A Response to the CTKA review of "LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination" by Joseph Green.

Author's Note: This essay is not intended for recreational reading; it is presented here simply as a necessity, in response to a heavy-handed attempt to discredit my book in a particularly vicious but specious "review" by the CTKA organization.  If you have come here specifically to find my response to this hatchet-job, it is here in its entirety, and you are encouraged to read on.  If you merely stumbled into this area, and have not read the CTKA review, you might save yourself some time and annoyance by simply avoiding any further investigation of it; in the grand scheme of things, it is singularly unimportant. I do not recommend going to that website for anything, for reasons which are described below, and certainly not to actually read their scurrilous review of my book.  Since the purported "review" by Joe Green has now been running for twelve (12) months and they have no provision for responding to their attacks on that website, it is now time for me to publish this response.  It is only intended for review by people who have made the mistake of wandering "too deep into the weeds", people who took the time to read Mr. Green's review hoping that they might learn something from his "insights" and now need to read this rebuttal.

The Author's Rebuttal:

There is a tiny corner of cyberspace inhabited by two groups, probably many more, which are heavily armed by big axes that evidently require constant grinding.  They share a common ground, which could be likened to a "limited hangout" acknowledgement of the obvious fact that a conspiracy existed in the matter of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  While they have different areas of focus, they appear to have in common a mission--to perpetuate their own existence--that is not necessarily congruent with the goal of ever solving the "crime of the century."  Their beliefs seem to center on the idea that the conspiracy involved many people, none of whom had over-all accountability for being the predominant force behind the assassination; evidently, according to those views, the authority for the assassination resided within an "invisible government," run by an amorphous group of anonymous men.   Apparently this mysterious group of men were run by a nameless board of directors, each of whom had an equal, albeit secret, vote.  One might be excused for intuiting this description to be what is essentially the "status quo" with respect to the present state of the investigation into the death of President Kennedy; that's because it is, and it is precisely where many people would prefer to leave it.

The first of these groups calls itself, paradoxically, the "Citizens for Truth in the Kennedy Assassination (CTKA)."  It consists of a handful of people who seem to take their marching orders from the titular head of the group, one James DiEugenio.  He happens to be one of the most prolific of the hundreds or thousands of JFK researchers, even though his writings have been known to produce a condition known as "MEGO" (My Eyes Glaze Over" effect amongst uninitiated readers.  The hallmark of its position in the panoply of JFK assassination research organizations is that it believes any viable theory of the assassination must exclude any hint of criticism of John, Robert or Joseph Kennedy, or, assuredly, anyone else having that surname.  Period.  To suggest that there might have been real--legitimate or not--reasons why some other groups or persons hated any of the Kennedys for anything involving their personal indiscretions or judgmental errors in the conduct of national affairs, causes predictable reactions from CTKA, generally of the "whoa, you can't blame the victim" kind.   Referencing the documentation of others regarding such facts provokes such reactions as "you can't use anything Seymour Hersh (or fill in the blank) ever said about anything because he's a CIA stoolie"--as absurd as that might sound, given Hersh's lifelong career of exposing some of the worst secrets of that organization.   CTKA has thusly become the self-appointed arbiter of which JFK assassination books are considered credible, and, in every case, the issue becomes centered on whether the work has avoided negative reflections on the enchanted dreamland called "Camelot".

The other group is composed of people who share--to be charitable--a perplexingly paranoid view of the world which seems to postulate that the entity behind the assassination was a very hazy, amorphous group which they refer to as the "national security state" or "the invisible government".  This group inhabits another small fraction of cyberspace called the "Deep Politics Forum." While they throw around a lot of names to populate the "invisible government", there will never be--by definition, cannot ever be--enough evidence uncovered to completely expose the whole truth.  Thus, their future remains secure. The nature of the beast, according to these "deep thinkers", is so utterly complex (and deeper than deep), that the essential, key and pivotal participants cannot be revealed because there were none:  the entire enterprise consisted of a massive but undocumented covert operation executed by shadowy figures who may have had fractional awareness of the pending coup, but none of whom--regardless of their individual acts to plot, plan, execute or cover-up the assassination--will ever be concretely indentified and held accountable, even in a post-mortem context.  

Thus, their respective organizations have a self-fulfilling, perpetual life cycle that can never be willfully terminated.

After the original publication of LBJ: The Mastermind of JFK's Assassination on July 27, 2010, a member of the CTKA group began blasting the work as unworthy, and that no one--other than a specific researcher who many people within the "JFK research community" acknowledge has been working for twenty years on his own book--could ever write a book naming Lyndon Johnson as the central plotter.  Seamus Coogan, evidently in league with DiEugenio, began a very unbecoming, contemptuous barrage of denigrating verbal assaults on the book, proclaiming it to be utterly unworthy, as he vowed never to even bother to read it.  Whether his bullying, thuggish rants were self inflicted or invoked by his partners will probably never be known, but to most thoughtful and objective people his pronouncements were merely a source of amusement.    

