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Under Cover of Night

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I paid 90 bucks for this two volume set that clocks in at over 1000 pages.

To put it mildly, it was not worth the money or the time to read it.

Because its so long,  the review is in two parts. The first is about his spin on the medical side, and the second is his case against Johnson and his co-conspirator.  I mean Sam Rayburn was a plotter?  The guy died two years before JFK was killed!  You will double over when you read the motive.  Because it says it had utterly nothing to do with any of JFK's policies.  Further, it did not matter who was nominated that year, they would have been knocked off also.  And wait until you read what he does with his footnotes.  As per the medical aspect, although the author despises David Lifton, he actually outdoes Lifton's body switching scheme. The body was switched at Parkland and Jackie knew it.


Edited by James DiEugenio
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10 minutes ago, James DiEugenio said:

  I mean Sam Rayburn was a plotter?  The guy died two years before JFK was killed! 

That is correct. In fact, Kennedy attended Rayburn's funeral in 1961.

Sounds like this author didn't do his research.

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I highly endorse reading and culling from Sean Fetter's extremely important book Under Cover of Night, while at the same time I vehemently disagree with a fair amount of the material in that book. I used to be "telephone friends" with Sean Fetter for about 13 years as we would converse about the JFK case, but I guess because I most definitely do not endorse EVERY contention in his book, Fetter has gone radio silent on me and not responded to any of my emails in the past few months.

The JFK research community, in general, is the greatest collection of "butt hurt" people I have ever been around. Many JFK researchers are so wedded to their particular beliefs on the JFK assassination that they can barely even carry on a conversation with you if you disagree with them. I agree that I am dogmatic about the JFK case (LBJ Did It) but I can debate the case with anyone and defend my views.

I have had strong arguments and disagreements with Fetter over many things in his important book Under Cover of Night, which I encourage everyone to buy and read. The book is a mixed bag but it has some extremely valuable new material and insights in it.

No Sam Rayburn was not involved in the JFK assassination, but Sean Fetter is right about one thing: Sam Rayburn along with LBJ was involved in the blackmailing of John Kennedy (July 13 -July 14, 1960) to FORCE LYNDON JOHNSON ON THE 1960 DEMOCRATIC TICKET.

Screw Ted Sorensen's little VP list - the hated Lyndon Johnson was not even considered by the Kennedys as a VP candidate- certainly not at the 1960 Democratic convention where LBJ was running around saying JFK's dad was for Hitler and LBJ aides John Connally and India Edwards were screaming to the world that JFK had Addison's Disease and was going to die in office if elected. The rage levels of the Kennedy boys towards Lyndon Johnson was astronomical at that point and Lyndon Johnson knew it. Relations were so rancid that Lyndon Johnson, who publicly and privately for months had SWORN he would NEVER be a Vice Presidential lackey for JFK, suddenly realized and his advisors realized that if JFK were elected president, the Kennedys would immediately instigate a revolt of the Senate Democratic Caucus and REMOVE Lyndon Johnson and Democratic Majority Leader.

And if Nixon won the general election, he was not going to be like Ike and have such friendly terms with Lyndon Johnson. So LBJ decided that because the Kennedys would destroy him as Demo Majority Leader if JFK were elected, then the only possible way to give LBJ a route to power was to make a hostile takeover of the Vice Presidential slot - WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED.

And this directly led to the JFK assassination because I think Lyndon Johnson was planning to murder JFK as soon as he got on the Democratic ticket and as soon as he was actually elected Vice President in November of 1960. LBJ's right hand man Bobby Baker told Don Reynolds on Inauguration Day 1961 that JFK would not live out his term and he would die a violent death and that is exactly what happened.

DiEugenio says "But rather reluctantly, and after talking to many people, Johnson accepted [the Vice Presidency]." John Connally told LBJ these Kennedy boys play for keeps and if you don't get on the ticket as VP, your career is over because they will absolutely remove you as Senate Majority Leader. Sam Rayburn came to see the light on this as well. Vice Presidency was the only route to keep LBJ's political relevancy alive.

