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New podcast on POLITICAL TRUTH: THE MEDIA AND THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY


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I'm halfway through the pod cast.  I'm almost halfway through the book as well.  I've been busy lately and just got back to reading a few more pages yesterday.  I stopped yesterday evening on page 193.  Listening to you talk about Epstein, Inquest and the source of the title for your book felt a little ironic given where I stopped.  "To reassure the nation and Protect the national Interest".

I had to wonder.  The second time the call disconnected, did you hang up on him just to get him to shut up a minute so you could talk?  He did give you the floor shortly afterwards.  There is no question he is knowledgeable.  Either way the exposure is precious.  I just wondered at that point.

It was gratifying to hear Larry Hancock's In Denial promoted during the break.  It's on my short list based on something he mentioned (back story on Cuba).

If anyone didn't realize the pod cast is already out, ready to hear, right here, right now:

The Ochelli Effect Archives - Ochelli.com

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It was a fine interview by Chuck, but our phone connection

went dead several times, and he shortly afterward

called me back each time. We didn't know what caused

that glitch. He said he filled in each time. He is indeed

highly knowledgeable and an excellent interviewer.

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Posted (edited)

I was joking about you hanging up on him.  But that was the second time the connection was lost, after he had been going on a bit without letting you say much up to that point and I honestly did wonder if you might have hung up on him in frustration.  He did let you speak freely afterwards, and I concluded otherwise.

However, I did count five total disconnections.  Which raised the antenna on my tin foil hat.  Has that ever happened to Ochelli before?  Given the subject of your book I had to wonder if a mockingbird was listening in and pulling strings in it's nest.  Since it couldn't sing in this case.

In any case, thank you and Chuck for your perseverance in staying connected.  It was informative for me. 

Edited by Ron Bulman
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I made a few notes during the second half of the interview.  

I don't remember and didn't note if it was you or Chuck who mentioned three presidents in a row 'forced" out of office (JFK, LBJ and Nixon).  It made me wonder, in a sense maybe five?   After Watergate and being Nixon's chosen replacement Ford never had a chance.  Maybe not what "they" wanted but still forced out of office by Nixon/WG in essence. 

Carter was already screwed by inflation, then the failed hostage rescue effort.  But finally the October Surprise by Regan, Bush and Co., or vices versa.

I'd forgotten about the accusation Kenny O'Donnel was to be fired the Monday after the trip.  He was involved in selection of the parade route, something about working with the CIA or Secret Service?   

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Ford's pardon of Nixon sealed his fate. Carter was sabotaged

in the hostage rescue effort and then a victim of the October

Surprise, so we should add him to the list. I go into O'Donnell's

role in the plot in INTO THE NIGHTMARE:

 

JOHNNY, HE HARDLY KNEW YE

 

Further support for the presence of a shooter on the knoll came from surprising sources, Kennedy’s close aides Kenneth O’Donnell and Dave Powers, who were riding in the Secret Service followup car and witnessed the assassination at close range. Their once-private recollections were reported in House Speaker Thomas (Tip) O’Neill’s 1987 book, Man of the House: The Life and Political Memoirs of Speaker Tip O’Neill (with William Novak). After John F. Kennedy was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1952, O’Neill was the man who replaced him in their Massachusetts district of the House of Representatives before going on to become speaker from 1977 through 1987. O’Neill wrote in his book:

 

I was never one of those people who had doubts or suspicions about the Warren Commission's report on the president's death. But five years after Jack died, I was having dinner with Kenny O'Donnell and a few other people at Jimmy's Harborside Restaurant in Boston, and we got to talking about the assassination.

I was surprised to hear O'Donnell say that he was sure he had heard two shots that came from behind the fence.

 

"That's not what you told the Warren Commission," I said.

 

"You're right," he replied. "I told the FBI what I had heard, but they said it couldn't have happened that way and that I must have been imagining things. So I testified the way they wanted me to. I just didn't want to stir up any more pain and trouble for the family."

 

"I can't believe it," I said. "I wouldn't have done that in a million years. I would have told the truth."

