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JFK And Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strike


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Awhile back, I became aware of an article by James K. Galbraith regarding the National Security Council (NSC) and the discussion, as early as 1961, of a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union.

http://www.prospect.org/print/V5/19/galbraith-j.html

While the prospect of nuclear war paints a chilling picture, it also might give us some more insight into the reasons behind the JFK assassination. Had there been a conncetion found between the JFK assassination and the Soviet Union, there is little doubt but that a military response would have been appropriate. Given the details of the Galbraith article, if LBJ truly was worried that such a nuclear war was about to begin, it's no wonder that he would have been adamant that his presidential commission find NO evidence of Soviet involvement...or that Johnson even convened a commission to begin with, in order to bring about a cooling-off period of six to nine months, in order that the NSC's "window" for such a pre-emptive nuclear attack would have closed. In that way, should the story ever come out, Johnson and his supporters could claim that he had saved millions of lives by his actions, lives that certainly would have been lost in a nuclear war.

It would also make some sense of Johnson's comments to Chief Justice Earl Warren, when trying to persuade him to become chairman of the Warren Commission, that a hundred million lives may hang in the balance (I don't have the exact quote at hand, but it was along those lines).

Has this previously been discussed here?

Edited by Mark Knight
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It would also make some sense of Johnson's comments to Chief Justice Earl Warren, when trying to persuade him to become chairman of the Warren Commission, that a hundred million lives may hang in the balance (I don't have the exact quote at hand, but it was along those lines).

Here are some of the references to a nuclear war in LBJ's telephone conversations after the assassination of JFK.

(1) Telephone conversation between Lyndon B. Johnson and Charles Halleck, House Minority Leader (6.30 pm, 29th November, 1963)

Lyndon B. Johnson: Charlie, I hate to bother you but. . . I've got to appoint a commission and issue an executive order tonight on investigation of the assassination of the President because this thing is getting pretty serious and our folks are worried about it. It's got some foreign complications - CIA and other things - and I'm going to try to get the Chief Justice to go on it. He declined earlier in the day, but I think I'm going to try to get him to head it....

Charles Halleck: Chief Justice Warren?

Lyndon B. Johnson: Yes.

Charles Halleck: I think that's a mistake....

Lyndon B. Johnson: I'd be glad to hear you, but I want to talk to you about - he thought it was a mistake till I told him everything we knew and we just can't have House and Senate and FBI and other people going around testifying that Khrushchev killed Kennedy or Castro killed him. We've got to have the facts, and you don't have a President assassinated once every fifty years. And this thing is so touchy from an international standpoint that every man we've got over there is concerned about it....

Charles Halleck: I'll cooperate, my friend. I'll tell you one thing, Lyndon - Mr. President - I think that to call on Supreme Court guys to do jobs is kind of a mistake.

Lyndon B. Johnson: It is on all these other things I agree with you on Pearl Harbor and I agree with you on the railroad strike. But this is a question that could involve our losing thirty-nine million people. This is a judicial question.

Charles Halleck: I, of course, don't want that to happen. Of course, I was a little disappointed in the speech the Chief Justice made. I'll talk to you real plainly. He's jumped at the gun and, of course, I don't know whether the right wing was in this or not. You've been very discreet. You have mentioned the left and the right and I am for that.

(2) Telephone conversation between Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Russell (8.55 p.m 29th November, 1963)

Lyndon B. Johnson: Dick, I hate to bother you again but I wanted you to know that I made that announcement.

Richard Russell: Announcement of what?

Lyndon B. Johnson: Of this special commission.

Richard Russell: Oh, you have already?

Lyndon B. Johnson: Yes. May I read it to you? (reads from the statement)...

Richard Russell: I know I don't have to tell you of my devotion to you but I just can't serve on that Commission. I'm highly honoured you'd think about me in connection with it but I couldn't serve on it with Chief Justice Warren. I don't like that man. I don't have any confidence in him at all. So you get John Stennis.

Lyndon B. Johnson: It has already been announced and you can serve with anybody for the good of America and this is a question that has a good many more ramifications than on the surface and we've got to take this out of the arena where they're testifying that Khrushchev and Castro did this and did that and chuck us into a war that can kill 40 million Americans in an hour. And you would put on your uniform in a minute. Now the reason I've asked Warren is because he is the Chief Justice of this country and we've got to have the highest judicial people we can have. The reason I ask you is because you have that same kind of temperament and you can do anything for your country. And don't go to giving me that kind of stuff about you can't serve with anybody. You can do anything.

Richard Russell: It is not only that. I just don't think the Chief Justice should have served on it.

Lyndon B. Johnson: The Chief Justice ought to do anything he can to save America and right now we've got a very touchy thing. And you wait until you look at this evidence.... Now I'm not going to lead you wrong and you're not going to be an Old Dog Tray.

Richard Russell: I know that but I have never...

Lyndon B. Johnson: You've never turned your country down. This is not me. This is your country... You're my man on that commission and you're going to do it! And don't tell me what you can do and what you can't because I can't arrest you and I'm not going to put the FBI on you. But you're goddammed sure going to serve - I'll tell you that! And A.W. Moursund is here and he wants to tell you how much all of us love you. Wait a minute.

Richard Russell: Mr. President, you ought to have told me you were going to name me.

Lyndon B. Johnson: I told you! I told you today I was going to name the Chief Justice when I called you.

Richard Russell: You did not. You talked about getting somebody from the Supreme Court. You didn't tell me you were going to name him.

Lyndon B. Johnson: I told you! I told you I was going to name Warren...