After five months of promises that one of their members, Joe Green, would tear this book apart, the review was published: two days before Christmas, for some reason.  So, suspending all of my normal holiday routines, I quickly threw together a rebuttal to his review, which he had smugly titled,  "A Texan Looks at Nelson."  This response (following below) was originally posted on the Education Forum on December 27th, in response to a link to the original "book review" published on the CTKA website.  Shortly after that, the EF website, due to technical problems, "went down."  The review was then posted by DiEugenio on the JFK Lancer Forum, however it caused (evidently due to its "hatchet job" nature) an outbreak of contretemps with the adminstrators/owners of that forum and just as quickly disappeared from that venue; DiEugenio then moved on to the Deep Politics Forum, where he signed on as a new member and posted this review as his initial offering. A lengthy squabble then commenced at that venue, led by one of its founders, Charles Drago, who posted nothing at all comprehensible but merely a collection of invectives that were marked by their singular viciousness towards me, because, according to Mr. Drago, I was an evil dispenser of "disinformation" which was intended to hide the real "sponsors" of the assassination (i.e. those murky members of the "invisible government").  Never mind that, as outlined above, Mr. Drago knows more about dispensing "disinformation" through his "Deep Politics" platform than anyone else could ever match.   A cynic might conclude that this organization has become an integral part of the cover-up, as originally designed by Lyndon B. Johnson, which has now worked effectively for almost fifty years.  

Only those having an extreme interest in this vacuous "mini-controversy" should feel compelled to read any further. But, for those who do, there is no need to commit to reading it all the way through; that would be presumptuous for me to expect, and a completely non-humanitarian kind of torture for those who try.


Original Response to the CTKA "book review:  (December 27, 2010)

Mr. Green should be commended for his up-front, candid acknowledgement that he found his latest assignment distasteful: “This particular genre of Kennedy book is admittedly one I find less useful than others.” There was never any doubt, after reading that comment, whether the review would be free of any preconceived bias. And with that, he proceeded to offer the reader his most thoughtful commentary about reading a book that he viewed with disdain even before opening it to the first page. He evidently accepted this assignment very grudgingly, because it is apparent in his review that he never really understood it. Had he read it more thoroughly, with an open and curious mind, his impressions might have been more in line with other reviewers of the book.

But that result was never in doubt, even four months ago when Jim DiEugenio began making it clear that he didn’t expect this book to be worthy of a well reasoned review, which was about the same time his man Seamus Coogan began publicly attacking the book as soon as it was published, declaring that “his side” would demolish it – even as he vowed never to read it. Many of his posts alluded to the long-awaited book by Ed Tatro, essentially positing the official CTKA attitude that no “LBJ did it” book by anyone other than Tatro would ever be satisfactory to them. Well, the problem is, there is no such book by Tatro and no real indication that there ever will be. I’ve been waiting for two or three decades for someone else to write this book and would have gladly not done so myself if he or someone else had done it. Now, let’s suppose that Ed Tatro never publishes a book; does that mean that Johnson’s possible role in the assassination will forever be “off limits” for anyone else to ever explore? If so, long live Tatro!

Another long-established rule at CTKA, apparently, is to disparage any book that attempts to analyze the assassination if it contains even a hint of criticism of JFK’s personal life and reckless attitudes as perceived by his enemies. In fact, Kennedy created some of the very “vulnerabilities” to his enemies which caused some of them not only to hate him viciously, but led them to rationalize his killing as being a patriotic act. It was this phenomenon that must not be ignored in exploring the events that led to the assassination. Unfortunately, that has been declared out-of-bounds by the folks at CTKA, as evidenced by Green’s repeated lament:
“What does this have to do with the book? We were talking about Lyndon Johnson, right?” This material was put into a section properly labeled as “JFK’s vulnerabilities” and thoroughly described as such; perhaps in his zeal to dismiss all of this material, Mr. Green overlooked that fact.

That rule also explains why James Douglass’ book (which I agree is one of the best and is,
by the way, within the same “genre” as my book) has been rated so highly by this group. Nary a word about any of the “darker side of Camelot” was included here, so of course it passed this hurdle. It further explains why Douglass was given a pass on using the rather wild and uncorroborated claims of Robert Vinson regarding his trip on a CIA owned four engine airplane (the equivalent of a DC-6, which was used extensively by airlines in the 1950s) which purportedly landed, and then took off again, on the shores of the Trinity River south of Dallas. If anyone else had used that story, they probably would have been savagely attacked for it, but in DiEugenio’s review of the book, he glossed over the story in this ho-hum manner:

“. . . this double was ultimately flown out of Dallas on a military transport plane. This is based on the testimony of retired Air Force officer Robert Vinson.”

Not to put too fine a point on it, but most researchers do not put a whole lot of credence in this particular item. So what we can discern about the CTKA methodology here is that, if you write a book that avoids criticism of Kennedy and thoroughly praises him in practically every page, that earns you a pass for the use of any material which would not otherwise pass muster; not even a tiny caveat or minor qualification, mind you.
Nothing that questions the veracity of that account was noted.

Another favored tactic of the CTKA crew is to denigrate the sources of any information which it deems to be unfavorable. In the case of Seymour Hersh, anything he says is discarded with a snide comment about his lack of credibility, based upon the completely spurious charge that he is somehow in the pocket of the CIA. Never mind the fact that Hersh has been battling the CIA and Pentagon for approximately forty years and is the least likely candidate for “CIA stooge” that one can imagine. Charging him with that is beyond absurd; it is simply laughable. His position as the best and most prolific investigative reporter of our times has been well established, except for anyone associated with the CTKA organization, who evidently have to submit to DiEugenio’s dogma that he was and is somehow 180 degrees opposite of this. He should be judged on the basis of his entire body of work, and the awards he has received – not least of which is the Pulitzer Prize – which vindicate him and reveal the conflicted position of CTKA regarding his reputation. Quoting from a more “balanced” source, a ten year old article in Salon.com, the controversy about Hersh’s book can be summarized as:

"The story of the reaction to The Dark Side of Camelot ended up being much bigger than the book itself, which, truth be told, contained less new information than confirmation and amplification of known Kennedy misdeeds." (From Salon 1/18/2000 article by David Rubien: http://link/

So in fact, much of the dirty laundry on John F. Kennedy was already public knowledge before Seymour Hersh wrote his book; he merely corroborated the charges and gave them additional support and publicity. The CTKA folks seem to understand that, because they never actually deny the charges, they merely seek to cover them up; instead, they undermine any book that repeats them through innuendo and the premise that Hersh is not credible and this was all decided years ago when DiEugenio ran him over with the CTKA bus.

