Tag: JFK

Mcbridge

On occasion, I find myself coming back to the murder of President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963). His assassination remains one of the America’s darkest moments and officially, the crime is still an open case for the Dallas Police Department. Some may express surprise at that statement but it should be remembered that no one was ever convicted for Kennedy’s murder. A twenty-four year-old former Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald (1939-1963) was convicted in the court of public opinion as the assassin but was himself murdered before he could stand trial in a Dallas courtroom. Roughly forty-five minutes after Kennedy’s murder, Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit (1924-1963) was shot to death after stopping a pedestrian walking in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. Oswald was arrested at the Texas Theater and charged with Tippit’s murder. But due to his death at the hands of nightclub owner Jack Ruby (1911-1967), he was never officially tried and convicted of Tippit’s murder, which is still an open homicide case. The Warren Commission established that Oswald committed both murders before hiding in the Texas theater and for years many have accepted the “lone gunman” theory. But if we look closer, there are many things about both murders and Oswald himself that just do not add up. Author Joseph McBride has spent thirty years researching and writing this book that takes us into the nightmare that occurred on November 22, 196,3 in Dallas, Texas. And what he has to say might make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

The book opens with a recap of McBride’s childhood in Wisconsin during 1960 when Kennedy was ramping up his campaign for the presidency. McBride’s parents were both reporters and his mother was part of the local Democrat committee. Her position in the committee provided McBride to meet Kennedy on several occasions and during one of those occasions, McBride took a photo which is included in the book, of Kennedy in what could be described as an unguarded moment. On the day of Kennedy’s murder, McBride relates that information presented during news broadcasts raised his suspicions about the crime Those seeds of doubt grew into a life-long quest to find the truth about Kennedy’s murder. I should point out that McBride’s focus here is primarily on the murders of Oswald and Tippit. The book is not a broad discussion of the crimes such as Jim Marrs’ best-selling classic Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy, but a more streamlined approach to examine what former commission member David W. Belin (1928-1999) called the “Rosetta Stone” of the case.

Seasoned researchers into the Kennedy assassination will know that there has been a lack of focus on the life of J.D. Tippit. He has typically been portrayed as the simple yet heroic officer who tried to stop Lee Harvey Oswald and died in the line of duty. On the surface it fits the narrative of the good cop/bad suspect line that we are taught from a young age. However, if Tippit was attempting to arrest the man who allegedly had just shot the president, then why did he not have his gun drawn as he got out of his squad car? And how would he have known to stop Oswald when Dallas Police had yet to learn Oswald’s name according to the official timeline? There are seemingly endless mysteries surrounding both Tippit and Oswald regarding their alleged encounter. McBride journeyed down the rabbit hole and provides what I have found to be the most in-depth analysis of what may have taken place in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas on that fateful day.

I believe that by putting his focus on the Tippit murder, it allows readers to digest critical information without being overwhelmed by other events that took place in and around Dallas that day. Tippit’s murder undoubtedly is the Rosetta Stone of the case but not for the reasons that Belin believed as McBride makes clear. To be clear, McBride is not a conspiracy theorist. In fact, what I found is that he remains unbiased and does not shy away from presenting contradictory evidence when addressing a topic. I believe that makes the book even more fascinating. McBride presents an honest and thorough discussion of the Tippit murder. And at no point, did I feel he has moving too far in one direction but rather he moves through the book like a veteran detective with an eagle’s eye for clues. And frankly, the amount of information he provides about Tippit’s personal life is just staggering and has caused me to see the murder in a very different light. And although secrets remain about Tippit’s murder, the version presented in the Warren Commission’s report should be taken with a grain of salt. If you want to learn about the real J.D. Tippit, this is without question a book that you need to read.

Although Tippit’s murder is the nexus of the book, McBride does focus on other strange events that day after shots rang out in Dealey Plaza. The most telling are FBI reports from field agents in Dallas that reveal some very surprisingly decisions taken by Dallas officials. And the discussions between J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972) and former President Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) underscore the problems Dallas detectives faced in making their case. Further, a particularly deeply distburbing fact comes to light about the attitude of Dallas police towards Kennedy’s murder. I found myself staring in disbelief and what former detective Jim Leavelle (1920-2019) reveals about the effort to solve Kennedy’s murder. Before leaving Washington, Kennedy had been briefed on the right-wing climate of hate in Dallas and was advised not to travel there. But he insisted on doing so to show that the President of the United States cannot be afraid to travel within his own country. It was his fate to go to Dallas but the local police owed him far more of an effort than what is shown in the book.

The revelations of the numerous problems of proving Oswald’s guilt, provide the context for a discussion on the many problems with regards to the lone gunman theory. Capt. William Fritz of the Dallas Police Department was certainly aware of this and as McBride shows, most officials knew that making a case against Oswald would be a monumental task. Of particular interes are McBride’s notes of his discussion with former Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade (1914-2001). The statements by Wade in response to McBride’s questions are nothing short of mind-boggling and a sharp defense attorney would have made a name for himself picking apart the indictment against Oswald. However, that is only a small piece of the puzzle that McBride puts together to show the lack of evidence, planted evidence, hidden information and various other anomalies that make the lone gunman theory even more ludicrous.

There has always been confusion as to what Tippit was doing before he was killed. According to the Warren Commission report, there exist at least forty-five minutes between the shooting in Dealey Plaza and his murder in Oak Cliff. But much of what Tippit and Oswald were doing during that time remains shrouded in mystery. To piece the story together, McBride draws on several sources that include Tippit’s widow Marie, witnesses near Oak Cliff who spotted Tippit prior to his death, Dallas Police Department radio transmissions and witnesses to the murder, some of whom were never called to testify by the Warren Commission. As I read through the statements and series of events, I felt a chill run down my spine as I realized that there was a lot more to the events in Oak Cliff that we have been led to believe. Not only was Tippit out of his assigned area but his murder took place near the home of Jack Ruby who shot Oswald live on national television on November 24. Questions have persisted if Oswald, Tippit and Ruby knew each other. While I would stop short of saying that there is a smoking gun, what we do learn raises suspicion that many figures in Oak Cliff were more connected than the Warren Commission wanted to acknloweledge.