If the JFK-LBJ were to lose in 1960, the Johnson people could always blame it on JFK and Lyndon Johnson would be in a position to be the Democratic nominee in 1964 (or so they thought). In reality the Democratic party was changing, getting more liberal and civil rights for blacks was the top issue of the time among liberal Democrats and LBJ was his alliance with all his racist Southern friends was not where the Democratic party of the early 1960s was going.

Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn BLACKMAILED John Kennedy and FORCED HIM to put Lyndon Johnson on the 1960 Democratic. John Kennedy was, of course, sexually unhinged and he was quite fearful that his rampant womanizing, which so many people in the Democratic party and the media knew about, would finally trickle into public view and ruin his campaign. LBJ and Rayburn had a lot of material to work with and I think the #1 blackmail item they used on JFK was his sexual affair with Pamela Turnure (who died last year). The Katers had told EVERYONE about that affair including the media, the FBI and rival Democratic campaigns - so even though the media was not YET reporting on this affair it was well known.

JFK’s good friend Hy Raskin tells how Lyndon Johnson got on the Democratic ticket as VP in 1960: read the Dark Side of Camelot by Seymour Hersh, p.124-129:

Close JFK friend Hy Raskin: “Johnson was not being given the slightest bit of consideration by any of the Kennedys… On the stuff I saw it was always Symington who was going to be the vice president. The Kennedy family had approved Symington.” [Hersh, p. 124]

John Kennedy to Clark Clifford on July 13, 1960: “We’ve talked it out – me, dad, Bobby – and we’ve selected Symington as the vice president.” Kennedy asked Clark Clifford to relay that message to Symington “and find out if he’d run.” …”I and Stuart went to bed believing that we had a solid, unequivocal deal with Jack.” [Hersh, p.125]

Hy Raskin: “It was obvious to them that something extraordinary had taken place, as it was to me,” Raskin wrote. “During my entire association with the Kennedys, I could not recall any situation where a decision of major significance had been reversed in such a short period of time…. Bob [Kennedy] had always been involved in every major decision; why not this one, I pondered… I slept little that night.” [Hersh, p. 125]

John Kennedy to Clark Clifford in the morning of July 14, 1960: “I must do something that I have never done before. I made a serious deal and now I have to go back on it. I have no alternative.” Symington was out and Johnson was in. Clifford recalled observing that Kennedy looked as if he’d been up all night.” [Hersh, p. 126]

John Kennedy to Hy Raskin: “You know we had never considered Lyndon, but I was left with no choice. He and Sam Rayburn made it damn clear to me that Lyndon had to be the candidate. Those bastards were trying to frame me. They threatened me with problems and I don’t need more problems. I’m going to have enough problems with Nixon.” [Hersh, p. 126]

Raskin “The substance of this revelation was so astonishing that if it had been revealed to me by another other than Jack or Bob, I would have had trouble accepting it. Why he decided to tell me was still very mysterious, but flattering nonetheless.” [Hersh, p. 126]

JFK to Pierre Salinger on how LBJ got to be picked as Vice President: “The whole story will never be known. And it’s just as well that it won’t be.”

Stuart Symington (spartacus-educational.com)


Following the nomination and selection of Johnson as the vice-presidential candidate Thursday night, I returned to the office and was immediately called by a number of newspaper men who were checking on a story by John S. Knight, publisher of the Knight Newspapers, which purported that Johnson had forced Kennedy to select him as the vice-presidential candidate.

Earlier that day I had gone to Bob Kennedy's room which was across from mine in the Biltmore Hotel. Ken O'Donnell was there and after I came in they were discussing the possibilities for Vice President. Bob Kennedy asked me to compute the number of electoral votes in New England and in the "solid South." I asked him if he was seriously thinking of Johnson and he said he was. He said Senator Kennedy was going over to see Johnson at 10 a.m. Ken O'Donnell violently protested about Johnson's being on the ticket and I joined Ken in this argument. Both of us felt that Senator Stuart Symington would make a better candidate but Senator Johnson seemed to be on Bob's mind. I remembered all of this later that night when I saw the news report about Johnson forcing himself on the ticket.

I called Bob Kennedy that night to check the Knight story. Bob said it was absolutely untrue. From my conversation with him, however, I gathered that the selection of Johnson had not been accomplished in the manner that the papers had reported it had. I got the distinct feeling that, at best, Senator Kennedy had been surprised when he asked Senator Johnson to run for Vice-President and Johnson accepted...

