Friday, June 8, 2012

The Tipping Point


The Tipping-Point was the moment the big switch occurred in the cover stories from what Peter Dale Scott has called the “Phase One” – Cuban Castro Commie conspiracy behind what happened at Dealey Plaza, to “Phase Two” – placing sole responsibility on a Deranged Lone Nut. [1]

This specific point in time must have been a decision that came early – sometime shortly after the assassination – between the time Oswald was associated with the murder and while his background was being discovered and disseminated within the government and by the mass media.

From what can reasonably be determined, it was LBJ himself who made this decision, with the advice of J. Edgar Hoover, Cliff Carter, Walter Jenkins and probably McGeorge Bundy, sometime between 7PM and 9 PM, EST, while LBJ, Carter and Jenkins were ensconced in the Vice President’s office in the Executive Office Building (EOB) next door to the White House.

This decision is significant on many levels but especially so because by doing so LBJ asserted his authority early on and separated himself from those who planned the assassination and plotted the cover story – the “Phase One” cover story that Castro was behind the assassination, by not adhering to it, and instead deciding that the assassin was to be considered alone and deranged.

The official switch had to have occurred before the day was done, and although there is no direct evidence of it among the conversations on the existing AF1 radio transmission tapes, it may be a subject edited from the existing tapes, or before Air Force One took off. [2]

Generals Clifton and McHugh were aboard Air Force One, as well as LBJ aides Jack Valenti and Cliff Carter, all of whom could have communicated with others by telephone over secure WHCA circuits while Air Force One was still on the ground, or over one of the three radios in use while Air Force One was in the air.  Although there are no such conversations on the existing tapes, there are reliable reports that such things were discussed. T.H. White, William Manchester, Pierre Salinger, Jim Bishop and Maj. H. Patterson have all referred to radio conversations that are not on the tapes, including the determination that Oswald was the lone, deranged assassin. [3]

This decision was vocally and emphatically expressed on Friday night when LBJ’s aide Cliff Carter telephoned Dallas authorities and ordered them not to charge Oswald as being part of a communist conspiracy because it could start a war. [4]

So while it doesn’t appear that the new president was overtly concerned that war was eminent, as he didn’t discuss it on the record or even communicate with the Generals aboard Air Force One, the Joint Chiefs of Staff or Secretary of Defense, that war was a possibility was clearly on his mind. We know LBJ was thinking about it because he used the threat of nuclear war to get the Dallas authorities to change the wording on the warrant charging Oswald with being the assassin, so it didn’t read “in furtherance of an international communist conspiracy,” and then he used the possibility of war as an excuse again to get a reluctant Earl Warren to chair the Commission, which was charged with determining there was no conspiracy, foreign or otherwise.

The timing of the Cliff Carter’s calls to Texas officials, in the name of the White House (8-9 P.M.) seems to indicate that it occurred while LBJ, Walter Jenkins and Carter were in the Vice President’s office at the Executive Office Building, next door to the White House.

As soon as they landed at Andrews, LBJ gave his brief speech before the TV cameras, but shortly before or after the speech, he also quickly and briefly conferred with Secretary of Defense McNamara, National Security Advisor Bundy and Under Secretary of State George Ball (since Dean Rusk was on the Cabinet Plane). From reports, he simply asked them each individually if there were any decisions he had to make immediately, and they each replied no. [5]

According to LBJ’s aide Jack Valenti, they then boarded helicopters that took them to the White House lawn, and walked to the Vice President’s suite of offices in the Executive Office Building. [6]


Bill Clinton, in his review of Robert A. Caro’s “The Passage of Power” wrote, “Then tragedy changed everything. Within hours of President Kennedy’s assassination, Johnson was sworn in as president, without the pomp of an inauguration, but with all the powers of the office. At first he was careful in wielding them. He didn’t move into the Oval Office for days, running the executive branch from Room 274 in the Executive Office Building. The family didn’t move into the White House residence until Dec. 7. But soon enough, it would become clear that the power Johnson had grasped for his entire life was finally his.”  [7]

Jack Valenti – in “A Very Human President” (1973, p3) wrote:

“It was a few minutes after 6:00 P.M., EST, Friday, November 22, 1963. Air Force One bearing the new president, and the body of the slain John F. Kennedy, had just landed after a flight from Dallas.” [8]

“The trip of eighteen miles by chopper from Andrews to the White House took seven minutes…The president’s chopper had landed at 6:32 P.M.,…The president was still at the entrance to the Diplomatic Reception Room, talking to Under Secretary of State George Ball, and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. I joined them and we all began to walk, not through the Diplomatic Reception Room, but through the Rose Garden to the walkway that led from the Mansion to the West Wing. We strode to the doorway of the West Wing, but not to the president’s Oval Office. I found it strange that the president would not go to his office. I learned later that LBJ had decided not to use JFK’s office but for the time being to continue using his vice-presidential suite in the Executive Office Building. That is why we descended the stairs from the West Wing first floor to the basement and through this underfloor to the exit at the West Basement. We walked across the private street dividing the West Wing from the EOB and thence up the elevator to the third floor vice-presidential office.”

“The vice-presidential office was a three room suite and within minutes it was crowded. The president ensconced himself in the large, high-ceilinged, fireplace room, comfortably but not luxuriously furnished. Shortly before 7:00 P.M., I escorted Senator J. William Fulbright, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Ambassador Averell Harriman into the office. I fidgeted outside, in the middle of what would have appeared to be an objective onlooker to be a mélange of confusion. No one of the Johnson aides, Marie Fehmer, his secretary; the late Cliff Carter, his chief political agent; Bill Moyers, nor any of the rest, was quite certain of what lay ahead. We were all busy on the phone and trying to assemble what measure of office discipline we could construct. Supervising all of this was Walter Jenkins, the number one assistant to the president, a privileged post no one in the Johnson entourage contested, nor chose to. Jenkins, a mild and scholarly man, generous to his colleagues, full of integrity, endlessly at work, sat in the background and, as usual, was on the phone constantly with his notebook in front of him, transcribing conversations as he talked in that swift Gregg shorthand he knew so well.”  [9]

[BK Notes: Where are Jenkin’s notes today? Are they at the LBJ Library or NARA?]

