Saturday, February 2, 2019



The Bagman holding Halliburton's Nuclear Football 

Did it get lost on 11/22/63?

"Officials at the Pentagon were calling the White House switchboard at the Dallas-Sheraton Hotel asking who was now in command. An Officer grabbed the phone and assured the Pentagon that Secretary of Defense Robert MacNamara and the Joint Chief of Staff ' are now the President.”  -  Jim Bishop – “The Day the President Was Shot”

There are two lines of authority and power – the presidential line of succession – that goes from President to Vice President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, President pro tempore of the Senate and then the Secretary of State and cabinet members.

Then there is the line of authority to order a nuclear strike – which goes from the President, to Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff – the exact line of authority the White House Communications Authority (WHCA) officer said were in charge in the hour and minutes between the time President Kennedy was killed and LBJ was sworn in as president.

According to the WHCA officer at the Dallas Sheraton switchboard, it was the latter line of authority who were in charge in the immediate aftermath of the assassination.

As Major Ralph Ganis said, the power to utilize the executive action capability that was in place at the time had to be an order that originated at the very highest positions in the government – he gives the example of the nuclear command and control system, and it appears the order for the assassination came, not from LBJ but from that military command structure.

With the death of President Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, automatically became the heir to the power of the presidency. In the first hour of the assassination LBJ communicated by telephone with three people - Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Judge Sarah Hughes and his personal tax attorney J. Waddy Bullion.

He called RFK to get the exact wording of the oath of office, Sarah Hughes to get her to come to Love Field to administer the oath and with Bullion he talked about the need to change his stock portfolio, expressing particular concern about his Halliburton stock.

Russ Baker, in “Family of Secrets,” (p. 132), reports that “Pat Holloway, former attorney for both Poppy Bush and Jack Crichton, recounted to me an incident involving LBJ that had greatly disturbed him. This was around 1 P.M. on November 22, 1963, just as Kennedy was being pronounced dead…The switchboard operator excitedly noted that she was patching the vice president through from Parkland Hospital to Holloway’s boss, firm senior partner Waddy Bullion, who was LBJ’s personal tax lawyer. The operator invited Holloway to listen in. LBJ was talking ‘not about conspiracy or about the tragedy,’ Holloway recalled, ‘I heard him say, ‘Oh, I got to get rid of my goddamn Halliburton stock.’”

Baker also notes that, “Halliburton was also deeply involved in defense contracting, through its subsidiary Brown and Root (Later Kellog Brown & Root KBR) the politically wired Texas engineering firm. Brown and Root had taken a giant leap into military contracting when Lyndon Johnson, its political protégé, became president.” Both G. R. and R.O. Brown were on the Halliburton board, as was John Connally, who was wounded in the fuselage of bullets that killed Kennedy.

Some have considered it peculiar that one thing Johnson did not do once he assumed the presidency, at least on the public record, was to inquire about the national security status, the military posture or the possibility that the nation would be attacked, or was under attack by foreign enemies.

It is odd that one of LBJ’s first thoughts as President was the status of his Halliburton stock, though perhaps that was a sort of code between LBJ and J. Waddy Bullion his stock attorney, as Halliburton was not only a major defense contractor but actually made the “black bag” container that the nuclear codes and ciphers were kept, a satchel always kept close to the president.

The “bagman” was Warren Officer Ira Gearhart, a military officer who carried the black leather shrouded metal suitcase that contained the codes and ciphers the President needed to communicate with military commanders enabling him to order a nuclear strike. Gearhart had to remember the combination for the safety lock that opened the bag, and was to stay near the President at all times. Gearhart was positioned in the back seat of the last car in the motorcade in Dallas that day, alongside the WHCA officers whose responsibility was to keep the president in constant contact with the White House Situation Room and his military commanders in the Pentagon.

In fact, the new President had twice left behind the military aide with the black bag. The “bagman” had been left behind in the back of the motorcade when LBJ was rushed to Parkland Hospital and then again when the new president quickly and secretly left the hospital for Air Force One. While the man with the nuclear codes did catch up to LBJ at Love Field and remained nearby, he was generally ignored during the crisis.

In his book “The Day Kennedy was Shot,” Jim Bishop relates how Warrant Officer Ira Gearhart became “separated from the VIP portion of the motorcade as it raced to Parkland and after arriving he did not know where the President was nor whom he was. The Secret Service kept him away from the booth where LBJ had been placed and that Johnson and Gearhart had been separated again, when LBJ raced to Love Field."
Tagging along almost unnoticed on the trip to Love Field, Gearhart had to force his way onto a policeman’s lap to keep up with the president

The secure telephone lines set up for Air Force One at Love Field were special trunk lines that had to be detached from the plane before take-off, after which all the communications were made through radio patches over three or four sideband radios in the communications room behind the cockpit.