A day or two after the convention, I asked JFK for the answer to that question. He gave me many of the facts of the foregoing memo, then suddenly stopped and said: "The whole story will never be known. And it's just as well that it won't be."


[Pierre Salinger, With Kennedy, p. ]


Did Lyndon Johnson use his knowledge of JFK’s affair with Pamela Turnure as leverage to force his way onto the 1964 Democratic ticket? Sounds probable to me.


In The Dark Side of Camelot published in 1997, author Seymour Hersh alleged that Kennedy had an extramarital affair with Turnure in 1958 when she was working in his Senate office.[16] In 1958, Turnure's landlady Florence Kater allegedly took a photograph of the senator leaving Turnure's apartment building in the middle of the night, a photograph that Kater tried repeatedly to bring to public attention to ruin the senator's presidential campaign, according to Hersh. Kater and her husband allegedly rigged a tape recorder to pick up sounds of the couple's lovemaking and made an enlargement of their picture of Kennedy as he exited the building.[17] The credibility of The Dark Side of Camelot was called into question immediately after its 1997 publication.[18] One of Hersh’s allegations in this book, that the Washington, DC newspaper known in 1960 as The Evening Star reported at the time what the Katers were trying to do, is patently false. [19] The entire output of the newspaper for 128 years has been digitized and can be searched by keyword and by date of publication.[20]

Florence Kater and her husband allegedly sent their information about JFK’s adultery to various print media publishers. A company called Stearn Publications supposedly passed it along to J. Edgar Hoover. Soon after, Hoover "quietly obtained a copy of the compromising sex tapes and offered them to Lyndon Johnson as campaign ammunition." Johnson "had been using all the information Hoover could find on Kennedy - during the campaign, even before the Convention. And Hoover was in on the pressure on Kennedy at the Convention." A few days after Kennedy was extorted to offer Johnson the vice presidency or be outed as a womanizerPierre Salinger, Kennedy's campaign's press secretary, had asked Kennedy whether he really expected Johnson to accept the offer or if he was merely making a polite gesture. Kennedy responded cryptically: "The whole story will never be known. And it's just as well that it won't be."  


CBS Reporter Nancy Dickerson's Account of how Lyndon Johnson got selected at the 1960 Democratic convention: the Kennedys greatly wanted Stuart Symington for VP and repeatedly had made that known.


            As the convention drew nearer, JFK had three secret meetings with Clark Clifford, who was handling the campaign of Senator Stuart Symington. The first was a luncheon at Kennedy's Washington house, where, through Clifford, he offered the Vice Presidency to Symington, provided Symington's Missouri delegation votes went to Kennedy. Symington turned down the deal. The second conversation, which took place in Los Angeles, was a repeat of the first, and again it was refused. The third conversation was in Kennedy's hideaway in Los Angeles, during which he told Clifford that he was fairly certain of a first-ballot victory and asked if Symington would be his running mate. As Clifford later told me, "There were no strings attached. It was a straight offer." The Symington and Clifford families conferred, Symington agreed to run, and Clifford relayed the news to Kennedy.

          Clifford was playing a unique role: he was not only Symington's campaign advisor but JFK's personal lawyer as well. He is one of the world's most sophisticated men, and he does not make mistakes about matters like this. As he told me, "We had a deal signed, sealed and delivered."


          Early the next morning, Thursday, July 14, John Kennedy walked down the flight of stairs from his suite to call on Senator and Mrs. Johnson. There was a new sense of seriousness about him, a reserved inner calm that was perceptible not only in the way he walked, but in the way reporters and onlookers gave him a new deference, standing aside to let him through. I never dreamed that he was there to offer the Vice Presidency to LBJ- and if any of those among the more than fifty other reporters outside the door were thinking about it, they didn't say so. It never crossed my mind because Johnson had sworn to me a dozen times, both on the air and off, that he would never take the Vice Presidency.

          For his part, Johnson had been expecting the offer; he took it at face value and said he'd think it over. A politician to his bones, he could see the merits of a Kennedy-Johnson combination. All the Johnson aides believed it was a serious offer, and LBJ went to his grave saying he thought so, but there were many in the Kennedy camp who believed that it was only a courtesy.


