let things get out of hand. A Cuban/Soviet action would mean war. A domestic plot would lead to a host of questions about the prime mover and their intentions. It’s my opinion that immediately after the shooting, LBJ knew something was afoot but he did not know who was driving it. He needed to keep a lid on things until he could figure out what happened, who he could trust and what to do. His immediate response was to gain control of the situation. I believe Admiral Galloway being instructed by LBJ to “control” the Bethesda autopsy makes the most sense.


I’m not convinced that the military would have gone to great lengths to conceal multiple shooters – as long as the one they caught was Oswald whom they had spent months tying to Castro and Kostikov. A couple of communist-sponsored assassins that got away? Well that makes the immediate pivot to war even more certain. I also don’t think they would have given a damn what LBJ thought. He was compromised and very controllable – and he was in the motorcade. He would have understood more clearly than anyone the penalty for non-compliance.


In my opinion, the Lone Nut Theory originated with LBJ in the immediate aftermath of the assassination. It wasn’t a well-thought-out, meticulously planned cover story. It was concocted on the fly and out of necessity. Which is why it crumbles at the slightest scrutiny.


The LBJ-Hoover calls on 11-23 and 11-29 are instructive as to what Johnson was pondering. And the 14-minute gap… very tempting to think what might have been on that tape.

Edited by Greg Wagner
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Hi Greg, Thanks for your reply!

Im not convinced that the military would have gone to great lengths to conceal multiple shooters

Re-reading my post, I should have left out the 7 Days in May reference, which indicates a coup entirely planned/executed by the military. My intended question ONLY pertained to the Navy's falsified autopsy. i.e. Was the Navy aware of and in agreement with the "intervention" (to use Senator McCain's terminology) assassination plot before it happened? Or were they only brought in by Johnson AFTER the assassination as part of the LN coverup?

Assuming Galloway, who expired in 1992, was not in agreement with eliminating JFK, prior to his death wouldn't he have realized he was used in a cover-up? Following the lifting of the gag order and/or his retirement, why did he keep completely silent? Wouldn't he try to absolve himself of creating a falsified autopsy?

Sorry for the confusion regarding the wording of my question,

Tom

Edited by Tom Neal
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Was the Navy aware of and in agreement with the "intervention" (to use Senator McCain's terminology) assassination plot before it happened? Or were they only brought in by Johnson AFTER the assassination as part of the LN coverup?

I don't buy the theory that the assassination and coverup were two distinct and separate events. It makes little sense to plot and carry out the assassination of a head of state and have no plan for the aftermath. How Kennedy's body got to Bethesda early enough for an "intervention" to occur does not pass a "smell test" as an event that was unplanned. There was one Navy Officer who was present on AF1, at Bethesda, who kept himself at arms length from the autopsy itself and who seemed to have controlled evidence long after the event.

My opinion only, but after the assassination there were people and organizations that would participate in the coverup, wittingly and unwittingly, for their own ends.

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Tom,

I submit that the list of those who knew what was coming in Dallas was short, tight and closely held. There were a handful of Navy men (ONI) who knew and likely played a role, such as David Sooy and Hal Feeney. I doubt anyone like Galloway would have been in the loop prior to the event. Admiral Burkley arrives and tells him, "I'm acting on the direct orders of the President. This is a matter of national security and this is how this is going to work...."

Why do those who know things mostly keep silent, even later in life? Why has the Kennedy family largely remained silent? Why do the other films and photographs of the assassination remain underground? In my opinion, because those in possession of such information understand what it would mean for their lives and their families should they elect to engage in a frontal assault on the national security establishment.

Edited by Greg Wagner
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Hi Chris,

You bring up a couple great points. Just my opinion, but here’s how I see it.

I think the conspirators certainly had a plan for the aftermath. That was why they spent much of 1963 putting Oswald together, the Mexico City fraud providing the clearest insight as to their objective. I believe they wanted two things, the removal of JFK and to hand the public Oswald the Castro/Soviet agent as the assassin. Oswald alone or Oswald and communist confederates who got away – I don’t think they cared.

