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Curtis LeMay.


Guest Stephen Turner
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Guest Stephen Turner

One man whom I have long suspected as being, at the very least a cheerleader in the assassination is Curtis LeMay. I dont intend to rake over his military background prior to 1959-60 as I dont see it as being particulaly pertinent to this piece..To begin here's a quick thumb-nail sketch of his more memorable run ins with JFK's administration.

Prior to the 1960 election LeMay constantly pushed the Missile gap between the US, and USSR, he insisted that large numbers of Soviet ICBMs could be located in unseen areas, not overflown by the U2 spyplane. This, he said, required a massive upgrading in the US nuclear responce capability. During the 1960 election JFK echoed these charges, but once elected moved toward detant to solve the non-existant problem. Strangely both Kennedy, and Johnson had been briefed by Dulles on the reality of the situation in the summer of 1960,and, one must suspect, knew the truth that no such gap existed.

During a run in with Kennedy's crisis management team on October 19th 1962 he said. "This blockade, and political action I see leading into war. This is almost as bad as the appeasement at Munich. I just dont see any other solution except direct military action right now." ( LeMay never saw any other solution, to any other problem.) After the meeting, General Shoup, and LeMay stayed behind, not realising he was being taped Shoup said to LeMay, "You pulled the rug right out from under him, somebody's got to keep him from doing the Goddamed thing piecemeal, thats our problem, Do the son-of-a-bitch and do it right."

LeMay was essentially forced into retirement in Feb 1965, and got himself selected as the Vice Presidential candidate on George wallace's independant party ticket, the mere fact that he was exceptable to this vile racist tells us much about the mans character, and beliefs. During the campaign he continued his sabre rattling about the first strike use of Atomic weapons.

LeMay was a cold eyed, cold war lunatic. in a plan drawn up in 1949 (Ok, I know I said I wouldn't) He proposed dropping the entire stockpile of 133 atomic bombs in one massive attack on 70 Eastern block cities within 30 days. Under his leadership the SAC was on costant red alert, during the Cuban missile crisis he recomended that JFK send the Navy, and SAC to Cuba and if need be " Fry it" when the crisis ended peacefully LeMay called the outcome, "The greatest defeat in America's history."

More to come, I hope to show why I believe that men such as LeMay, Lemnitzer, Craig and Walker provided the planning, and possibly the muscle for the assassination. Comments from esteemed members welcome.

Regards, Steve.

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James Carroll in the new book House of War adds to this picture of the highly contentious relationship between Kennedy and LeMay. He notes that McNamara did not attend the retirement party for LeMay in Feb. 1965. This bash was held in the hanger reserved for Air Force 1 and the plane had to be relocated for the occasion. Carroll argues that McNamara had to struggle with LeMay and SAC for control of the actual mechanics of nuclear first strike capacity. Apparenly, McNamara became convinced that LeMay and SAC

had withheld the more detailed nuclear plans from the White House, and in these details lay the devil of real

control over first strike options:

'I learned very, very early, in January of '61 he (Robert McNamara)

me, "that Eisenhower had implanted what I think was called the Joint Evaluation

Subcommittee, which consisted of four-star officers, examining the use of nuclear

weapons. They prepared a report, and I saqid, 'I want a copy of that, and they said,

'No, there's only one copy of that...' I said, 'Well, get it. I'm going to read it'

.....

The bomber generals shared with their superiors only what they chose to, and by 1961,

no one was in position to know which of several planning documents was in fact operative.

The White House was given the Single Intergrated Operational Plan, or the SIOP, which

purported to coordinate Air Force and Navy strategic targeting. But the J-SCAP was

something separate, a more detailed and complete plan, which, no civilian ahd ever

read. (p.266).

Combined with McNamara's organization of the DIA against the will of the Joint Chiefs, this disagreement

adds to my picture of LeMay as someone who may well have wanted Kennedy gone, and who also

more than enough intelligence connctions to make this wish come true.