The fact is, Seymour Hersh is truly a great and iconoclastic figure whose well-earned but controversial reputation as a great investigative reporter is secure. He is comparable to, and arguably the contemporary embodiment of, the legendary I. F. Stone in the minds of objective observers. The folks who continue to take swipes at him for revealing the very secrets that Bobby Kennedy was attempting to contain have demonstrated that they have a greater interest in hiding truths than they do exposing them. It is not possible to understand the complexities of the JFK assassination unless one first understands the underlying dynamics of what caused so many people to hate JFK; those are the key people who became involved in the crime, either as part of the pre or post assassination conspiracies. But the CTKA knee-jerk reaction to anyone who dares reference Hersh makes one wonder just who really has the biggest “axe to grind.” A list of other names was also mentioned of people who are on the same (apparently lengthy) list of unworthy sources who cannot be referenced for much the same reason: General Alexander Haig (and, by extension, Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann) Ronald Kessler, Nina Burleigh, Deborah Davis and Donald Wolfe. And, of course, Gus Russo, who, despite his questionable (subjective) conclusions, was referenced in the book on a few points which were pegged to objective factual findings.

Interestingly, no mention was made of Joseph Califano’s comment that “as Robert Kennedy pressed for tougher actions, I thought: he is obsessed with Castro; he is pursuing a total war with Castro.” Was it merely because Califano’s reputation as a liberal Democrat saved him, while Haig’s standing as a (marginally) conservative Republican caused him to be thrown overboard? Why was one name trashed and the other one ignored? They were saying essentially the same thing: Is that what drives CTKA’s search for truth and justice?

Barr McClellan has been repeatedly attacked by DiEugenio for the lack of documentation of some of his references. For example, DiEugenio doesn’t approve of how he referred to conversations he had with other attorneys in Ed Clark’s law firm. Maybe Barr has learned that, whenever he is told top secret stuff by others that he should always get them to swear to their comments in an affidavit? He has established a policy, due to this deficiency and Barr’s use of “faction” which he explains as simply a story telling device, which allows McClelland’s book to be eligible only for referencing the Nathan Darby material. This keeps all of McClelland’s unique insights into the “darker side of LBJ” under wraps and verboten as citations to other works. And, speaking of LBJ’s “mental issues”, it is noteworthy that Green made no comment at all about that point, which is arguably one of the most important issues raised by the book, regardless of everything else he did find reason to question.

Similarly, the depiction of Robert Caro—another holder of many professional awards including the Pulitzer, arguably the greatest presidential biographer ever—as someone who cannot be trusted, is equally disingenuous. This isn’t the first time DiEugenio’s group has attempted to do that. In his review of Douglas Horne’s Volumes 4 and 5, DiEugenio stated that
“Caro got reamed by Ronnie Dugger though when in his effort to pull out all the stops to demonize LBJ's senate race, Caro tried to make Coke Stevenson into a sort of Jacob Javits figure.” That unique take on Caro’s work suggests that Dugger somehow bested Caro; I don’t think that is the impression most knowledgeable people have regarding that particular point, just as they would not even put Dugger into the same league as Caro. In the same thread, DiEugenio also said this about how some biographers have embellished Johnson’s ugliness:

“Calling Lyndon Johnson a psychopath to me simply does not have a lot of forensic value these days. I mean, it don't know if he was or was not. I wasn't around him in any close sense and I do not know anyone who was. I do know that in the last say 30 years or so the tendency in biography is to make your subject as ugly as possible since that is the way publishers are convinced they will sell the most books. So as with many of the anti-Kennedy biographies e.g. Reeves, Horowitz and Collier etc, the recent biographies of LBJ e.g. Dallek and Caro, have tended to make LBJ out to be a little worse than Shakespeare's Richard III.” 

This attitude of Johnson as just a low-brow version of a regular guy is apparently the official doctrine of the CTKA reviewers, as it was restated by Green in equally pedantic terms:

“Now these sources do little harm to the early part of the book because Johnson’s character is well-established. He was a low-class sort of a person, prone to vulgar and over bearing displays of machismo in public, and employing men like Mac Wallace who were murderous criminals. And if you take all these famous incidents a face value, and then string them in tandem over the years, then hey! Maybe LBJ does seem like the sort of man who, were it within his power, could have had the president killed and not be halted by any moral barriers.”

In other words, at CTKA, the take on Johnson is evidently along these lines:
“While he may have been a low class megalomaniac narcissist and stone cold killer who had a personal hitman, you can’t just assume that by stringing along all those old incidents, that these patterns might connect to the JFK assassination. Hey! cut LBJ a break, he was never convicted of anything.” The key to ever solving the crime lies in understanding just how evil Johnson was; it was his criminal mind and his control over people which led him to successfully recruit others to join his cause.


I found this statement, where Green begrudgingly admitted that perhaps Lyndon did have a few character faults, to be stunningly absurd for anyone who purportedly read the book:

"To say the least, Lyndon Johnson was an unappealing personality. It would not necessarily be surprising, in the abstract, if he had foreknowledge or tacitly approved of the assassination. He might even have been directly involved, although one can argue that. I do not think, however, that at this date, given the documentary evidence, an explanation which ignores the larger political forces of the national security state can be taken seriously.