The trunk lines at Love Field connected to Air Force One were only a few of a dozen such secure land lines that were controlled by the WHCA – others being at locations where ever the President was or would be – the hotel in Fort Worth where JFK spent his last night, at the Dallas Trade Mart where he was scheduled to give a luncheon speech, and other locations in Texas where he was scheduled to be that weekend.

The WHCA Command Center and base station for the Dallas portion of the Texas trip was set up in a suite of rooms at the Dallas Sheraton Hotel at the Southland Center, where the Halliburton company offices were also located.

All of the president’s communications – the “Star Network,” were controlled by the White House Communications Agency (WHCA), then led by Col. George McNally (code name “Star”), who was having lunch at the airport terminal when the assassination occurred. He immediately returned to Air Force One to ensure that the new president could communicate with anyone in the world.

According to William Manchester, it was McNally’s duty to ensure that the president was always within a few minutes of a secure telephone. “Colonel McNally had a corps of advance men. By dawn of that Thursday morning temporary switchboards had been installed in trailers and hotel rooms in San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin and at the LBJ Ranch. Each had its own unlisted phone number. The Dallas White House, for example, was in the Sheraton-Dallas Hotel. It could be reached through RIverside 1-3421,RIverside 1-3422, and RIverside 1-3423, though anyone who dialed one of them and lacked a code name of his own would find the conversation awkward.”

And according to Jim Bishop, who apparently talked with some of the WHCA radio operators, one such awkward phone call came in during the immediate aftermath of the assassination. "Officials at the Pentagon were calling the White House switchboard at the Dallas-Sheraton Hotel asking who was now in command. An Officer grabbed the phone and assured the Pentagon that Secretary of Defense Robert MacNamara and the Joint Chief of Staff are now the President."

Theodore H. White, in The Making of the President, 1964, wrote: “There is a tape recording in the archives of the government which best recaptures the sound of the hours as it waited for leadership. It is a recording of all the conversations in the air, monitored by the Signal Corps Midwestern center "Liberty," between Air Force One in Dallas, the Cabinet plane over the Pacific, and the Joint Chiefs'  Communications Center in Washington.”

“…..On the flight the party learned that there was no conspiracy, learned of the identity of Oswald and his arrest; and the President's mind turned to the duties of consoling the stricken and guiding the quick.”
While “Liberty” station – a glass building at the Collins Radio Company headquarters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is heard on the existing Air Force One radio transmission tapes, there is no mention of Oswald or the lack of conspiracy. That means that these patches were edited out of the publicly released version of the tapes, something only the military could do.

While there is no documented or officially archived evidence that LBJ, as the new president, communicated directly with the Pentagon or any of his generals, except those who were aboard Air Force One, it is possible that LBJ, from the same source that informed Bishop, knew of the report(s) that “the Secretary of Defense Robert MacNamara and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are now the President.”

While the constitutional lines of accession for the executive branch of government goes from President to Vice President to Speaker of the House, the lines of authority for release of nuclear weapons – the power to go to war – goes from the President to the Secretary of Defense. According to Thomas B. Allen (of War Games), the nuclear... release authority passes from a ...disabled or missing President to the Secretary of Defense, and then, if necessary, to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, who at the time of the assassination was Roswell Gilpatrick, the Texan who arranged for General Dynamics to get the TFX contract over Boeing.
In the first hours after the assassination, as McGeorge Bundy put it, “the Pentagon was taking its own steps.”
And this wasn’t all knee-jerk reactionary responses to an unforeseen crisis, but a well planned out scenario that had been recently practiced.

“Of all the things Kennedy did for Johnson, none, however, was perhaps more instantly important on the weekend of Nov. 22 than a minor decision Kennedy made months before,” wrote T.H. White, in “The Making of the President 1964.”

“He (JFK) had decided that, in the secret and emergency planning for continuity of American government in the happenstance of a nuclear attack, Johnson should be given a major role. Through Major General Chester V. Clifton, who acted as White House liaison with the Department of Defense, all emergency operational planning was made available to the Vice President in duplicate. These plans, envisioning all things – from the destruction of all major cities to the bodily transfer of governing officers to an underground capital – included, of course, detailed forethought of the event of the sudden death of a President.”

And it was from the personnel effects of Gen. Clifton that we have the reel-to-reel, but still edited copies of the Air Force One radio tape transmissions, which could be an indication that the original, non-edited version is still out there – somewhere.

As White wrote of LBJ, “Because he had participated in all these plans, both panic and ignorance were already preauthorized in the vice President; on the night of Nov. 22, 1963, he knew exactly all the intricate resources of command and communications at his disposal. Beneath this lay the experience of a man who had spent 30 years observing the work of the federal government, while beneath that lay the instincts of a Texas country boy. Now it was him to act.”

