Sunday, August 26, 2018

Did the General Take a Nap?

DID THE GENERAL TAKE A NAP - After Being Informed of the President's Death?

The question of whether General Maxwell Taylor took a nap after being informed of President Kennedy's assassination is reminiscent of Gay Talese's Esquire article "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold."

The idea that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff took a nap appears insignificant, - it's the ramifications that are important, or at least revealing.

General Maxwell Taylor is a major player in the drama - number one in the Great Game Program, and I found it extremely interesting, intriguing - telling, that at the time of the assassination the Joint Chiefs of Staff were meeting at the Pentagon with the West German General Staff.

I wrote: "At the time of the assassination Taylor and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were meeting with the West German General Staff who later reported that they were incredulous at Taylor's response to the assassination - he took a nap."

I had previously reported: "The visiting German generals were a bit perplexed by the reactions of the American chiefs of staff to the news of the assassination. General Maxwell Taylor retired to his office to take a nap, while the others continued the meeting as if nothing had happened."

As this point has become an issue at Jefferson Morley's web site, and was labeled "misleading" by someone who read a book that suggested Taylor responded to the assassination by raising the level of alert, ordered the security of the Kennedy family and prepared for the autopsy, my research reflects otherwise, Taylor did indeed take a nap.

One of Morley's readers - Peter, read a book "Our Vietnam - The War 1954 - 1975" by A. J. Languth in which he says: "Before John Kennedy recalled him to active duty, Taylor had been hired to oversee construction of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in Manhattan. During that civilian interlude he had taken to napping every day after lunch. When he returned to the Pentagon, Taylor ordered his staff never to disturb him when his door was closed. He had barely stretched out on his sofa when a general disobeyed him and called from the military command center to say the President was dying. Taylor summoned the chiefs to his office to discusss whether this was part of a plot to overthrow the U. S. government. Orders went to the nine ranking commanders around the world to rase their level of readiness."

Another Morley reader responded with a link to a letter General Goodpaster wrote in response to a request for information on the response to the assassination by Mrs. Jodie Elliot and Laura Hansen, who wrote the book November 22, 1963 Ordinary and Extraordinary People Recall Their Reactions When They Heard the News – Gen.  A. J. Goodpaster wrote:

"Dear Mrs. Hansen:….On the personal side, I was then Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and was preparing to attend a meeting with a German delegation headed by General Foertsch, the head of their armed forces. During or just after the lunch hour, before the meeting started, we heard an initial report that the President had been shot, that the injury was serious, but that his condition was not known.  As I recall General Maxwell Taylor, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a close friend of the President, received a call from the President’s brother, just before we went into the meeting. While the meeting was in session, word was brought in that the President had died. General Taylor announced this to the group; there was a moment of silence, followed by expressions of sympathy and condolence from the German visitors, and the meeting was brought to a close. Within the Joint Chiefs of Staff organization, we made an immediate check to determine whether the Vice President was safe, and whether there had been attacks against any other high figures in the government.  Also, we quickly transmitted information to commands all around the world of the events that had occurred….."

Just as Colonel Dorman served as General LeMay's adjunct, and Colonel Higgins was General Krulak's assistant, General Goodpaster was Taylor's main man, and he certainly would not disparage his boss by relating what he actually did, - take a nap, as the German General Staff factually reported.

My source isn't a book but an official history of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that reflects the perplexed perspectives of the visiting German generals.

That the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would take a nap is not something I would make up, and I'm quite confident it is true and not misleading, but what does it mean?

It's not conspiratorial, it's almost incidental, certainly lackadaisical, and clearly reflects the fact that whatever you believe happened in Dallas that day, General Taylor wasn't pulling the strings, or even monitoring the situation.

That Taylor would take a nap at such a critical juncture is the kind of paradoxical lead that Columbo would find intriguing, a loose end and strand of networking thread that if you pull, the whole net comes unraveled.

First off you have to know a little bit about the Joint Chiefs as well as their visiting dignitaries - the West German General Staff.

The Joint Chiefs is composed of the chiefs of staff of each of the branches of the military, - the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines, and they are led by a chairman, that makes it a small club, more like a poker game.

They were one short however, because Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis LeMay was on vacation, ostensibly fishing on a lake in Michigan with his family, and his place at the table was probably filled by his aide Colonel Dorman.

We know this because we can hear Colonel Dorman on the Clifton version of the Air Force One radio transmission tapes. Dorman has an important message he is trying to get to General LeMay, who Dorman says was then on a jet plane flying to DC from Canada.

While some say LeMay was hunkered down in a Command and Control bunker at Sir William Stephenson's "Camp X" in Canada, his family says he was fishing in Michigan and the Canadian air field was the closest to their remote cabin on the lake.