 

"Tip, you have to understand. The family -- everybody wanted this thing behind them."

 

Dave Powers was with us at dinner that night, and his recollection of the shots was the same as O'Donnell's. Kenny O'Donnell is no longer alive, but during the writing of this book I checked with Dave Powers [who from 1964 until 1994 was museum curator of the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum]. As they say in the news business, he stands by his story.

 

And so there will always be some skepticism in my mind about the cause of Jack's death. I used to think that the only people who doubted the conclusions of the Warren Commission were crackpots. Now, however, I'm not so sure.

 

O’Donnell’s behavior surrounding the assassination, and not only his lie in this critical matter, raised questions in my mind. He had the reputation of being a great Kennedy loyalist, an impression promoted by the intermittently powerful yet somewhat ludicrous 2000 film Thirteen Days. Although it dramatizes the opposition Kennedy faced from General Curtis LeMay in the Cuban Missile Crisis, it blinks on the full implications of that conflict and grossly exaggerates the role of Kennedy’s special assistant/appointments secretary by portraying him as a key presidential confidant in that crisis; JFK’s speechwriter Ted Sorensen mockingly described the film as “Kenny O’Donnell saving the world.” It turned out the film was hardly an unbiased historical account. According to Britain’s Guardian newspaper, it was covertly an O’Donnell family enterprise: “His son Kevin, an internet tycoon, helped bankroll a buyout of Beacon Entertainment, which made the movie, and appears to have been the partial inspiration for promoting his father -- played by Kevin Costner -- to the role of the ‘ordinary Joe’ hero audiences identify with.”

 

I find it hard to accept Kenneth O’Donnell as a loyal, sympathetic figure because I can’t overlook his role in covering up the truth about the assassination. When asked by Warren Commission assistant counsel Arlen Specter his “reaction as to the source of the shots,” O’Donnell testified cryptically, “My reaction in part is reconstruction -- is that they came from the right rear. That would be my best judgment.” Powers more truthfully told the commission, “My first impression was that the shots came from the right and overhead, but I also had a fleeting impression that the noise appeared to come from the front in the area of the triple overpass. This may have resulted from my feeling, when I looked forward toward the overpass, that we might have ridden into an ambush."

 

The 1972 book by O’Donnell and Powers, with Joe McCarthy, “Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye”: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, is silent on the source of the shots, but it does indicate that Powers, unlike O’Donnell, did not accept the single-bullet theory: “Dave, who was watching the President and Connally carefully during the shooting, still thinks that the first bullet hit Kennedy in the neck, the second struck Connally and the third one ripped open the President’s head.” O’Donnell also admits interfering with a Secret Service man’s attempt to respond to the shots: “A Secret Service agent beside me, probably Tim McIntyre who was standing behind Clint Hill on the left running board, pulled his gun and I reached for it, pushing it down, thinking that if he fired, he might hit somebody in the crowd.”

 

O’Donnell also was instrumental in the illegal removal of Kennedy’s body from Dallas, which prevented a legitimate autopsy and made the coverup of a conspiracy possible. Furthermore, O’Donnell had played a major role, and probably a decisive one, in choosing the Trade Mart as the venue for JFK’s Dallas speech, evidently in concert with Texas Governor John Connally, who was pressing hard for it. And according to Secret Service expert Vince Palamara, it was O’Donnell who had decided that neither of Kennedy’s military aides, Brigadier General Godfrey McHugh or Major General Chester Clifton, would ride in the presidential limousine, as one usually did, and instead placed them far behind JFK in the motorcade and unable to see the president. The 1964 Ford Mercury station wagon in which they were riding was the sixteenth car in line, just ahead of the first press bus, and, according to researcher Todd Wayne Vaughan, originally was scheduled to carry members of the Washington press corps and was the personal vehicle of assassination “researcher” Mary Ferrell.