Richard Russell: Oh no! ... I said Clark wouldn't do.

Lyndon B. Johnson: No, that's right, and I've got to get the highest Justice I can get. He turned Bobby Kennedy down! Bobby and they talked to him and he just said he wouldn't serve under any circumstances.11 called him down here and I spent an hour with him and I begged him as much as I'm begging you. I just said, "Now here's the situation I want to tell you."

Richard Russell: You've never begged me. You've always told me.

Lyndon B. Johnson: No, I haven't. No I haven't.

Richard Russell: Mr. President, please now...

Lyndon B. Johnson: No! It is already done. It has been announced.

Richard Russell: You mean you've given that...

Lyndon B. Johnson: Yes sir. I gave the announcement. It is already in the papers and you're on it and you're going to be my man on it and you just forget that.... Dick? Now we're going into a lot of problems... I saw Wilkins today and had a long talk with him. Now these things are going to be developing and I know you're going to have your reservations and your modesty.

Richard Russell: Oh...

Lyndon B. Johnson: Now, wait a minute! Wait a minute! Now your President's asking you to do these things and there are some things I want you in besides civil rights and, by God, you're going to be in 'em, because I can't run this country by myself.

Richard Russell: You know damned well my future is behind me, and that is not entering into it at all.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Your future is your country and you're going to do everything you can to serve America.

Richard Russell: I just can't do it. I haven't got the time.

Lyndon B. Johnson: All right, we'll just make the time.

RUSSELL: With all my Georgia items in there.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, we'll just make the time. There's not going to be any time, to begin with. All you're going to do is evaluate the Hoover report he has already made.

Richard Russell: I don't think they'll move that fast on it.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Okay, well then, we won't move any faster than you want to move... The Secretary of State came over here this afternoon. He's deeply concerned, Dick, about the idea that they're spreading throughout the Communist world that Khrushchev killed Kennedy. Now he didn't. He didn't have a damned thing to do with it.

Richard Russell: I don't think he did directly. I know Khrushchev didn't because he thought he'd get along better with Kennedy.

Lyndon B. Johnson: All right, but we've...

Richard Russell: I wouldn't be surprised if Castro had.

Lyndon B. Johnson: All right then, okay. That's what we want to know. And people have got confidence in you and you can be just surprised or not surprised. They want to know what you think...

Richard Russell: You're taking advantage of me...

Lyndon B. Johnson: No, no, no. . . . I'm going to take a hell of a lot of advantage of you, my friend, 'cause you made me and I know it and I don't ever forget. And I'll be going to be taking advantage of you a good deal. But you're going to serve your country and do what is right and if you can't do it, you get that damned little Bobby up there and let him twist your tail and put a cocklebur under it. Where is he?

Richard Russell: I don't know. He's in Atlanta tonight.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, you just tell him to get ready because I'm going to need him and you just tell him that.

Richard Russell: I saw he and Vandiver this afternoon for about thirty minutes. They came by here.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Just tell either one of them that I just would like to use them anyplace because I'm a Russell protege and I don't forget my friends and I want you to stand up and be counted and I don't want to beg you, by God, to serve on these things....

Richard Russell: I know, but this is a sort of rough one.

Lyndon B. Johnson: No, it is not rough. What is rough about this? They had a full-scale investigation going, Dick, with the TV up there. They had the House Un-American Activities Committee in it.

Richard Russell: They shouldn't have done it.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Of course, but how do I stop it? How do I stop it, Dick? Now don't tell me that I've worked all day and done wrong.

Richard Russell: I didn't say you'd done wrong. I just said... it could have been stopped some other way. . . .

Lyndon B. Johnson: What do you think I've done wrong now by appointing you on a commission?

Richard Russell: Well, I just don't like Warren.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Of course, you don't like Warren, but you'll like him before it is over with.

Richard Russell: I haven't got any confidence in him.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, you can give him some confidence. Goddamn it! Associate with him now... I'm not afraid to put your intelligence against Warren's. Now by God, I want a man on that commission and I've got one!

Richard Russell: I don't know about the intelligence, of course, and I feel like I'm being kidded, but if you think...

Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, if you think now Dick, do you think I'd kid you?

Richard Russell: If it is for the good of the country, you know damned well I'll do it and I'll do it for you, for that matter...

Lyndon B. Johnson: Dick, do you remember when you met me at the Carlton Hotel in 1952? When we had breakfast there one morning?

Richard Russell: Yes, I think I do.

Lyndon B. Johnson: All right. Do you think I'm kidding you?

Richard Russell: No, I don't think you're kidding me. But I think - well, I'm not going to say any more, Mr. President. I'm at your command and I'll do anything you want me to do.

Lyndon B. Johnson: You damned sure going to be at my command! You're going to be at my command as long as I'm here.

Richard Russell: I do wish you be a little more deliberate and considerate next time about it but... if you've done this, I'm going to... go through with it and say I think it is a wonderful idea.

Lyndon B. Johnson: I'm going to have you on a good goddamned many things that I have to decide.... I've served under you and I don't give a damn if you have to serve with a Republican, if you have to serve with a Communist, if you have to serve with a Negro, or if you have to serve with a thug - or if you have to serve with A.W. Moursund.

Richard Russell: I can serve with a Communist and I can serve with a Negro. I can serve with a Chinaman.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, you may have to serve with A.W. Moursund!

Richard Russell: And if I can serve with A.W. Moursund, I would say, "Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to serve with you, Judge Moursund." But - we won't discuss it any further Mr. President. I'll serve.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Okay, Dick, and give Bobby my love and tell him he'd better get ready to give up that fruitful law practice he's got.