[Nancy Dickerson, "Among Those Present: A Reporter's View of 25 Years in Washington," pp. 43-44]


Robert Kennedy stormed into LBJ’s hotel room in Los Angeles and told him if he (LBJ) knew what was good for him, he would get off the 1960 Democratic ticket!

 LBJ and Unity: Kennedy vs. Johnson


 John Connally, Bobby Baker and a third man are in this video


Finally, the candidate's brother, Robert Kennedy, paid Johnson a visit.


I was in the room, in Johnson's bedroom with Johnson and John Connally, the three of us


alone on the morning of the nomination for the vice presidency at about 10:30, when Bobby


Kennedy stormed in and started screaming at Johnson that if he knew what was good for


him, he'd get off that ticket.


So what happened was that Mr. Rayburn and John Connally went in to meet with Bobby Kennedy.


And Bobby Kennedy said that all hell had broken loose on the convention floor and that Johnson


was going to have to withdraw, just change his mind and not accept the vice presidency.


And Mr. Rayburn looked at him and he said, "Aw," and uttered an expletive that I am not


going to use.


Old man Rayburn said, "dooky, sonny," and kicked him out.


I said, "Your brother came down here and offered him the vice presidency and Mr. Johnson accepted it.


Now, if he doesn't want him to have it, he's going to have to call and ask him


to withdraw."


And I am grateful, finally, that I can rely in the coming months on many others, on a


distinguished running mate who brings unity and strength to our platform and our ticket,


Lyndon Johnson.

Nancy Dickerson had known Lyndon Johnson since the early 1950s and had covered him for both CBS and NBC. Nancy Dickerson was a friend of Lyndon Johnson.







Edited by Robert Morrow
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So did Lyndon Johnson need J. Edgar Hoover to give him all the sex dirt on the completely sexually unhinged John Kennedy? Who needs Hoover when you have your own personal staff trailing and spying on JFK's sexual affairs? Who needs Hoover when Florence Kater has already told the national media all rival Democratic campaigns to JFK that he was having an affair with Pamela Turnure?

During the 1960 primary season JFK'S DOCTORS' OFFICES WERE BROKEN INTO. Now who would be doing this during primary season: Richard Nixon or Lyndon Johnson's people? I think we know the answer to that as LBJ operatives John Connally and India Edwards held a press conference at the 1960 Democratic convention and blared to the world that JFK had Addison's Disease, so don't nominate him because he is medically unfit to be President. That caused astronomical rage amoung the Kennedy entourage and that alone is proof that it had to have taken sexual blackmail on JFK to override all that hatred to LBJ to finally put him on the 1960 Democratic ticket.

Gossip columnist Liz Smith, from Texas and close to the LBJ people, on how Johnson's people would keep a dossier of sexual indiscretions on John Kennedy

 Author Gail Collins quoting gossip columnist Liz Smith:

           "One of Johnson's assistants and I went all through high school and college together, " Smith says. "He told me the most incredible stories. Johnson's people kept dossiers on Kennedy. They'd interview the hotel maids. The maid would be there making a bed, and Kennedy would come in and give her a boff." One of Smith's friends told her that the president had taken her up to his office while she was still wearing her elaborate ball gown. "She was lying there with her dress over her head," Smith recounted. "She looked up and he was standing there at his desk, reading some papers and zipping his fly. He just left her lying there."

 [Gail Collins, Scorpion Tongues: Gossip, Celebrity, and American Politics, p. 176]

 Liz Smith grew up with inner circle LBJ aide Horace Busby who told her that LBJ operatives had done some heavy spying on the illicit sex life of John Kennedy. Her friend Busby told Liz this sometime during the LBJ Administration.


 During the LBJ years, Helen decided she wanted an in-depth piece about the two girls in the White House – Lynda Bird and Luci Baines Johnson. I cheerfully rang my lifelong schoolmate, Horace Busby, aide to the president, sure I would get everything I needed. It seems to me I am always meeting or knowing people at the top, people who are so important, they are virtually useless to me as source and subjects.

Horace had started kindergarten with me at E.M. Daggett in Fort Worth. We had gone on together through grade school, high school and the U of T. Horace whispered on the phone, “Don’t call me here again, I’ll call you.” When he did he said he couldn’t help me, as LBJ would have his scalp. But, he added, he wanted to see me and soon asked me to dine with him in New York.

