LBJ Mastermind of the JFK Assassination by Philip Nelson (Skyhorse 2011)
I put off reading this book because of the title, since I knew LBJ was not the mastermind of the Dealey Plaza Operation mainly because he rejected the original cover-story that Fidel Castro was behind the conspiracy and redirected the inquiry to the equally false deranged lone nut scenario.
Compiling all of the facts and evidence that indicates a certain person was responsible – whether it is Lee Harvey Oswald, Fidel Castro, or LBJ is not the way to investigate a homicide – as whatever occurred must fit all the facts, not just a few. And Phil Nelson falls in line behind a number of others who have tried to pin the tail on LBJ – from Craig Zerbel’s The Texas Connection (1991), Roger Stone, Robert Morrow and others, and they’re all wrong.
At first I thought it might be a pretty good book, as Nelson does describe some of the key characters and major events in accurate detail and begins with a good premise:
“It is not the intent of this book to provide a comlete list of all the errors, anomaliesm, inconsistencies and impossibilities of the Warren Report, since that has already been done by other cited authors, but to build upon preexisting research and provide a succinct but comprehensive overview of the entire plot and its cover-up.”
But he also buys into pretty much every silly conspiracy theory that comes down the pike, and his focus – on LBJ, is misplaced. LBJ most certainly was not the Mastermind of the Dealey Plaza operation, though he was a key factor in diverting the Phase One Cover-Story – that Castro was behind the conspiracy, to the equally false Phase Two Cover-Story – that of the deranged lone nut.
The very fact that one of his first moves as President was to reject the idea that Castro Cuban Commies were behind the death of the president, a main element in the plan, is proof enough that he was not part of the planning, as he did not want to invade Cuba. Then he used the same allegation in order to convince Earl Warren and the others to serve on the Warren Commission – in order to avoid World War III. So they had to go with the derganged loner scenario to avoid killing everyone.
How he did that is a story unto itself: The Tipping Point Link - [https://jfkcountercoup.blogspot.com/2019/08/the-tipping-point-revived.html ]
Nelson pretty much establishes the fact that LBJ was a sociopath – who had no qualms about killing his adversatries, and how he wiggled his way into the VP spot, knowing that JFK would not fullfill his term of office, under any circumstances, but he fails to show how LBJ was the mastermind of anything, other than the cover-up.
I have a few LBJ stories myself. When I had an hour wait at the Trenton train station for an AMTRACK train, I went to Delorenzo’s taven, then across the street. I had a beer at the bar and a guy next to me ordered lunch – the LBJ Special. I asked the bartender about it, and he said it was a filet mingon steak and a poached egg, - what LBJ ordered when he was there on a whistlestop tour during the 1960 campaign.
Then there’s Clare Luce Booth’s story of sharing a limo ride with LBJ to the inaguration, when she asked him why he would leave the job of Speaker of the House to the less powerful job of Vice President. LBJ replied that one out of five presidents died in office, and he liked those odds, and could improve on them.
While Nelson fits LBJ into almost every aspect of the assassination, when it comes to the actual logistics he conceeds it was based out of the CIA’s JMWAVE station in Florida. “The logistics of the ‘crime of the century’ had been worked out by men who held some of the highest offices of the government and involved about a dozen; they also had access to an assortment of the best equipment to carry out their mission. But most did not known any more than they needed to know to perform their own part…and had no knowledge of the ultimate objective of their assignments. Many were veterans of ‘Operation Mongoose,’ and were not involved in ZR/RIFLE or ‘Operation 40,’ but this operation was only supposed to be a failed assassination attempt,....The only unifying object of their diversionary mission was the promise of being the catalyst for a new and eneergized retaliatory attack on Cuba to finally achief the permanent removal of Fidel Castro….The men coming into place in Dealey Plaza that morning were working on a covert operation that had been cloned from the earlier efforts to assassinate Castro and invade Cuba. The operationi was modified in the final days once the final nod was given by the commander of the operation.”
LBJ was not the commander of the operation. What occurred at Dealey Plaza was not the result of a plot, or just a conspiracy, it was a much more specific covert intelligence operation, one that included psychological warfare aspects, a cover-story and was much too complicated - in the word of Gene Wheaton – too convoluted, for LBJ to comprehend let alone concieve.