Richard Russell: He's been appointed to the Georgia Court of Appeals. Now, you see, I got him on there. He's making as much money as I am.

Lyndon B. Johnson: What about Vandiver?

Richard Russell: Well, he's running for Governor next time and he'll be elected.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Who in the hell is going to help me besides you?

Richard Russell: Those boys will help you if you need them.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, I need 'em.

Richard Russell: Goddamn it, they're harder for you than I was - remember?

Lyndon B. Johnson: No, nobody ever has been more to me than you have, Dick - except my mother.

Richard Russell: (laughs scoffmgly)

Lyndon B. Johnson: No, no, that's true. I've bothered you more and made you spend more hours with me telling me what's right and wrong than anybody except my mother.

Richard Russell: You've made me do more things I didn't want to do.

Lyndon B. Johnson: No, no, I never made you do anything that was wrong. I never...

Richard Russell: I didn't say "wrong." I said more things I didn't want to do. But Bobby and Ernie are two of the most loyal friends you've got on earth.

Lyndon B. Johnson: I know that.

Richard Russell: They both called me up and said, "You've just got to do whatever Mr. Johnson says."

Lyndon B. Johnson: No ... I just want to counsel with you and I just want your judgment and your wisdom.

Richard Russell: For whatever it's worth, you've got it.

Lyndon B. Johnson: I'm going to have it 'cause I haven't got any daddy and you're going to be it. And don't just forget that.

Richard Russell: Mr. President, you know - I think you know me.

Lyndon B. Johnson: I do. I do. I know you're for your country and - period. Now you just get ready to do this and you're my man on there.

Richard Russell: If you hadn't announced it, I would absolutely be...

Lyndon B. Johnson: No you wouldn't. No, you wouldn't.

Richard Russell: Yes, I would. Yes, I would.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Warren told me he wouldn't do it under any circumstances. Didn't think a Supreme Court Justice ought to go on... He said a man that criticized this fellow that went on the Nuremberg trial - Jackson. And I said, "Let me read you one report." And I just picked up one report and read it to him, and I said, "Okay, now, forty million Americans involved here."

Richard Russell: I may be wholly wrong. But I think Mr. Warren would serve on anything that would give him any publicity.

Lyndon B. Johnson: You want me to tell you the truth? You know what happened? Bobby and them went up to see him today and he turned them down cold and said, "No." Two hours later, I called him and ordered him down here and he didn't want to come. I insisted he come. He came down here and told me no - twice. And I just pulled out what Hoover told me about a little incident in Mexico City and I said, "Now I don't want Mr. Khrushchev to be told tomorrow - and be testifying before a camera that he killed this fellow and that Castro killed him and all I want you to do is look at the facts and bring in any other facts you want in here and determine who killed the President. And I think you put on your uniform in World War I, fat as you are, and would do anything you could to save one American life. And I'm surprised that you, the Chief Justice of the United States, would turn me down." And he started crying and he said, "I won't turn you down. I'll just do whatever you say." But he turned the Attorney General down!

Richard Russell: You ought not to be so persuasive.

Lyndon B. Johnson: I think I ought to.

Richard Russell: I think you did wrong in getting Warren, and I know damned well you did wrong in getting me. But we'll both do the best we can.

Lyndon B. Johnson: I think that's what you'll do. That's the kind of Americans both of you are. Good night.

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John, those are exactly the quotes I recalled reading. Originally, I had mentioned Russell and the 40 million number in my post, but because I didn't have the quotes, I went with Galbraith's linking of Earl Warren and the number 100 million.

But this is exactly a smoking gun, that LBJ instructed Russell, at least, NOT to find a Cuban- or Soviet-based conspiracy, on the grounds [implied] that to do so could precipitate a nuclear war, and that [specifically] forty million American lives could be lost in a matter of minutes.

The idea comes to mind that LBJ, being the political pro that he was, traded a nuclear war for the escalation of Vietnam, and the NSC and the JCS bought the trade. But it also sounds as if, by the arm-twisting techniques Johnson used on Russell, he was actually scared that, if he [Johnson] didn't prevail, a nuclear war was inevitable...and, as the man behind the Warren Commission, history would eventually judge him as a great humanitarian when the story finally came out that he had averted nuclear war. In other words, he actually was "a legend in his own mind."

But by doing so, Johnson also set back the cause of TRUTH more than 40 years, and counting, to this point.

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Mark wrote:

Given the details of the Galbraith article, if LBJ truly was worried that such a nuclear war was about to begin, it's no wonder that he would have been adamant that his presidential commission find NO evidence of Soviet involvement...or that Johnson even convened a commission to begin with, in order to bring about a cooling-off period of six to nine months, in order that the NSC's "window" for such a pre-emptive nuclear attack would have closed. In that way, should the story ever come out, Johnson and his supporters could claim that he had saved millions of lives by his actions, lives that certainly would have been lost in a nuclear war.

It would also make some sense of Johnson's comments to Chief Justice Earl Warren, when trying to persuade him to become chairman of the Warren Commission, that a hundred million lives may hang in the balance (I don't have the exact quote at hand, but it was along those lines).

IMO, Mark is exactly right here. The fear of Soviet or Cuban involvement prompted the cover-up. Certainly neither LBJ nor Hoover had sufficient evidence to conclude there was indeed foreign involvement in the assassination, but LBJ knew that if he authorized an open-ended inquiry into a conspiracy, it MIGHT lead to that conclusion. He would be opening up a Pandora's box that once opened could not be closed.