So, my book
“ignores the larger political forces of the national security state?” And this from a person who simultaneously criticizes its length, saying it should have been shortened from 700 pages to 200? Maybe he missed entire chapters which were dedicated to explaining how the “national security state” (through Dulles, Angleton and Burris etc. etc.) interfaced with Johnson and was given the impetus to proceed in the end with the knowledge that he, as president, would provide the ultimate protection for everyone involved; without that, the enterprise would be doomed. Did I note every other possible name of potential directors of the “national security state”? No, because if I had, the book would have grown even larger and besides, the book attempted to focus on Johnson’s role as the key organizer (thus the title). Maybe if I had chosen another title, without the word “Mastermind” and used the term “national security state” a little more generously, then the CTKA folks would have read it a little closer and even understood the real theme of the book, which was simply that Johnson was the critical mass to the plot and arguably the original initiator; I just assumed that anyone who actually read the book would eventually figure that out. As Jim Fetzer noted so eloquently, “Describing LBJ as the "mastermind" does not imply that he was responsible for mopping the floors or sorting out the paperclips.” I would only add to Jim’s sentence, “or even participating in any of the downstream planning or execution, except for the motorcade itself.”  I hope this umpteenth re-explanation of that term also answers DiEugenio’s comment above: “to say that someone as unsophisticated as LBJ "masterminded" the whole thing, just does not match up to how complex and multi- tiered the conspiracy was.” If not, please re-read, beginning at “As Jim Fetzer noted . . .”  A lot of people have inferred their own definition of the term “Mastermind” in a way that was not implied in the book.

Mr. Green apparently confused my attempt to describe two sides of some events as itself being “confused”. My actual confusion was that I erroneously assumed that typical readers would be able to tell the difference and understand that implicitly. But in regard to the Bay of Pigs issue, I even went to some lengths in the narrative to clarify it for those folks who might have otherwise missed the point, as in this passage:

"Kennedy would never concede that withholding the air strike had caused the failure of the invasion, though the military had pleaded with him, using that very argument. It is easy to see, from different prisms, how Bissell and Cabell could blame Kennedy for the failed mission because he did not act as they assumed he would, yet understand how JFK instinctively knew that he had been sabotaged into not only authorizing the project, but being outmaneuvered in its execution."

A few paragraphs later, I again led off with
“The CIA men, of course, portrayed the debacle quite differently. In their view. . .” Curiously, of all the “criticisms” of the book that I have read, this is the only one which proved me wrong on the assumption that typical readers would understand both points of view.


I knew that there would be some discussion of the Altgens photograph, which I contend shows, by the absence of Johnson’s image in it, that he had previous knowledge of where the killing zone would be. It is clear to me, and other objective people, using an un-retouched, high quality photo or jpeg image, that Johnson is not to be seen; one would think that any attempt to rebut that point might consist of a strong and thorough analysis, based on blow-up copies and accompanying sketches, which at least attempts to spot LBJ’s ear, or nose, or “whatever”. But that would be wrong; Green’s proof is simply his single sentence:
“Except I can see LBJ in the photograph, as can most others.” 

This perfunctory treatment of the photo is reflective of the overall quality of the review itself. On the original thread where this was discussed we witnessed a number of people posting that they were also convinced that he was the “white spot” while others tried to make the case (with the help of modified and enhanced photographs) that he was in the “dark blurry” area. Yet no one was able to make a convincing case of either of these; ultimately, it came down to their words—which were essentially the same as Green’s—which claimed that he was visible. I’d like to see what a jury of objective people would say about that, but if the other reviews I’ve seen have any relevance, it appears that more typical people (you know the kind: objective folks, people having no other agendas to fulfill) appear to agree with me: Johnson is not in the photograph. But, to respond to those who claim to see him in the “white splotch” that would necessarily also mean that he was so far to the side of the car, and lower in profile to Lady Bird, that it would then mean that he was in the process of ducking.

In either case, the point remains.


But the most difficult issue I have with Green’s review is his mis-statement of a number of points:

  1. He indicated that I stated that JFK had knowledge of the assassination attempts on Castro. In the passage he references, I said only that Bissell and Dulles had briefed Kennedy on the pending invasion of Cuba; never did I state that JFK had knowledge of the CIA attempts on Castro himself (though in the second edition I will clarify the referenced sentence to indicate the briefing was on the planned invasion; I have no reason to suspect that JFK did—or did not—have such knowledge, I simply don’t know). Any references to attacks on Castro were intended to apply to the government of Cuba.
  2. In the section regarding Johnson’s relationship with LeMay, Green jumps from what I was describing in 1961-63 to what happened in 1965 as Johnson attempted to micro manage the war: “This last remark simply isn’t true. Even in pro-LeMay biographies, one gets the clear sense that LeMay counseled Lyndon Johnson in full commitment, an immense bombing campaign into North Vietnam.” What does that have to do with how Johnson was feeding secrets through his back channels two to four years before that?
  3.  His “Meat of the Argument” comment is misstated: “LBJ got along better with the Department of Defense than JFK did. (Although Nelson does, curiously, quote Howard Burris from John Newman’s book JFK and Vietnam, saying that he didn’t believe Johnson had a “very deep” understanding of political issues.) Which is odd for a “mastermind.” 

    That is not what the quote said. I refer you to page 131:
    “I don’t think he had a really deep perception and comprehension of what the whole scene was about.” The context was about Vietnam, and the military and intelligence reports about it and the overall social, geopolitical and historical dimensions of the place (i.e. he had “no clue” even then about the implications of U.S. involvement in the war). The next sentence after the one quoted should have cleared up any misunderstandings he had: “According to author John M. Newman, Johnson’s views “were rooted in the superficial politics of Washington, not in the underlying realities of the situation in Vietnam.” 