McBride’s analysis of the murders that day is spellbinding and anyone that has doubts about the official story should absolutely read this book. There are no outlandish theories or witness bashing. It is simply an honest and open discussion built on facts discovered by the author through meticulous and exhaustive research. I guarantee that after you have finished this book, you will find yourself looking at the murder of John F. Kennedy in a completely different light.

ASIN: B00EP6B0J0

JFK RFK

Haslam1On July 21, 1964, New Orleans police officers responded to a call about a mysterious fire in an apartment complex. When officers arrived and entered the apartment, they found the body of Dr. Mary Sherman (1913-1964), a noted orthopedic surgeon and cancer researcher.  The details surrouning her grisly demise are hair raising, chilling and also mystifying.  The murderer was never caught.  Edward T. Haslem is a New Orleans native whose father was a close acquaintance of Sherman.  In fact, his father was asked to identify her remains and the incident left him visibily shaken as Haslam captures the below passage:

“As a Navy doctor during World War II, my father had seen more than his share of burned and broken bodies. Someone (I don’t know who) had asked him to go to the morgue to look at Mary Sherman’s body to get a second opinion on her unusual death. He came home from the morgue that day, fixed himself a drink, sat down in his chair, and cried silently. I wondered what was wrong. My mother told me that a woman he knew from the office had died. It was only later that I learned it was Mary Sherman.”

Little did Haslam know at the time, but Sherman’s death would take him places he could have never imagined.  His curiousity soon gets the better of him and his search for the truth about her murder, led him down a path that revealed many dark secrets in the America during the 1950s and 1960s.  Some readers might be wondering why Sherman is important and how her death is related to the assassination of John F. Kennedy (1917-1963).  It is a complicated connection to be sure and certainly not direct.  The key to understanding the two requires an examination of the Cold War, right-wing movements in New Orleans, well-connected doctors and the threat of a deadly disease we have come to know as polio.

The field of virus research is one that stretches back several decades as doctors have sought to understand viral transmission from one species to another.  Books and articles had been written about the dangers of animal to human transmission previously and Congress began to take notice.  Further, the United States and Soviet Union were both determined to explore the issue of cancers induced by viruses.  The United States Government commissioned the Delta Regional Primate Center with Tulane University serving as the host institution.  The facilites were located near Covington, Louisiana on the waters of Lake Ponchartrain and few outside of its grounds knew of its existence and as Haslam shows, for every good reason.

If so far this sounds like something from a science fiction film, just wait because there is more to come.  Primates were found in many research centers across the United States and served in the testing of vaccines developed by doctors.. As polio raged, the race for a vaccine heated up and primates were fully immersed in studies and trials.  Eventually a vaccine was found but at first, things went horribly wrong and the horrors of viral cross-contamination became vividly real.  The primate viruses known as SV-40 and SIV take center stage and will cause many readers to stare in shock at Haslam’s revelations.  The current day situation regarding Covid-19 might even seem like a dark case of deja vu.

Haslam’s discussion of SV-40 and SIV are just the tip of the iceberg.  What really raises eyebrows are the strange facts about Sherman’s real work and the colleagues arround her.  Dr. Sherman had become a close family friend and one day while talking to his mother, Haslam learns many unsettling things about the laboratory at Tulane.  A dark and disturbing picture soon begins to emerge.  And by the end of the book, it includes characters such as David Ferrie (1918-1967), Dr. Alton Oschner (1896-1981) and even Lee Harvey Oswald (1939-1963).  The connection between all of them is quite interesting and sheds light on the political climate in New Orleans at the time.  And while many things are probably still hidden in classified documents, what is evident in Haslam’s book is that within the City of New Orleans, many strange individuals operated right under the nose of several United States intelligence agencies seemingly with the seal of approval.  The story is simply mind-boggling and although Sherman was not right-wing nor a conspirator in any sense, she was closely collaborating with those who were.  And we can only wonder as to what exactly she did discuss with David Ferrie and others who were knowledgable about the project they were working on.  Ferrie as many know, was not a doctor by any means, so why was he so closely aligned with a distinguished surgeon?  The author provides a theory about their working relationship and what he believes was the true purpose of their work.  It is highly plausible and considering the fallout from the initial polio vaccine, makes perfect sense.  Haslam’s theory regarding Sherman’s death also is highly plausible and the most likely explanation based on the reports and evidence that did survive.

Towards the end of the book as he is in search of the linear particle acclerator, things take a very interesting turn.  And yes, the acclerator did in fact exist and is not something out of the Twilight Zone.  Haslam’s search for it, results in an interesting discussion about Lee Harvey Oswald about whom he has his own suspicions.  There is no “smoking gun” about Kennedy’s murder, but Haslam did ask a good question as to who might have ordered that Oswald be allowed back in the United States after attempting to defect to the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.  It is a possible scenario that does make one wonder.

As he continues on Oswald, he also discusses the story Judith Vary Baker, who has stated publicly that she was Lee Harvey Oswald’s mistress in the summer of 1963.  She wrote about her time with him in the book Me & Lee: How I Came to Know, Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald. I have read the book and have no doubt that she knew and worked with Oswald.  Proof of their working relationship is documented and Haslam discusses the evidnece he found himself.  But because Oswald and the others in the book are deceased, I felt that some parts of her story will be difficult to verify.  Nonetheless, the book is good and leaves us with more questions than answers. The information that Baker provides does line up with what Hasam has found  and it is further proof of the unorthodox circle people brought together in a city run by the Mafia and right-wing extremists and intelligence operatives.

Admittedly, the book will be a tough sell to those who cannot fathom such a thing taking place in the United States. However, further research of those mentioned in the book, will reveal even more bizarre facts.  Ferrie and Clay Shaw (1913-1974) are proof of this.  Haslam is no conspiracy nut and simply gives us the facts.  He has his own theories which are perfectly justified based on the material he presents.  And while he convicts no one of anything, he has shown that there was far more than meets the eye in New Orleans before, during and after the death of John F. Kennedy.

ASIN: B00LZ5OTQ0

JFK

20200410_123739I decided to use the spare time at hand to reorganize my book case and other shelves upon which sit the other literature that I have come to love and appreciate.  While perusing the books, I found this book by former New Orleans District Attorney James “Jim” Garrison (1921-1992) who is remembered for bringing the only public trial in the murder of President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963). In 1992, Warner Brothers released Oliver Stone’s JFKwhich captured Garrison´s investigation on film. Kevin Costner took on the role of Garrison and delivered a compelling performance.  The film is great cinema but as one would expect, many liberties were taken by Stone and producers.  Reasons for the changes are beyond the scope of this review.  Stone´s film was based on a number of source including the late Jim Marrs’ (1943-2017) Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy which is regarded as one of the best books published on Kennedy’s death and Garrison’s memoir of his investigation.