I was in my cute boots and miniskirted phase and I was looking forward to dinner with a presidential aide at someplace like “21.” Horace phoned again. “We have to eat at the hotel!” Disappointed, I still tarted myself up and kept the date. After all, dinner in the St. Regis wasn’t bad. But when I arrived he ordered me up to his room. “I can’t leave the room. I am on stakeout on the president’s orders. But damn, why didn’t you get here sooner. I was just on the phone to him. If only he’d called to find me with a girl in my room!”

As we ordered room service and talked about old times, Horace told me a lot of gossip about the Johnsons and the Kennedys before them. It seems the job of LBJ aides was to keep a record of all the rumors and scandal that had accompanied Kennedy on the campaign trail. “We followed him. We would find maids in hotels and motels who claimed Jack just stepped up behind them as they were making the bed and then – well, you know.”

I asked, “Why did you need this kind of information?”

Horace said, “Oh well, we just had it, you know. We had to have it in case we ever needed it.” I felt disillusioned. Then I asked again why he was in the St. Regis.

He said, “There are others like me all around the world. We are each in different places known to the Vietnamese, hoping Ho Chi Minh will give us a peace feeler to end the war.”

I gasped. “But Horace, isn’t this top secret? Why would you tell this to me?”

He smiled. “Who would believe you.”

Who indeed.      


 [Liz Smith, Natural Blonde: A Memoir, pp. 289-290]

Edited by Robert Morrow
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Posted (edited)


He is aware of those matters.

But it does not matter.

He all but ignores the differences between LBJ and JFK on Vietnam which go back to the siege of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, and the use of combat troops in 1961.

Then, he uses a picture of Wheeler leaning over a desk in front of LBJ during a conference to somehow articulate a conspiratorial angle to the JCS.

I have rarely read a more agenda driven, solipsistic book.  I think one has to go back to the heyday of Lamar Waldron with his whole C day invasion/Mob did it scheme to find any kid of comparison.

Edited by James DiEugenio
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JFK had already selected Stuart Symington for Vice President, then LBJ moved in for a hostile takeover of the Vice Presidency


            Clifford and the six Symingtons talked far into the night. In a separate interview Jim Symington remembered that he and his brother discouraged their father. “We told him, ‘You don’t want to go and carry another guy’s water for him. Go back to the Senate where you can make a difference.’ He said, ‘Thanks, boys.’”

            Clifford was ultimately persuasive in convincing Symington to give his assent to second place on the Democratic ticket on the grounds that he could do more for Missouri as vice president than as senator.

            They all went to bed waiting word from Kennedy.

            At the top of the Kennedy high command, a similar belief prevailed about Symington’s imminent selection. According to Dick Donahue, who spent time with Larry O’Brien and Ken O’Donnell after a brief period of celebration, “We were satisfied it was Stuart Symington. You know, that was it, and there wasn’t any doubt about it.”

            The choice of Symington had actually leaked into public print hours before Kennedy won the nomination. Both Charles Bartlett and John Seigenthaler filed stories for Wednesday  citing unnamed sources who confirmed Symington’s selection. (Jack and Robert Kennedy were later identified, respectively, as the unnamed sources.) Then all hell broke loose.

[Thomas Oliphant & Curtis Wilkie, The Road to Camelot: Inside JFK’s Five-Year Campaign, p. 259-260]

Joe Alsop on how he supported LBJ for Vice President and how many Kennedy insiders were vehemently opposed to LBJ and instead favored Sen. Stuart Symington


        I had concluded that Kennedy would make a bad mistake if he did not offer the second spot on his ticket to Lyndon Johnson. By the longest possible chalk, Johnson was, after Kennedy himself, the biggest figure in the Democratic party. To pass him over would be dangerous for that reason alone but also would imply abandonment of all hope for southern votes in the electoral college. After a little research, I had concluded that substantial numbers of Kennedy’s closest advisors were advising him passionately to avoid any sort of offer to Johnson. (Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri was the alternate choice most often mentioned.) So I laid conclusions before Phil Graham. He agreed with me on every point. I, therefore, suggested that we go to Kennedy’s suite at the Biltmore to give the candidate our advice - for what it might be worth.