Mark also wrote:

[COLOR=blue]But by doing so, [ordering a cover-up] Johnson also set back the cause of TRUTH more than 40 years, and counting, to this point.

Here I think Mark may miss the mark (sorry about that, could not resist). We may, and I do emphasize may, have irrefutable proof that Trento's sources were correct about foreign involvement. If that was indeed the case, then the cover-up did most likely prevent a cataclysmic world war.

Had Castro killed him, or a faction of the Politburo, as much as I disagree with many of JFK's policies and his dangerous womanizing, I do believe that John Kennedy himself would not have wanted his death avenged at the cost of millions of innocent American AND Russian lives. And I suspect that Robert acted out of that same logic. Whatever was done would not bring his brother back to life.

I also believe Robert feared rightly that an investigation would inevitably lead to the exposure of some of the "dark secrets of Camelot", thereby injuring his slain brother's reputation in history without even bringing the assassains' to judgment.

In that regard, he was prescient.

Unless the assassination can be solved with any remaining conspirators brought to judgment, I myself would regret that the attempts to solve it led to revelations such as the mistress JFK shared with Giancana. President Kennedy's reputation in history has indeed been sullied (by the truth) but to what benefit? My perspective would change if the case can be solved even at this late sate.

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It stands to reason that LBJ, being the thing that he was, knew who was behind the assassination, if he did not instigate it himself. And it wasn't the Soviets or Castro. How do I know? Because if it was the Soviets or Castro, what were Conein and Robertson doing at Dealey Plaza?

LBJ basically played the Castro-did-it card with Warren and Russell, to raise the specter of nuclear war, but it was not for public consumption. The conspirators' idea of blaming Castro and invading Cuba was discarded with the capture of Oswald, but LBJ used the idea anyway on Warren and Russell, to get the distinguished whitewash commission he wanted. That's all there is to it IMO.

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Well, what were the Cubans doing in Dallas, Ron?

We know that Gilberto Policarpo Lopez fled from Texas to Havana (via Mexico City) after the assassination.

The only proof that Robertson was in Dallas is the photographic likeness? Well, in Key West I worked for two years with a man who could have been a TWIN of G. Gordon Liddy. When I showed fellow employees (who were too young to even know who Liddy was) photos of Liddy, they were astounded.

The only person we could agree had to be a part of the assassination is Jack Ruby. Ruby, of course, had significant connections to Santo Trafficante. Trafficante confessed to participation in the assassination. And Trafficante was also connected with Rolando Cubela.

IMO, I would take those established FACTS over studying photographic likenesses. I understand the HSCA spent $85,000 hiring experts to study the tramp photos and there is still debate over those.

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Well, what were the Cubans doing in Dallas, Ron?

We know that Gilberto Policarpo Lopez fled from Texas to Havana (via Mexico City) after the assassination.

So did Fabian Escalante, according to the government (Win Scott). Do you believe it? I don't believe anything the government says about JFK, 9/11, and a lot of other stuff. I think Scott was lying, but that's just my opinion.

The only proof that Robertson was in Dallas is the photographic likeness?

Yes. Robertson alone could be coincidence, as strong as the resemblance is. Conein could be coincidence, as strong as the resemblance is. But Robertson and Conein together on the same corner? Throw in a guy who looks like Hemming, another guy who even Al Carrier is convinced is a CIA man from Laos, and the odds just keep skyrocketing against CIA operatives not being at the corner of Main and Houston. But again just my opinion. And I would bet the ranch if I had one.

Ron

Edited by Ron Ecker
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I believe that some of you may be missing the point I was attempting to make: that factions of the NCS and the JCS were trying to start a pre-emptive nuclear war against the Soviet Union as early as 1961; JFK was against it; and with JFK out of the way AND by making his assassination look as though the Soviets and/or the Soviet-sponsored Cubans were behind it, it was an unprecedented opportunity to not only have their nuclear war, but to do so with the blessing of not only the majority of the US citizenry, but perhaps the blessing of most of the civilized world.

Now, had LBJ been in favor of such a nuclear war, he could have been a little less of an arm-twister in establishing his presidential commission, yet he could have packed it with persons of the proper political persuasion [pardon the accidental alliterative ambush] to come to any conclusion he wanted. But it appears that LBJ was more interested in making it known that there was one outcome he DIDN'T want from the commission, rather than making a case for any particular outcome that he DID prefer to see.

Maybe I'm just being hard-headed here, but combined with the burial of NSAM 263 and the emergence of NSAM 273, it appears that Johnson may have figured that the MIC was behind the assassination--in fact, with the General Dynamics/Bobby Baker connection that came out in Congressional testimony on November 22, 1963 [testimony that was pushed off the pages of the newspapers by JFK's assassination, rather conveniently it would seem], LBJ's knowledge of MIC involvement would seem to be a question of "how much" he knew, rather than "if" he knew--and decided his response would be, "I can't let you have your nukes, but I'll let you have Vietnam, bigger and better than ever."

So LBJ also let the "window of opportunity" for a pre-emptive nuclear strike slip away, as well an opportunity to not only nuke Moscow but to have Mr. and Mrs. America cheering as he did so. But, knowing the terrible price JFK paid for not OKing the nuclear strike, LBJ offered them Vietnam as a consolation prize...not so much to save the lives of millions in the Soviet Union, but to NOT lose 40 million potential American voters, most of whose sympathy he'd just "earned" by JFK's death. Remember, LBJ was a politician before anything else.