It is not known, or yet established, whether the WHCA did anything to secure the telephones in the Vice Presidential Suite (VPS) in the Executive Office Building (EOB), as they did at the Elms, LBJ’s residence, or whether they used ordinary insecure commercial circuits, but they certainly made a lot of phone calls while there.  [10]

There was also another office in the EOB that the WHCA did re-wire and connect, via radio, to Air Force One – and that was the office of Gerald Behn, the head of the Secret Service White House Detail. Behn, who ordinarily traveled with the President, did not go on the Texas trip and was scheduled to take a vacation instead, but inexplicitly went to his office that morning and ended up coordinating the Secret Service post-assassination response from the phones and communicating with Air Force One via a radio connection set up in his office. [11]


6:30 (CST?) In Dallas, Dallas Police Homicide Capt. Will Fritz, Secret Service Agent Forrest Sorrels and Assistant Dallas District Attorneys Alexander and Allen conferred over dinner at the Majestic Café, evaluating the evidence against Oswald, considered the possibility of conspiracy and discussed what the charges against Oswald should be. [12]

7:00 P.M - LBJ talked with former President Harry Truman.
7:10 - LBJ conversed over the phone with former President Dwight Eisenhower.
7: 20 – LBJ on the phone with Sargent Shriver
7:25 – LBJ calls JE Hoover. Orders full investigation and report.
7:30 - LBJ writes Caroline and John John notes [13]
7:40 – Valenti: “At about 7:40 the congressional leadership came to call. They were ushered in. I sat quietly near the wall of the office, listening to the president importing to them for their help and their counsel.” Shortly after 8 PM, as Valenti puts it, “LBJ sat at his desk to have some soup. It as his first food since his morning breakfast in Fort Worth.” [14]

[BK Notes: Also see LBJ official schedule from LBJ Library: JFKCountercoup2: LBJ 11/22/63]

6:45  McGeorge Bundy in EOB
6:50 Taxewell Shepard
6:55 Secretary Harriman and Sen. Fulbright
7:05 f President Truman
7:10 t General Eisenhower
7:29 t sergeant Shriver
7:35 Mac Kilduff
7:36 Eating dinner in 274 EOB
7:40 Congressional delegation : McCormick, Hale Boggs, Halleck, Albert, Mansfield, Dirksen, Humphrey, Smathers, Kuchel, Morton
8:06 Mac Kilduff, George Reedy, Bill Moyers
8:25 t Ted Sorenson
8:31  f Speaker McCormack
8:45   Kilduff
9:00 f Sen. Russell
9:06 t Justice Goldberg
9:10 t Dick McGuire
9:25     Depart 8212 EOB 

[BK Notes: the above 4 page document created by LBJ's secretaries does not reflect any of the outgoing calls to Texas authorities we know were made by Cliff Carter between 8:30 and 9:30 PM, though the Kilduff reference might be regarding the subject of these calls - the charges against Oswald]

The VP office in the EOB #274 is a three room affair, with a fireplace in one room, televisions and a telephone in each room. Beginning at around 8 PM, as LBJ sat down to his soup, he apparently did so behind closed doors alone with Cliff Carter and Walter Jenkins, with Valenti out of the picture, as Valenti “fidgeted around” outside for over an hour until they emerged from LBJ’s office, their immediate mission, whatever it was, complete. One of the things we know happened was Carter made calls to Texas officials about a rumor that Oswald was going to be charged as part of a Communist conspiracy.

10:00 (EST?) – Vincent Bugliosi

 “No sooner than Fritz and Alexander get back to City Hall from dinner than the telephone rings in the Homicide and Robbery office of the Dallas Police headquarters and Alexander takes the call. It’s Joe Goulden, a former reporter for the Dallas Morning News who is now on the city desk of the Philadelphia Inquirer.”

“‘What’s going on down there? We’re not getting anything straight. It’s all garbled. Is Oswald going to be charged with killing the president?’ the reporter asks.”

“‘Yea, we’re getting ready to file on the Communist son of a bitch,’ Alexander tells him. When Goulden asks Alexander why he called Oswald a Communist, Alexander tells him about all the Communist literature they found at Oswald’s Beckley address. ‘We have the killer,’ Alexander says, ‘but we’re not sure what his connections are.’”

“Goulden wants to know exactly when the charges will be filed against Oswald. ‘As soon as I can draw up the complaint,’ Alexander replies. Goulden says his editor won’t print the part about Oswald being a Communist for fear of a libel suit. The only way he’s print that is if he could say it was part of the formal charge. Alexander, who would later allow that, ‘I let my mouth overlook my ass,’ says sarcastically, ‘Well, how about if I charge him with being part of an international Communist conspiracy? Could you run with that?’”

“He knew he couldn’t draw up a complaint like that, but Alexander was itching to show Oswald for what he was, a damn Communist. Goulden was more than eager to oblige.‘You got it!’ the reporter says.”  (879)   END Bugliosi Quote. [15]

[BK Notes: Joe Goulden, then working for the Philadelphia Inquirer, was a close personal friend and media asset of David Atlee Phillips, the CIA officer responsible for the monitoring of the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City. Goulden was also one of those reporters who later floated the trial balloon story that Oswald was an FBI informant.]  [16]

8-9 PM – Sometime between 8 & 9 PM Cliff Carter, in the name of LBJ and the White House, called Texas authorities, including Texas Attorney General Wagner Carr and some Dallas officials. Since it is not mentioned by Valenti, this must have been when LBJ was in his office with Jenkins and Carter for over an hour, when Cliff Carter began to make a series of calls to Texas officials, ordering them not to promote the idea of a conspiracy.

