I recently reviewed Jacob Hornberger’s The Kennedy Autopsy, in which author Jacob Hornberger discusses the anamolies surrounding the forsenic examination conducted on President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) at Bethesda Naval Hospital following his assassination on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. In this second part of the series, he examines the role of former President Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) in Kennedy’s murder. To be fair, no “smoking gun” has ever surfaced linking Johnson directly to the crime. However, researchers have long believed that Johnson knew in advance of what was to come in Dealey Plaza and had used the powers of the presidency to conduct a sham investigation that resulted in the much disputed Warren Commission report. Admittedly the evidence is compelling and Johnson has his own trail of indiscretions unrelated to the events in Dallas. In fact, Johnson was complicit in so many things, that his former attorney Barr McClellan felt compelled to write about in his book Blood, Money & Power: How L.B.J. Killed J.F.K. The legacy of Johnson is certainly a topic for another discussion but what Hornberger has to say here just might cause you take another look at the champion of the “Great Society”.
The crux of the book is formed by a series of events that took place within the short span of less than two and a half hours. As a dying Kennedy was rushed to Parkland Hospital, Johnson was also rushed to the facility and remained there until learning of Kennedy’s death at 1:00 p.m. Upon learning of the president’s death and that he was now the new president, he then proceeded to Love Field where Air Force One and Two were sitting idle. However, instead of immediately returning to Washington, he stay in place at love field until Kennedy’s body, which was forcibly removed from Parkland Hospital by fully armed Secret Service personnel, arrived at the air strip. Only then did both aircrafts depart for Maryland and Washington, D.C. Kennedy’s body was transported to Bethesday Naval Medical Center where an even more bizarre series of events took place. However, that is well covered in the first book by Hornberger regarding the topic at hand.
The premise of Hornberger’s argument is this: if Johnson was so afraid that Kennedy’s murder was a Soviet plot to attack America and that his own life could be in danger, then why did he wait at Love Field instead of immediately departing Texas for safer territory? The argument put forth by Hornberger is without question disturbing, but the position taken by the author is thought provoking. And to be honest, no sound explanation for Johnson’s actions has ever been put forth. In fact, his behavior the entire time was more than bizarre and did not reflect the mindset of someone concerned about a large scale attack on the United States.
Some readers may feel that there is no way on earth Johnson could have been complicit in any part of the crime. Unless the person knew him personally, that is purely speculation. But what is clear is that his statements following Kennedy’s death conflicted with his actions that day. In all fairness, the author does not claim that Johnson masterminded Kennedy’s murder anywhere in the book. But he does believe that Johnson knew of the murder in advance, played an enormous role in the cover-up and that there does exist a very real deep state or military industrial complex as described by former President Dwight Eishenhower (1890-1969).
As a bonus, the author also discussed Johnson’s decision to withdraw from the 1968 presidential election. One narrative that has remained in place is that the entry of Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968) into the race is what ultimately caused Johnson to step out of the race. Another is that the rise of Hubert Humphrey (1911-1978) was proof that the Democratic party was ready for a new direction. Well both may not be entirely accurate and Hornberger has a strong argument for his belief that Kennedy’s murder is the real reason he did not seek reelection. On the surface, it seems far fetched but the author presents a very compelling case that have valid points. And although the Vietnam War had damaged his presidency and civil unrest at home was a pressing issue, Johnson still remained a popular figure. His true reason for stepping down most likely went with him to the grave and we may never know completely. But there is a strong chance that what we have long believed about his decision may be completely wrong. The case is presented here for you to be the judge.
The Kennedy assassination is a riddle with many layers, some of which have been peeled back for us to see the complexity within. Unraveling the entire crime is still a monumental task that requires a focused approached one step at a time. Hornberger has taken that approach in this highly interesting look into the actions of Lyndon Johnson after the infamous volley of gunfire in Dealey Plaza.