Now, I'm not saying the CIA wasn't involved in the assassination; a lot of evidence, circumstantial and otherwise, points toward the conclusion that they WERE involved. I'm just opening up the possibility that ANOTHER reason for the assassination MAY have been JFK's reluctance to give the NSC and JCS their nuclear war, and they saw JFK's assassination as their best opportunity to PROVOKE the nuclear strike, with the approval of the Americal people.

My point on THIS thread is NOT to debate which of the possible guilty parties to the assassination may have been "patsies" under this scenario. Indeed, with the CIA, the Mob, the Cubans, The Soviets, the Birchers, and God-knows-how-many-other allegedly aggrieved parties being mentioned as possible assassins or conspirators--or both--it is conceivable that we could spend a lot of time on the "who" aspect, which has previously been developed a lot of directions on a lot of other threads, and lose sight of another potential "why" that arises when we consider what this NSC/JCS desire for a pre-emptive NUCLEAR strike on the Soviet Union actually might mean in the context of the assassination.

SO...OK if we consider THAT aspect? Or am I out of line to ask that?

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Frankly, I'm rather surprised that this topic has generated so little interest. If my suspicions are correct, on November 22, 1963, the United States of America became the world's largest "banana republic," when the military engineered a coup to remove the elected leader. By implicating the Soviet Union and/or Cuba, the MIC expected to get their highly-desired nuclear attack under way.

That, of course, would explain a lot of the "unexplained" circumstances around the JFK assassination. Like the presence of Army intelligence in Dealy Plaza...like the Guy Bannister/ONI connection...and on and on. And in true military and CIA tradition, to assure "plausible deniability," all the factions who had an axe to grind with JFK were let in on parts of the plan...the Mafia...pro-Castro cubans...anti-Castro Cubans...so that no one could finger the actual shooter, because there were so many. But since no one knew ALL the details, the plan never unraveled.

Of course, there were those on the National Security Council who were opposed to the proposed nuclear strike on the Soviet Union; that would explain why there is evidence emerging that there were both "hit" and "prevent" teams operating in Dallas that day. My further guess is that the Secret Service wasn't privy to the plan, else the motorcade might have been cancelled over security concerns.

As far as LBJ's involvement, as VP he was briefed on the NSC meetings that he didn't sit in on, so he was not only aware of the proposed nuclear strike but also the "window of opportunity" that was projected to close in December, 1963. So my guess is that Johnson might have been told of the plot, but he may not have taken it 100% seriously until events unfolded before his eyes. I'm guessing that the planned overnight stay at the LBJ Ranch was when/where Johnson planned to plead his case to stay on the ticket in 1964...but had the assassination not occurred, the Reynolds testimony before Congress that day would have probably been the deciding factor in convincing Kennedy to dump Johnson.

In fact, I'm speculating that the Reynolds testimony was part of the "prevent" team's efforts. WHY? Because, had the news of the Reynolds testimony come to the attention of the national media an hour before the assassination, LBJ's prospects of KEEPING the presidency--had the assassination taken place as it did--would've been in grave doubt. As events occurred, the Reynolds testimony was "lost," not to be considered until such a late date that it was of no effect.

AFTER the assassination, BOTH sides who knew the details also knew that they had to keep what they knew quiet. If the MIC got their way, and the Soviets were blamed and the proposed nuclear strike became a reality, the "prevent" side of the NSC could never reveal the truth. And if the "prevent" side managed to only prevent a nuclear war, the "hit" side could never reveal that they actually tried to provoke nuclear war. And since the NSC consideration of nuclear war was classified information, BOTH sides were sworn to silence.

And in the aftermath, in the same manner as LBJ arm-twisted his appointees to the Warren Commission, pressure was applied to doctors, policemen, and witnesses...all in an effort to NOT link the assassination to a conspiracy--or at least not to any PARTICULAR conspiracy--on the grounds of patriotism, when a reason could be cited. The "prevent" team had to present a case that there was no Soviet-tied conspiracy, so as to prevent retailation by nukes. But the "hit" team, when they realized that the Soviet conspiracy theory wasn't going to be officially embraced, had to let the other conspiracy theories float; a grain of truth in each, so that the assassination would never be traced to the actual perpetrators in the military community.

So who ACTUALLY pulled the trigger? It might be easier to answer the question who DIDN'T fire a shot in Dealy Plaza. The military got the "palace coup" they wanted, but LBJ eventually thwarted the nuclear-retailation option. Had Johnson grown a conscience? Hardly. But it was probably far easier to sleep at night knowing that, while he might have had this one or that one individual "snuffed," he sure as hell wasn't responsible for risking the lives of 40 MILLION Americans. To keep the military sharks at bay, Johnson agreed to implement NSAM 273, bury NSAM 263, and later created the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The result? the MIC got their war, sans nukes, and LBJ got to live. I mean, with his history of heart problems, it would've been easy to slip LBJ a "loaded" slice of apple pie, as the Gemstone writer alleges was done to J. Edgar Hoover...and I'm sure Johnson realized as much. But since LBJ couldn't possibly let the country--and the world--know that, by hiding the truth of the JFK assassination he'd actually prevented a nuclear war, he instead decided to make the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the "Great Society" programs become his legacy. LBJ was still a scoundrel, but throughout his presidency he was, effectively, a dog on a short leash...and the MIC held the other end.

Nixon? As VP, he was aware of the NCS assassments regarding the prospects of nuclear war with the Soviet Union since at least 1957. By 1960, it's almost a certainty that he knew about the "window of opportunity" for a pre-emptive strike on the Soviet Union--since the VP was either present at, or briefed on, NSC meetings. And in light of this proposed "window of opportunity," Ike's warning about the MIC in his farewell address becomes significantly more urgent than most people understood at the time. Ike couldn't actually come out and mention the nuclear strike option, but when re-reading his words in that context, it's unmistakable, to me, that this is EXACTLY what his reference is. So if Ike knew about it, Nixon surely knew about it.

