This Preface is from the first edition of the book. In the second edition, the Preface and Introduction were combined but reduced by about 50% to improve its readability.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
The premise of this book is that nearly every “conclusion,” and much of the evidentiary material used in the underlying analysis, presented by the President’s Commission on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy—the Warren Commission—was a lie. That is a given, there being no need to prove that point any further because it has been done already by a number of well-researched and meticulously documented books. Some will have difficulty in accepting this premise because there is a natural tendency to want to believe the government, especially a commission of supposedly learned and august men who have served it throughout their lives. For people still having such a doubt, a careful reading of such books as Gerald McKnight’s Breach of Trust—How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why will disabuse them of any remaining doubt about the validity of this point. The majority of Americans (and people around the world) already generally believe that much of the so-called investigation of events conducted by the FBI and the Warren Commission’s imprimatur was flawed; the consensus on this point has only grown since 1964. They were, and are, absolutely correct, despite the decades of deception foisted upon them by apologists for the completely discredited “official version” of events.
The secondary—or corollary—premise is that for over forty years it has become more and more apparent that much of the evidence originally put forward by the FBI and Warren Commission has been proven to have been fabricated or modified to “fit” the original assertion that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman, just as other original evidence has disappeared (such as JFK’s brain). Furthermore, the false “evidence” was developed very quickly, in some cases overnight, to prove that Oswald—a very poor shooter in his Marine Corps days—shot three bullets in the space of a little over six seconds, two of which very precisely hit their target, while the original shot wildly missed, hitting the curb farther down the street (a shooting feat, incidentally, that has still not been replicated, even by expert sharpshooters). The proofs of these claims have appeared in numerous carefully detailed books, newspapers and Web sites, including those by (in addition to McKnight, previously noted) Dr. Gary L. Aguilar, Dr. James Fetzer, Robert J. Groden, Larry Hancock, Douglas P. Horne, Henry Hurt, William Matson Law, Harrison E. Livingstone, David Lifton, Dr. David W. Mantik, Jim Marrs, Jefferson Morley, Dr. John Newman, Vincent Palamara, Dick Russell, Peter Dale Scott, Josiah Thompson, Noel Twyman, David Scheim, Richard B. Trask, Jack White, Lamar Waldron, and Douglas Weldon. Still other books, listed in the bibliography of this one, contain the “kernels of truth” that we have harvested and swept into our narrative as “conclusive evidence.” This allows us to keep this book reasonably short while avoiding the need to take the reader “deep into the weeds” to reexamine the issues they’ve already proven.
It is not the intent of this book to provide a complete list of all the errors, anomalies, inconsistencies, and impossibilities of the Warren Report since that has already been done by the other cited authors; some of the more notable issues are reviewed, and such references appear throughout this book. These are merely the “tip of the iceberg,” and the reader is encouraged to review the other referenced books, which focus exclusively on the pertinent points. This book, in the interest of brevity, attempts to build upon that earlier research and provide a succinct but comprehensive overview of the entire plot and its cover-up. The earlier books evolved to essentially four: (Bloody Treason , Murder in Dealey Plaza , Someone Would Have Talked  and Inside the AARB ), which, to various degrees, led to the conclusion that Lyndon Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover were involved in the cover-up and to traces of Johnson’s foreknowledge of the assassination plan. None of them concluded that Johnson was in fact the mastermind of the assassination, but Barr McClellan’s 2003 book came close to filling that gap; yet as insightful as it was about Johnson’s “darker side,” it failed to explore the breadth and depth of the conspiracy and made few references to the compelling evidence already in existence about it.
All of these superb works are excellent sources in their own right, yet a cohesive and compelling account that combines their respective findings into a “most plausible” single story including the best evidence from each of them—in a way that replaces the incongruities of the discarded accounts—has not previously been written. Moreover, many of the previous books get so caught up in the minutia of the crime that they fail to examine the resulting vacuum of “who was the mastermind.” The mission of this book is to present a realistic, factually based, cohesive story in a way that a prosecutor might employ to tell the “real story” to a jury charged with making a decision based upon the merits of a case of first-degree murder: the accused is the late president Lyndon B. Johnson. The “jury” in this case will consist of everyone who ever reads this book.