[Joseph Alsop, “I’ve Seen the Best of It,” pp. 426-427]

Pierre Salinger was convinced that Lyndon Johnson blackmailed his way onto the 1960 Democratic ticket


Robert Kennedy to Pierre Salinger on why in the world John Kennedy would pick the despised Lyndon Johnson to be his VP running mate in 1960: "The whole story will never be known. And it's just as well that it won't be." RFK said this to Salinger just a few days after the 1960 Democratic convention.

John Simkin:

"One of Kennedy’s most important advisers, Hyman Raskin, claims that Kennedy had a meeting with Johnson and Rayburn early on the morning after his nomination. According to all other sources, at this time, these two men were strongly opposed to the idea of Johnson becoming Kennedy’s running-mate. However, Kennedy told Raskin a different story. Johnson was very keen to join the ticket and “made an offer he could not refuse”. Raskin took this to mean that Kennedy was blackmailed into offering Johnson the post. (16)

This view is supported by another of Kennedy’s close advisers. Pierre Salinger was opposed to the idea of Johnson being Kennedy’s running-mate. He believed that the decision would lose more votes than it would gain. Salinger believed that Kennedy would lose the support of blacks and trade unionists if Johnson became the vice-presidential candidate. Although Johnson would deliver Texas his place on the ticket would mean Kennedy would lose California. A few days after the decision had been made, Salinger asked Kennedy why? He replied, "The whole story will never be known. And it's just as well that it won't be." Salinger also got the impression that Kennedy had been blackmailed into accepting Johnson. (17)" 

Robert Kennedy said that Stuart Symington was the final pick for Vice President for JFK

(That is … until LBJ and Sam Rayburn threatened/blackmailed JFK in the AM July 14, 1960)

John Simkin: “In an interview with John Bartlow Martin for the Kennedy Oral History Project on 1st March 1964, Robert Kennedy claims that "the only people who were involved in the discussions (about who should join JFK on the ticket) were Jack and myself. Nobody else was involved in it". "We thought either (Scoop) Jackson or (Stuart) Symington". Robert goes on to say they eventually settled on Symington. Unfortunately, he does not explain why LBJ became the final choice.”

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13 minutes ago, James DiEugenio said:

have rarely read a more agenda driven, solipsistic book.  I think one has to go back to the heyday of Lamar Waldron with his whole C day invasion/Mob did it scheme to find any kid of comparison.

I saw a Waldron interview a couple years ago and got curious so I made the mistake of buying his book Hidden History or whatever it is in a Kindle sale. Good lord. That was quite possibly the worst JFK book I’ve ever read in my life, especially on New Orleans. It was truly painful to get through. 

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17 minutes ago, James DiEugenio said:


He is aware of those matters.

But it does not matter.

He all but ignores the differences between LBJ and JFK on Vietnam which go back to the siege of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, and the use of combat troops in 1961.

Then, he uses a picture of Wheeler leaning over a desk in front of LBJ during a conference to somehow articulate a conspiratorial angle to the JCS.

I have rarely read a more agenda driven, solipsistic book.  I think one has to go back to the heyday of Lamar Waldron with his whole C day invasion/Mob did it scheme to find any kid of comparison.

There are many things in Sean Fetter's book I disagree with. No I do not think Sam Rayburn and LBJ were planning to kill the next president as early as 1956 when LBJ got humiliated in his abortive attempt to run for president at the 1956 Democratic convention.

But the big ticket item that Fetter gets right is that Lyndon Johnson orchestrated the JFK assassination and I give that an A+.  Furthermore, I think Fetter makes a pretty good case on AIR FORCE INVOLVEMENT in the JFK assassination as opposed to the CIA (not that elements of both were not involved). In the early 1960s, the most hard core right wing and most hard core Kennedy haters were in the Air Force - people like Gen. Curtis Lemay, Gen. Thomas Powers and Gen. Edward Lansdale (after his firing and after the murder of his friend Diem in Vietnam in a JFK sanctioned coup).

Sean Fetter's book is important because of his focus on the Air Force and his dozens of interviews of people in the Air Force, including many on the day of the JFK assassination.