Between 8 & 9 PM – Waggoner Carr – Attorney Gen. of Texas, reported:  “I received a long-distance telephone call from Washington from someone in the White House. I can’t for the life of me remember who it was. A rumor had been heard here that there was going to be an allegation in the indictment against Oswald connecting the assassination with an international conspiracy, and the inquiry was made whether I had any knowledge of it, and I told him I had no knowledge of it. As a matter of fact, I hadn’t been in Dallas since the assassination and was not there at the time of the assassination. So the request was made of me to contact Mr. [Henry] Wade to find out if the allegation was in the indictment. I received the definite impression that the concern of the caller was that because of the emotion or the high tension that existed at the time that someone might thoughtlessly place the indictment in such an allegation without having the proof of such a conspiracy. So I did call Mr. Wade from my home, when I received the call, and he told me…that he had no knowledge of anyone desiring to have that or planning to have that in the indictment; that it would be surplusage, it was not necessary to allege it, and that it would not be in there, but that he would doublecheck it to be sure. And then he called back, and – as I recall I did – and informed the White House participant in the conversation of what Mr. Wade had said, and that was all of it.” [17]

There are unsubstantiated reports that the Oswald indictment was to read “in furtherance of an international communist conspiracy,” and supporting the Phase One cover story that what happened at Dealey Plaza was done at the behest of Castro and foreign communist elements. It appears that LBJ decided that was a bad idea, because he said it could lead to war, and instructs Cliff Carter to call Texas officials and tell them not play up the idea of a conspiracy of any kind, Cuban Communists or otherwise.

9 PM – LBJ calls Arthur Goldberg

9:10 PM – In Dallas DPD jail LHO is told he is to be charged with murder of Tippit. [18]

Bugliosi wrote (p. 177):

 “Henry Wade is returning home after dinner with his wife and some friends when he hears a report on the radio that Oswald is going to be charged with being part of an international Communist conspiracy to murder the president. Wade, the Dallas DA since 1951, can barely believe his ears. There is no such law on the Texas books, and anyone familiar with Texas law knows that if you allege anything in an indictment, you have to burden of proving it.”

“Wade barely gets in the door when the telephone rings. The caller is Wagner Carr, attorney general for the state of Texas. He had just received a long-distance call from someone in the White House who had heard a similar report. Carr wants to know if Wade has any knowledge of it. Wade said he didn’t.  

“‘You know,’ Carr says, ‘this is going to crate a hell of a bad situation if you allege that he’s part of a Communist conspiracy. It’s going to affect international relations and a lot of things with this country.’”

“‘I don’t know where the rumor got started,’ Wade says, ‘but even if we could prove he was part of an international conspiracy, I wouldn’t allege it because there’s no such charge in Texas.’”

“Within a few minutes, Henry Wade gets phone calls from his first assistant, Jim Bowie, and U.S. Attorney Barefoot Sanders – both of whom have gotten very concerned calls from Washington. Wade assures both of them that he will check into the rumor.”  

“Wade immediately decides to take ‘charge’ of he matter and goes down to the police department to make sure that no such language appears in any complaint against Oswald. His man down there, Bill Alexander, denies to Wade that he had anything to do with the rumor, not telling Wade that his own lips had given birth do it.”

According to Valente, “at 9:27 PM, the president came out of his office followed by Walter Jenkins and Cliff Carter. He smiled at Marie Fehmer and then he motioned for me to come to him. He put his arm around me and said, ‘Drive home with me, Jack. You can stay at my house tonight and then we will have a chance to do some talking. Are you ready to leave now?’ Well, I thought, I suppose I'm ready in view of the fact I was not sure precisely why I was even here in the first place. [20]


In The Kennedy Detail (p. 256). Gerald Blaine writes, “Lyndon Johnson was now the President of the United States, but the White House was still the residence of the Kennedy family. Johnson would meet with his staff there as soon as he arrived, but he couldn’t stay the night in the mansion. It wouldn’t be right. Johnson decided he would stay at his home the Elms until Mrs. Kennedy had time to move out, but this created yet another urgent and unprecedented situation for the Secret Service. The Elms was located in an upscale neighborhood called Spring Valley, in northwest Washington, D.C., and due to the unusual circumstances, it required an immediate upgrade in security.” [21]

“Paul Rundle, the agent who’d come from the Denver office prior to Blaine and Hill, was put in charge of securing Johnson’s residence. There would be three perimeters of security. The first, outer layer would be manned by the D.C. metropolitan police, the next perimeter would manned by the National Guard, and the third and final layer of protection would be the Secret Service agents from the presidential and vice presidential details, supplemented by agents from nearby field offices.” [22]

Gerald Blaine, in The Kennedy Detail (p. 261 – 262), wrote, “Afterward, the supervising agents who had been on the Texas trip were requested to stay, and while the memories were still fresh, type up their recollections of everything that had happened that day. There would of course be an investigation and Rowley knew his men would be at the center of it?” [23]

[BK Notes: See: Mary Ferrell Archives for these reports – link]

Blaine: “Agents Andy Berger, Sam Sulliman, Dick Johnson, and Ernie Olsson went with President Johnson on Marine One from Andrews Air Force Base to the White House and stayed with him as he met with White House staff and key members of Congress at his offices at the Executive Office Building. None of these Kennedy Detail agents had ever been to Johnson’s residence before, so Rundle gave them a quick tour. Every half hour the agents would rotate posts in a counterclockwise direction, just as they did at the White House – with one major difference. Tonight, along with the .38-caliber revolver each agent always carried, every security post would be armed with a Thompson submachine gun.” [24]

So, from the Executive Office Building next to the White House they ostensibly went to the Elms, LBJ’s Spring Valley residence a five minutes drive away. I say ostensibly because they left the EOB in two cars two minutes apart, but according to at least one report, LBJ didn’t arrive at the Elms until over an hour and a half later, indicating they possibly went somewhere else first.