While the “story” you are about to read is clearly more realistic—mainly because the many anomalies left in the wake of the “official version” are mostly resolved by the end of the book—it is still quite “unbelievable.” The reason for that is the magnitude of Lyndon Johnson’s outrageous plan to murder his nemesis in order to take over the presidency as he built a legacy based upon lies and deceit of an almost unimaginable degree; his brutal and tragic persona was much more seriously flawed than almost anyone could have possibly known at the time and of which most people are still unaware. Yet that is exactly what the weight of the evidence reveals. Borrowing from many resources, including selected parts from all of the books and materials listed in the bibliography, and supplemented by logical extensions and conclusions based upon those earlier works, this book attempts to fill in the missing pieces. It attempts to “connect the dots” of the previously established findings and, through deductive reasoning and extrapolation of his patterns of behavior, show that the conspiracy to kill John F. Kennedy was conceived in 1959–1960, even before its perpetrator, Lyndon B. Johnson, was chosen by Kennedy as the vice presidential candidate. Indeed, it can now be posited that John F. Kennedy’s fatal mistake occurred over three years before he died: his agonizing and reluctant decision to accede to the threat of blackmail by Lyndon Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover on July 14, 1960, at the Democratic convention, allowing Johnson to be named as the vice presidential nominee. This action put Johnson “next in line” to be president, an essential step in his lifelong obsession to become president of the United States. Kennedy had unwittingly made the unfortunate assumption that Johnson’s basic morality was sound, even though he had probably heard all of the rumors of his financial shenanigans and the collusion with mobsters; after all, his own father had a similar past and had even argued in favor of choosing Johnson for the post. But it is unclear how much Kennedy might have known about the worst crimes that Johnson had been involved in, including the rigged 1948 senate election and, particularly, the murders of two people who had gotten in his way and wouldn’t submit to his demands.
The central theme taken in this book is that the same “benefit of the doubt” given to Lyndon Johnson since his youth by many people—starting with his parents, especially his mother, the voters, and many others to be named—is fine-tuned to a more circumspect level. The primary reason the crime has not yet been solved is due to the public’s giving Johnson the benefit of the doubt while he was alive and for four decades beyond, which effectively removed him from scrutiny. Having the official government’s accusatory finger pointed in other directions (wherein he was the primary pointer) precluded an examination of the most likely candidate, the one true suspect with an actual motive (unlike the hapless Mr. Oswald).
At this point in time, nearly fifty years after the JFK assassination, a modicum of editorial license is required to explain the history of the United States as it was affected by Lyndon Baines Johnson. Except for naming Johnson as the person behind JFK’s assassination (and this is by no means the first time that has been done), no new allegations of specific criminality are made under this license. All other referenced incidents have been previously reported elsewhere, and this book is merely a collection of them, edited to fill in the gaps and extrapolated to show the missing links between known facts and otherwise inexplicable results. I call this process “connecting the dots.” Another way to look at it is through an analogy of building a house: rather than sloughing through trenches to construct the foundation, when one already exists thanks to others who have already built it brick by brick (book by book, in this case), it allows for the house (this book) to be finished more efficiently.
The scenarios presented throughout the book are the result of this extrapolation process; the “most likely” aspects of the many other sources have been combined and distilled into a story that could have been proven in court several decades ago—if the facts now known had then been available—when many of the witnesses and participants were still alive. That possibility has diminished over time, and practically everyone who was criminally complicit is now dead, presumably being dealt with on another level. The people who have been named, however, are those who would have had to face a jury of their peers in another time but who escaped justice. The weight of the evidence uncovered thus far as to the factual evidence and credible witnesses cited is, by a quantum leap, more realistic and believable than the one perpetrated by the faux FBI investigation of fabricated evidence and incredible witnesses that the Warren Commission used as the basis of its conclusions in 1964.