LeMay too is a major player. On September 25, one month earlier, LeMay was acting Chairman when General Taylor was in Vietnam on a special mission for the President. At the September 25th meeting, notes prepared by General Krulak's adjunct Colonel Higgens reflect the fact that they were briefed by CIA officer Desmond FitzGerald on covert intelligence operations being conducted against Cuba.

Although not present, Krulak was reponsible for any military assistance the CIA needed in these operations, so Higgins was there.

The big difference between LeMay and Taylor is their loyalty to the President. LeMay loathed Kennedy for his betrayal of the Cubans at the Bay of Pigs and for discarding the Joint Chief's advice to attack the Soviet missiles in Cuba and negotiating a peaceful resolution instead.

Taylor was a Kennedy loyalist who wrote a book on the changing nature of conflicts, and the need for the military to prepare for a number of small wars simultaniously rather than a major World War III, that would include nuclear combat, an unthinkable strategy.

Kennedy read and liked Taylor's book and after the Joint Chiefs of Staff let him down during the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK recalled Taylor out of retirement to serve as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and against the traditional rise of the chiefs out of their own ranks.

After not being consulted before the Bay of Pigs, and having their unanamous advice ignored during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and being led by an egotistical Kennedy loyalist like Taylor, there was what they called a "Seven Days in May" atmosphere of tension at the Pentgon.

Based on a novel by Charles W. Bailey and Fletcher Nebel, "Seven Days in May" is a fictional account of a military coup against a liberal president, a book that JFK also read. JFK liked it enough to allow director John Frankenheimer (Birdman of Alcatraz, Manchurian Candidate, Grand Prix) to film scenes at the White House, when he wasn't there, as well as the Pentagon, much to the chagrin of the generals.

With a riviting screen play by Rod Serling ("Twilight Zone") it stars Burt Lancaster as a very convincing General Walker type of commander who tries to engineer a coup, but is thwarted by his suspicious adjunct, a Marine Colonel played by Kurt Douglas.

Out of the coup loop the Marine Colonel becomes suspicious when a singalman tells him about a mutual bet among the Joint Chiefs on the Preakness horse race, and the
singalman is then suddenly transferred to Hawaii.

The colonel tells the President that he thinks the bet is a ruse, a code for a coup.

When JFK was asked if such a military coup was really possible in the United States he said yes, if there was an incident like the Bay of Pigs, and then there was another similar incident like the Cuban Missile Crisis, a third such incident could spark a military coup. "But it won't happen on my watch," he added.

And some believe that the not-so-secret backchannel negotiations between JFK and Castro was the straw that broke the camel's back.

While there are a number of interesting parallels between the fictional "Seven Days in May" and the real life circumstances of the assassination of President Kennedy, as it played out, a few are worthy of mentioning.

Like the singleman with loose lips who was transferred out of the loop in "Seven Days in May," there's the case of Colonel Fletcher Prouty, whose Pentagon office was just down the hall from the Joint Chiefs and adjacent to General Krulak. Prouty, the fictional "Mr. X" in Oliver Stone's "JFK,"  was sent on a mission to Antaritica on what he later came to believe was a diversionay tactic to keep him out of the coup loop.

As with the Joint Chiefs betting on the Preakness as a code for the coup, the CIA's Desmond FitzGerald, who briefed the Joint Chiefs and ran the CIA's covert operations against Cuba, made a $50 bet on the life of Castro that was actually entered into his official record.

At that September 25 meeting FitzGerald told the Joint Chiefs that the CIA had undertaken a "detailed study" of the July 20, 1944 German military plot to kill Hitler that they were going use against Castro.

If that was the case they could have asked for details of that plot from Allen Dulles, his OSS associate Mary Bancroft and their co-conspirator Hans Bernd Gisivious, along with a few of the generals at the Pentagon on November 22, 1963, two of whom were directly involved in the plot and of the few who survived.

And it was those former Nazi German generals who were perplexed that General Taylor's response to the assassination was to take a nap, which is evidence that he too was out of the coup loop, and not pulling the strings of the Dealey Plaza operation.

At the time of the assassination Desmond FitzGerald was having lunch at an exclusive Georgetown club with his assistant who later said that Fitzgerald, as they left, reflected aloud, wondering if his Cubans were involved in the assassination.

Now, we too should be wondering if Desmond FitzGerald's Cubans were invovled in the assassination, and if so, what can be done about it.

I'll wager a bet of my own that they were, and there's nothing we can do.

1 comment:

bsimpich said...

I am wiling to bet that LeMay didn't always take a nap - but it was his time to take a break during the day.

I am willing to bet LeMay did not take a nap that day.

I wonder if LeMay was in on the JFK assassination - I would not rule it out.

I think there is something we can all do - continue rigorous research into this whole period so that as much of this history as possible is out in the open as soon as possible. We have done some good work, and we can do more.