These are the kinds of misstatements that could only result from either preconceived biases or superficial reading and analysis. Perhaps Mr. Green will have a chance to reread the book in its second edition, coming out next year with a new publisher. Next time, it would be helpful if he tried to read it with a clearer and more curious mind; if so, he will also better understand the “big picture” being described.

APPENDIX: Regarding the Allegation that Seymour Hersh was a CIA Plant:

(Author's Note: Subsequent to the original posting of this rebuttal on the three different forums to which it was published by Mr. DiEugenio, a lenghty debate ensued between him and me regarding his assertions that Seymour Hersh was a CIA stooge. He referenced a book which, he said, showed that Hersh knowingly withheld the fact that the My Lai massacre was part of Operation Phoenix. I then traced that reference to the original source, which indicated the exact opposite of DiEugenio’s assertions. In fact, it confirmed that he DID state clearly that this was the case. The specific facts of that are appended to this rebuttal and can be found below).

"The Veneration of Seymour Hersh"

For many years (who knows how long?) the folks at CTKA, following their leader just as Sheeple do, have disgracefully smeared the name of one of the greatest, most prolific American patriots of the Twentieth Century. The man we should all honor for his incredible achievements, especially the exposure of My Lai. It took a man with brass cajones to expose the massacre there and, with it, the fact that there was a little program called Operation Phoenix along with it.

But, in their attempt to banish Seymour Hersh's book "The Dark Side of Camelot", from being used as a credible source for anything else, the CTKA organization has attempted to demolish Hersh's fine reputation as a great and iconoclastic figure who deserved nothing but praise from his fellow citizens. Instead, we were told exactly the opposite of the truth in this recent snippit from a post at the Education Forum. This has been going on for decade(s?) and the record needs to be corrected immediately.


From a posting on the Education Forum "Joe Green's Review of LBJ the Mastermind":
James DiEugenio, on 27 December 2010 - 10:16 PM, said:

"Obviously, if you had the evidence for doing such things you would not have spent so much time regurgitating the likes of Sy Hersh and his completely discredited book "The Dark Side of Camelot". I mean, do you know anything about the man? Apparently not. Hersh has been in bed with the CIA since the beginning of his career. Yes, that is true. Hersh started his career off by covering up a simple fact: That the My Lai massacre was part of Operation Phoenix. Which was one of the darkest CIA secrets of the Vietnam War. Hersh's book goes to all kinds of absurd lengths to conceal that fact, explicitly saying that the massacre was not part of any kind of operational conspiracy. Hersh did such a nice job covering it up that we had to wait for a real reporter, Doug Valentine, to show us My Lai was part of Operation Phoenix. But Hersh did such good cover up work that Phoenix was then exported to Central America, against the Contras."


Something about all of that didn't make sense to me. Here we have a famous reporter and author, Seymour Hersh, who I have always felt was the "real hero" of that incredibly insane time in the history of this country. I acknowledge that there have been some controversies in his past, and much of his work is a bit controversial, but that's what happens when you're a true iconoclast, working on exposing truths to a nation not always receptive to the truth. But here, we are talking about the despicable trashing of a guy who was all alone on the fringes of the mighty military and intelligence machine, whose record to most thinking Americans is unblemished, among the general public. There was something wrong with that picture.

So I looked on Amazon to see if I could find anything in the book he had cited (
The Phoenix Program by Douglas Valentine) which might clarify all of this. Fortunately, the book was partially on-line, and there was a description of Operation Phoenix on pp. 342-435. Guess who Valentine has referenced three times as stating, both in his news reports and his subsequent book, Cover Up, that indeed the My Lai massacre was a part of Operation Phoenix. None other than the great Seymour Hersh!

Here are the excerpts, right out of Valentine's book, just so you don't have to bother looking them up for yourself:


On August 25, 1970, an article appeared in the
New York Times [though the author was not named, it is a historical fact that Seymour Hersh was exclusively reporting this story for the Times] hinting that the CIA, through Phoenix, was responsible for Mai Lai. The story line was advanced on October 14, when defense attorneys for David Mitchell—a sergeant accused and later cleared of machine-gunning scores of Vietnamese in a drainage ditch in My Lai—citing Phoenix as the CIA’s “systematic program of assassinations,” named Evan Parker as the CIA officer who “signed documents, certain blacklists,” of Vietnamese to be assassinated in My Lai. When we spoke, Parker denied the charge.

P. 343
Cover-up (1972), Seymour Hersh tells how in February 1968, Ramsdell began “rounding up residents of Quang Ngai City whose names appeared on Phoenix blacklists.” Explained Ramsdell: “After Tet we knew who many of these people were, but we let them continue to fumnction because we were controlling them. They led us to the VC security officer for the district. We wiped them out after Tet and then went ahead and picked up the small fish.” The people who were “wiped out”, Hersh explains, were “put to death by the Phoenix Special Police.

P. 344
“As Hersh notes parenthetically, “Shortly after the My Lai 4 operation, the number of VCI on the Phoenix blacklist was sharply reduced.”


What DiEugenio stated in the above thread, and has been repeating for many years, is the exact opposite of what was actually in the book. How many of his other assertions about Hersh would withstand the scrutiny of someone who had the time to track them all down and unparse the words used to drag his name through the mud? This is a major disservice to someone who ought to be venerated by all of his fellow countrymen.

Does this not vindicate my guy Hersh? Or, do I have to track down everything else uttered about him to correct the record?

Can we please take Seymour Hersh off the blacklist now??