Other Books: The Best and the Worst
The first three books of an eventual four-part series of biographies by Robert Caro, The Years of Lyndon B. Johnson, examine his life from boyhood through high school and college; through his short stint as a teacher; as congressional assistant and head of the National Youth Administration; his election to Congress in 1937; his first, failed attempt to run for the Senate in 1941; his tainted election to the Senate in 1948 and finally his years in the Senate, to his election as vice president in 1960 (the last volume is still being written). The meticulous detail and documentation with which Caro has chronicled Johnson’s lifetime experiences and the picture it reveals of the character of Lyndon B. Johnson make this series the essential resource for anyone who wants to understand the motives, the morality—amorality is a more fitting term—the obsessive ambition, drive, and narcissistic personality of the thirty-sixth president. Instead of the popular, even charismatic, campus figure that was described in many of the other biographies—written by authors who never interviewed many of the people who knew him best and those who even accepted without question the stories of his youth that LBJ manufactured—his true persona becomes clear: a crude, condescending, duplicitous, ruthless, and deceitful man not above the use of criminal means to attain his objective. Robert Caro, arguably a man who has studied Lyndon Johnson far more than any other person, concluded, among other things, that Johnson could be trusted only to do what would benefit himself; his singular lifetime goal was to be the president of the United States and one who would be considered for all time among the greatest. It could even be argued, using conclusions from Caro’s books, that this became much more than a goal—it was a compulsion he didn’t even try to control: it was his obsession. Caro’s work stands in stark contrast to that of most other Johnson biographers—though Robert Dallek’s books are also more intellectually honest than the others—including books by such authors as Merle Miller, Irwin and Debi Unger, Randall B. Woods, Jack Valenti, Marvin Watson and Doris Kearns (now Doris Kearns-Goodwin).
At the other end of the gamut from the more obsequious books stands one by D. Jablow Hershman: Power Beyond Reason—The Mental Collapse of Lyndon Johnson. Of all the books ever written about the thirty-sixth president of the United States, to this point, Hershman’s book is arguably the closest to the brutal reality of his true character and it did not even consider the possibility of his involvement in JFK’s assassination. That it was virtually ignored by the media and general public after it was published in 2002 merely reflects the resistance of people to consider the implications of a deranged president taking over the country for the satisfaction of his ego. This book suggests that Johnson’s bi-polar disorder produced a mania that actually helped him advance his political career throughout his life, all the way to the presidency. The concluding sentences of the book note Johnson’s continuing delusion about how he thought his conduct of the Vietnam War had been a valiant and patriotic cause: “Now my service was over, and it had ended without my having had to haul down the flag”.1 As Hershman concluded: “That is all he cared about.” 1 This book is recommended as an essential source for anyone wishing to explore this previously well-buried facet of Lyndon Johnson’s real persona.
Barr McClellan’s Blood, Money & Power (2003), attributed JFK’s assassination to Johnson and indicated that his longtime attorney, Edward Aubrey Clark, was the primary facilitator. McClellan’s use of “faction” (including purported conversations between Johnson and Clark that were never recorded or heard by anyone else) perhaps took the use of extrapolation to a higher level than many readers found comfortable, even though the assertions McClellan made regarding the involvement of both men casts new light on the portion of the conspiracy based in Texas; its biggest shortcoming was that it did not encompass the entirety of the conspiracy. The insights into Johnson’s character and his relationship with Clark reveal much of what went on behind the attorney-client privilege; they also cast light on Johnson’s long-suppressed psychological issues for which he was finally treated. This book is highly recommended as well, despite the caveats.
Noel Twyman’s magnificently researched and written nine-hundred-plus-page book Bloody Treason (1997) came to the conclusion that Johnson and Hoover were part of the conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy, although he did not feel that Johnson was the mastermind, only an indispensable linchpin; I attempt to show in this book that he was the “original” mastermind, having set his agenda over three years earlier. Twyman’s book (which was itself based upon previous sources, especially Lifton’s) convincingly established the underlying case of fabricated evidence—such as missing frames in the Zapruder film and other films, photographs, and x-rays—done immediately after the assassination. A logical progression was presented, which led to the author’s conclusion that Lyndon Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover were deeply implicated in the massive effort to fabricate false evidence and destroy real evidence. The extensive original research, including interviews with a number of firsthand witnesses, establishes beyond a doubt that there was a conspiracy and that it was wide and deep, involving a number of agencies of the federal government (the interview with Gerry Hemming was arguably more than merely with a witness; he was possibly one of the participants, unwitting or not). Twyman’s book is, in many ways, the biggest brick in the foundation of meticulously detailed research upon which this book rests and, by proxy, incorporates.
Another book that presents highly detailed, meticulous research into a myriad of areas, people, and events related to the assassination—including Johnson’s relationships with Malcolm Wallace, Cliff Carter, and others—is Larry Hancock’s book Someone Would Have Talked. He has also described in detail many of the relationships between people and groups: The Mafia, the CIA, the Cuban exiles and the plotters from New Orleans and Dallas. A third edition of this book has been written, which contains significant new information concerning, for example, Johnny Roselli’s activities in the months before the assassination and an alibi he created and planted with the FBI; additionally, new details of Johnson’s telephone conversations are revealed, in which he was alerted and warned by Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Texas Governor Connally that he—Johnson—was rumored to have been involved in the murder of President Kennedy. Hale Boggs, a former member of the Warren Commission, was one source cited for the accusations. The new edition of Hancock’s book is scheduled for publication about the same time as this one; the new information it contains is expected to reinforce much of what is contained here. Anyone wishing to explore the tentacles of the conspiracy in detail, as they emananted from Lyndon Johnson and coursed their way through the fingers of many others who were given the duty to execute the plan—a very sophisticated plan, which had been put together by others having expertise in covert operations and the assassination of national leaders—would be well advised to start with this book.