In The Kennedy Detail, Gerald Blaine wrote: “At 9:25 P.M. the afternoon shift traveled with President Johnson to the Elms at 4040 Fifty-Second Street, just five minutes from the White House, where Agent Paul Rundle was waiting to brief them on the new security.”

An unofficial chronological timeline however, indicates:

9:27 PM – LBJ leaves EOB for Elms 4040 52nd St. (per Valenti)

10:40 PM – According to Vincent Bugliosi, (Reclaiming History, p. 178), at 10:40 PM, LBJ had still not arrived. “Horace Busby, LBJ’s longtime aide, speechwriter and confidant, is waiting for President Johnson to arrive at Johnson’s home, the Elms, a large brick home in the Spring Valley section of Washington…The Elms is being overrun by Secret Service agents and telephone people installing new lines. After LBJ arrives and has a meeting with his close aides, friends, and Mrs. Johnson he retreats into the sunroom with Busby.”

10:59 – LBJ Arrives at Elms. SS Agent Paul Rundle – briefs him on arrival.

If LBJ leaves the EOB at 9:27 PM and doesn’t arrive at the Elms until 10:59 PM, that’s an hour and thirty-two minute discrepancy in the record – for LBJ to drive the five minute trip across town. It could be a mistake or a typo, but those times appear in more than one record, and if it is in fact correct, then there’s quite a bit of time there in which the whereabouts of the new President of the United States is unknown. According to their exact timings of events, the Secret Service agents left the EOB two minutes before LBJ and Valenti, Carter and Jenkins, but according to two accounts, LBJ didn’t arrive there until over an hour and a half later. [25]

“Listen,” Rundle said to his men when they arrived at the Elms, apparently ahead of LBJ, “There are rumors flying all over the place but the truth is, nobody knows what might have been behind the assassination. They’ve got this guy Oswald in custody in Dallas, and while he could easily just be a deranged sociopath, there’s still the chance that he was part of a larger conspiracy. Could be Cuban, Mafia, or some Soviet-backed plan to overthrow the government. It’s just too early to know, but the orders we’ve been given are to be excessive in our protective measures.”

Rundle vocally mentions “Cuban, Mafia or some Soviet-backed plan to overthrow the government,” but doesn’t seem to consider the possibility it was a domestic conspiracy, an inside job, a coup d’etat.

Returning to the Elms (aka “Valley”) was one of the items on the checklist of answers to questions that had been asked over the Air Force One radio transmissions and is on the existing tapes, as well as the order for the WHCA to disconnect the regular telephone lines at the Elms and install secure circuits for the President.

Gerald Blaine, one of the Secret Service agents assigned to secure the Elms that night, also mentions the installation of secure telephone lines, but by the time LBJ got there, they had somehow not yet finished the installation.

As recalled by Jack Valenti:

I fell in beside the president and with Cliff Carter we marched down the hall of the Executive Office Building flanked in front and rear by Secret Service agents. Were emerged onto the street separating the West Wing from the EOB and climbed into the big black limousine waiting for us, two Secret Service men in the front seat. The rest of the agents piled into another car in black and we headed towards the Elms, the large dwelling the Johnsons had purchased from Mrs. Perle Mesta.

When we arrived at the circular driveway at the entrance to the home it had all the appearance of a small convention. A security post had been set up at the driveway approach and a legion of agents was literally surrounding the house. When we stopped, agents Ruffus Youngblood, the soft-talking southerner who had so courageously flung his body over LBJ’s to protect him from whatever might be assaulting him, spoke: “Mr. President, we have not had the time to really arrange phone communications here. For the time being, we are operating over your residence phones.”

Youngblood also vouchsafed the totally unnecessary information that the phones were taking a helluva beating from the incoming calls. An emergency phone had been put in to take care of the Secret Service communications net and it would be several hours before the presidential communication system could be set up at the Elms. The president nodded, and climbed the step to his front door. He had left this home as one man and he was returning very much another. [26]

[BK Notes: According to Blaine, it was SS Agent Rundle who briefed LBJ on his arrival at the Elms, while Valenti says they were met by Youngblood, who told him the secure phone lines were not yet installed. That secure lines were not yet installed is hard to believe since Bales, the WHCA agent in the motorcade was able to quickly establish, in a matter of minutes, a number of secure and open lines to DC at Parkland Hospital, yet after the secure lines were ordered installed in a special communications patch from Air Force One at around 3 PM, they were still not yet be working seven or eight hours later.] [27]

Vincent Bugliosi, in “Reclaiming History” (p. 178) quotes LBJ, on his arrival at the Elms, as saying, “I guess I am the only person in the United States who doesn’t know what happened today.”

“When he hears of talk out of Dallas about a possible Communist conspiracy being behind the assassination, he says, ‘No, we must not have that. We must not start making accusations without evidence.’” [28]


Mrs. Johnson embraced him warmly, kissing him and hugging him. The president said, “Bird, I would like a bite to eat and could you fix something for the rest?” Mrs. Johnson opened her arms as if to collectively embrace us. “Darling, we have food in the dining room. Come sit down and relax.”

First, though, the president wanted to sit in the library. Mrs. Johnson brought him a large glass, cocked with ice and orange juice and the president sprawled in the massive black chair in the library. He sipped his orange juice, and then abruptly, though easily and without apparent thought, lifted his glass to a picture of the late Speaker Sam Rayburn, on the wall, the grim bulldog visage staring at us, the bald pate looming above the stern countenance. “I salute you, Mr. Speaker, and how I wish you were here now, when I need you.” The words were spoken softly. The president was obviously moved by the spark of that moment.

By this time the house was beginning to fill with Johnson people who came to see the new president. Horace Busby, the scholarly Texan who for years was the chief wordsmith for the president, gripped the edge of the president’s chair and began to talk to him in low tones. Shortly, the president and all of us moved to the dining room where we ate the first full meal most of us had had in a long time.