[1] From Salon 1/18/2000 article by David Rubien: http://www.salon.com/people/bc/2000/01/18/hersh

(From DPF, p. 12, #117) After waiting several days to be "approved" for membership at the Deep Politics Forum, I posted the following:

What, no Welcome Wagon here??

What a greeting for a new member! 

Even before I discovered that the debate which started on the Education Forum, then moved to JFK Lancer (where a copy of the Green Review had also been posted) had moved on to its third venue, the level of invective for me and my book reached dizzying heights:

  1. “Neither he (Robert Morrow) nor Phillip Nelson demonstrate the slightest sophistication as thinkers or writers. The thoughtless -- if not sinister -- choice of the word "mastermind" as applied to LBJ reveals the total absence of deep political awareness/analytical thought”
  1. “Nelson's transparently disinformative book”
  1. “Nelson's two goals/assignments: Further factionalize the research community. The other, of course, is to fortify LBJ's FALSE Sponsorship role, and thus prolong the interminable debate and protect the true Sponsors.”
  1. “Is Nelson an enemy agent of disinformation? A simple-minded executioner of the mother tongue?”
  1. “Nelson, Hunt, McClelland, and Estes are criminals -- in varying senses of the word. Their stock in trade? DISINFORMATION!”
  1. I HAVE read Nelson's LBJ/"mastermind" book. It is an abomination in every sense of the word”

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that the hubris around here is downright suffocating? I have to assume that this treatment was designed specially for me and that this is not the usual discourse with which a new member is treated even before his first post. Given this “less than warm” greeting, rest assured that I will not “overstay my welcome.” This will be my first, last and only post on this forum; I may be found lurking around the other two from time to time but I do have other fish to fry and can allocate only so much time to defending myself from unscrupulous attacks by armchair critics who seem to be more interested in perpetuating myths than they are in solving crimes, even the one generally referred to as the “crime of the century.”

The Trashing of Seymour Hersh

Last week I posted the same response on Lancer that I originally wrote for EF and awaited further “dialog” on there. After it became apparent that DiEugenio had picked up his marbles and left, I then stumbled across the fact that it had then resumed on DPF. The reason for the latest shift in venue may never be known, but it may have something to do with Mr. DiEugenio’s conduct at that forum when it became clear that his lies about Seymour Hersh had caught up with him. This was all explained in the original post of my response to the Green “review” by Jim Fetzer, who kindly posted a copy of those responses. I will not go into detail about them here again (see post #22 for specifics, particularly the second, “Appendix” part) however, I cannot understand why he would continue to argue that Hersh was a CIA stooge (Ref. Post #1 above), given that I have already demonstrated the falsity of that assertion.

This continuing, shameless character assassination of one of the foremost heroes of our time is disgusting. Seymour Hersh exposed the gruesome details of the March, 1968 carnage at My Lai in a blockbuster news report on November 12, 1969, shortly after Calley was arrested. It had taken that long for the news to leak out because of the cover-up within the military. By August, 1970, after further investigating the incident, Hersh reported in a New York Times article, that the massacre was part of a larger campaign of the CIA called Operation Phoenix. For this remarkable accomplishment in exposing the awful truths, Seymour Hersh established his bona-fides as a great investigative reporter, one who learned his craft from his famed mentor, I. F. “Izzy” Stone, another great and honorable man working at the edges of a machine quite capable of destroying those who attempt to expose its secrets.

Instead of giving up and apologizing for his mistake, now DiEugenio wants to perpetuate the myth of Seymour Hersh being a CIA asset on a completely new forum rather than admit that Hersh has been exposing the most sordid and deadly activities of the CIA:

“. . .apparently Nelson never read Hersh's first book on My Lai, which predates the articles he notes. I did. In that book, he maintains a government cover up about what happened. As the months wore on, and it became obvious that Calley and the higher ups were being protected by the military and Nixon, even a stooge like Hersh understood the cover up could not be maintained.”

So now, he maintains that Hersh wrote another book sometime before August of 1970 where he denies any CIA involvement. Please enlighten us, Jim, when was that book published and what was the name of it? Give us a quote from that one; you seem to be anxious to leave the previous lies about him behind you, back at those other two forums. This other book is news to me; I see no reference in all the materials I have checked. In that nine month period, evidently, he asserts that Hersh continued “protecting” the CIA and even published another book, which I cannot locate. Yet the record shows that it was the military and intelligence agencies who continued burying facts and deceiving the public. Even though Hersh did not acknowledge CIA sponsorship of the massacre during this nine month period, perhaps the reason was that he was still investigating it and had not yet been able to make an effective case; perhaps the delay was due to his merely using journalistic restraint and caution before coming out with still another important expose.

Seymour Hersh was a genuine American hero then and he still is now, regardless of the specious and outrageous lies perpetrated by DiEugenio. In 1969, he alone proved that he had the brass cojones to stand up to the military – intelligence machine that took us to war and exposed the most horrid story of that unbelievably insane point in time. Most rational and objective people would put him at the head of the list if asked to vote on for the single best example of a
real swashbuckling iconoclast, as opposed to a “wannabe” version like Mr. DiEugenio, who can safely hide behind the walls of various organizations which condone his “untruths”.

So in this instance, here we have an organization supposedly interested in exposing truths about the “dark side” of an invisible government warmly accepting into their fold someone who is not above crafting the most outrageous lies about a true hero. His bringing those distortions directly into this forum and continuing to denigrate Hersh’s accomplishments by accusing him of being a part of the very organization at the center of the “Deep Politics” conundrum—the very one that Hersh has worked so hard to investigate and expose—constitutes a huge injustice to a true and great American hero. “Disgraceful” is an understatement and does not nearly describe such drivel.