So the first two decisions LBJ made – to go immediately to Air Force One because of its superior communications equipment and take the oath of office before taking off, were both moves that were engrained in the special continuity of government plans that JFK had made LBJ privy to.

In his book “Apocalypse Soon” former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara wrote, “The concept of the Football came about in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis. President John F. Kennedy was concerned that some Soviet commander in Cuba might launch their missiles without authorization from Moscow. After the crisis, Kennedy ordered a review of the U.S. Nuclear Command and Control system. The result was the highly classified National Security Action Memorandum that created the Football. It has been suggested that the nickname Football was derived from an attack plan code named Drop-Kick.”

“The playbook is said to contain 75 pages of options, to be used against four primary groups: Russian nuclear forces; conventional military forces; military and political leadership and economic/industrial targets. 
The options are further divided into Major Attack Options (MAOs), Selected Attack Options (SAOs), and Limited Attack Options (LAOs). With the SATCOM radio and handset, the president can contact the National Command Authority (NCA) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). To make rapid comprehension of the materials easier, the options are described in a heavily summarized format and depicted using simple images. The Football also contains the locations of various bunkers and airborne command-post aircraft, procedures for communicating over civilian networks, and other information useful in a nuclear-emergency situation.”

“The ‘Nuclear Football,’ otherwise known as the President's Emergency Satchel, is a specially-outfitted, black-colored briefcase used by President of the United States to authorize the use of nuclear weapons. While its exact contents and operation are highly classified, several sources have provided details of the bag. It is presumed to hold a secure SATCOM radio and handset, the daily nuclear launch codes known as the ‘Gold Codes,’ and the President's Decision Book—the ‘nuclear playbook’ that the President would rely on should a decision to use nuclear weapons be made, based on the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP). The National Security Agency updates the Gold Codes daily.”

“The Football is carried by one of the rotating Presidential Aides (one from each of the five service branches), who occasionally is physically attached to the briefcase. This person is a commissioned officer in the U.S. military, pay-grade O-4 or above, who has undergone the nation's most rigorous background check (Yankee White). These officers are required to keep the Football within ready access of the President at all times. Consequently, an aide, Football in hand, is always either standing/walking near the President or riding in Air Force One/Marine One/Motorcade with him.”

As McNamara describes it, “The case itself is a metallic, possibly bullet-proof, modified Zero-Halliburton briefcase which is carried inside of a leather "jacket". The entire package weights approximately 40 pounds (18 kg). A small antenna, presumably for the SATCOM radio, protrudes from the bag near the handle. Contrary to popular belief, the ‘football/ is not handcuffed to aides. Rather, carriers employ a black cable that loops around the handle of the bag and the wrist of the aide.”

“Zero-Halliburton” is the name of the company that manufactured the case, which brings us back to the Halliburton company and LBJ’s phone call to his tax attorney J. Waddy Bullion, concerning his Halliburton stock.

In “From Russia With Love,” a spy thriller novel read by both President Kennedy and his alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, Ian Fleming has his secret agent 007 utilize a custom attaché case that included a concealed dagger, a sniper’s rifle that broke down and fit into the stock and a special latch that exploded if not opened correctly, which seems to have been inspired by the Halliburton case. 

According to the official Zero-Halliburton web site: “In 1938, Earle P. Halliburton, a globetrotting businessman, commissioned a team of aircraft engineers to build him cases that could withstand the rough terrain of the Texas oilfields in the back of his truck. The original aluminum case was born, becoming the very definition of protection and ruggedness in business and travel cases. Every effort has been made ensure that only the finest material, the most advanced techniques, and the most precise crafting are employed to make each and every case. That heritage continues today.” 

            “Today, that aluminum case, created nearly 70 years ago is the prototype for style, sophistication, and uniqueness. However, it has never lost sight of its heritage: protecting your belongings wherever your journeys take you. The original aluminum case we introduced to the world over seven decades ago has taken hold of people’s imagination and stands as icon of strength, security, endurance, and fashion. It blazed new territory for design, providing a unique, unmistakable presence that cannot be imitated.”

            “All of our signature aluminum cases start with a two-ton coil of aircraft grade aluminum. After being cut into individual pieces, the aluminum is “deep-drawn” over special steel dies using 440 tons of pressure. As the shape is formed, the molecular structure of the aluminum actually changes, resulting in a shell that’s free of wrinkling, distortion and manufacturing inconsistencies. Following the deep-draw process, the shell is heated to more than 1000 degrees Fahrenheit and then quickly cooled, making the aluminum even stronger and more durable. Each shell is then buffed and electro-chemically anodized to add color and prevent corrosion. After the shell is completed, it takes the skillful hand of a trained craftsman to make each case worthy of the Zero Halliburton name.”