The time sped by. About midnight, the president decided to go to bed. He beckoned to Cliff Carter, Moyers and me and we climbed the stairs to the second-story bedrooms.

“Bill,” he said to Moyers and Carter, “you and Cliff find a bedroom on the third floor. Put your things up there and then come on down so we can talk.” They headed to the third floor and the president took me by the arm. “You stay in this bedroom, Jack,” he said. We went inside the bedroom. He sat down on the chair near the doorway.

“I suggest you call Mary Margarte and get some clothes sent up here for you. I also think you ought to get your affairs in order in Houston so you can dispose of your business. I want you to be on my staff at the White House. You can live with me here and at the White House when we finally move there….

The president had clearly thought this through and he was not giving me any alternative, even if I chose to explore one. The president rose and I followed him to his bedroom at the end of the hall. He got into his pajamas and lay on the vast bed, triggering the television set into life by remote control. He sat half-upright on the left side of the bed and motioned me to a chair at his side. We watched now the unfolding drama on the TV set, the endlessly probing eye of the camera and narrator’s voice recounting just who Lyndon Johnson was, his background, his career, and there were speculative accounts by various commentators on how fit a president he would be.

By this time Moyers and Carter had come in, Carter sitting at the foot of the bed and Moyers sitting on the right side. We watched in silence for some time.

I had picked up a notepad and was doodling when the president began to speak, almost as if he were talking to himself. He mused about what he ought to do and began to tick off people he needed to see and meetings he should construct in the next several days. I scribbled down the essence of what he was saying so I would have a clear view of what he wanted, so it could be done without fret or delay. Within an hour I had scrawled over thirty pages of that notebook. It became my direction-finder the next several days as all the president had described was put into concrete action.

[BK Notes: Is Valenti’s notepad available from the LBJ Library or NARA?]

That night the president had what might be called his first staff meeting. Bill Moyers, Cliff Carter, and I listened more than we talked.

The president seemed relaxed, stretched out on his bed, watching the bright glow of the TV set. He was surrounded by men whom he trusted, and in whose persons he fully knew reposed love and respect and enduring loyalty to him. Here in this bedroom was the man the whole world was inspecting via television, and whose measure was begin taken in every chancellery in every capital in the every country on all continents. He had spent over thirty years in the political arena. He knew all the tremors and soft spots and the unknowns that infested every cranny of the political jungle. He could catalog a thousand good and bad qualities, achievements, as well as errors made visible by those national leaders whom he knew.

He was mindful of what lay ahead of him, and this was evident. There was not what one would call eagerness to greet the next day, but there was studied appraisal of the weights and scales into which a hundred swift decisions must be fitted and he gave no outward sign that he was anxious or worried or hesitant.

It was early morning when he finally signaled he was ready to get some few hours sleep. Moyers, Carter, and I, still gripped with an inflexible tension (at least I was) said our goodnights and each took to our beds. I wandered to my bedroom and or an hour I lay awake, trying to assess the capricious wind that had carried me so fast to so a strange place…. 

It doesn’t appear that LBJ made many or any phone calls from the Elms that night, and had apparently made all the calls he had to make from the EOB. Besides the phone call from Cliff Carter to the Dallas authorities, ensuring the wording of the assassin’s indictment did not charge him with “the furtherance of a communist conspiracy,” it is also reported that LBJ talked on the telephone with J. Edgar Hoover that night. The conversation with Hoover, in which LBJ refers to what happened at Dealey Plaza as a “shooting scrape,” probably occurred before Carter’s phone calls to Texas, and it is known that the FBI had decided, early on, that Oswald was to be the lone assassin.

As the details of Oswald’s past came out through the media, and people came to find the left-wing Cuban Commie story simply unbelievable, the alternative deranged lone nut scenario was adopted, however unbelievable it too was for the general public to accept.

Caro, in the excerpt of this book published in the New Yorker, neglects to mention that immediately after the assassination, while still in Dallas, LBJ made one of his first phone calls to his personal tax attorney J. Waddy Bullion.

As Russ Baker notes (in Family of Secrets), besides having LBJ as a client, attorneys J. W. Bullion and Pat Holloway also served as attorneys for John Crichton, an Army Reserve Intelligence officer involved in Civil Defense activities related to emergency preparedness for nuclear war, who also arranged for a translator immediately for Marina Oswald, the alleged assassin’s wife. [30]

Peter Dale Scott, in his “The Doomsday Project and Deep Events: JFK,  Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11,” shows how Crichton was involved in not only the “Doomsday” emergency planning with Army Reserves and Civil Defense, but also on the ground in Dallas assisting in obtaining a translator for Marina and networking intelligence from forty Dallas policeman who were also members of Crichton’s Army Reserve Intelligence Unit. [31]

Among Crichton’s Army Intelligence officers, Chief George Lumpkin was in the pilot car of the motorcade that stopped at Houston and Elm and informed the traffic patrolman there, as well as the Sixth Floor sniper leaning out the window sixty feet away, that the motorcade was approaching. [32]

Capt. Gannaway, who identified Oswald as being affiliated with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in one of the earliest news wire report out of Dallas, was also in Crichton’s unit, as well as Deputy Chief Stringfellow, who sent a cable directly to Fort MacDill, Florida informing them of Oswald’s communist background and Cuban connections. [33]

Other facets of the same intelligence network were pushing the Phase One cover-story that Castro inspired Communist conspiracy was behind what happened at Dealey Plaza, and a full scale military attack on Cuba was one possible response to the assassination.