Webster definition of “Mastermind”: “a person who supplies the directing or creative intelligence for a project” Can you say “ambiguous”? Nothing there about “controlling every single detail” of the “project” that I can see. Hell, given that definition, a person who only had the original germ of an idea—and then had nothing whatsoever to do with its execution—could still qualify.

It seems that most of the invective directed by folks on this board to the book relates to my use of the word “Mastermind.” This is a term that I (apparently mistakenly) thought the book itself, in roughly 700 pages, would define. The parameters of Johnson’s involvement described in every chapter of the book defined his participation in the plot to kill John F. Kennedy. In case anyone missed it, I defined his participation in the event as beginning in 1958, two years before the presidential election. I will not use my limited time here to explain all of that; if anyone needs to understand that he or she will need to review at least chapter 5, preferably the entire book if it's not too much trouble.

It has been asserted here that Johnson was not equipped or empowered to have been the "Mastermind". The problem seems to have more to do with semantics than anything substantive with the plot I have advanced. Why is it so difficult for so many to be unable to comprehend that the term is inherently ambiguous and subject to the interpretation of every individual who considers it. At Deep Politics, there seems to be an unwillingness to even acknowledge any definition other than their own, which is “by definition” (see above) misguided. And incorrect. And simply wrong, not to put too fine a point on it.

For clarification purposes, I will once again attempt to define and summarize what I meant by using that term: LBJ, set out in 1958-59 to put himself into the office of vice-president of the United States; in so doing, he forfeited any idea of actually running for the presidency at that time. He did this because he saw it as his only path into the presidency itself, in accordance with his self-defined destiny, at a time and place to be determined. Once he became vice president, he began sabotaging practically every domestic and international initiative advanced by JFK as he collaborated with his associates and other high officials within the military and intelligence organizations of the U.S. government. Between 1961 and 1963, as a result of numerous, repeated incidents –as outlined in the book – his relationship with a number of these military and intelligence officials grew greater, and tighter, just as JFK’s deteriorated to a point that many of them decided that his presidency presented too many risks to what they perceived as the “national security” of the United States.

No one knows for sure, of course, precisely how all of these relationships evolved and when the planning for the assassination commenced; precise timelines and detailed assassination plans cannot be established because none of these “understandings” were ever committed to paper. My contention is that Johnson was the original initiator because, by definition, the “invisible government” which Mr. Drago evidently sees as the single and unique sponsor of the event could not possibly have been thrown into gear until at least after the election and probably not really until a number of Kennedy’s “sins” (e.g. BOP, Cuban missile crisis, nuclear arms treaty, “Peace Speech” etc., etc.) had been committed.

My book goes to some lengths to describe the evolution of some of the relationships between Johnson and the members of the “invisible” force; this description is not located on any single page or sets of pages, but appears throughout the book. Therefore, to understand how the book describes all of this, one must, of course, read the book. One such reference—which explains, again, why Johnson was not involved in the more detailed tasks such as arranging for the pristine bullet (CE 399)—appears on page 368:

“Although it was Lyndon Johnson who would initiate the overall “macro-level”plan, and be in the position after its execution to enforce a complete cover-up,it is clear now, based upon the meticulous research of Noel Twyman in1997 and further elaboration by Larry Hancock in 2006 and Doug Horne in 2009, that he was not the only planner involved; as dictated by the precepts of plausible deniability, Johnson would not be involved in the details of the assassination, other than planning of the motorcade itself. The gathering consensus is that Bill Harvey was put in charge of the microplanning level,aided by David Morales at the street level. . . "

For DiEugenio to continue making the ridiculous assertion that any “mastermind” would necessarily have to be the one and only person to know every possible detail of the pre and post-assassination conspiracies is, for lack of a better word, simply “ludicrous.” In his post #90, he adds to the list the following ridiculous examples of things that any “mastermind” of the event would have to control:

“Precisely what did LBJ have to do with the following:

1.) Oswald being introduced to the Paines by the Baron.
2.) Oswald being manipulated in the New Orleans area by Shaw, Ferrie, and Banister.
3.) Ruth Paine picking up Marina and separating her from Lee and Lee from his possessions at the time of the murder.
4.) The Oswald charade in Mexico City which is crucial to the plot.
5.) Oswald getting his job at the TSBD.
6.) Ruth Paine producing all that phony evidence after the murder
7.) The military curtailing the autopsy

Only number 7 on his list has any pertinence of what Johnson’s role might have been. The rest are just more instances of how he is unable to absorb the notion that there were a number of other planners of the event at the “micro” level, such as Bill Harvey and David Sanchez Morales. I feel as though this point will never go away. Has nobody else come to this conclusion? Is there some better way that I might explain this? Perhaps I’m simply not articulate enough to accomplish this. Or, perhaps the problem does not lie within the pages of this book. In any event, I shall not pursue this further.

Insofar as I have explained all of this over and over until I’m now literally “blue in the face,” to no avail, I cannot see the point in going further.
Perhaps Jim is right and my critics have not even bothered to read the book! But no more; after this, at least on this forum, you may continue picking the bones off the carcass that I leave behind (this post) just like other forms of vultures do in the “real world”, but I do not intend to continue repeating myself merely because you are not willing to consider what I have already explained, repeatedly and ad nauseum.

Contrary to the strident and spurious charges that the book “ignores” the national security state, it actually addresses this issue directly and, if I may say so, quite thoroughly, in the context of its interface with the main perpetrator. That is why the book is over 700 pages long; Mr. Green felt that was way too long and that it should be shortened to 200 pages, evidently because he skipped over the very material he also said was missing. I am not the only one who saw the absurdity of that argument, yet it has still not been acknowledged by either Mr. Green or his chief sponsor, who may actually know no better.

