Friday, February 24, 2012

"LBJ" by Phillip F. Nelson

This is the latest in the myriad of books about the assassination of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, in Dallas, Texas, on November 22nd, 1963. I am an avid fan of the genre, both pro, and anti-conspiracy. It is, for me, the parlor game to end all parlor games. Who killed JFK, and more importantly, why?

Mr. Nelson has made a splendid effort, according to the author's bio on the cover he retired early to pursue writing this book. His premise is that the assassination was the sole brainchild of Lyndon Johnson, and further that the whole episode was caused by Johnson's lifelong desire to be President. He has even included the oft told story of LBJ declaring, at age eleven, that he would someday be President. Truth be told, many an American boy, and now girls, have harbored that same dream.

To set the record straight concerning my own feelings about the murder of JFK; I say murder rather than assassination simply because assassination usually involves a political goal, whereas the murder of JFK was more of a business decision by a wide group of influential people and organizations; I believe that Kennedy was killed by a group which included the CIA, Cuban exiles, the Mafia and Military Intelligence Units. Their motivation was a confluence of events, which, when taken collectively into consideration, affected all of these groups in such a way that it was deemed necessary to take action.

Mr. Nelson hits most of the key points, but never really connects the dots. For instance, take the Presidents changed route to the Trade Mart; the question is not so much who changed the route, as much as it is why the Trade Mart was to be the venue in the first place, rather than the larger Convention Center? The President should have been speaking at the Convention Center, which was booked in advance by Pepsi Cola for their annual meeting. LBJ was even a keynote speaker at that event. Their main concern was the spiraling price of sugar, caused in large part by Castro's takeover of Cuba. One of the guests, who flew out of Dallas just hours before the assassination/murder, was then ex-Vice President Nixon. He, ironically, was not involved in the plot.

The Convention Center was booked in order to force the President to utilize the Trade Mart instead. In that way he would have to pass the Texas Book Depository, which had only been purchased 6 months before the President’s visit, and leased, to a private firm only 6 weeks before November 22nd. The name Texas School Book Depository is also an attempt to camouflage the real owners. Most people still think that the Book Depository was a state owned facility at the time, and that it had been in operation for years.

The flight of Air Force One from Dallas is called into question by the author. His conclusion of Johnson wanting to fly aboard Air Force One, rather than Air Force Two, as further proof that LBJ was the "mastermind" of the plot to kill the President is not credible at all. Officially, he was there to accompany the body of the slain President in order to show a continuity of government at the height of the Cold War. But, in reality he was the de-facto "getaway driver."

Under Federal law in 1963 it was not a crime to kill the President. The location of the assassination held the jurisdiction for the murder and any subsequent trial. Indeed the President's security detail clashed violently with the Dallas Police Department when they removed the Presidents body from Parkland Hospital. Weapons were drawn, with the Secret Service the obvious winners.

In addition, both sides wanted the body for different purposes; the doctors at Parkland wanted to conduct an autopsy, which would have fulfilled their obligations under Texas law at the time. Dr. Crenshaw, at Parkland, had already established that JFK was shot from the front, rather than the rear. The Secret Service wanted the body back in Washington to conceal the drugs in Kennedy's system, as well as his STD's. It was at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland where the autopsy was altered to indicate one lone gunman firing from the rear.

Once aboard Air Force One with the body of JFK, and having taken the Oath of Office as the new President, who was to stop the plane from taking off with the body? The autopsy was then performed, with dubious results, at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, rather than at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, as required by the applicable laws of the time. The assassination of the President would not become a Federal Crime until 1967.

Although Mr. Nelson is correct in that there was a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy, his work has all the earmarks which make one wonder if this book was deliberately written to discredit "Family Of Secrets" by Russ Baker, which manages to tie together all of the principal culprits from the Bay of Pigs affair through the Watergate Burglarly. All of the same players are neatly tied together in a fully researched and believable fashion. That book answers all of the questions which may be lingering in reference to the death of President Kennedy. Zapata Offshore Oil, anyone?

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