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A Scenario


Tim Gratz
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From: "The Don Reynolds Testimony and LBJ" by John Delane Williams and Debra Conway (The Assassination Chronicles, Vol. 7, Issue 1):

Soon after the meeting [TIM: at the Murchison party], LBJ whispered to Madeleine that the Kennedys would no longer be a burden after the next day. It would appear that LBJ was delivering information that was fresh for him.

Although I think it is questionable whether there was a party or meeting at Murchison's house, assume there was and that LBJ in fact told Madeline Brown that JFK would be killed the next day. The implication of the article is that LBJ learned of the assassination from a secret meeting with a bunch of the mucky-mucks at this disputed party.

I have a different scenario, however. It is only a scenario but there may be some logic to it. It came to me when I reread the Richard Bartholomew essay on the Wing Rambler. In it, Mr. Bartholomew mentions that Jack Halfen attended the Albert Thomas Appreciation Dinner that was held (in Houston if memory serves me) on Thursday, November 21st.

I am sure most members are familiar with Halfen's name. He was connected to the Marcello crime organization and reportedly delivered regular cash bribes to LBJ in exchange for LBJ's killing legislation unfavorable to organized crime.

I do not think Marcello was the mastermind of the assassination. I suspect that was Santo Trafficante, Jr. But I think Marcello was involved. (There is reproduced in the book "Triangle of Death" an FBI memo that states that two FBI agents guarding Marcello when he was in a hospital while in federal custody heard Marcello, while under sedation, makimg statements clearly implying his participation in the assassination.)

What if Halfen approached LBJ after the dinner and told him (since this is my scenario I will paraphrase and shorten what Halfen might have told LBJ): Tomorrow will be your lucky day, Lyndon. My friends are going to make you president. But we have one job for you. You are going to have to control the investigation and ensure we get away with it, and I'll tell you how. We are framing a man who once defected to Russia and has ties to Cuba. There will be evidence of possible foreign involvement in the assassination. You can tell whoever is necessary that the investigation must be quickly confined to show this man was simply a loose cannon, a lone nut, because if evidence should show foreign involvement that will inevitably lead to a war and a probable nuclear exchange."

In other words, the conspirators had cleverly plotted the motivation for the cover-up. They used Halfen to give LBJ only a few hours notice of the assassination. And they told LBJ the rationale he could use to limit the investigation.

And because Halfen had proof of LBJ's own corruption, there was an implied threat that he could be brought down if he did not go along with the cover-up. Indeed, giving him pre-knowledge of the assassination would also ensure that he would orchestrate a cover-up.

I suggest LBJ might have been given only a few hours advance knowledge of the assassination to limit his time for reflection and a possible decision by him that as much as he hated JFK and was facing potential criminal problems that could be solved by his ascension to the presidency, he could not go along with an assassination.

My scenario works whether or not there was a Murchison party. It does explain why, if there was, Brown had the impressiuon that LBJ had only recently learned of a planned assassination.

In summary, I suggest the possibility that after the Thursday night dinner, Jack Halfen advised LBJ of the plans for Friday and with an implicit threat ordered him to orchestrate a cover-up and indeed gave him the scenario he could use to justify a cover-up. Halfen would be just the right person to give LBJ this message because if he was indeed delivering bribes to LBJ Halfen himself could "bring Lyndon down" if need be. LBJ's pre-knowledge of the assassination also guaranteed he would have to cover it up. Halfen had essentially made him an accessory before the fact.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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The same Williams-Conway article contains information on Halfen:

A person privy to LBJ’s dealing in Texas was Jack H.Halfen, a Texas-based syndicate racketeer. Halfen was [in] federal prison in the late 1950s after acting as payoff man of unbelieveable proportions. Attempting to strike a deal with

the Justice Department, Halfen provided a deputy U.S. Marshall, J. Neal Mathews, with 40 names, mainly of Texans, that Halfen had bribed. Deliberately missing from the list was Lyndon Johnson, whom Halfen would protect after a promise of assistance. Included were such heavy hitters as U.S. Attorney General (later appointed to the Supreme Court) Tom Clark, (House Speaker) Sam Rayburn, and Congressman Albert Thomas. Told these accusations, especially against LBJ, Rayburn, Clark, and Thomas, would be used against them by the Eisenhower administration, Halfen refused to elaborate. After years of new charges and attempted deals, the Kennedy Justice Department looked into things

once again. Fear of political damage, the new investigation was called to a halt and the “Halfen list” disappeared into the Justice Department files. (It was finally released in 1998 with 37 of the names redacted.) Halfen was later pardoned

by Johnson in 1966.