If you have never watched JFK, I think it would best to read Garrison’s book and then watch the film.  I firmly believe it will have an even more powerful effect in spite of the liberties taken by the filmmmakers. However, with that being said, overall the film is true to the book but the real story is even more perplexing and disturbing.  Similar to the film, Garrison is at his desk with Assistant D.A. Frank Klein comes in to inform him about the Kennedy shooting.  The revelation that Oswald had spend the summer of 1963 in New Orleans caused Garrison to investigate any connections that the alleged gunman may have had in New Orleans.  The trail quickly leads to David Ferrie (1918-1967), a former priest and airline pilot who had become known in New Orleans for connections to a wide range of characters including organized crime figures. Within days, Ferrie is cleared by Garrison and life seems to go on until Garrison has an encounter with former Louisiana Senator Russell Long (1918-2003) who tells him “those fellows on the Warren Commission were dead wrong, there’s no way in the world that one man could have shot up Jack Kennedy that way.” Garrison soon obtains a copy of the Warren Commission Report and the full twenty-six volumes of exhibits and testimony.  And the rest as they say is history.

At the end of the book, Garrison reveals that some of the files he had locked away from the investigation were stolen and he was forced to go by memory when reconstructing some events.  It was no small feat for and must have been a painstakingly long process. Nonetheless, the book is an incredible recollection of events that changed American history.   What I found the most enjoyable in the book were the explanations of how leads were developed and relevant information was obtained.   Incredibly, Garrison operated with a small staff and they still had other cases to work on while keeping tabs of the Kennedy investigation.  Combined with a limited budget, the results from Garrison’s investigation are even more potent. Today we have the benefit of hindsight that allows us to see that Garrison was vindicated on many fronts but at the time, he could not have forseen just how deep a fully open and welcome investigation would have led.

Early in the investigation, most of his team’s work is done in private.  This veil of secrecy allowed the Garrison team to cultivate a staggering amount of information, not only on David Ferrie and Lee Harvey Oswald (1939-1963), but also on businessman Clay Shaw (1913-1974), who becomes the target of Garrison’s criminal investigation.  In the film, Shaw is played by Tommy Lee Jones who delivers a breathtaking performance alongside Joe Pesci, who stars as Ferrie. The information comes pouring in Garrison finds himself on the trail of the assassins. However, unknown to him, he had awakened the sleepign giant and the efforts by the FBI and Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”) may or may not surprise some readers.  For reasons unknown, their interference with Garrison’s investigation is kept to a minimum in the film.   Regardless, the real story is simply mind-blowing and also produces a number of disturbing questions. Further, as Garrison explains the book, Shaw’s arrest brought upon him a new wave of agression from Washington that at first made no logical sense.   But as the story moves forward, the government’s response begins to take on a new light.  And a statment in 1979 by former C.I.A. Director Richard Helms (1913-2002) probably would not have come about had it not been for Garrison’s case.

Similar to the film, Garrison does go into detail about aspects of the crime that never made sense, including the parade route, Oswald’s actions that day and the murder of J.D. Tippit (1924-1963).  Today, there are scores of books that address what Garrison found and have expounded on those facts significantly.  However, reading the words of the man who was the driving force behind the refutation of the Commission’s report, gives way to feelings of nostaglia and satisfaction.   And undoubtedly, I am sure there was far information that Garrison could not readily recall that would have given the book an even bigger impact.  However with his death and the theft of certain files, some facts may possibly be lost forever.  But Garrison provides enough material for a good discussion of why the case against Oswald would not have held up in a court of law.

Shaw’s trial eventually becomes the subject of discussion and happened far differently from what we see on film.  Hollywood theatrics certainly played their role but a more accurate picture is presented here by Garrison as to how things played out in the courtroom. In particular, the testimony of Vernon Bundy is intriguing but receives scant attention in the film.  Garrison discusses the importance of Bundy’s statements to underscore Shaw’s actions and connections to those suspected of being part of his intelligence network.  And although the case did not result in a conviction, I do believe Garrison was certainly on the right track.  And as we see many years later, at the time, the full scale of where he was headed was unknown.

In the wake of the Shaw trial, Garrison found himself the target of an investigation by federal authories as part of alleged pinball machine scheme which sounds like something out of a television show.  The case fell apart and Garrison breaks down each part of it, highlighting the absurdity of the case.  Some readers may express bewilderment at the charges brought against Garrison and the case presented by federal prosecutors.  And it is hard to refute Garrison’s belief that the charges were retaliation for what he revealed about the United States Government during Clay Shaw’s trial.

As the book closes, Garrison provides a short summary of his thoughts about the case, working in New Orleans and the impact it had on his life. While there is nothing groundbreaking in this section, it is a fitting way to end an important story.  And whether you believe in the lone gunman theory or not, what is clear is that Garrison’s investigation became a threat to many in high places and could have brought to light dark secrets that had remained hidden to date.  As I read through this section, I was struck by the comments he makes on Shaw’s death.  I had never given it second thought before but after reading what Garrison says, I might take another look at it.  And for readers interested in Clay Shaw’s life, I strongly recommend Donald Carpenter’s Man of a Million Fragments: The True Story of Clay Shaw.   Many of the figures in the book are now deceased and although more than fifty years have passed since Kennedy’s death, the story is as important and disturbing now as it was then.  One day the truth will be known and when it is, Garrison’s legacy just might take on a new dimension.

ISBN-10: 0446362778
ISBN-13: 978-0446362771

JFK

horne1One of the most important questions surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) has always been why was he murdered?  We do have the official explanation that Lee Harvey Oswald (1939-1963), a former Marine and attempted defector to the Soviet Union, murdered Kennedy due to his own deranged thoughts which no one has been able to accurately explain.  And although he was murdered before he could stand trial in a Texas courtroom, Oswald remains labeled as Kennedy’s assassin.  But to understand the murder of any politician, it is necessary to examine the political and social climate in existance at the time. There are many clues to why Kennedy was murdered if we are willing to look.  Douglas Horne served on the Assassination Records Review Board, the organization that was developed to examine the voluminous recorsds produced in response to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.  The act was created as a result of Oliver Stone’s groundbreaking film JFK, starring Kevin Costner as former New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (1921-1992). His unique position on the board, has allowed him to view documents that many had never seen before and some of what he found is covered here with regards to the internal battle between Kennedy and factions within his own administration.