No, I do not believe Roy Kellerman was altering JFK's body with some sort of airplane axe in the sub compartment of Air Force One.


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Tom Gram: That was quite possibly the worst JFK book I’ve ever read in my life


That is because you have not read this one.  Not only does Fetter cook up a motive for Rayburn and Johnson that is almost ludicrous, but he is obsessed with the late David Lifton.  He does not even call him that, he calls him Samuel Lifton. And that is just the beginning of his crusade against the deceased.

Fetter really needed an editor on this book.  To protect him from his worst tendencies.

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Fetter's book - despite its many problems and that it desperately needed an editor - has a LOT of great material, interviews and insights in his book. So please don't throw the baby out with the bath water:

Jackie Kennedy’s cartoons from the 1960 campaign show a cartoon of “Texans” Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn shaking hands with JFK and the big Texan LBJ is squeezing a tiny frail JFK’s hand to the point that it hurts:


 Daily Beast article on Jackie’s 1960 campaign cartoons:


 Hat tip to author Sean Fetter who pointed this out in his book Under Cover of Night: The United States Air Force and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy

 That means Jackie knew all about the threats and blackmail tactics that LBJ and Sam Rayburn used to force JFK to Johnson on the 1960 Demo ticket as VP. In Jackie’s cartoon Texan Sam Rayburn is on the left, tall burly LBJ is in the center and he is crushing an emaciated JFK’s hand.

That crushing of JFK's hand is the "strongarmed tactics" that Sam Rayburn and LBJ used to force JFK to put Lyndon Johnson on the Democratic ticket at the 1960 convention.

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Jim, thanks for your thoughtful review of Fetter's book.

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Welcome Steve.

BTW, Fetter actually says that the plotting by Rayburn and LBJ began back in 1956.

I am still trying to find his evidence for this.

I should add if you read Part 2 of the review, Rayburn's major characteristic as a politician is that he was incorruptible.  

Go figure.

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1 hour ago, James DiEugenio said:

Welcome Steve.

BTW, Fetter actually says that the plotting by Rayburn and LBJ began back in 1956.

I am still trying to find his evidence for this.

I should add if you read Part 2 of the review, Rayburn's major characteristic as a politician is that he was incorruptible.  

Go figure.

I used to be friends with Sean Fetter. The way he explained it to me was after Lyndon Johnson's embarrassment of an abortive presidential campaign at the 1956 Democratic convention, where he was coldly shunned because of his well-known association with the King of Southern Segregationists Sen. Richard Russell (D-GA), Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn together determined that a Southerner could never get nominated by the national Democratic party which was in the process of turning away from the Southern racist segregationist Democrats.

Therefore as early as 1956 LBJ and Sam Rayburn were plotting to get LBJ on the 1960 ticket as Vice President with the full intention of murdering the Democratic presidential nominee IF the Democratic party were to win the presidency.

Yes that theory is a crock of baloney and I can't find any evidence to support it.

I am more in the camp of Lyndon Johnson decided to murder JFK just as soon as he got placed on the 1960 Democratic ticket - in the event that JFK were elected President. And based on what I see, that is exactly what happened!

As for Sam Rayburn being "incorruptible" .... Sam Rayburn's coin of the realm was POWER not money and Rayburn was someone who slowly cherished the accumulation of much political power just as other people like to make money. And if Rayburn hooked up with someone as dirty and completely corrupt at Lyndon Johnson, then Rayburn probably was not lily white clean himself.

Rayburn carried water for the same people who LBJ did: Texas oil oligarchs and the war hawks. Rayburn was a member of the hard right American Security Council (as was Gen. Edward Lansdale!)

Rayburn died in November, 1961 and JFK went to his funeral in Bonham, TX.

I have many problems with Sean Fetter's Under Cover of Night, but at the same time I have found very valuable information in it and I encourage folks to buy and read this book.




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And BTW, Fetter leaves that whole aspect about Rayburn out, namely that the guy was incorruptible.

Yet when I was reading about him for this review, that is the aspect of his character that struck me the most. The guy was legendary in. that regard.

The other things that struck me were the contradictions.

If Rayburn and LBJ were scheming to get Johnson as VP in 1960, why did Rayburn advise LBJ not to take the offer?