And yes Tom Clark was the father of Ramsey Clark who, as AG, played a role in the investigation of the assassination ("the Clark panel"). Reportedly Tom Clark received his appointment to the US Supreme Court because when he was AG he acqiesced in the early release of the mafioso convicted in the Hollywood extortion case (one of whom, as you know, I am sure, was a fellow named Johnny Rosselli).

Interestingly, Congressman Thomas was also the recipient of Halfen bribes.

Can anyone confirm that Mr. Bartholomew was correct that Halfen attended the Congressman Thomas Appreciation Dinner on November 21st?

Edited by Tim Gratz
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My scenario explains why the conspirators could be assured there would be a cover-up: 1) because they "had the goods on LBJ" and he knew it because Halfen himself personally delivered the message to LBJ; (2) because they gave LBJ very limited advance knowledge of the assassination; and (3) because they had conceived of and instructed LBJ of the rationale who could use to persuade innocent parties (including the Chief Justice) of the necessity for a cover-up.

One need not go along with all of my scenario to accept the above but I think Trafficante (perhaps with Rosselli's help) planned the assassination. I am not convinced Morales was involved but Rosselli knew that his drinking buddies Morales and Robertson hated JFK and he may very well have lured them into participating to further muddy the waters.

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Tim,

The article you quote makes two assumptions. One, that there was a Murchison party (has a more famous party, real or imagined, ever been held?), and two, that Madeleine Brown was LBJ's mistress (and the person to whom LBJ would of course go straight to tell that JFK was going to be assassinated the next day). Based on all that I have read, I don't think either assumption is true.

As for your scenario, I think you give LBJ far too much credit for character. He was a ruthless SOB who most likely would have been at least a participant in the assassination plot at an early stage. Cui bono? LBJ more than any other person on earth benefited from getting rid of JFK. And someone had to tell him that it was going to happen?

Ron

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Hey, I didn't vote for the SOB either!

Then again neither did I vote for Goldwater.

Anybody remember this story: my father was warned that if he voted for Goldwater his taxes would go up and he would be engrossed in a war in Vietnam. Well, he did, and by golly, they were right!

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Ron, WADR, I do not think LBJ was a plotter. But I do think he may very well have been black-mailed into the cover-up, which is why the plotters could be assured there would be a cover-up.

Makes no sense to me that the plotters' goal was to create a scenario to force an invasion of Cuba but all of a sudden things changed and the goal became to potray LHO as a lone nut. I think the plotters knew what they were doing. Their goal was to kill JFK, create a patsy, blackmail LBJ into a cover-up, and give him a scenario to use to persuade others to go along with a cover-up "in the national interest".

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Ron, WADR, I do not think LBJ was a plotter.  But I do think he may very well have been black-mailed into the cover-up, which is why the plotters could be assured there would be a cover-up.

Makes no sense to me that the plotters' goal was to create a scenario to force an invasion of Cuba but all of a sudden things changed and the goal became to potray LHO as a lone nut. 

I have had the distinct privilege of discussing this very thing with Peter Dale Scott, for whom I have the utmost respect.  Those familiar with his hypothesis will know that Dr. Scott breaks it down into Phase One [Oswald as foreign-directed Commie proxy] which was the catalyst for Phase Two [Oswald as lone nut, to forestall the inevitable repercussions of Phase One.] 

That is the point at which Dr. Scott and I diverge, for I think his scenario gives the conspirators far too much credit for prescience, and assumes that the assassination went exactly according to its original specifications.  In short, he does not believe that a genuine push to react militarily against Cuba was ever in the cards.

I do think that a military retaliation against Cuba was the secondary goal of the assassination, and that much was done to achieve this.  [The MIG alert re: Oswald/Hidell, the utterly false Stringfellow memo from DPD to MIG, Hosty's report that McDill jets were scrambled toward Cuba, etc.]  The Joint Chiefs and CIA had both long advocated a direct military incursion into Cuba to overthrow Castro, and the assassination would have provided the perfect pretext, given the superficial evidence of Oswald being a Havana proxy.