And Nixon was a "hawk," when it came to the military. With his insight into international relations, you can bet Nixon knew damned well what a possible Soviet conspiracy would mean after the assassination. But did Nixon have some foreknowledge? I tend to think that some in Washington kept Nixon informed as to what was going on behind the scenes--CIA possibly, in light of his approval of the BOP operation, and Kennedy's lack of enthusiasm for the project and general disdain for the CIA in the aftermath. So if Nixon was being informed by a CIA source, it's not a phenomenal leap to assume he had some level of awareness of the assassination plot. The Watergate tapes imply that this was so; and Nixon assumed throughout his presidency that his knowledge of "this Bay of Pigs thing" was his ticket to immunity from anyone inside the government allowing him to be brought down...a major miscalculation on his part, as history has shown.

In fact, I believe that it's quite possible that the nuclear war option might actually tie up ALL the loose ends in the JFK assassination...as well as making more sense of Oswald's speech before the Jesuit students during his stay in New Orleans, as he spoke in terms of a post-nuclear-war society.

The scary part is, if I'm right about this, I might not be able to buy life insurance again, if history is our guide in these matters.

I realize it's a long post...but I think it deserves more discussion than it's received to this point.

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I believe that some of you may be missing the point I was attempting to make: that factions of the NCS and the JCS were trying to start a pre-emptive nuclear war against the Soviet Union as early as 1961; JFK was against it; and with JFK out of the way AND by making his assassination look as though the Soviets and/or the Soviet-sponsored Cubans were behind it, it was an unprecedented opportunity to not only have their nuclear war, but to do so with the blessing of not only the majority of the US citizenry, but perhaps the blessing of most of the civilized world.

I believe something is being overlooked here. The meeting with JFK in which preemptive nuclear war was talked about was, as I understand it, a SIOP briefing, SIOP being the Single Intregrated Operational Plan for nuclear war. Unless I'm mistaken, the Galbraith article you linked to makes no mention of SIOP, nor does it point out the fact, according to the National Security Archive, that the SIOP "included retaliatory and preemptive options; preemption could occur if U.S. authorities had strategic warning of a Soviet attack."

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB130/press.htm

The preemptive nuclear war being talked about with its window of opportunity in 1963 would thus have been based on the assumption that there was prior warning of a planned Soviet strike. It was not just an argument that we should hit them before the end of 1963 while we're stronger than they are.

What JFK and others (including Eisenhower before him) objected to was that the SIOP was too rigid and needed more flexibility in terms of the massiveness of attack with the resulting nuclear fallout etc.

Ron

Edited by Ron Ecker
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After looking over the info on the SIOP--which, as you mentioned, Galbraith failed to mention--I believe that on the whole, Galbraith is fundamentally correct. One of JFK's concerns about the SIOP--and one which goes back at least as far as the 11/20/58 NSC meeting--was the inflexibility of targeting. That is, the US strategic plan was, to quote [out of context] a Steppenwolf song, "...fire all of your guns at once...", without differentiating between Chinese or Soviet or any other targets, as the plan was pretty much an "all-or-none" approach to nuclear weapons. Galbraith also correctly notes that, even without a Soviet counter-response, the effects of nuclear fallout on the US population was a significant concern.

So it would occur to me that, for the most part, the documents you reference only tend to support Galbraith. Where we have a difference of opinion--interpretation?-- is whether a pre-emptive attack on the USSR would REQUIRE a specific warning of an impending Soviet attack.

It's MY contention that, in the wake of the JFK assassination, the assassination itself would have been considered sufficient provocation to launch such a pre-emptive attack, had there been sufficient evidence of a Soviet or Cuban conspiracy. I further believe that LBJ's comments to both Earl Warren and Senator Russell support this position...and that, from the context of LBJ's comments, he's implying that he is already under pressure to exercise that option, should the evidence lead in the direction of a Soviet or Cuban plot.

As viewed thru the prism of the 2003 pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, I firmly believe that there was probably a faction in 1961 who was also of the opinion that, if America waited for sufficient provocation from the Soviet Union, it would already be too late...just as there was in 2003 regarding Iraq. "If we wait to retaliate, we're already too late," goes that line of reasoning. Besides, how does one determine exactly what is "unequivocal strategic warning of impending Soviet attack on the U.S.", at a point at which a PRE-EMPTIVE attack would be possible?

UNTIL a Soviet missile was launched, there was ALWAYS a possibility that the "impending" attack could be cancelled; AFTER a missile launch, the attack is no longer PRE-EMPTIVE, but REACTIVE.

So I think that gives the NSC and JCS some "weasel room" as to when they could launch a pre-emptive attack...and I fully believe they ALL realized that fact. There may, indeed, be "honor among thieves," but the 2003 attack on Iraq demonstrated that the military establishment will bend the facts to fit the war [WMD's? Risk to the national security of America?]...and I have little reason to believe that the policy was much different in 1961-63.

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Mark wrote:

It's MY contention that, in the wake of the JFK assassination, the assassination itself would have been considered sufficient provocation to launch such a pre-emptive attack, had there been sufficient evidence of a Soviet or Cuban conspiracy. I further believe that LBJ's comments to both Earl Warren and Senator Russell support this position...and that, from the context of LBJ's comments, he's implying that he is already under pressure to exercise that option, should the evidence lead in the direction of a Soviet or Cuban plot.