“The heat-tempered aluminum shell has the strength of steel at only one-quarter the weight. Extra strength hinges withstand pulling of over 400 pounds. Innovative neoprene gasket keeps out dust and moisture, providing unrivaled protection.”

“Today, the same creative spirit that challenged the conventions of what business cases should look like-while raising the expected standards for their performance-has given rise to a new generation of inventive cases with unmatched performance. We are expanding the boundaries of personal business and travel products by once again incorporating the most advanced materials available and creating solutions to satisfy your most challenging needs. A perfect combination of sound design principles and innovation that could have only come from Zero Halliburton.”

“In 1946, independent of any relationship with Halliburton, a metal fabrication company called Zierold Company changed its name to Zero Corporation. In 1952, Mr. Halliburton sold his travel case division to the recently created metal fabrication company Zero Corporation, officially ending any Halliburton Company's involvement in the making of aluminum cases. The new division was renamed Zero Halliburton.”

“In January 2007, Zero Halliburton, a division of Zero manufacturing, was sold to Japan’s largest luggage company, Ace Company Ltd. Zero Halliburton remains an American Company.”

A Few More Interesting Facts –

“Zero Halliburton cases have been used to carry Apollo mission moon rocks, academy award Oscars and skates for US speed skating team.”

“Zero Halliburton products have appeared in many movies and televisions shows over the last decades such as ‘Independence day,’ ‘Lost,’ ‘Men in Black,’ ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ and ‘Mission Impossible.’”

On April 24, 1999, President Bill Clinton left NATO's 50th anniversary summit, being held at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C.. The carrier and the football were left behind. The aide walked the half-mile back to the White House alone. The integrity of the football and the state of the officer were intact. Similar incidents have occurred with Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush.

A specially modified Zero-Halliburton case was used to carry the special communications and nuclear attack codes by the president’s military aid Ira Gearhart on November 22, 1963.  

Around 1 PM on November 22, 1963, within a half hour of becoming president, one of the first things President Johnson does is call his tax attorney J. W. Bullion to ask about his Halliburton stock.

According to “A Money Tree Grows in Texas,” (1968, p. 100), a $1,000 investment in Halliburton in 1948 when the company was originally available to the public would be worth $19,700.00 in 1968.

The corporate headquarters for Halliburton was listed as 3211 Southland Center, Dallas, Texas, where the Dallas Sheraton was located, the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) had set up their base station, where Oswald applied for a job with Sam Ballan, and where “Maurice Bishop” had met Lee Harvey Oswald and Anthony Veciana in the lobby in the summer of 1963.It’s also the location of the attorneys for Robert and Marina Oswald.

On the board of directors of Halliburton were John B. Connally, who was wounded at Dealey Plaza, and G. R. and R.O. Brown of Brown Brothers, Brown & Root.

BK notes: As Linda Minor. points out, R.O. Brown was not one of the Browns of Brown  & Root, and Russ Baker notes that John Connally was not on the board at the time of the assassination. 

Nor is it a coincidence that on the day of the assassination, the code-books aboard the Cabinet Plane over the Pacific at the time of the assassination, and SAC bombers in the air, were missing. As John Judge has pointed out, who could possibly have access to such a secure – safe kept item as the code books in the Executive air fleet and SAC bombers? Not Lee Harvey Oswald.

In his book “Family of Secrets,” Russ Baker also reports that (p. 131-132), “Meanwhile, the Kennedy assassination had put into the White House Lyndon Baines Johnson, who had a long-standing but little-known relationship with the Bush family. This dates back at least to 1953, when Prescott Bush joined Johnson in the U.S. Senate…That same year, Poppy Bush started Zapata Petroleum with Hugh and William Liedtke, who as law students at the University of Texas several years earlier, had rented LBJ’s guesthouse. Later, Bush became close with LBJ’s chief financers, George and Herman Brown, the founders of the construction giant Brown and Root (which later became part of Halliburton).

On the day of the assassination George H. W. Bush was registered at and stayed at the Dallas Sheraton, where the WHCA base station in Dallas was located.

After helping establish the Continuity of Government (COG) plans in the 1980s and serving as Vice President under Bush, Dick Cheney left government and became head of Halliburton.

1 comment:

spearman said...

All of this football info still needs to be reconciled with Dan Ellsberg's comments in his latest book where he says that contrary to common knowledge that only the POTUS can order nuclear launches, the fact is the situation is much more dangerous . There are many generals that have the authority to launch nuclear weapons without the POTUS authorization.