For quotes from Carroll's (thus far excellent) book on the thinking behind the creation of the DIA, see Robert Strange McNamara thread.

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Guest Stephen Turner

'I learned very, very early, in January of '61 he (Robert McNamara)

me, "that Eisenhower had implanted what I think was called the Joint Evaluation

Subcommittee, which consisted of four-star officers, examining the use of nuclear

weapons. They prepared a report, and I saqid, 'I want a copy of that, and they said,

'No, there's only one copy of that...' I said, 'Well, get it. I'm going to read it'

.....

The bomber generals shared with their superiors only what they chose to, and by 1961,

no one was in position to know which of several planning documents was in fact operative.

The White House was given the Single Intergrated Operational Plan, or the SIOP, which

purported to coordinate Air Force and Navy strategic targeting. But the J-SCAP was

something separate, a more detailed and complete plan, which, no civilian ahd ever

read. (p.266).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nathaniel you beat me to the punch,this incident speaks volumns about the degraded relationships between various military commanders, and their supposed civilian watchdogs in the Administration.

JFK to an aid "The Military are mad"

question, was it O'Connor who claimed that LeMay was present at the Bethesda autopsy, smoking a trademark cheroot, and did he not also claim that when the question "who's in charge here" was asked, LeMay answered "I am"....

Edited by Stephen Turner
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I too held these suspicions a few months ago and I subsequently bought the book 'Iron Eagle, The turbulent life of General Curtis Lemay' by Thomas Coffey, published 1986.

I must confess that it still sits on my 'to do' pile.

It might be worth investigating. It was on the bestsellers list so it should be quite cheap.

John

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In The Fog of War, there is a section on McNamara's WWII experiences under Lemay. If memory serves, Lemay over-saw the fire-bombing of Tokyo, which killed many more than the subesquent nuclear blasts. While McNamara is respectful of Lemay, it's clear from his recollections and the footage provided by Morris that Lemay had no problem targeting civilians. He would almost certainly have been executed as a war criminal should the U.S. have lost the war.

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If memory serves, Lemay over-saw the fire-bombing of Tokyo, which killed many more than the subesquent nuclear blasts.

Yup, Lemay was the man. But; to say that the Tokyo firestorms killed many more than the nuclear bombs, we would be speaking of millions of deaths in Tokyo. Wouldn't a fairer statement be that the firestorm caused a comparable number of deaths?

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Wikipedia says that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings combined for between 100 and 200 thousand dead. The March 1945 firebombing of Tokyo was reported to have killed 100,000, three times the number killed in the firebombing of Dresden. I believe a number of other cities were bombed in the subsequent months. While the number of immediate deaths from the firebombings was probably greater than the number of immediate deaths from the nuclear blasts, many died from radiation poisoning and radiation-related illness subsequent to the nuclear blasts. So, it can safely be said that the carnage was excessive in both instances. My assertion that more were killed in the firebombing was based upon my recollection of the film The Fog of War. I believe they throw out numbers in the movie that make the firebombing appear far worse than the nuclear blasts.

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In The Fog of War, there is a section on McNamara's WWII experiences under Lemay. If memory serves, Lemay over-saw the fire-bombing of Tokyo, which killed many more than the subesquent nuclear blasts. While McNamara is respectful of Lemay, it's clear from his recollections and the footage provided by Morris that Lemay had no problem targeting civilians. He would almost certainly have been executed as a war criminal should the U.S. have lost the war.

I'm afraid both sides of WWII live in glass houses on this one. Churchill could have been hung from a lamp post over Dresden, and perhaps justifiability so. Indeed, he and Roosevelt accomplished there just about what Hitler prescribed for Paris during the Germans' retreat, though the German commanding officer, thankfully, declined to carry that out. I would remind those Japanese who fulminate about Tokyo (or Hiroshima or Nagasaki, for that matter) about the rape of Nanking.

In the context of the times, ol' Curtis, unfortunately, was quite unremarkable.

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