[Scott: From a presentation made by the author at the November 2011 COPA meeting in Dallas.The Asian-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 47 No 2  21 November 2011. Original video presentation is available and you can read the entire text with footnotes at Dave Ratcliff’s - s6 ] [34]

Peter Dale Scott: A more ominous provocation in 1963 was that of Army Intelligence, one unit of which in Dallas did not simply withhold information about Lee Harvey Oswald, but manufactured false intelligence that seemed designed to provoke retaliation against Cuba. I call such provocations phase-one stories, efforts to portray Oswald as a Communist conspirator (as opposed to the later phase-two stories, also false, portraying him as a disgruntled loner). A conspicuous example of such phase-one stories is a cable from the Fourth Army Command in Texas, reporting a tip from a Dallas policeman who was also in an Army Intelligence Reserve unit: Assistant Chief Don Stringfellow, Intelligence Section, Dallas Police Department, notified 112th INTC [Intelligence] Group, this Headquarters, that information obtained from Oswald revealed he had defected to Cuba in 1959 and is a card-carrying member of Communist Party.”

This cable was sent on November 22 directly to the U.S. Strike Command at Fort MacDill in Florida, the base poised for a possible retaliatory attack against Cuba.

The cable was not an isolated aberration. It was supported by other false phase-one stories from Dallas about Oswald’s alleged rifle, and specifically by concatenated false translations of Marina Oswald’s testimony, to suggest that Oswald’s rifle in Dallas was one he had owned in Russia.

These last false reports, apparently unrelated, can also be traced to officer Don Stringfellow’s 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit. The interpreter who first supplied the false translation of Marina’s words, Ilya Mamantov, was selected by a Dallas oilman, Jack Crichton, and Deputy Dallas Police Chief George Lumpkin. Crichton and Lumpkin were also the Chief and the Deputy Chief of the 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit. Crichton was also an extreme right-winger in the community of Dallas oilmen: he was a trustee of the H.L. Hunt Foundation, and a member of the American Friends of the Katanga Freedom Fighters, a group organized to oppose Kennedy’s policies in the Congo.

We have to keep in mind that some of the Joint Chiefs were furious that the 1962 Missile Crisis had not led to an invasion of Cuba, and that, under new JCS Chairman Maxwell Taylor, the Joint Chiefs, in May 1963, still believed “that US military intervention in Cuba is necessary.” This was six months after Kennedy, to resolve the Missile Crisis in October 1962, had given explicit (albeit highly qualified) assurances to Khrushchev, that the United States would not invade Cuba. This did not stop the J-5 of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the JCS Directorate of Plans and Policy) from producing a menu of “fabricated provocations to justify military intervention.” (One proposed example of “fabricated provocations” envisioned “using MIG type aircraft flown by US pilots to…attack surface shipping or to attack US military.”)

The deceptions about Oswald coming from Dallas were immediately post-assassination; thus they do not by themselves establish that the assassination itself was a provocation-deception plot. They do however reveal enough about the anti-Castro mindset of the 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit in Dallas to confirm that it was remarkably similar to that of the J-5 the preceding May – the mindset that produced a menu of “fabricated provocations” to attack Cuba. (According to Crichton there were “about a hundred men in [the 488th Reserve unit] and about forty or fifty of them were from the Dallas Police Department.”)

Flashboard, America’s emergency network in the 1980s, was the name in 1984-86 of the full-fledged Continuity of Government (COG) emergency network which was secretly planned for twenty years, at a cost of billions, by a team including Cheney and Rumsfeld. On 9/11 the same network was activated anew by the two men who had planned it for so many years.

But this Doomsday planning can be traced back to 1963, when Jack Crichton, head of the 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit of Dallas, was part of it in his capacity as chief of intelligence for Dallas Civil Defense, which worked out of an underground Emergency Operating Center. As Russ Baker reports, “Because it was intended for ‘continuity of government’ operations during an attack, [the Center] was fully equipped with communications equipment.” A speech given at the dedication of the Center in 1961 supplies further details:

This Emergency Operating Center [in Dallas] is part of the National Plan to link Federal, State and local government agencies in a communications network from which rescue operations can be directed in time of local or National emergency. It is a vital part of the National, State, and local Operational Survival Plan.

Crichton, in other words, was also part of what became known in the 1980s as the Doomsday Project, like James McCord, Oliver North, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney after him. But in 1988 its aim was significantly enlarged: no longer to prepare for an atomic attack, but now to plan for the effective suspension of the American constitution in the face of any emergency. This change in 1988 allowed COG to be implemented in 2001. By this time the Doomsday Project had developed into what the Washington Post called “a shadow government that evolved based on long-standing ‘continuity of operations plans.’” [34]

Two important things should be noted – for one, Stringfellow is part of the Special Services Bureau, run by Capt. Gannaway, also a US Army Reserve officer who is quoted on the Air Force One radio tapes on wire service news reports out of Dallas, identifying Oswald as the accused assassin and identifying him with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.

In addition, Ian Griggs, in his book, “No Case to Answer,” and Prof. Phil Melanson (in Third Decade article “The Dallas Mosaic) report that the Special Services Bureau, to which Lumplin, Gannaway and Stringfellow were attached, did not operate out of the regular Dallas Police Department offices at City Hall, but instead had their own headquarters at the Dallas Fairgrounds Park, where Crichton’s Civil Defense bunker is also located.

The Dallas Civil Defense bunker, with its special communications equipment to handle any emergency, even nuclear war, was located below the patio of the Dallas Health and Science Museum, at the same Fairground Park.

Though it has yet to be established, the Dallas Police Special Services Unit may have occupied the same building, or at least one very near the Civil Defense command and control bunker that contained the special communications equipment that could monitor all radio communications. 

Chief Lumpkin, in the lead pilot car, whether intentionally or not, had informed the Sixth Floor Sniper of the impending arrival of the motorcade when he conversed with the traffic patrolman below the window. Other members of the same Army Reserve Unit within the Special Services Unit of the Dallas Police would, within a few hours, identify the assassin as being a FPCC Cuban Communist and send a report to the US Air Force in Florida notifying them of this, increasing the possibility of a reactionary and violent response to the assassin’s Cuban connections.

