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Torbert MacDonald


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Kennedy involvement in the assassination of Dien is interesting subject. Torbet MacDonald’s administrative assistant claimed that MacDonald did a lot of secret work for JFK. He never talked about this work. This included a secret trip he made to Saigon to meet Diem.

Torbet MacDonald who was JFK’s roommate from college and one of his closest friends. MacDonald was a member of Congress from Massachusetts and often accompanied JFK on his trips. For example, he was with JFK when he made his first visit to LBJ’s ranch where he met all his mates from Texas.

It has been pointed out that it is strange why McDonald is not mentioned in books written by other JFK’s aides. Robert Kennedy also does not even mention MacDonald in the long interviews he gave for the Kennedy Library.

Another interesting fact about MacDonald is that he gave an interview with the Kennedy Library after JFK’s death. However, it was sealed and not published. It was eventually released in 1995 but was found to contain nothing of importance. Was it censored? What did Macdonald say that meant it had to be sealed.

MacDonald also died during the early stages of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. He was only 59. Was he about to be called to appear before the HSCA? I have the email address of Macdonald's son. Do you think he is worth contacting?

James, do you have a photograph of Torbet Macdonald? (John Simkin)

Sorry this has taken so long but it is taking me ages to sort through boxes of material.

James

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Thank you for that James. I will add it to my page on Torbet MacDonald.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKmacdonaldT.htm

Torbet MacDonald was part of the group that included George Smathers, Grant Stockdale and Eugene Hancock. It would be interesting to discover if MacDonald was involved in the activities of the Serve-U-Corporation or Automatic Vending.

Evelyn Lincoln's husband Harold Lincoln worked for Torbet MacDonald. I get the impression from Evelyn's two books on JFK she got a great deal of the "background" information from Harold who was really into politics. Is it possible that Evelyn's views on the assassination came from Harold via Torbet?

Evelyn Lincoln, letter to Richard Duncan, a teacher at Northside Middle School in Roanoke (7th October, 1994)

"As for (sic) the assassination is concerned it is my belief that there was a conspiracy because there were those that disliked him and felt the only way to get rid of him was to assassinate him. These five conspirators, in my opinion, were Lyndon B. Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, the Mafia, the CIA, and the Cubans in Florida."

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John,

It is also interesting to note that during the late 1950's, MacDonald made several trips to South East Asia on tours to promote trade with the United States. He also monitored trade between Communist China and the Phillippines.

James

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It is also interesting to note that during the late 1950's, MacDonald made several trips to South East Asia on tours to promote trade with the United States. He also monitored trade between Communist China and the Phillippines.

Very interesting. Any links with Concoran, Pawley, Helliwell, Singlaub, or Shackley?

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It is also interesting to note that during the late 1950's, MacDonald made several trips to South East Asia on tours to promote trade with the United States. He also monitored trade between Communist China and the Phillippines.

Very interesting. Any links with Concoran, Pawley, Helliwell, Singlaub, or Shackley?

Not directly, but it's a fascinating question. I believe MacDonald thought Hong Kong was being used as the conduit.

MacDonald's first trip was in 1955. Ramon Magsaysay was in charge of the Philippines at the time and let's not forget that he was very close with Ed Lansdale. Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe Lansdale left there in 1954. Even so, he still would have had Magsaysay's ear. Interesting sources for information.

Lansdale and Magsaysay below.

James

Edited by James Richards
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  • 1 year later...
John,

It is also interesting to note that during the late 1950's, MacDonald made several trips to South East Asia on tours to promote trade with the United States. He also monitored trade between Communist China and the Phillippines.

James

Herbert S. Parmet. JFK: The Presidency of John F. Kennedy (NY: Penguin Books, 1984), pp.334-335:

The news of Kennedy’s death outraged Kennedy. General Taylor wrote that he “leaped to his feet and rushed from the room with a look of shock and dismay on his face which I have never seen before.”(43) George Smathers remembered that Jack Kennedy blamed the CIA, saying “I’ve got to do something about those bastards”; they should be stripped of their exorbitant power. (44) Mike Forrestal recalled called Kennedy’s reaction “both personal and religious,” and especially troubled by the implication that a Catholic President had participated in a plot to assassinate a coreligionist. (45) Every account of Kennedy’s response is in complete agreement. Until the very end he had hoped Diem’s life could be spared.

It has now become clear that however futile his efforts Kennedy tried to prevent the murder. He told Francis Cardinal Spellman that he had known in advance that the Vietnamese leader would probably be killed, but in the end he could not control the situation.(46) At least one attempt, and possibly three, came from a direct attempt to communicate with Diem by using a personal emissary, someone completely loyal to Jack Kennedy, someone totally without any obligation, his intimate friend, Torby Macdonald, the Massachusetts congressman.

As far is known, there are no written records. It was completely secret. Mike Forrestal remembers briefing MacDonald for the trip.(47) Torbert Macdonald, Jr., recalls that his father told him about it.(48) The congressman’s widow is certain that he made at least three trips to Saigon for the President.(49) Torby’s closest friend during his final years, who desires to remain anonymous, has a photograph of him posing before the ancient temple at Angkor-Wat in Cambodia, indicating that he went through that country while travelling to South Vietnam as a private citizen.(50)

Macdonald himself explained why Kennedy sent him. The President had begun to develop personal sources of information from FBI men who were bypassing J. Edgar Hoover and going directly to him. Some CIA people were following a similar route and avoiding the Agency. By that time the President was learning. When he first came into office, he had been intimidated by the Pentagon and the CIA, but he had begun to find out how to get round them. When he heard that Big Minh and his group were planning to assassinate Diem, he wanted to make a direct contact. He was hesitant about using the embassy in Saigon because he could not trust his own people there. Nor did he have enough confidence in Lodge, who had maintained a distant relationship with Diem. Finally, there was no South Vietnamese he could trust. So he called on Torby, who then carried the President’s personal plea, which was to get rid of his brother and take refuge in the American embassy. As Macdonald later explained it, he told Diem: “They’re going to kill you. You’ve got to get out of there temporarily to seek sanctuary in the American embassy and you must get rid of your sister-in-law and your brother.” But Diem refused. “He just wouldn’t do it,” Macdonald reported to the President. “He’s too stubborn; just refuses to.”(51)

Notes:

(43) Taylor, Swords, p.301

(44) George Smathers, JFKL-OH (Don Wilson interview)

(45) Michael Forrestal, interview, February 17, 1981

(46) Blair Clark, interview, July 20, 1977

(47) Michael Forrestal, interview, February 15, 1981

(48) Torbert Macdonald, Jr., interview, August 6, 1979

(49) Phyllis Macdonald, interview, August 9, 1979

(50) Confidential interview, July 25, 1977

(51) Ibid.

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