Moreover, we know from Antonio Veciana's tale that certain parties were not only willing to tip the scales toward a military confrontation with both Havana and Moscow at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, but anxious that there be no other outcome.  It is not that nobody was insane enough to push for this; only that it didn't happen.

In our conversation, Dr. Scott asked me directly: "If a military strike against Cuba was planned, why didn't it happen?"

"Because Oswald was arrested," I replied.  Had he simply vanished, and then CIA reported:

* Oswald had previously defected to the USSR and threatened to reveal US military secrets to the Soviets

* Upon his return to the US, Oswald had militated for Castro via the FPCC

* Oswald had been in Mexico City only months earlier, applying for travel papers to both Cuba and the USSR

* While there, Oswald met with Kostikov, reputed head of Soviet assassination and sabotage operations in the Western Hemisphere

* A light plane arrived in Mexico City from the Dallas Redbird airstrip

* A single passenger disembarked and made his way across the tarmac to a Havana-bound flight that had been delayed as though awaiting only him

 

* "Oswald" luggage had been found at the Mexico City airport, tagged for travel to Havana

... the conclusions of Soviet and Cuban complicity would have been inescapable, and the demand among the general populace for retribution would have been unavoidable.

The fly in the ointment was Oswald's arrest.  With that unintended development, everything changed.  It was now necessary to silence him, which led to a certain amount of extemporizing and ad-libbing that hadn't been part of the original game plan.

I think the plotters knew what they were doing.  Their goal was to kill JFK, create a patsy, blackmail LBJ into a cover-up, and give him a scenario to use to persuade others to go along with a cover-up "in the national interest".

In your scenario, the plotters achieved their goals perfectly, but were rather unambitious, prepared to settle solely for killing the President.  In my scenario, they were far more ambitious - killing Kennedy and sealing Castro's fate, the very thing that JFK himself had denied them while alive - but less effective.

It seems an odd bunch of plotters, indeed, who would go to the effort of killing the President, but then forego the spinoff benefit of deposing Castro and settle instead for just JFK's death.  If you can effectively kill two birds with one stone, why let the second bird escape?

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.

I have a different scenario, however. It is only a scenario but there may be some logic to it. It came to me when I reread the Richard Bartholomew essay on the Wing Rambler.

____________________

Out of curiosity, when did you read Richard's manuscript????

Now that's one hell of a bunch of "coincidences"....all the pics, (clues?)the ties, that it may be the getaway car...and that Richard himself should discover this car.

Dawn

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.

It seems an odd bunch of plotters, indeed, who would go to the effort of killing the President, but then forego the spinoff benefit of deposing Castro and settle instead for just JFK's death.  If you can effectively kill two birds with one stone, why let the second bird escape?[/color]

[__________________________

Robert,

As usual, I concur 100% with you thinking, logic and conclusions.

Dawn

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Robert, I've had the same discussion with PDS and definitely come down with your direction. I think that is supported by Martino's remark that the plot totally came apart with Tippett was killed and Oswald was taken into custody. That blew the rest of the plan.

On the other hand, I retain at least a suspicion that one or more parties involved with inciting the plot may have actually been prepared to double cross the exiles by getting to Johnson and setting the stage to squash a conspiracy response if at all possible. Roselli would be my suspect in that - after all getting JFK and especially RFK out of the picture would be good for buisness, atomic war would be bad. I do know that at least in Martino's case that he came to believe the people who had incited the plot might have had an agenda of their own and that the exiles may have been used. More may emerge on that, hard to say.

Question...could you give a reference for that Oswald luggage tag thing...I've heard that come up before but was never sure of the source?

-- thanks, Larry

Ron, WADR, I do not think LBJ was a plotter.  But I do think he may very well have been black-mailed into the cover-up, which is why the plotters could be assured there would be a cover-up.

Makes no sense to me that the plotters' goal was to create a scenario to force an invasion of Cuba but all of a sudden things changed and the goal became to potray LHO as a lone nut. 

I have had the distinct privilege of discussing this very thing with Peter Dale Scott, for whom I have the utmost respect.  Those familiar with his hypothesis will know that Dr. Scott breaks it down into Phase One [Oswald as foreign-directed Commie proxy] which was the catalyst for Phase Two [Oswald as lone nut, to forestall the inevitable repercussions of Phase One.] 