To some readers it may sound unbelievable that a sitting United States President was at odds with his own cabinet but that is exactly what was taking place prior to Kennedy’s death.   But what were the roots of the tensions and widely differing views?  Horne clues us in as we re-examine the Bay of Pigs invasion, Cuban Missile Crisis, Laos and ultimately the Vietnam War.  Kennedy did not live to see the escalating U.S. involvement and had set into motions plans for a far different course of action.  A full discussion of his true plan for Vietnam is discussed by John Newman in his phenomenal book JFK & Vietnam: Deception, Intrigue, and the Struggle for Power, which I highly recommend to any reader interested in how the United States might have avoided war in Southeast Asia.   The book is spellbinding and will leave readers in shock.  But Newman’s work does not detract from the work of Horne, whose discussion of the very critical events during Kennedy’s administration present some very disturbing revelations.  Also, Horne references Newman’s work on occassion even including information unvailable to Newman at the time.

The first event that Horne addresses is the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in April, 1961.  Fidel Castro’s (1926-2016) removal and the installation of a government favorable to Washington had become of the utmost urgency during the transition of power from Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) to John F. Kennedy.  Before leaving office, Eisenhower had approved several covert plans and Horne explains Cuba quite pointedly:

On January 3, 1961, Eisenhower terminated diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, setting the stage for the paramilitary invasion. President-elect Kennedy had learned of the proposed invasion (by about 1400 Cuban exiles training in Guatemala) on November 17, 1960, after his election. Eisenhower left the invasion to his successor to implement.

The invasion was a failure and Kennedy soon came to distrust the intelligence community and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The seeds of division had been planted and grew exponentially over the next two years.  Cold-War warriors had mistakenly believed the young president could be bullied into taking action but they would soon learn that Kennedy had a whole different idea for United States foreign policy.

Horne’s narrative is chilling to the core and at some points in the book I had to take a step back and digest what I had just read.  In what could only be described as mind-boggling, the failed Cuban invasion did not deter the military from setting its sights on Southeast Asia, in particular Laos and later Vietnam.  Kennedy’s refusal to invade Laos is the earliest indication of how he viewed the “Domino Theory” and the futility of a ground war in Indochina.

Behind the scenes in Washington,  Kennedy was under enormous pressure to launch a first strike not only against Cuba but also against the Soviet Union on more than one occassion with China being collateral damage.  It was estimated that in a nuclear exchange, well over three hundred million Americans and hundreds of millions of people in Russia, China and Eastern Europe would have died within a matter of hours or even minutes.  Today, it seems unthinkable that those in power were actually considering intiating a nuclear confrontation but at the time, World War II was still fresh in the minds of Americans, in particular those who served in the war.  Horne focuses highly on one person in particular who very well could have started World War III.  Gen. Curtis E. LeMay (1906-1990) was chosen by Kennedy himself in the wake of his first summit with former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971).   The summary Horne provides about LeMay sets the tone of the book going forward and at that point, it will be clear to readers that tensions are about to increase. But who was LeMay?  Horne explains:

By the time President Kennedy attended the public swearing-in of General Curtis LeMay as the new Air Force Chief of Staff on June 30, 1961, LeMay was already a revered American icon to many. He had courageously led large elements of the 8th Air Force in Europe during World War II, and had personally designed, and commanded, the horrific firebombing campaign against Japan’s cities that had virtually razed that nation to the ground during 1945 (and in this role, his bombers had dropped the first two strategic nuclear weapons ever used in combat on Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

It is clear from the start that Kennedy had aligned himself with someone who saw combat as the only means to an end.  And by the end of the book, the dysfunctional and bitter relationship between the two helps to explain the forces Kennedy was contending with unbeknownst to the American people. LeMay is just one of multiple figures in the book, whose actions and statements are nothing short of scary.  A post-apocalyptic future akin to the film The Book of Eli, could have very well happened had some individuals been successful in their efforts to goad Kennedy into nuclear conflict.  And if you have any doubts that this could have happened, considered this quote by Horne:

LeMay’s concept of nuclear war was total: he believed in what he called the “Sunday punch,” or throwing everything you had at the enemy at the very beginning of hostilities — an attack from all directions, with the majority of your own weapons — that would go on without stop, for several days. His concept of nuclear war was orgiastic, and Wagnerian.

When it became clear that Kennedy would not approve an invasion of Cuba nor attack the Soviet Union, the topic of Vietnam takes center stage, becoming the hotbed issue that researchers believe was the last straw, resulting in the “green light” to remove Kennedy from office.  Horne’s essays are informative and should be read by those who study the Vietnam War, those who served and anyone in search of the truth about Dallas.  It is a case study of when U.S. foreign policy does disastrously wrong.  And for the young president, Vietnam became a moment of extreme clarity and proof that he could no longer trust his own administration.

The book is filled with dozens of important events, National Security Action Memos and transcripts of critical meetings.  One committee meeting in particular stands out not for what was said in the meeting but what was captured by the secret recording system after Kennedy had departed the room.  The discussion by the military generals who remained in the room is provided here showing that none supported Kennedy and wanted nothing short of a show of force.  Nearly all of the former officials are deceased but their names will remain ingrained in American history.  Kennedy had enormous foresight but had his hands full with powerful and intimdating figures including J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972), Allen Dulles (1893-1969) and Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer (1899-1988), the former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff whom Kennedy replaced with Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor (1901-1987).  The military industrial complex, described by Presiden Eisenhower in his farewell address was alive and well, forcing Kennedy to make decisions that bucked the establishment and resulted in him being engulfed in a hornet’s nest of enemies.  It is simply an American tragedy and the fictional book Seven Days in May, provided a blueprint for regime change which many never thought could be possible in the United States.

Research into Kennedy’s murder continues to reveal information that has been carefully hidden to elude investigators and curious citizens who intend on learning the truth about the events in Dallas on November 22, 1963.  Some will always believe that Lee Harvey Oswald did in fact pull the trigger.  But others who have long ago learned to see past the shots in Dealey Plaza, will find this book by Horne to be eye-opening and hair-raising.  And as author John Newman has made clear in his own works on the assassination, a storm was definitely brewing before Kennedy’s murder.