The decision by O’Donnell to choose the Trade Mart for the president’s speech, with the additional connivance of the Secret Service, determined that the limousine would pass through Dealey Plaza at a slow pace. The HSCA staff report on the motorcade cites Gerald A. Behn, the Secret Service’s Special Agent in Charge of the White House Detail, as stating that O’Donnell made the decision for the Trade Mart, overruling security concerns expressed by Behn and others about that location. O’Donnell testified to the commission, “There was a controversy between the Governor [Connally], and between some of the local Democratic figures, and between our people, as to whether the place finally selected was the best place for the President to give the address. The Governor felt very strongly on it. And we finally acquiesced to his views. But I would think that came rather late in the game, and it would have altered the route quite dramatically.” According to the HSCA, the principal advance man on the Texas trip, Jerry Bruno, made notes on November 6 indicating that “O’Donnell held and exercised the power to make the final decision and accordingly gave orders to Bruno and Behn to implement the decision.” But the decision was not finally settled until November 14, the day of the motorcade planning meeting in the office of Dallas attorney Eugene Locke, the head of the State Democratic Executive Committee of Texas; Bruno wrote in his journal, “On this day, Kenny O’Donnell  [who was in Washington that day] decided that there was no other way but to go to the mart.”

 

On November 15, Bruno wrote, “The White House announced that the Trade Mart had been approved. I met with O’Donnell and [Peace Corps deputy director and Texas advance man Bill] Moyers who said that Connally was unbearable and on the verge of cancelling the trip. They decided they had to let the Governor have his way.” November 14 was the day Democratic National Committee representative Jack Puterbaugh, who presumably was working closely with O’Donnell, participated in that final decision in Dallas or perhaps conveyed it from Washington (see further discussion of the all-important choice of the motorcade route, and the role of Locke as well, in Chapters 6 and 16). As mentioned earlier, when William Manchester interviewed O’Donnell about his and the Secret Service’s heated struggle, with guns being drawn, to remove President Kennedy’s coffin illegally from Parkland Hospital over the objections of the local medical examiner, Dr. Earl Rose, O’Donnell said, “it became physical -- us against them.” Manchester suggests that Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman made the initial decision to remove the body, but also calls O’Donnell “the leader of Rose’s opposition.” O’Donnell told the commission that it was his decision to remove the coffin so that Mrs. Kennedy would not have to stay in Dallas when an autopsy was being performed: ”I in my own mind determined that we had no alternative but to just depart. . . . I notified the Secret Service and [U.S. Air Force] General [Godfrey] McHugh [military aide to Kennedy], and told them to get ready to depart. We went in and took the body out.” Manchester quotes O’Donnell as saying to a Dallas policeman at Parkland, “Get the hell over. We’re getting out of here. We don’t give a damn what these laws say.”

 

If all these actions by O’Donnell were the actions of a Kennedy loyalist, I wondered what a disloyal aide might have done under the same circumstances. And why was there such an effort in later years to burnish the image of O’Donnell, including not only a 2000 big-budget movie but also a 1998 book by his daughter Helen, A Common Good: The Friendship of Robert F. Kennedy and Kenneth P. O’Donnell? I searched for clues about why O’Donnell’s loyalty to JFK might have been compromised.

 

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh provides them in his 1997 book The Dark Side of Camelot, alleging that O’Donnell was the center of a corruption scandal at the White House that appeared about to explode once the president returned from Dallas. John and Robert Kennedy reportedly were already working to shed Lyndon Johnson from the 1964 ticket, using the spreading Bobby Baker scandal as leverage. Hersh writes: “During his last days in Washington, [President] Kennedy was confronted with a serious allegation against Kenny O’Donnell.” According to Hersh, the allegation came from Kennedy presidential campaign and Democratic National Committee operative Paul Corbin, who was close to Bobby: “In the late spring of 1963, Corbin concluded that he had solid evidence of the skimming of campaign contributions by O’Donnell and two others, and he went to [a close friend of JFK, journalist Charles] Bartlett to have him warn the president.” Although JFK was dismissive of the allegations, Bobby was not. Hersh writes that Corbin

 

returned to his inquiry with renewed determination, Bartlett told me, and, after months of preparation, “brought Bobby the stuff. He had affidavits proving that it was still going on” as of November 1963. “He was a good sleuth,” Bartlett said. “He told me he got it all together, signed statements, with Kenny O’Donnell being the bagman. He took it to Bobby and Bobby went through it and said, ‘This is it.’ He called Jack” in front of Corbin. Evelyn Lincoln told the attorney general that his brother had just left for Texas. “Bobby said,” Corbin told Bartlett, ‘“We’ll do it Monday. First thing.”’ After the assassination, the distraught attorney general told Corbin to let the issue rest. “Lyndon wouldn’t believe me,” Kennedy said, according to Corbin.