There were about 4 1/2 hours from the time of the shooting until AF1 landed at Andrews. I believe that during this time LBJ didn’t know who was behind the assassination and his focus was on gaining control of the situation. How this shell game with the body, the pre-autopsy work on it and the control of the official autopsy was arranged on the fly (literally) is challenging, but I believe there was time to make it happen and I would also speculate that this could be why we are missing several hours of the AF1 audio recordings.

I agree that Admiral Burkley is very interesting. That’s who Johnson would have worked through to gain control of the body and the autopsy. All Burkley would have had to tell Galloway and anyone else is, “I’m acting on the direct orders of the President and this is a matter of national security.” Burkley was one of those at Parkland who insisted the body be removed from Dallas and taken to Washington for the post mortem. And he was a driving force aboard AF1:

http://jfkcountercoup.blogspot.com/search?q=tapes

Bill Kelly: Onboard Air Force One on the return flight to Washington, Secret Service Agent Kellerman, and later General Ted Clifton (Military Aide to the President) make it clear that their desire is for an ambulance and limousine to take President Kennedy’s body to Walter Reed General Hospital for autopsy “…under guard…,” as specified by General Clifton. Gerald Behn, Head of the White House Secret Service Detail, counters that a helicopter has been arranged to take the President’s body to the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda for autopsy, and that all other personnel will be choppered to the South Grounds of the White House. Ultimately, the President’s physician, Admiral George Burkley (on Air Force One), sides with Gerald Behn (at the White House) in support of a Bethesda autopsy and persuades the Surgeon General of the Army, General Heaton (in Washington) to cancel arrangements for a Walter Reed autopsy. Once it becomes clear that Bethesda is to be the site, two things happen: first, both Admiral Burkley and General Clifton insist that the President’s body be transported to Bethesda by ambulance, even though Gerald Behn at the White House informs General Clifton that President Kennedy’s Naval Aide, CAPT Shepard, has assured him that it will be no problem for the helicopter to carry the heavy casket; second, even though Admiral Burkley and General Clifton insist on ambulance transport of JFK’s body to Bethesda, Gerald Behn at the White House subsequently orders Roy Kellerman: “You accompany the body aboard the helicopter.”

In a 1967 oral history, Kennedy's personal physician was asked if he agreed with the Warren Commission on the number of bullets that entered the President's body. Burkley replied, "I would not care to be quoted on that."

Burkley’s HCSA testimony revealed nothing… official story all the way. But check out this Sprague memo from March 1977. Did Burkley ever go on record with anything other than the company line?

 

Edited by Greg Wagner
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Burkley tried to go on record with information arguing conspiracy, he had his lawyer contact the HSCA to offer it and received no response at the time. Seeing which way the committee was being driven he later backed off and kept his head down. When the ARRB asked for his personal records to investigate what he might have had to offer, his lawyer was receptive but Burkley's daughter turned them down flat.

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Larry & Greg,

Admiral Burkley seemed to be in the chain of custody of many pieces of evidence that subsequently went missing. Let me know if I'm mistaken or if you can add to this pile:

A bone fragment (or fragments) known as the Weitzman/Burros fragment

The original Autopsy Protocol/Notes

JFK's brain

A foot locker or cabinet stored with Evelyn Lincoln containing items related to JFK Autopsy

When the ARRB asked for his personal records to investigate what he might have had to offer, his lawyer was receptive but Burkley's daughter turned them down flat.

I remember reading that in the ARRB docs.

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Chris, I cover Burkley and his activities on and following Nov. 22 in fair detail in SWHT and I would have to go back and look but I think your list is pretty good....not sure about the original autopsy notes becasue I think there is a separate narrative about how two separate sets of those were either destroyed or simply went missing... I seem to recall that Johnson and Clarke had an exchange about what Burkley had taken and how they might retrieve it but that came to naught. If you have the 2010 ed of SWHT check chapter 15 as I tried to include a good number of the evidentiary anomalies there including what Doug Horne had just written about from his ARRB work.

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Larry,

Thanks for the info. Yes, I'm also not sure of the autopsy notes, who burned what is another subject entirely.

Here is Andy Purdy's 1977 memo detailing his search for material. In it, Admiral Burkley says he took possession of the un-sectioned brain despite Humes wanting to put it back in the body. This raises several questions and may reflect Humes' ulterior motives.