That is the point at which Dr. Scott and I diverge, for I think his scenario gives the conspirators far too much credit for prescience, and assumes that the assassination went exactly according to its original specifications.  In short, he does not believe that a genuine push to react militarily against Cuba was ever in the cards.

I do think that a military retaliation against Cuba was the secondary goal of the assassination, and that much was done to achieve this.  [The MIG alert re: Oswald/Hidell, the utterly false Stringfellow memo from DPD to MIG, Hosty's report that McDill jets were scrambled toward Cuba, etc.]  The Joint Chiefs and CIA had both long advocated a direct military incursion into Cuba to overthrow Castro, and the assassination would have provided the perfect pretext, given the superficial evidence of Oswald being a Havana proxy.

Moreover, we know from Antonio Veciana's tale that certain parties were not only willing to tip the scales toward a military confrontation with both Havana and Moscow at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, but anxious that there be no other outcome.  It is not that nobody was insane enough to push for this; only that it didn't happen.

In our conversation, Dr. Scott asked me directly: "If a military strike against Cuba was planned, why didn't it happen?"

"Because Oswald was arrested," I replied.  Had he simply vanished, and then CIA reported:

* Oswald had previously defected to the USSR and threatened to reveal US military secrets to the Soviets

* Upon his return to the US, Oswald had militated for Castro via the FPCC

* Oswald had been in Mexico City only months earlier, applying for travel papers to both Cuba and the USSR

* While there, Oswald met with Kostikov, reputed head of Soviet assassination and sabotage operations in the Western Hemisphere

* A light plane arrived in Mexico City from the Dallas Redbird airstrip

* A single passenger disembarked and made his way across the tarmac to a Havana-bound flight that had been delayed as though awaiting only him

  

* "Oswald" luggage had been found at the Mexico City airport, tagged for travel to Havana

... the conclusions of Soviet and Cuban complicity would have been inescapable, and the demand among the general populace for retribution would have been unavoidable.

The fly in the ointment was Oswald's arrest.  With that unintended development, everything changed.  It was now necessary to silence him, which led to a certain amount of extemporizing and ad-libbing that hadn't been part of the original game plan.

I think the plotters knew what they were doing.  Their goal was to kill JFK, create a patsy, blackmail LBJ into a cover-up, and give him a scenario to use to persuade others to go along with a cover-up "in the national interest".

In your scenario, the plotters achieved their goals perfectly, but were rather unambitious, prepared to settle solely for killing the President.  In my scenario, they were far more ambitious - killing Kennedy and sealing Castro's fate, the very thing that JFK himself had denied them while alive - but less effective.

It seems an odd bunch of plotters, indeed, who would go to the effort of killing the President, but then forego the spinoff benefit of deposing Castro and settle instead for just JFK's death.  If you can effectively kill two birds with one stone, why let the second bird escape?

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Well perhaps you gentleman (or lady) can explain to me if the plot really involved "killing two birds with one stone" (in other words using Oswald's purported involvement to precipitate an invasion of Cuba) why that part of the plot had to stop and everyone had to shift focus AFTER the patsy was eliminated?

More than half (four of the seven points) Robert makes still existed and could effectively be used to point toward a Cuban (or even Soviet) conspiracy even after Oswald was killed.

Certainly I don't think the plan was that Oswald was to be taken alive.

But it makes no sense that the plot was intended to force an invasion of Cuba when the Kennedy brothers were already planning one. The assassination of JFK stopped the invasion of Cuba. The only thing one could say was that the plotters were not aware of the second invasion plans (which would not be true if Morales was involved since he had participated in the AMTRUNK meetings).

I think the plotters used Oswald not to prompt an invasion of Cuba because there was evidence linking Oswald to a foreign conspiracy; rather I think the use of Oswald was done so the possible hints at a foreign conspiracy could be used by Johnson to justify a cover-up to (among others) Earl Warren.

This does not mean that the plotters did not use the possibility of using the assassination as an excuse to take out the Castro regime to involve anti-Castro exiles who were NOT aware that a second invasion was already in the works. I would concede that as a possibility. But I think the plotters knew exactly what they were doing, and they were confident of a cover-up because they "had the goods" on LBJ.

And I think it is a reasonable hypothesis that Halfen gave LBJ his marching orders after the appreciation dinner on November 21, 1963.

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Larry asked:

Question...could you give a reference for that Oswald luggage tag thing...I've heard that come up before but was never sure of the source?