Mark, do you really think any American president would have wanted to start a nuclear war merely to avenge the assassination of the previous president?

Johnson was admittedly concerned that if Cuban involvement were demonstrated he would be under immense pressure to invade Cuba. As angry as the country would have been had Soviet involvement been demonstrated, I seriously doubt that there would been much public support for a nuclear launch against the Kremlin. (Barry Goldwater's famous joke about sending a nuclear missile into the restroom of the Kremlin helped guarantee his landslide defeat.)

Speculation on my part to be sure but I believe Castro may have had photographs of Desmond Fitzgerald meeting with Cubela and possibly even tapes of Fitzgerald's assurance of RFK's support for his plan to kill Castro. Had it looked like we were heading toward was with Cuba due to Cuban sponsorship of the assassination, Castro would have released the photos and tapes to prove he acted in self-defense.

In any event, I respect you for thinking through all possibilities but this is a scenario for which there is no scintilla of evidence. No one would have expected LBJ to start a nuclear wr to avenge the death of his "friend" JFK.

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Tim, I think you and I are on the same page, to a degree..but I may not be expressing my ideas as well as I might. I'm going to cop an excuse that it's because I'm writing this after a physically-draining third-shift job, which tends to make the mental "muscles" sluggish as well.

My point is NOT that Johnson WANTED to start a nuclear war to avenge JFK's death; in fact, I believe exactly the opposite. I believe that Johnson wanted to PREVENT a nuclear war to avenge JFK's death. But I also believe that elements of the military were pressuring him to move in that direction, and that they might seriously have considered the assassination as "sufficient provocation"...where else would LBJ have gotten the idea that "40 million American lives" might have been at risk, had a Soviet-based conspiracy been discovered?

Frankly, under NO OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES would that number of Americans have been at risk. I repeat...NO other circumstances.

I believe LBJ was running scared. After all, if the military HAD managed to kill JFK over his refusal to let them get rid of the nukes in Russia--and China, it seems, since the main complaint was the lack of flexibility in the nuclear option's plans--then how much easier would it be to rid themselves of an old man with a known history of heart problems? I honestly believe that LBJ realized that this time, he was so overmatched as to be completely impotent, with the exception of influencing the outcome of the WC conclusion...and he HAD to plant the seeds of the "no Soviet/Cuban conspiracy" outcome even as the commission was being constructed, twisting arms with the appeals to both patriotism and the saving of millions of American lives.

For THAT conclusion, there certainly IS more than a "scintilla of evidence"...re-read the text of the LBJ phone calls, in case you've forgotten. And if you disagree with my conclusion, PLEASE tell me under what circumstances YOU believe LBJ would've had reason to bring up the possible loss of 40 million American lives, in the context of the Warren Commission's investigation.

I believe that no other conclusion allows LBJ's comments to make sense.

Taking the pre-emptive nuclear strike idea further, it would tend to add credence to L. Fletcher Prouty's claims, but from a somewhat different direction than Prouty leads us. It would mark the assassination as a government job, and the military as the architects, and it would tie in to Vietnam as Prouty claims...but Vietnam would be the CONSOLATION prize handed to the military, rather than the nuclear "kewpie doll" they actually sought.

There are a lot of other avenues in which the pre-emptive nuclear strike scenario makes sense of other, otherwise-conflicting theories on the JFK assassination, all of which are supported by bits and pieces of the evidence. But without SOME event as monumental as a proposed nuclear strike, all this patchwork evidence simply won't make a quilt.

If we have competing factions within the government fighting over something as significant as nuclear war, the idea of losing a single life--even if it IS the President--is preferable to losing 40 million in the response to a pre-emptive nuclear strike...and that only considers one possible view of the "prevent" team!

And as far as determining when a pre-emptive strike is justified...after all the smoke, ash, dust, and radiation clears, who would be left in the USSR to challenge the US position that we were provoked? If the attack was successful...NO ONE. And I can picture the "pro-attack" faction of the military actually putting forward such an argument...and adding how much safer the world would be if the Soviet--and Chinese--nuclear weapons were destroyed. [Remember that the Soviet ICBM's were considered somewhat unreliable; the Chinese at that point had no viable missile delivery system]. And I'd wager that, in some still-classified file somewhere, there's an assessment weighing whether a scenario wherein up to 40 million American lives were a cost worth bearing in order to achieve world security, as well as the status of being the only surviving superpower.

There have been studies made of even more outrageous scenarios in the past, which have been classified until recent years; it's hardly a stretch of the imagination to suggest that this particular one may have also been done during the early 1960's.

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IMO the U.S. military, contingency nuclear war plans notwithstanding, did not want to wipe out Russia, an enemy that it would be able to depend on, assuring prosperity for the military industrial complex, for decades, till the eventual fall of the Soviet Union from its own dead weight.

The U.S. military wanted a war in Vietnam, and whatever other wars might come along in a continual standoff with the Communists to everyone's benefit. It did not want detente nor a president who wanted detente. It did not want to befriend the Communists, but did not want to get rid of them either (except for Castro, who was apparently too close for comfort, and to satisfy the militant exiles and their vengeful CIA handlers). When the Berlin Wall finally fell, it took years for Usama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda to get up to speed as a replacement for the evil international enemy that Russia had served as for so long and so well.

One of the things that Larry Hancock discusses in his book is LBJ's apparent lack of interest in even being briefed by either DOD or CIA on the night of and day after the assassination. It is not the portrait of a man who was running scared or who was not in control.