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=600&search=Burkley#relPageId=1&tab=page

I have to add the "Burkley Death Certificate" to the list:

Bone fragments known as the Weitzman/Burros fragments (purportedly put back in JFK's skull)

The original Autopsy Protocol

A JFK Death Certificate

JFK's brain

A foot locker or cabinet stored with Evelyn Lincoln containing items related to JFK Autopsy

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Chris, its pure speculation but there an alternate scenario here.....it starts with Burkley telling the Bethesda commander that they do not need to do a full autopsy but rather just collect the bullets

as evidence. The commander turned him down on that but it seems that Burkley might have been sent there with marching orders. However as things proceeded Burkley may well have come to

realize that what was going on was not strictly legitimate. There is also some thought that he was close to the Kennedy family and that he might have taken the initiative to remove certain

key evidence to preserve it should RFK decide to launch an independent inquiry, either then as Attorney General or possibly even later if he became President. That is especially interesting in that

nobody including either Johnson or Clarke seem to have put a leash on him to retrieve the items listed - suggesting that Burkley himself had some sort of leverage or protection.

-- Just a thought

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Larry,

I'm in the pure speculation mode as well. I see the scenario that you bring up as entirely possible, as well.

My supposition is this though:

If there was a conspiracy, then someone, in a position of authority, had the goal of getting JFK's body to a place where it's autopsy could be controlled. I don't see LBJ micro managing this effort.

Those missing AF1 tapes would come in handy but since they are unavailable, who do you think would be on the short-list? Kellerman? Burkley?

edit - spelling

Edited by Chris Newton
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Well the thing is the SS agents literally got pushed out of the ambulance at the airport so it seems they were not really in charge. As you say I don't see Johnson micromanaging the effort

but he may very well have passed on word to Burkley to get JFK to a secure facility. That makes a lot of sense and as I recall there was some talk of that on the plane...and Burkley

would obviously think of Bethesda. According to Burkley it was his orders in Dallas that essentially took control of the body, he goes on at length about that in his statements taking

full blame because Jackie told him personally she would not leave Dallas otherwise. That makes some sense to me although I know there is a tendency to make it more suspicious

than that. But if true, that essentially put Burkley into the position as the guy who was taking charge of the body - which give his position as JFK's Doctor makes good sense. And

having him send it to a Naval hospital makes sense too. And there were widespread security fears and clearly diversionary measures taken in the transfer with multiple coffins and

multiple transfer groups involved. That seems to have come at least partially from JFK's friend and WH security aide whose name escapes me at the moment.

So the best I can give you is the thought that someone passed word to Burkley on the plane or he took the authority himself (not sure he was a big Johnson fan) to be responsible

for the body. Anyway, to make a long story short, I'm a believer in early exploratory surgery but I'm open to the fact that it occurred at Bethesda, with the Doctors proceeding

upon receipt of the body and before they were told they curtain was being opened and the official autopsy could begin....ooops. I think there is a case for that and Horne

makes it. As you know I favor an "iterative" cover up which left all sorts of loose ends. I also posit that the attack was supposed to look like a conspiracy, with multiple shooters

and both front and back entry wounds being no issue. That only became an issue when it became desirable for a lone nut to be introduced to abort an in depth conspiracy investigation.

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Larry,

I'm in the pure speculation mode as well. I see the scenario that you bring up as entirely possible, as well.

My supposition is this though:

If there was a conspiracy, then someone, in a position of authority, had the goal of getting JFK's body to a place where it's autopsy could be controlled. I don't see LBJ micro managing this effort.

Those missing AF1 tapes would come in handy but since they are unavailable, who do you think would be on the short-list? Kellerman? Burkley?

edit - spelling

who would get involved in a conspiracy that required you to kidnap the president's body; move it to a facility where alterations to make it look like he was shot from the back, or at the least medically ambiguous enough such that you could still make the case for shots from behind; and then return the body to the hospital; and control the autopsy. quite the shell game. but count me out.

maybe one of the military's responsibilities was to provide the autopsy because they could promise control.

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