Larry, in the original edition of Dick Russell's "Man Who Knew Too Much," there is an obscure footnote in the rear indicating that after the assassination, luggage was found at the Mexico City airport in Oswald's name.  No doubt, it must have contained enough of Oswald's genuine belongings to confirm the intended suspicion that he had passed through the airport.  Russell got this from a CIA source that he trusted.  For obvious reasons, I found this particularly provocative and asked Russell for more information some years back, but obtained little from him other than his re-statement that he stood by what he had written.

One might reasonably wonder why CIA would expunge such a provocative tale from the extant record, rather than trumpet it to the WC.  However, it is self-evident that if Oswald couldn't possibly have transited the MC airport after the assassination, the luggage was no longer evidence of his flight to Havana, but constituted evidence that somebody had fraudulently sought to create that impression, and must have done so before the assassination.

Well perhaps you gentleman (or lady) can explain to me if the plot really involved "killing two birds with one stone" (in other words using Oswald's purported involvement to precipitate an invasion of Cuba) why that part of the plot had to stop and everyone had to shift focus AFTER the patsy was eliminated?

It seems to me that the key ingredient needed to foment war against Cuba was the intended impression that Oswald had found safe harbour there.  Who could argue against the supposition that Oswald was a Castro proxy if it was Castro who gave the fleeing assassin refuge?   

More than half (four of the seven points) Robert makes still existed and could effectively be used to point toward a Cuban (or even Soviet) conspiracy even after Oswald was killed.

But the single most important one was neutralized with Oswald's arrest.  This didn't prevent certain CIA parties from continuing an effort to salvage what had been pre-planned.  Oswald could no longer be the sole passenger spirited to Havana by the delayed Cubana flight, so the record was salted with suggestions that it was one of his purported confederates.  But that just didn't have the same "punch" to it, did it?

Certainly I don't think the plan was that Oswald was to be taken alive.

But it makes no sense that the plot was intended to force an invasion of Cuba when the Kennedy brothers were already planning one.  The assassination of JFK stopped the invasion of Cuba.  The only thing one could say was that the plotters were not aware of the second invasion plans (which would not be true if Morales was involved since he had participated in the AMTRUNK meetings).

Any number of things may have come into play.  James Hosty reported in his book that he had learned of McDill jets being scrambled toward Cuba on 11/22, but that they were recalled at the final moment.  While I have found no independent verification for this, that doesn't necessarily make it untrue.  If it emerges that Hosty's report is true, who scrambled those jets, and who rescinded the order?  Perhaps within Washington there was something less than total unanimity about how to respond .

If there was a second invasion planned [for which we've seen some evidence, but no smoking gun proof], there can be little doubt whether or not it was ready to go by the late November date allegedly selected.  It wasn't ready.  So, sending Cubans into the fray a second time wasn't an option, lest Johnson repeat Kennedy's mistake at BoP, only even sooner into his own term than Kennedy had done. 

This would have required direct US military intervention.  But on what basis could the US have justified this to the world?  Because Oswald formed a ghost chapter of the FPCC in New Orleans?  Because Oswald had met with Kostikov?  Compared to Oswald sitting in Havana and sharing stogies with the Cuban leader, these were weak rationales at best.

Tim, you may be old enough to recall a time when US Presidents actually felt compelled to offer their citizenry sufficient cause to launch an attack against an adversary.  We all realize that this is no longer the case, per the current White House occupant, but there was a time when US Presidents actually felt the obligation of demonstrating a sufficient reason for spilling the blood of their own troops, no matter how lofty the goal.  Would that this still were the case.   

I think the plotters used Oswald not to prompt an invasion of Cuba because there was evidence linking Oswald to a foreign conspiracy; rather I think the use of Oswald was done so the possible hints at a foreign conspiracy could be used by Johnson to justify a cover-up to (among others) Earl Warren.

That is the very case made by Dr. Scott.  Unlike you, he does not suspect Castro of being the ultimate author of the dirty deed.

This does not mean that the plotters did not use the possibility of using the assassination as an excuse to take out the Castro regime to involve anti-Castro exiles who were NOT aware that a second invasion was already in the works.  I would concede that as a possibility.  But I think the plotters knew exactly what they were doing, and they were confident of a cover-up because they "had the goods" on LBJ.

And I think it is a reasonable hypothesis that Halfen gave LBJ his marching orders after the appreciation dinner on November 21, 1963.

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