The latest work, and clearly the most detailed examination of how the medical evidence was mishandled and covertly manipulated, is the nearly two-thousand-page magnum opus by Douglas P. Horne, a five-volume set titled Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK. Horne’s work was released just as the initial manuscript for this book was being completed; however, it was apparent at the outset that it added considerable depth to the existing mileau of assassination research. Horne’s impressive background as the chief analyst for the Military Records Team of the ARRB—putting him directly into the middle of the millions of assassination records, interviews with witnesses such as former employees of the military, CIA, Secret Service, FBI and NPIC agencies—provides a strong and credible platform for his incredibly detailed analysis. Though there are elements of his deductions (e.g. that numerous Secret Service agents were witting participants in the assassination) for which I disagree in whole or in part, in the broader context his conclusions are extremely convincing. Anyone interested in a highly focused, detailed review of the events at Bethesda as the body of JFK was received and processed—not to document actual damage, but to remake the evidence in such a way as to support the “lone nut” shooting from the rear canard—will find Horne’s work indispensible.
Historian Stephen Ambrose once said that “a single researcher, working alone, is always preferable to a committee.” Most of the earlier books were written in this way, and that is exactly how I approached this one. While the majority of the content is based upon the extensive research work completed by other authors (and is cited as such), the editorial license I’ve described earlier—“connecting the dots”—involves the author’s reasoned speculation of how Lyndon Johnson “masterminded” the assassination of Kennedy. That story begins in chapter 5, but the basis for the charge begins immediately and courses its way throughout the first four chapters. His unique ability to manipulate men and women, and to attract people to work for him who would devote their lives to him—do anything he might ask them to do, in some cases, without question—and his powers of persuasion over his peers and superiors were the key to how he became president. As we will see, he practiced his talents constantly, going to great lengths to plan very complex schemes involving deceit and voter fraud, even to use them initially to take over fairly meaningless positions along the way, as though he used these as exercises to hone his skills and polish his methods. One example cited occurred while he was still in college—when he and his group used unscrupulous tactics to unseat the popular student group that had always ruled the campus—and another when, as a congressional secretary, he did the same thing against his peers in the “Little Congress.”
He was good at this kind of activity; in fact it is not incorrect to say that he was a genius at it. The reporter/author William S. White observed how Johnson seemed to be obsessed with the question: “Who has the power, and how is it exercised?”2 White’s wife June accurately assessed Johnson’s primary talent: “He could read people almost on meeting them . . . It’s almost as though he knew their assets, their plusses and their negative points, so that he could go . . . to their plus points and use them, even helping them to use themselves to their best advantage.”3 More important to Johnson, of course, were their “negative points,” which he would file away in the recesses of his mind for use at the first opportunity; this point will be proven by the end of chapter 1 and reinforced in practically every chapter to follow.
A Fresh Start
By rearguing the merits of “the basics,” which have been previously considered settled by many people (e.g., that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, shot JFK with a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, etc.)—through reexamining witnesses originally ignored and the suspect evidence (e.g., the “magic bullet”)—a new case can be presented free of the bias that permeated the original “investigation.” All of this is predicated upon approaching it with a fresh mind and a willingness to reject the tainted materials and accept the awaiting epiphany as the real story emerges. This book will start the process; it is up to the reader to track the complete story through the links provided.