ASIN: B00NHVBIF0

JFK

Hornberger2 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.

ASIN: B07ZKXLXZZ

JFK

Hornberger1The unexpected increase in free time at my disposal has provided me with ample opporunity to increase the amount of reading material at my disposal. I decided to take another look at the murder of President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), whose death remains one of most puzzling crimes in American history.  The official narrative is that on November 22, 1963, lone gunman and former Marine Lee Harvey Oswald (1939-1963) fired three shots at Kennedy’s motorcade from the Texas School Book Depository, fatally wounding Kennedy and severly wounding Texas Governor John Connally (1917-1993).   The case seemed open and shut with Oswald forever being labeled as the lone nut or lone gunman.  On the surface, the case seems simple but there were many strange things that took place that day after Kennedy died that are not only mind boggling but also deeply disturbing. One of them is the handling of his body and the autopsy that was conducted at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Jacob Hornberger is the president of the Future of Freedom Foundation , an organization whose goal is the “aim of establishing an educational foundation that would advance an uncompromising case for libertarianism in the context of both foreign and domestic policy“.  His mission in finding the truth has led him on the trail taken by other researchers into Kennedy’s death.  His focus here is on the autopsy itself and many bizarre and troubling anomolies that have surfaced over the past several decades.  Some readers might wonder how the autopsy could be a source of controversy but there is ample evidence that there was a flurry of unusual activity as the president’s body arrived in Maryland. And what Hornberger discusses here may blow the minds of many.

I strongly recommend anyone interested in the full story of JFK’s autopsy to read David Lifton’s Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy , a chilling examination of the handling of Kennedy’s body following the assassination.  However, there is much that can be learned here which is based partly on Lifton’s work.  The book reads like a long essay and in fact, Hornberger describes his writings as exactly that.  The format makes the narrative flow smoothly without becoming drawn out or extremely repetitive.  And although the author repeatedly drives home his point, at no point does the book feel like a rehash of what we have already learned.  It is a dark and sinister tale which few are willing to discuss, mainly out of fear that they will be labeled as a “conspiracy theorist”.  However, if one does not believe the offiical story about Kennedy’s death and believes that more parties were involved, then by definition he/she would be considered a conspiracy theorist. But I digress.  Hornberger backs up all of his claims with solid evidence, based on interviews of the personnel on staff that day at Bethesda and the timelime set by the Warren Commission itself.

Kennedy’s autopsy was performed by Lt. Col. Pierre Finck, Dr. James Hughes and Dr. J.  Thorton Boswell (1922-2010).  All three were noted military physicians but inexperienced with gunshot victims.  However, they were given the task of what was then the most important autopsy in American history.  The official story is that the autopsy began roughly around 8:00 p.m. on November 22.  However, several individuals would later give statements to investigators and the Assassination Records Review Board that opened a can of worms and threw the whole story into uncertainty.  Snippets of their statements are included here and what they have to say may cause the hair on your neck to stand up.  Further, we are tempted to ask the question, when exactly did Kennedy’s body arrive at Bethesda?  And how many autopsies were performed that night?  Further, what are we to make of the report filed by FBI Agents James Sibert and Francis O’ Neill, who both reaffirmed the words in their report thirty years after the assassination?

The autopsy is one of the most overlooked parts of Kennedy’s murder.  Oswald, the rifle and the murder of Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit (1924-1963) have taken center stage in the assassination story but events outside of Dallas that day often remain secluded in the shadows.   Diligent research has brought them to light for those who wish to see.  Undoubtedly there is more to the story than many of us could ever imagine.  The doctors who performed the autopsy stated under oath that higher ups in the military command gave orders that night as well as other individuals who remain unidentified. A military controlled autopsy on a civilian is almost unheard of. Yet on that day, Kennedy’s body was illegally removed from Parkland Hospital under circumstances which are nothing short of troubling and a tightly controlled forensic examination occurred. Further, those who did attend and assist were sworn to secrety by military brass.  The story is simply unbelievable but actually happened as described and is well-documented.

The murder of John F. Kennedy continues to intrigue researchers intent on learning the truth about Dallas that day.  They may one day find out what actually did happen in its entirety.  And through books such as this, the real truth will continue to emerge.  Some may write off Hornberger as another conspiracy nut but I caution them that the book is not simply a rant by a deranged nut.  There are many dark details here which should be paid close attention to if we are to learn the truth about Kennedy’s murder.

ASIN: B00NHVT820

JFK

Newman JFK Vietnam March 29, 2019, marked the forty-six anniversary of the departure of the last remaining United States troops in South Vietnam.  Two years after their departure,on April 30, 1975, Siagon fell to North Vietnamese forces as Hanoi tightened its grip around the country.  By the time the war ended, fifty-eight thousand American soldiers had lost their lives in Vietnam.  North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong losses were estimated to be well over one million.  Civilian deaths were even higher in number but despite the large numbers of casualties, North Vietnam refused to surrender and was determined to achieve reunification.  The withdrawal of American troops was a sobering reality and cold hard truth:  the American effort in Southeast Asia had not succeeded.   To this day, there are many people who still wonder how and why the United States became entangled in Vietnam.   The defeat of French forces at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 should have served as a reminder that military might is not always a guarantee of success.  In January, 1960, President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) took office and from the beginning of his administration until his death, the issue of Vietnam continued to fester like an open sore. Kennedy died before he could implement any further plans regarding Vietnam and took many secrets with him to his grave.  But declassified documents and political memoirs shed much light on what was really happening in his administration as it grappled to combat the growing Viet Cong menace.

Author John M. Newman is currently in the middle of a multi-volume set regarding Kennedy’s murder. I have reviewed three of them so far and eagerly await the publication of the next volume.  The books are incredible and the amount of information Newman provides is nothing short of staggering.  But as we see here, he a long time player in the game and in 1992, this masterpiece was released.  If you have seen the film ‘JFK’ by Oliver Stone, you will recall the scene where Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) meets the character who calls himself “X” (Donald Sutherland).   What many viewers may not know is that Newman helped Stone create those scenes.  His research served as the basis for the dialogue between the two as X enlightens Garrison to many dark secrets surrounding Kennedy’s plans on Vietnam.  The scenes are moving but do not come close to telling the entire story.  This book however, does that and more and should be on the bookshelf of any reader who has an interest in the Vietnam War and in particular, its origins.