Nelson believes LBJ had advance knowledge of not only the assassination, but the time and place it would take place as shortly before his car entered Dealey Plaza, LBJ ducked down on the floor of the limo with a radio tuned to the Secret Service Charlie Channel, the tape of which has never surfaced.
Apparentlly LBJ had a penchant for thinking while sitting on the toilet. Aboard Air Force One on the return trip, shortly after being sworn in as president, a top military aide found LBJ sitting on a toilet, crying and asking if the missles were flying.
Then back at his home, the Elms, he went up to bathroom off his bedroom, sat on the toilt and had his top three aides join him as he enumerated on their next course of action.
One of which was to shut down the CIA’s Cuban operations, that he knew were behind the Dealey Plaza Operation. He did this officially at a meeting on December 2, 1963, before the year was out.
And then he told the Joint Chiefs of Staff that he would give them their war, but it wouldn’t be in Cuba, but Vietnam, and was very stern in dealing with them. As Nelson quotes Lt. Gen. Charles Cooper (USMC) describing a meeting between LBJ and the Joint Chiefs: “He screamed obscentities, he cursed them personally, he ridiculed them for coming to his office with their ‘military advice.’ Noting that it was he who was carrying the weight of the free world on his shoulders, he called hmem filthy names shitheads, dumb shits, pompous assholed and used ‘the F word’ as an adjective more freely than a Marine in boot camp would use it. He then accsued them of trying to pass the buck for World War III to him. It was unnerving, degrading.”
As for Oswald, Nelson and I agree with his former USMC bunkmate – now retired Judge James Bothello, who said of the post defection and assassination investigations of Oswald: “a cover investigation so that it could be said there had been an investigation…Oswald it was said, was the only Marine ever to defect from his country to another country, a Communist country, during peacetime. That was a major event. When the Marine Corps and American intelligence decided not to probe the reasons for the ‘defection,’ I know then what I know now: Oswald was on an assignment in Russia for American intelligence.”
State Department officer in Moscow, John McVickers agreed, and said that he believed Oswald’s actions were directed by someone else. If his defection was being directed, then the Walker incident was too, as were his FPFCC activities and shennagans in New Orleans and Mexico, as well as being set up as the Patsy and Fall Guy in the assassination.
Professor John Newman, who has studied Oswald’s defection in depth, believes that one person who could have been directing those actions was CIA Counter-Intelligence chief James Jesus Angleton, who Nelson also names as a key player in this chess game.
“The first associate Angleton would involve,” Nelson writes, “was (William) Harvey; everyone at Langley knew he hated both Kennedys with a passion, especially Bobby whom he felt was a bull-headed amateur and had no businessbeing in charge of clandestine activites. Harvey would then enlist others with whom he worked closely in Operation Mongoose, starting with David Phillips and others he knew to be born renegades and fellow haters of the Kennedys: men such as David Morales, Rip Robertson, and Carl Jenkins. It was Harvey who posted David Morales in Miami in 1961 as chief of covert operations for JMWAVE, with the objective of destabilizing Castro by whatever means they could. Morales was a cold-blooded killer who had been involved in all of the deepest black ops situations which called for someone’s elimination. Harvey had no problem recruting those men….The anti-Castro exiles, with whom Harvey and Morales had shared many other missions, were easy to recruit even though they had only the vaguest idea of their single comparment of the entire operation since they had only been told what they ‘needed to know.’”
Which is all Nelson’s speculation. As R. Buckminister Fuller has said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
And while I like Nelson’s hypothesis, he doesn’t build that model, though others are.
On a final note on LBJ, he was nominated for president at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, where RFK gave one of his most pasionate speeches in memory of his brother. Since LBJ believed his supporters would nominate RFK for president and he would railroad the convention, LBJ made sure RFK’s speech was at the end, after he was nominated. And because he thought his hotel room was bugged, LBJ stayed at the beachfront home of Caroll Rosenbloom, the owner of the Baltimore Colts who later died mysteriously.
And because the Beatles were scheduled to play the same Boardwalk convention hall the next weekend, LBJ’s daughters stayed behind to attend the show. And when the Beatles played Dallas and drove through Dealey Plaza, they ducked in their limo, just as LBJ had done.