The intent of this book is to begin with known kernels of truth, culled from the many sources cited, and begin “connecting the dots” (represented by photos and documented factual evidence in 1,827 endnotes) between them. Think of the process as weaving a thread from one to the next as we consider the subsequent events, which build upon one another. As we examine the background of characters and events behind the crime, new truths will emerge and new threads will be added until the individual threads become woven into a whole cloth that reveals the long-suppressed truth. To do this completely, it behooves the reader to reference these other more detailed works that prove the individual points being referenced if any doubt remains about individual points. These citations to other books allow the details in this one to be summarized within, thereby achieving some degree of brevity, which minimizes the size of this book, while maximizing its readability. Moreover, the technique facilitates a more comprehensive look at the incredibly vast detail related to the “crime of the century.” It should be noted that the many other books cited are equally important in their own way: John Newman’s books on Vietnam and Oswald, for example, form links critical to the overall story regarding those facets of the story; the insights of Jefferson Morley of CIA information he has uncovered (as well as what he has not yet uncovered because it has been censored and withheld despite the mandate for its release) and Dick Russell’s works are all of equal importance in the areas cited, as are all of the others listed in the bibliography.
As the individual threads combine in the early chapters, and grow into a complex aggregation of multiple threads in the later chapters, they are then woven together to produce an entire tapestry. The story line likewise takes on greater texture, until a complete picture of Lyndon Johnson becomes visible. For example, his ability to choreograph complex events starts with a description of how, as a young man, he connives against his father to buy himself an expensive suit. As the narrative of chapter 1 progresses, one of the more complex scenarios he devises, as a newly elected senator, is the coordinated assault on the chairman of the Federal Power Commission (FPC), a veteran bureaucrat who is taken by surprise when his renomination to a post for which he had proven to be an effective administrator is opposed; Johnson mounted a savagely aggressive attack to successfully deny him that renomination at the behest of his Texas benefactors, who wanted to neuter the FPC. Another example of his extensive conniving was his “service” in the navy, when practically all of his time was spent in California working on his presentation skills and photographic poses in Hollywood, while conducting his informal “reviews” of various military bases; he did manage to spend a few weeks overseas, long enough to take a twenty minute ride in a bomber and somehow escape combat yet walk away with a Silver Star Medal which he used through his subsequent political campaigns as proof of his heroism. All of this illustrates the growth of his ability to plan very complex schemes. The premise of this book is that he would eventually use this skill to plan John F. Kennedy’s assassination as well as the massive cover-up, which started even before Kennedy was murdered. After becoming president, he then used this same skill to manipulate the cabinet, the Congress, the U.S. Navy and his own advisors to create a scenario he could use to give himself unchecked power to declare war on an ancient civilization on the other side of the world: Vietnam. It wasn’t enough for him to become merely the president, he wanted to become the greatest president, which meant he had to also be a wartime president, just like FDR.
The evolution of the LBJ character was a long, slow process involving the maturation of distinctive personality traits into a mixture that ultimately produced a singularly unique (hopefully, in an absolute and literal sense, a one of a kind) individual: Lyndon B. Johnson was a nominally educated cowboy gifted with a genius level ability to formulate complex schemes involving multiple participants; a master psychologist’s skill at seeing inside the soul of others to determine their every weakness; and finally, a charisma that would attract and hold vulnerable men—and women—and impel them to do his bidding almost without regard to the moral implications of their actions, notwithstanding the fact that many of these men and women were seemingly well-grounded individuals of high moral character; others were not. Johnson’s unique talent, practiced since his youth and perfected by the time he was in Congress, was his ability to take all of his associates as close to the edge of their own ethical margins where each could venture before falling into their own self-defined abyss. The precipice of moral absolutes varied, of course, with each individual; the two men he chose to take the closest to their limits—and clearly over the boundaries as defined by laws and biblical injunctions—were Cliff Carter and Malcolm Wallace; the latter went so far as to serve ultimately as Johnson’s personal hit man, as shown by the preponderance of evidence presented here. His role in Dallas as Johnson’s “chip” in the enterprise was relatively minor because of his history of sloppiness in the way he conducted his many “executions”; his methods left many clues about his involvement and came very close to exposing Johnson’s unseen hand in the background of each murder he committed.
Because Johnson’s character evolved over a long period of time, the reader is cautioned against jumping ahead in the narrative; the composite being drawn of Lyndon Johnson is compounded from one paragraph to the next, taking on more depth and texture as it evolves from chapter to chapter. The unique combination of Johnson’s essentially amoral character traits, which would govern his behavior throughout his life, can be seen from the first pages of the introduction to the last paragraphs of the final chapter. The (arguably, certifiable) madman who appears in the last several chapters started out in chapter 1 as a high school bully and prankster (albeit, one whose own grandmother predicted would wind up in prison).
1Quoted from Johnson’s book The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency 1963–1969. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971, pp. 566–567.
1 Hershman, p. 304.
2 Dallek, Lone Star, p. 104.
3 Ibid., p. 355.