Newman takes us back to 1961 as the Kennedy Administration is recovering in the wake of the Bay of Pigs debacle.  The seeds of distrust had been sown and when the Joint Chiefs of Staff began to press him on Laos, Kennedy was wise to the game.  But the generals had a backup plan and if Kennedy would not go into Laos, then Vietnam was next on the list.  However, the generals had a tough road ahead and knew that the young president would not give in easily to their demands.  As a result a pattern of deception developed and before long Kennedy and his own administration were at odds over American foreign policy in Saigon.   The depth of that deception will surely surprise many and still has me shaking my head in disbelief.   I had been aware of many facts in the book but Newman brings even more to light.

The book is exhaustively researched and the information contained within it will cause shock and anger.  But what I liked the most about the book is while Newman makes the case for what Kennedy was thinking about Vietnam at the time of his death, he is also frank about where Kennedy made mistakes that helped contribute to an already precarious situation.  In all fairness to Kennedy, he never had the opportunity to defend himself regarding his decisions on Vietnam.  But the paper trial he left behind, shows definitive actions he took and intended to take as he grappled with South Vietnam and a cabinet that had split down the middle.

The key to understanding how the deception started is to understand how intelligence was being gathered in Southeast Asia.  Newman breaks down the various divisions in military command and the role of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  Kennedy’s advisors are also on the hook and the actions of several of them add even more shock value to an already incredibly eye-opening account.  The realization that members of  his administration were deeply divided and at odds with each other, hovers like a dark cloud over the story as the crisis in South Vietnam unfolds.  All of the members of his administration are now deceased and we can only wonder as to why they committed some of the actions that they did.

No book about Vietnam would be complete without a discussion of Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu.  Both played a critical role in the development of the war and Newman provides a thorough explanation as to why the brothers were important to American success in Vietnam and where they went terribly wrong. The coup that resulted in their deaths, changed the course of history and gave the war a new face.  A few weeks after their assassinations, Kennedy himself was assassinated.  And although there is no proven link between the two events, actions of several figures in high positions in the time period between the two murders are quite suspicious and will surely cause readers to take notice.

As I read through the book, I paid particular attention to the National Security Action Memos (NSAMs) signed by Kennedy regarding his policy on Vietnam.  They speak volumes and should paint a clearer picture of the forces he was up against.   National Security Actions Memos 55, 56, 57 and 111 are pivotal for they directly addressed many of the pressing issues Kennedy was facing at home and abroad.  The author discusses each so that the reader can easily understand the many nefarious elements that had been influencing foreign policy in some of the most scrupulous of ways.  I

Seasoned readers might be wondering where Lyndon Johnson (1908-1973) fits into the story.  His role is covered here and the suspicious actions on his part are paid close attention to.  The war escalated greatly under his administration but we can only wonder how much Johnson knew and Kennedy did not.  Newman does not discuss any Kennedy assassination theories or give any attention to any suggestions of LBJ being complicit in the crime.  But what he does show is that the vice president certainly had an agenda of his own and it would be shown after the events in Dallas.  National Security Action Memo 263 is one of the book’s most critical moments and readers should pay extremely close attention to this part of the story that highlights the stark differences between the late and sitting presidents and their views on the raging conflict in South Vietnam.

A common question I have heard from Vietnam veterans and others who lived through the war is why were Americans being sent 13,000 miles away from home to fight a war against a country many of them had never heard of?   It is a critical question and I believe that Newman has many of the answers they seek.  By no means is the book a complete account of the war. In fact, I believe a better overall account of the entire conflict would the best-selling ” The Pentagon Papers: The Secret History of the Vietnam War“.   The authors there discussed Kennedy’s administration but concluded that they could not say for sure what Kennedy would have done regarding Vietnam due to his assassination in Dallas.  Newman takes it further and I believe that he clears up much of the mystery surrounding Kennedy’s record on Southeast Asia.

Many years have passed since the Vietnam War ended but for millions of veterans, the wounds and dark memories remain.  Some were sent to Vietnam not yet twenty years of age to a foreign country in which death was prevalent.  They watched their friends die in gruesome manners and were exposed to the horrors of war in a conflict that did not seem to have an endgame.  North Vietnam and the Viet Cong showed Washington that it would not be an “easy” war.  Hanoi was determined to succeed in unifying the country and no amount of United States pressure or troops would change that mission.  In the end, Hanoi did succeed and America was left to wonder what went wrong.   As we move forward as a nation, let us not forget the tragedy of Vietnam which serves as an example of the dangers of misguided and intentionally deceitful foreign policy that changes nations and history.  Newman absolutely nailed the subject in this incredible book that will surely satisfy anyone who decides to open it up.

ASIN: B01N7YNXQ6

Vietnam War

Newman Vol 3In Countdown to Darkness: The Assassination of President Kennedy Volume II , author John M. Newman warned us that a storm was brewing.  President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) and his brother Robert F. Kennedy (19125-1963) had come to realize that not all who smile come as friends.  But what they could not have foreseen, was the depth of resentment towards them from the military, Cuban exiles and the intelligence community.  In the second volume, we learned about the demise of Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961), the relationship between the Kennedys and mobster Sam Giancana (1908-1975), Oswald’s alleged “defection” and the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion in April, 1961.  Newman resumes the story and takes us deeper behind the scenes in the Kennedy Administration which found itself in damage control to prevent rupturing at the seams.

The present volume revisits the Cuban situation and also focuses on the doomed Operation Mongoose.  The covert operation has gained traction in research circles as an example of the doomed efforts to remove Fidel Castro, but as we see here, there was far more to the story.  For several decades, the rumor of Robert Kennedy giving a green light to assassinate Fidel Castro has persisted.  The myth was pioneered by former CIA operative Samuel Halpern (d. 2005), who was not fond of either Kennedy brother.  Newman investigates that myth and finally separates fact from fiction.  And the story that emerges is one of deception, exemplified by the actions of many such as Bill Harvey (1915-1976), Richard Bissell (1909-1994) and Gen. Edward Lansdale (1908-1987).  Halpern’s tale is so convoluted that it even caught the attention of journalist Seymour Hersh who examined the Kennedy family in his book  ‘The Dark Side of Camelot‘, which does no favors to the Kennedy name. I do not know if Hersh has read this book but when or if he does, I am sure the facts revealed by Newman may cause him to revise his work.