And it appears the Dallas Special Services Unit Headquarters and the special Dallas Civil Defense emergency command and control bunker were both located at the Dallas State Fairgrounds Park, possibly in the same or nearby buildings. [35]


Oswald is asleep and is awaken to be formally arranged. In the presence of Capt. Frits, Chief Curry, Asst. Deputy Chief M.W. Stevenson, D.A. Henry Wade, and Asst. DA Maurice Harrell, Oswald was brought before Judge David Johnson and presented with Complaint # F-154. 

“Well, I guess this is the trial,” Oswald cracks, after having already been charged with the murder of Tippit.

“No sir,” Judge Johnson says, “I have to arraign you on another offense.”

“Lee Harvey Oswald, hereinafter styled Defendant, heretofore on or about the twenty-second day of November 1963, in the County of Dallas in the State of Texas, did then and there unlawfully, voluntarily, and with malice aforethought kill John F. Kennedy by shooting him with a gun against the peace and dignity of the State.” 

“Oh, that’s the deal, is it?” Oswald said. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I want Mr. John Abt of New York. A-B-T,” he spells out.

The charge reads: “with malice aforethought…against the peace and dignity of the State,” rather than “in furtherance of an international communist conspiracy.” [36]

At the same time - Asst. DA Alexander, Capt. Gannaway and Lt. Jack Revill of the Special Services Bureau aren’t at Dallas City Hall or at the SSB HQ at the Fairgrounds Park, but instead are still in pursuit of the “international communist conspiracy.”

While Oswald was being arranged, in the middle of the night, with a warrant signed by the same Judge Johnson, they raid the home of Joe Molina, the credit manager of the School Book Depository, known to be a card-carrying Communist and affiliated with Oswald as a co-worker. [37]

Awakening Molina, his wife and four adopted kids, they search the house for two hours and question him about his affiliation with Oswald (“never talked to him”) and a radical subversive group that Molina, a Navy vet belonged to - GI Forum.


2:15 AM  NOVEMBER 23, 1963 – The Elms backyard, Washington, D.C.

As Peter Dale Scott describes, Archival History reflects what is part of the official historical record, while Deep Politics is conducted, for the most part, behind closed doors, off the official record and in person to person meetings of which there is little or no documentation.

And while there is no official record or documentation of LBJ, as the new president, actually talking in person or over the telephone or radio with his military commanders, Secretary of Defense or National Security advisors until after he arrives at Andrews, we suspect that he did.

We also know that he did confer on a number of occasions with J. Edgar Hover, who LBJ assigns the responsibility of issuing a report on the assassination.  

What some find quite odd is the fact that the head of the FBI J. Edgar Hover at 5 PM, the end of the normal working day, packed up his papers and left his office and went home.

At one time, LBJ lived adjacent to J. E. Hoover and the two shared a common fence through which they built a gate so they could visit each other without leaving the privacy of their property.

J. E. Hoover’s Residence: 4936 (formerly 4926) 30th Place NW DC

LBJ:  4921 30th Place

But at the time of the assassination, that was not the case, as LBJ had since moved to the Elms on 52nd Street.

But LBJ did have some friends as neighbors at the Elms as well, though they have yet to be positively identified.

What I do think significant is the fact that after he put Valenti, Carter and Jenkins to bed, LBJ went out for a nocturnal stroll. In the course of walking around outside his back yard, LBJ bumped into Agent Blaine, who almost shot him with a Thompson submachine gun when he approached from an unexpected direction.

(Blaine, Kennedy Detail, p. 264-265): “2:15 A.M. Standing outside in the pitch-black darkness, Agent Jerry Blaine tried desperately not to yawn. He was on post at the rear corner of President Johnson’s large two-story French chateau-style house close to the back door, and with the exception of the forty-five minute nap in Austin and some catnaps on flights, it had now been nearly sixty hours since he had any sleep. Blaine was almost to the point where he was hallucinating. When he’d taken over from Andy Berger just before midnight, the two had simply looked at each other without saying anything. What could be said?”

Blaine had been at this particular post for about fifteen minutes when he suddenly heard the sound of someone approaching from the clockwise direction. It wasn’t rotation time, and he knew a Kennedy detail agent would never approach from that direction. Instinctively Blaine picked up the Thompson submachine gun and activated the bolt on top. The unmistakable sound was similar to racking a shotgun. He firmly pushed the stock into his shoulder, ready to fire. He’s expected the footsteps to retreat with the loud sound of the gun activating, but they kept coming closer. Blaine’s heart pounded, his finger firmly on the trigger. Le me see your fact, you bastard.”

“The next instant there was a face to go with the footsteps. The new President of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson, had just rounded the corner, and Blaine had the gun pointed directly at the man’s chest. In the blackness of the night, Johnson’s face went completely white. A split second later, Blaine would have pulled the trigger.”

“President Johnson looked at Blaine, said nothing, and turned around and went back into the house. Jesus Christ! I almost shot the new president. What the hell was he coming around the wrong way for?”

“With all the new security measures put into place that night, in the chaos nobody had thought to inform the President about the standard counterclockwise movement protocol. Blaine struggled to regain his composure at the reality of what had just happened washed over him. Fourteen hours after losing a president, the nation had come chillingly close to losing another one.” [38]

Where was LBJ going at two in the morning? Or was he returning from somewhere? Was he visiting his neighbors? Who were his neighbors? And did he visit any of them on the night of the assassination?

The machine gun incident with Blaine at 2:15 A.M. should require answers to those questions.

Blaine also thought it significant, and when called to a special meeting in the office of Secret Service Chief Rowley the next day, he thought he would be questioned about it.

Kennedy Detail (p. 285): “Jerry Blaine had written down everything he could remember about the Saturday morning incident with President Johnson at the Elms and had arrived early for the meeting with Secret Service chief James Rowley.”