Why did LBJ run at all that year?  And BTW, JFK knew that Johnson would be his toughest opponent which is why he sent RFK down to Texas in 1959 to feel him out.

The whole question about that election is this:  Why did Johnson not enter earlier, as Rayburn was clearly trying to get him to do?  

And BTW, Fetter leave that out also, Rayburn's urging of LBJ to get in the race in the spring.  Rayburn even set up a shell HQ called Citizens for Johnson to push him into getting into the race. (Shesol, Mutual Contempt, p.28). Johnson not only refused to go over there, he got mad at Rayburn for doing it behind his back!

This is why I used the word solipsistic in my critique. Because the stuff he leaves out, gives the reader a different picture. 

And I compared him to Waldron for that reason.


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Sean Fetter is wildly wrong about LBJ and Rayburn having a 4 year plan to kill the next Democratic president and put LBJ into office.

Where Fetter is right is that Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn strong armed/force/demanded/threatened/insisted that JFK put LBJ on the ticket once things got cooking at the July 1960 Democratic convention in Los Angeles.

The reason LBJ/Rayburn put the strong armed tactics on LBJ was because LBJ knew the Kennedys (plural) totally, totally hated his guts. That is what happens when you run around the Democratic convention telling everyone that Joe Kennedy, Sr. was for Hitler (even if this is basically true) and that JFK had Addison's Disease. Johnson knew the Kennedys (if JFK was elected) would quickly have him removed as Democratic Majority Leader and they would put in a much more agreeable person such as Sen. Mike Mansfied of MT which is ultimately what happened after JFK won the presidency.

Lyndon Johnson in 1959 was taking nitroclyerine pills for angina. He may even have had a secret heart attack or a medical event that looked like a heart attack. LBJ was physically unwell, but he still wanted to be president but he was afraid he could not beat JFK in Democratic primaries because of his poor public presentation. LBJ wanted to scoop up the Democratic presidential nomination at the convention and he wanted to do it with wheeling and dealing in smoky rooms at Los Angeles.

Sam Rayburn, Bobby Baker and aide Jim Rowe and so many others were all telling LBJ to run in the primaries but LBJ was simply too scared that he would lose to JFK in a primary schedule.

Lyndon Johnson consistently told people publicly and privately all through the 1960 primary system that he would NEVER be a vice presidential pick of JFK.

But things changed at the Democratic convention when LBJ figured out the Kennedys would CTRL-ALT-DELETE his career as Demo Majority Leader if given 10 seconds under a Kennedy Administration.

John Connally told LBJ "the Kennedys play for keeps" and you have to take/demand the Vice Presidency to protect yourself and LBJ did, and while he did it, he was ALREADY planning to murder JFK, even while he was at the 1960 Los Angeles Democratic convention. Sam Rayburn in the end like the other LBJ aides came around to supporting LBJ for VP. Sam Rayburn snorted and Robert Kennedy when he rushed into LBJ's suite and asked if LBJ would like to be head of the diddly squat Democratic National Committee. RFK liked to tell the story of a sorrowful Lyndon Johnson begging to stay on the ticket even as the Kennedys were trying to kick him out in the noon/afternoon hours of July 14, 1960.

Ultimately LBJ hung tight and people like Phil Graham and Joe Alsop were able to persuade JFK to keep the sociopathic big eared bastard on the ticket.

JFK did this as a perceived path of least resistance; LBJ and Rayburn had been threatening to undermine the general election if JFK did not put LBJ on the ticket.

The fact the JFK succumbed to blackmail intimidation tactics by LBJ was extremely embarrassing to the Kennedys. It showed weakness and you can't very well say publicly (or even privately) we had to put Johnson on the ticket because he was threatening to expose the JFK-Pamela Turnure affair and God knows what else Lyndon Johnson knows.

Postscript - in 1959 when Robert Kennedy was sent down to the LBJ, Johnson made a POINT of humiliating Bobby. He put a rifle with a big kick in the hands of RFK and when the rifle retort knocked RFK to the ground, Lyndon Johnson lorded over him, looked down and said "Son, you have got to learn how to handle a rifle like a man." LBJ did everything but take a leak on RFK.



2) https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/16/upshot/kennedy-lbj-and-a-disputed-deer-hunt.html


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