If you have read Gaeton Fonzi’s The Last Investigation, then you are already familiar with one of the most peculiar characters in the JFK assassination story, Antonio Veciana.  As leader of the anti-Castro group Alpha-66, he was responsible for daring acts against the Castro regime.  The acts were so worrisome that Kennedy eventually ordered the military to have them cease and desist.  But just who was Veciana and did he really meet a contact named Maurice Bishop?  It is believed that Bishop was a cover name for David Atlee Phillips (1922-1986), a legendary CIA officer and founder of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.   The story of Veciana and Bishop can be quite confusing and for years Veciana played mind games with investigators.  Fonzi died before Veciana would make several changes to his story but Newman catches them all here and reveals the truth about Veciana’s recruitment into CIA activities and his alleged meeting with Bishop. To say it is puzzling would be an understatement.

Oswald’s “defection” to the Soviet Union is one of the most bizarre parts of his story.  While he never actually defected, his actions did catch the attention of the Russian KGB and the CIA.   Americans attempting to defect to Russia at the height of the Cold War was beyond comprehension and Oswald would have known this as a former Marine.  But the question remains, if Oswald really wanted to defect, then why didn’t he?  James Angleton (1917-1987) was the CIA Counterintelligence Chief from 1954-1975.  Undoubtedly, Oswald would have been of high interest to Angleton, whose hunt for Soviet moles within the CIA destroyed lives and damaged careers.  Until his final days in the CIA, he was convinced that there was a Soviet mole in the agency.  During his tenure, Soviet defectors did approach American officers.  One of them was Yuri Nosenko, whose story is another critical part of the Kennedy labyrinth.   However, Nosenko was a strange character and a career spy.  But was he a real defector?  Newman re-examines Nosenko’s story to show us what was really taking place in the spy war between the CIA and KGB.

An often misunderstood part of Kennedy’s election to office is the role of the Civil Rights Movement.  American politicians have known for decades that the Black American vote is crucial to winning a major election.   Kennedy faced an enormous hurdle in gaining the black vote primarily because he was Catholic and a Democrat.   The story of how he obtained the Black vote and why is critical to understand what he represented to millions of Americans.  His “New Frontier” program was advanced in many ways but sadly it never came into reality due to his death.  Newman wants us to understand how Kennedy was propelled to office and why the story is relevant to his death in 1963.  In 1960, Kennedy beat Richard Nixon (1913-1994) by an extremely slim margin.  Prior to the election, a series of events took place that changed the course of history.  They would involve both Robert and John Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968).

The efforts to secure Kennedy’s claim to the White House by Sam Giancana is well-known to researchers and those with a keen ear for mafia tales.  But the relationship between the Kennedy family and Giancana was quite unusual in itself and had the public known of the connection, I can only imagine what the fallout would have been.  Giancana was a walking tomb of dark secrets and he is mentioned briefly in this volume again, along with Johnny Roselli (1905-1976) whose efforts to topple Castro are part of CIA-Mafia lore.

As Kennedy takes office, he soon finds that the battles in Washington are just beginning.  After the disastrous Bay of Pigs fiasco, he knew better than to trust the word of the CIA and Pentagon.  But what they did not know was that Kennedy had been changed by the Bay of Pigs and was determined to make sure the CIA and Pentagon never got away with such a ruse again.  This part of the book is where things get deeper and take a much darker turn.  Laos and Vietnam loom over Kennedy like a dark cloud and he soon finds himself on the defensive as military brass are demanding intervention in Southeast Asia.   Cuba is never far off the radar and once again it becomes a hot topic.  It became so hot that the Pentagon concocted plans that repulsed Kennedy and widened the gap between the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  If you have heard the name Operation Northwoods, then you have an idea of where the story is going.  The stage is slowly being set with tensions rising.  The Pentagon and CIA are hungry for a war but can they proceed with a President who is becoming increasingly distrustful of his own advisors?  As the book concludes, it becomes clear that the Kennedys are on a collision course with the military and intelligence community and the climax will be far more serious that Americans could have imagined.

Volume IV is still in the works but when it is released, I am sure that Newman will continue with this eye-opening assessment of one of America’s darkest moments.  Highly recommended.

ASIN: B07NJRY8WJ

JFK

darknessI recently reviewed Volume I in this exceptional review of the murder of President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963).  Author John M. Newman returns in Volume II to the incredible story of the events leading up to Kennedy’s time in office and his untimely demise.  Here we change gears and take a deeper look at the alleged defection of Lee Harvey Oswald (1939-1963) to the Soviet Union,  the mob ties of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. (1888-1969), the role of Italian-American mobster Sam Giancana (1908-1975) and the foreign policy decisions in Cuba, the Congo and Southeast Asia.

The story of Lee Harvey Oswald is an open and shut case if you believe the government’s official story.   What we do know is that he did in fact travel to the Soviet Union and attempted to renounce his U.S. Citizenship.  But what is often left out of the discussion is did he actually renounce it?   To some the question might seem strange but if we take a closer look along with the author, we see that many of Oswald’s actions in Russia did not make sense. In fact, things were so confusing that his mother Marguerite Oswald (1907-1981) wrote to the State Department to verify if her son had given up his U.S. Citizenship.  If you eyebrows are now raised, you are on the right track and what follows in this book will change your perception of Oswald’s possible intentions in the Soviet Union.   Admittedly, Oswald is still a mysterious figure.  The amount of information known about him still pales slightly to the unknown information surrounding his career in the military and his actions in Dallas leading up to Kennedy’s murder.   The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has generally been quite vague about what it knew about Oswald’s attempted defection and his return to the United States.  The opening of the infmamous 201 file on Oswald has always been a topic of discussion in assassination researcher circles and for good reason. Newman explores the issue in detail and clears up some of the mysteries that have lingered for years.  But what may really rattle readers is his hypothesis as to why Oswald traveled to the Soviet Union in the first place.  Newman does not declare that his belief is what happened but his suggestion has plenty of traction and if it is ever proven to be correct, it would completely change what we knew about Lee Harvey Oswald.