But when he got to the meeting, they didn’t mention that and were concerned, instead, with the Tampa trip. It was the records, the advance reports about the Tampa trip and proposed trip to Chicago that was called off, that were intentionally destroyed by the Secret Service after they were requested by the Assassinations Records Review Board. [39]

As Blaine put it, “So this wasn’t regarding the Johnson near incident after all. It was about Tampa. But why was he so concerned about Tampa now?

Why were they so concerned about Tampa now? Why were they so concerned that they had to destroy the existing archival records?


In conclusion, while I started out trying to pinpoint the time and place where the decision was made to forgo the “Phase One” Cuban Commie Cover Story, I think I not only did that with some degree of precision and certainty, I also discovered some other interesting and important facts.  

1) For one, although there is no archival record of it, President Johnson, in the first hours of his presidency, conferred closely with his national security and military advisors, while aboard Air Force One.

2) Meanwhile, on the ground in Dallas, members of the Dallas Police Special Services Unit (SSU), specifically, Chief Lumpkin, Deputy Chief Stringfellow, Capt. Gannaway, all members of Jack Crichton’s 488th US Army Reserve Intelligence Unit, along with Asst. DA Alexander, actively promoted the Phase-One Cover Story that the assassination was the result of a Cuban Communist conspiracy. It might also prove significant that the HQ of the Dallas PD SSU was located at or near Crichton’s Civil Defense bunker under the patio of the Dallas Health and Science Museum at the Fairgrounds Park.

3) Third, upon his arrival at the Vice President’s suite in the EOB in Washington, between 8 and 9 PM, in closed consultation with Cliff Carter and Walter Jenkins, LBJ decided not to go with the “Phase One” cover-story, a decision that Cliff Carter related to the authorities in Dallas. In addition, other significant telephone calls were also made at this time from this location.

4) Then, from 9:27 PM when LBJ left the EOB, there is a large – hour and a half gap in the known whereabouts of the president, until he arrived home at the Elms at 10:57 PM.

5) And finally, at 2:15 AM the next morning, SS agent Blaine encounters LBJ walking around unescorted in the backyard of his home, presenting the possibility he was visiting a neighbor, as he had previously done when J. E. Hoover lived nearby at his previous residence.

The purpose of this article is to establish the “Tipping Point” in the official change in cover-stories and that, despite the fact that there are gaps in the archival records, those blank spaces are significant, and it is possible to fill in those gaps and determine what actually occurred. [40]


[1] - Peter Dale Scott – “Phase I” & “Phase II”

[2] – Air Force One Radio transmission tapes; LBJ Library Tape (1978); Clifton/Raab Tape (2012).

[3] – What’s Not on the AF1 Radio transmission tapes.  

[4] – Cliff Carter/WH phone calls to Texas officials. See Wagner Carr, et al.

[5] – LBJ at Andrews – White, T.H. “In Search of History” (p.669)

[6] – Valenti, Jack – “A Very Human President” (1973, p. 3)

[7] – Clinton, Bill – Review of Caro.

[8] – Valenti, Jack – “A Very Human President” (1973)

[9] – Valenti, Jack – “A Very Human President” on Walter Jenkins

[10] – EOB Phone Records?

[11] – SS WHD Chief G. Behn’s office phone records?

[12] – Capt. Fritz, SS, Asst. DA Alexander, confer over dinner at Majestic Café.

[13] – LBJ Phone calls & notes from EOB –

[14] – Valenti on LBJ at EOB from 8PM – 9:30PM – The Tipping Point

[15] – Bugliosi, Vincent – “Reclaiming History” (p. 169) Joe Goulden calls Alexander re: indictment to read “Communist Conspiracy.”

[16] – Joe Goulden & DA Phillips

[17] – Wagner Carr gets call from WH (EOB)

[18] – Warren Report

[19] – Bugliosi, V. “Reclaiming History”

[20] – Valenti, J. “AVHP”

[21] – Blaine, Gerald “The Kennedy Detail”

[22] – Blaine, G. “TKD” re: notes.

[23] – Blaine, G. “TKD” See: Mary Ferrell Archives Link for these SS reports.

[24] – Blaine, G. “TKD” re: Missing hour & half. 9:27PM-10:59 PM / JFK Assassination Timeline; / Bugliosi, V. “Reclaiming History”

[25] – Blaine, G. “TKD” re: SS Briefing

[26] – Valenti, J. “AVHP”

[27] – Blaine, G.

[28] – Bugliosi, V.

[29] – Valenti, Jack. “A Very Human President”  

[30] – Baker, Russ. “Family of Secrets”

[31] – Scott, P.D. “The Doomsday Project - & Deep Politics”

[32] – Lumpkin, pilot car motorcade.

[33] – Gannaway, Stringfellow & DPD SSU & 488th AR

[34] – Scott, “The Doomsday Project”

[35] – Griggs, Ian, “No Case to Answer”; Melanson, Phil, “The Third/Forth Decade,”Dallas Mosaic,” re: DPD SSU and Dallas Civil Defense Bunker at the Dallas Health & Science Museum.

[36] – Bugliosi, V.; “Reclaiming History,” re: Oswald indictment.

[37] – Bugliosi, V.; re: Raid of Molina residence.

[38] – Blaine, G. “The Kennedy Detail” (p. 265)

[39] – Blaine, G. re: Rowley meeting over Tampa. SS advance reports missing.
p. 357

[40] – Conclusions.


roadrider said...


This area of the assasination has always interested me. At some point in the early morning hours of Nov 23 didn't Hoover inform LBJ that the voice on the Mexico City tapes and the photo from the Soviet embassy did not match Oswald's voice or appearance.

Do you think it's possible that both Hoover and LBJ put two and two together and recognized the outlines of a domestic plot involving conspirators from within military intelligence and the CIA and turned to the lone nut story to cover that up?

After all, by the time LBJ was strong arming Russell and Warren to serve on his commission he had to know that 1) the story of a foreign plot was BS and 2) there was a good possibility that Oswald had been set up and that the source of the frame up was domestic intelligence.

Bill Kelly said...

That seems to be where this is going.