 

So both O’Donnell and Johnson may have been saved by Dallas from expulsion from the administration or possibly even prison terms. Hersh reports that Bartlett in the summer of 1963 wrote JFK another memorandum revealing that O’Donnell, far from being loyal, actually held his boss in contempt: “O’Donnell, while drinking at a bar in Hyannis Port, had been overheard by a Secret Service agent making derogatory remarks about the president. ‘The purport of O’Donnell’s remarks,’ Bartlett wrote, ‘was that the President was in fact rather stupid and that if it were not for [O’Donnell’s]  assistance, he would fall flat on his face. O’Donnell said he had had a great many offers from industry but that he was afraid to leave because he knew that the administration would fall apart.’ Kennedy’s response was to give the note to O’Donnell, who had the Secret Service agent immediately removed from the White House presidential detail, disrupting his career.”

 

Hersh also quotes from a July 19, 1963, memo Bartlett wrote the president reporting, “An aura of scandal is building up -- someone as remote as John Sherman Cooper [the Republican senator from Kentucky] observed to me the other evening that . . . it would be a terrible thing if your record as President were to be impaired by disloyalty on the part of your associates.” Cooper that November was appointed by President Johnson to the Warren Commission.

 

After the assassination, O’Donnell began a long slide into alcoholism that led to his premature death in 1977. He worked for LBJ for a while, and then for RFK in his 1968 presidential campaign, and he made two unsuccessful bids to become governor of Massachusetts. His daughter writes that he was always ”haunted” by Dallas. Although she makes no mention of the financial scandal that Hersh reports was brewing, and blames Governor Connally for choosing the Trade Mart, she writes that her father blamed himself for choosing the motorcade route through Dealey Plaza: “His decision would haunt Kenny for the remainder of his life.” O’Donnell would tell his wife, “I let him down. I failed. I let him down.” As Mort Sahl put it, President Kennedy “had a strange group of friends. Remarkably absent when he fell.”

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I bought Into The Nightmare within a year after it came out.  One of the few positive things from the 50th anniversary, given the m$m coverage and lockdown.  I'd forgotten many of the details mentioned on Kenny O'Donnell.

JFK aide Air Force General Godfrey McHugh or Ted Clifton normally between the two front seat SSA's taking notes, relegated to a position behind JFK, out of sight.  McHugh says this was unusual, achieved by a first time ever request by the president's aide Ken O'Donnell.  

If skimming campaign funds might he have been compromised by the FBI, CIA or SS?  

Also forgot about the (normal) flatbed truck for photographers to lead the limo being cancelled at the last minute at love field.  Kind of like Rybka and Lawton by Roberts?  This could lead to questions for Vince.

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The flatbed photographer's truck has been troubling me.  I was under the impression it was a common thing for JFK parades.  A 10 second clip on the local or national nightly news, JFK in Sioux Falls today.  Why not that day in Dallas?

"According to Tom Dillard (actually the chief photographer for the Dallas Morning News), this change occurred at "the last minute" at Love Field, where two Secret Service agents, Winston G. Lawson . . . and Roger Warner, were responsible for lining up the cars for the motorcade . . ."  Pg 123, Into The Nightmare.

If it happened last minute who ordered it?  Lawson, left behind with Rybka by Roberts wouldn't have done this on his own.  I don't remember Warner, I doubt he would either.  No one to film JFK from the front, professionally in Dealy Plaza.  A conscious decision made in advance.  Roberts?  No.  Higher up.

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