As John F. Kennedy settled into office in January, 1961, his administration faced its first crisis as news of the murder of Patrice Lumuba (1925-1961) spread across the globe.  Kennedy publicly had believed in a free Africa policy and Lumumba’s murder dealt a heavy blow for his vision of Africa’s future.  Today we have the benefit of hindsight to look back on Lumumba’s death.  And what we can see is a story that is much darker than most could have ever imagined.  I should point out that there is no direct relationship between Lumumba’s death and Kennedy’s murder.  But what is revealed is the role of the CIA which was also discussed in Volume I.  The agency as it is known informally, became a foreign policy division of its own and by the time Kennedy took office, no one in Washington dared to challenge it.  In fact, the agency was so powerful, that several presidents were unaware of what the agency’s true mission actually was.  Author David Talbot discusses the agency in detail in his phenomenal book “The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government”, which is a thoroughly researched account of the rise of the CIA under its controversial director Allen Dulles (1893-1969).  Newman puts Dulles and the agency back in the spotlight, revealing a sinister web of deceit determined to engineer Lumumba’s downfall.  The story is critical to understanding what would follow from the agency in Cuba and eventually Southeast Asia.

Cuba once again comes into focus as Fidel Castro breaks ties with Washington and officials are left seeting with disdain towards the beared revolutionary.  This part of the book is perhaps the most chilling as it provides an inside look into the battle being waged behind the scenes to coach Kennedy into an all out war with Cuba.  Truths, half-truths and outright lies served to cause confusion and errant decisions that resulted in the distrastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in April, 1961.  The mission was a total failure and publicly, Kennedy excepted blame.  But behind the scenes, a war was looming between the White House, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and America’s intelligence community.   The stakes had been raised and Kennedy came to realize that the CIA was now an obstacle that had to be removed.  But what he did not know at the time was that the agency plays for keeps and waits patiently for the right moment to execute.

To say that these books are mesmerizing would be an understatement.  This is the history we are never taught in school.   The information revealed in these books should serve as the basis for history lessons given about the events during the Cold War and the CIA’s rise to power.  The author concludes the book with a snippet from the story of former CIA agent David Atlee Phillips (1922-1988), whose words  are an indication of what is come in Volume III of the series titled Into the Storm: The Assassination of President Kennedy.  A storm was definitely brewing and by the time it ended, America was never be the same again.

ASIN: B01N16W6E4

JFK

1The lone gunman theory remains the official position taken the United States Government with regards to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963).  The alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald (1939-1963) was convicted in the court of public opinion before standing trial in a Dallas courtroom. His assailant, Jack Ruby (1911-1967) permanently silenced Oswald forever and prevented Americans from knowing more about the former Marine that had once lived in the Soviet Union.   The big question surrounding Kennedy’s death is who did it?  The crime is similar to a black hole, puzzling even the most hardened researchers.  The late Jim Marrs (1943-2017) once said that we know who killed Kennedy, we just have to look at the evidence.  Author John M. Newman has joined the group of assassination researchers and has produced this first volume in what will be a multi-volume set about the deadly events in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.

In this first volume, Newman sets the tone for what will soon follow. In comparison to other books about the murder, this volume is not focused on Kennedy’s death.  In fact, the murder is only mentioned a handful of times.  The story that is presented here is of the revolution in Cuba, Fidel Castro (1926-2016) and Washington’s fears of  Soviet expansion.  As Fulgencio Batista (1971-1973) struggled to maintain control of Cuba,  the CIA was closely watching the events taking place in the streets of Havana.  Students, revolutionary groups and activists formed a nexus of opposition to Batista’s corrupt regime.  At first it might seem counterproductive to write about the Cuban Revolution if the book is about Kennedy’s murder.  But what is important to keep in mind is that Newman is slowly setting the stage for what would eventually happen in Dallas.   It is generally accepted by researchers that Kennedy’s death was by no means the actions of just one person.  In fact, the list of those who opposed the young president was long and for a good explanation of how many forces were conspiring against Kennedy, I strongly recommend Col. John Hughes Wilson’s JFK: An American Coup D’etat: The Truth Behind the Kennedy Assassination, which provides a clear picture of the looming threat to the occupant in the White House.

I strongly believe that to understand Kennedy’s murder, it is necessary to understand exactly what was happening in Cuba and how it played out during Kennedy’s presidency.   Newman’s focus is not on the mission in the jungles of Cuba by bearded revolutionaries.   His goal here is to uncover the actions of the CIA and finally reveal the characters involved and what purpose they played as Castro took power and led Cuba down the communist path.   Acronyms and code names become the norm but if we pay close attention, we come to realize that many of the figures are discussed in other books. However, there are two who stand out here and deserve special mention.  Newman goes into the complicated and mysterious stories of Catherine Taeffe and June Cobb (1927-2015).  The latter has been written about before and her story is still puzzling to this day.   Thousands of pages of records have been released giving us a better picture Cobb’s association with the CIA and Newman ties all of if together here providing a thorough back story as to who she really was.  Taeffe is yet another figure who has eluded scrutiny in many books but it is here that her importance to Washington becomes clear.  And by the time Newman is finished, the reader will surely realize that there was far more taking place in Washington with regards to Cuba than most Americans could have ever imagined.  To be even more frank, things in Cuba had heated up and it is truly a miracle that an all out invasion of the island never materialized.

There are many names in the book and it is easy to get distracted as the author moves through the story.  I do think that a quick primer on the crime will help readers make it through the subject matter.  As a rule, I always recommend Jim Marrs ‘Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy‘, which still remains one of the best-selling books on Kennedy’s death.  With that being said, Newman does an excellent job of focusing on one aspect of the matter and exploring it into exhaustive detail.   I am now on to the second volume and his multi-volume approach will undoubtedly change the way Kennedy’s assassination is viewed through the eyes of even the most ardent researchers.   What I also found to be exceptionally valuable is that Newman does not put forth conspiracy theories, his conclusions are based solely on the evidence that was released.  And it is that approach that makes the book an even more exciting read.

I admit that the Kennedy murder is usually not at the top of the list of books to buy for a majority of readers.  But the crime still remains one of America’s darkest moments.   Perhaps one day we will finally know what really happened that day but until then, we can only reveal the truth layer by layer.  If the author is consistent, the volumes that follow will be nothing short of exceptional.  Good read.

ASIN: B00X3VZED6

 

JFK