IMO Johnson's talk in the days following the assassination about nuclear war and 40 million people dying was simply more of what earned him his nickname back in his college days: "Bull" Johnson. It got him what he wanted, which was people like Warren and Russell who couldn't say no under such dire circumstances. Even then LBJ couldn't resist telling his old friend Russell how he made Warren cry.

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My contention about LBJ is based upon the fact that, right after the assassination, he spoke of NOT wanting a Congressional investigation or a Presidential commission, and how the assassination was, properly, a legal matter for the Great State of Texas to investigate and settle. LBJ was convinced, apparently, that since the matter wasn't addressed by federal law, it was a matter for the state of Texas...period...and his phone conversations in the first days after the assassination reflect this. In fact, he seemed adamant about it.

But by the 29th of November, Johnson had done a complete reversal of course. On my first reading of the LBJ tapes transcripts a few years ago, my response was, "WHO got to him, and HOW?" While I realize that Johnson was a political opportunist, whose "convictions" were whatever was the more politically profitable for him, even for a sleazeball like Johnson this reversal was out of character.

THEN when I read Galbraith's articles, it suddenly made sense. I firmly believe that there was a faction of the military that was hell-bent on nuclear war, and the Warren Commission was first a device to buy LBJ some time--and distance--from the assassinatio itself, and then secondarily a device to skew the results away from the itchy trigger fingers...while giving Johnson a way to turn Vietnam into something of a pacifier for the military to suck on.

Remember those flimsy fallout shelters that Americans were advised to build in the late '50's and early '60's? Obviously, they weren't designed to withstand a Soviet nuclear attack on the US; but they WOULD protect Americans from the nuclear fallout generated by an AMERICAN nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. So the idea of the military actually advocating a pre-emptive nuclear attack on the Soviet Union isn't that far-fetched; and if a faction of the military actually advocated such an attack, the only question remaining is, how far would they go to make it actually happen? Obviously, the assassination of a FOREIGN head of state wasn't out of bounds; what would make a DOMESTIC assassination out of the question, in order to get their nuclear attack finally under way...and within the "window of opportunity," during which US nuclear superiority was still assured?

I believe that there were actually two schools of thought within the military structure; one, as Ron points out, wanted a perpetual enemy so there could be some sort of permanent reason to keep military expenditures high...a self-perpetuating job, one in which none of their functions would ever become obsolete, one based upon the hardware and manpower of conventional warfare.

But I firmly believe there was a second type of military mindset, one that wantoe to be able to demonstrate to the world that the US was not only the most powerful nation in the world, but that we had the cajones, if you will, to use our might if the need ever arose. As the current war in Iraq demonstrates, having nukes but being afraid to use them [actually, being cautious and judicious about their use] makes the United States vulnerable to the smallest principality with a car and some dyanmite. Immediately after WWII, the US' apparent willingness to use nukes made us respected and feared by the other nations of the world whose respect and, in some cases, fear was justified. I believe that the pro-nuke faction foresaw a day, like today, in which the awsome might of the US nuclear arsenal no longer was feared by ANY nation, because EVERYONE in the world would know that it would never be used again.

The 1963 test-ban treaty made these military minds question JFK's resolve. If he was ultimately unwilling to use America's most awesome and destructive weapons, was he really fit to lead the country? And then add NSAM 263 to the mix...to them, not only was Kennedy a coward when it came to nukes, he was going to pull the plug on the conventional war, too...all the while with Berlin and Cuba simmering on the back burners, and no will to flex our military muscles in either of these places.

I believe that the JFK administration had reached "critical mass"...the military was, effectively, at odds with the commander-in chief; the pro-Castro Cubans hated him, as did the anti-Castro Cuban expatriots; the sex scandals could explode in their faces at any moment, as the press had caught the story and some were smelling blood; The Bobby Baker scandal was about to sink Johnson, and the November 22 testimony of Don Reynolds would've clinched it; the mob was ready for revenge, for both the failure to give Cuba back to them and for Bobby's relentless prosecutions, despite the help they gave the JFK campaign in '60 [the Hoffa issue just added fuel to the fire, as far as the mob was concerned]; The Kennedy tax-cut plan was bogged down in Congress; the "negro" problem, as some in the administration saw the civil rights case, was getting worse instead of better. As of 12:29 pm on November 22, 1963, the implosion of the Kennedy administration was all but assured. At 12:30, all of these problems were resolved.

All except the problems with the military. NSAM 273 had already been drafted, reversing JFK's position on Vietnam; it just need the new executive's signature. When that happened, Vietnam was a "go", and escalation was just around the corner. But what if the military tried to convince the new chief executive that, because of the change in commander-in-chief, the Soviets would now think we're vulnerable to a nuclear strike, and that our only chance at survival was that pre-emptive strike that had been on the books for years? Sure, it might cost us as many as 40 million American lives; but wasn't that a small price to pay, relatively speaking, to assure that we didn't end up as yet another nation under Soviet communist domination?

In terms of 1963, I cannot fathom that such a conversation DIDN'T take place...whether there were any records of it or not. After all, the idea that "godless communists" were bent on "world domination" hadn't gone away in 1963; we still had Civil Defense drills, even in small towns, in order to prepare for the "expected" communist nuclear attacks. In fact, it seems to me that it was only AFTER the Kennedy administration ended that this kind of talk faded away. So even as the Soviet nuclear arsenal increased, it became less and less of a concern. [illigical, but interesting to consider.]

I think that, rather than a Soviet attack becoming less of a possibility, it was actually the chance of an AMERICAN "pre-emptive" attack that faded after the "window of opportunity" passed, and the WC Report concluded that there was no Soviet conspiracy.

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