I think the real controversy is caused, as noted above, by the fact that the book focuses more on LBJ’s involvement than it does on the institutional entity called “the national security state”. While I admit that I could have changed this proportion, to be less LBJ oriented and more “national security state” oriented, I suppose certain people would have been more satisfied with the book. Had I done that, I could have then named the book a little less provocatively, something very benign like “LBJ: From Pawn to King”. While some folks here might have been less antagonistic towards the book, it would have also probably been ruinous to it. At the very least, the book would have grown to be much larger than it is, which is already on the outer edges of what a book publisher will even consider. By citing other books which focused on the “national security” aspects of the cabal, I extended the book’s reach accordingly; I even stated that Twyman’s book, for one, was essentially incorporated into the book in its entirety by proxy, because this is one book which I have absolutely no disagreements with (other than that Twyman does not actually see LBJ as the “mastermind”, only as its most critical and indispensible actor). It was essentially the same technique I used to embrace other books as well. For example, Gerald McKnight’s book on the Warren Commission is a good case on point; if anyone wants to see the complete details of issues I only address tangentially, the point is, the full details are completely available within the other cited works.

More Misstatements:

DiEugenio noted on post #49: “Green writes that Nelson also propogates the whole RFK being in on MM's murder thesis.”

For the record, the following excerpt from the book explains that this is not true:

Author Donald H. Wolfe, in The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe, made a compelling case that Robert F. Kennedy was not only the last visitor of Marilyn Monroe before she died but was actually involved in it in some way. To be sure, other authors, including Donald Spoto in his book Marilyn Monroe, disagree vehemently with such a conclusion. It is not our purpose here to settle that case; however, it is clear that whatever involvement Bobby may have had would have been known to his nemesis, J. Edgar Hoover; he wouldn’t hesitate a moment to use the secret scandals known only to the handful of people who had access to the FBI reports to keep Bobby Kennedy rattled and under his own complete control. RFK had found out about Hoover’s channels when he ordered the FBI to confiscate the records of her telephone calls from General Telephone within hours of her death. He knew that Hoover knew all about the outgoing and incoming telephone calls, not just the precise times of each call but the taped conversations as well. Since August 4, 1962, J. Edgar Hoover possessed information on both Kennedy brothers that was so potentially damaging that it could end their political careers.

According to credible accounts, RFK, with Peter Lawford, visited Marilyn Monroe the day before she died. And thanks to the constant monitoring of everything going on in her bungalow by his wiretaps, Hoover would have known exactly what went on, even if was nothing more than a shouting match. That is the sum and substance of what I wrote; I specifically stated that I was reporting only what two other authors had written, one which said he was involved in her death, the other vehemently disagreed and that this book did not take either side. I can only conjecture how DiEugeio could have missed it.


Mr. Drago stated that “Hunt's absurdly transparent final fiction and Nelson's just plain absurd "hypothesis" both are intended -- in my educated opinion -- to prolong the JFK debate, reinforce the coverup, and protect the anonymity of the true Sponsors of Dallas and beyond.”

This is the real sophistry which is clearly prevalent on this forum; it is transparently ridiculous and, if anything, the opposite of reality. It is the perpetuation of the idea that the only force that could have possibly been behind the assassination was this murky confluence of invisible--and only partially identified—people that has itself perpetrated the cover-up of the crime. Maybe that’s the objective of his dismissal of my book: to preserve the illusion that “the national security state” was responsible rather than actual human agents acting on their motives and beliefs.

That is the inevitable result of the creation of the ultimate “strawman”: the one which insures that the assassination will never be solved. One result of that is the fact that a miniseries is about to be produced which re-postulates the very same “official story” that so few people even believe in. The people who subsequently remain unpersuaded by that fictional “entertainment” will then be offered up an equally ridiculous movie designed to convince them that it was all Carlos Marcello’s doing [This movie, to star Leonardo DiCaprio, is being produced by Warner Brothers, whose executive vice president in charge of production is none other than Courtenay Lynda Valenti, who was just a toddler when her photograph was taken dozens, if not hundreds, of times around the White House in 1963-1967, always being held or attended to by President Lyndon B. Johnson].

In the meantime, the real killers get yet another pass. Jim Fetzer in “Forrest Gump on the grassy knoll” recognizes the danger in those works of “entertainment” and has sought to warn the public about it. The armchair pundits at this forum prefer only to commiserate about how such shows don’t reflect their singular culprit: the enigmatic “invisible government”, which controls everyone and which will only be exposed if they continue their hand-wringing and the verbal combat with themselves in their tiny corner of cyberspace. Terrific, but count me out.

A logically thinking cynic, after absorbing the debate going on here, might conclude that an organization which calls itself “Deep Politics Forum” might even resort to attacking any book that attempts to outline the only realistically plausible story of the assassination, simply because it does not comport with the premise upon which they exist. Moreover, following simple rules of logic, their real motive might even be more insidious and sinister; why would they mount such a colossal effort to keep the waters muddy and un-navigable?
Could such an organization even “pull all the plugs” to destroy a book because of the perception that it is a threat to its own credibility or existence? Is it in the DPF’s own interest to keep the lid on the most plausible story simply to preserve their own existence?

If all of this is so, then the inescapable conclusion is that this organization is not really wedded to the pursuit of truth. By logical extension, which I find very troubling, it appears difficult to deny that the DPF may exist for ulterior motives, a hidden agenda that only surfaces intermittently, as it seems to have done here.