Conspirators don’t always achieve their intended goals. John Wilkes Booth thought his assassination of Lincoln would inspire the South to continue its resistance. Instead, the killing of Lincoln incensed the North and unleashed a backlash against the South.
If the goal of the Kennedy conspiracy was to strengthen Big Oil’s control of the world economy and to preserve the tax and political benefits it had obtained from Congress and previous administrations the tactic was successful. The oil depletion allowance was retained in its original form until the Carter administration. It remains in a reduced form even today. Some oil companies (who do not operate refineries) still receive the depletion allowance (they can deduct about 15% of the money generated from a well from their taxes – saving the industry a billion a year). The depletion allowance has been modified in other ways as well. For instance, there is currently a “taxable income limit” for the annual deduction for depletion – 100% of taxable income from the property figured without the deduction or 65% of income from all sources, figured without the deduction. The special treatment still remains, however.
In place of the depletion allowance, the oil industry got an even bigger deduction – the “intangible drilling cost” deduction. Drillers can deduct intangible drilling costs for things like wages, fuel, repairs and hauling costs. Unlike other industries who must write off the costs over the life of their investment, drillers get to take the credit in the first year. They also got the “oil recovery credit” which pays them for operating marginal wells.
The Johnson administration was also successful in generating a new source of profits for the industry – the war in Vietnam. The war not only generated additional need for oil, it opened Vietnam’s oil fields to American companies like Standard Oil.
The war brought other consequences, though. Especially to Lyndon Johnson. Vietnam destroyed what would have been a great legacy for the President. America forgot the War on Poverty, the Civil Rights Act. They remembered “Hey, Hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today.” Johnson’s presidency was bittersweet.
In the oil patch, other forces were at work – forces that Big Oil could not forsee or control. The rise of the Environmental Protection Agency, formed in 1970 by the Nixon Administration, ushered in a new era of environmental consciousness. Suddenly drillers were held to account for the environmental consequences of their actions. Air pollution controls hampered refineries; wildlife refuges blocked pipelines, water quality concerns raised the expense of drilling. The blocking of the Keystone Pipeline by the Obama Administration is the latest battlefield between Big Oil and the environmentalists.
The growth of mass media made the public more aware of the consequences of drilling. The Exxon Valdez tanker spill in 1989 curtailed offshore drilling in the Prince William Sound and caused paranoia for all oceanfront communities. Just when the fears began to die the Exxon Mobil Louisiana Oil Spill reminded the world of the dangers of offshore drilling. Oil companies are widely perceived as villains in today’s world, despite massive amounts spent on publicity campaigns to try to convince the public to the contrary.
But other dangers to the industry emerged from a completely different part of the world – the formation of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) in the 1960’s, coupled with the new controls imposed on the oil industry in America, resulted in the replacement of Texas as the dominant force in the world oil markets. OPEC first flexed its muscles in 1973, using the “oil weapon” during the Yom Kippur War, implementing an oil embargo that lasted until 1974 and causing the 1973 oil crisis. Although the embargo triggered a new “boom” in the Texas oil industry (the need to find “American oil” the boom was eventually followed by an inevitable bust. More of that later.
I have already discussed BCCI and Mr. Abedi and their relationship to Texas Oil. Another relationship may give clues to the scope of the plot to kill Kennedy. Kennedy’s diplomatic relationship with the Arab world was never clear. Kennedy had made it clear to Israel that he did not support Israel’s attempt to get nuclear weapons. Kennedy’s relationship with Israel was so adversarial that some have accused the Mossad – Israel’s intelligence agency, of being behind his assassination. http://www.john-f-kennedy.net/mossadandthe assassination.htm
There is another angle to this story, however – the misimpression in the Arab world that Kennedy was anti-Israeli and thus pro-Arab. Arab nations also wanted nuclear weapons. One Arab leader in particular, Abdul Qasim (also “Kassam”) the Iraqi dictator, may have taken Kennedy’s Isreali position as an indication of pro-Arab sympathies. Beginning in 1960 Qasim took a number of actions that may have been based upon this misimpression. He demanded that the United States provide Iraq with nuclear arms.
Failing to get a sympathetic reaction from Washington, a disappointed Qasim turned to the Communists for help. His growing Communist sympathies, coupled with his attempt to nationalize the Iraqi oil industry, caused Kennedy to back a CIA plot to overthrow him. The plot succeeded – Qasim was overthrown by a Ba’athist coup in February, 1963 and was shot soon after. The coup produced unintended consequences, however. It triggered a bitter struggle between the Ba’athists (Saddam Hussein’s party) and the Kurds, leading to chaos along Iraq’s borders with its neighbors, especially Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis, with a substantial Shi’ite minority, were particularly upset.
Many things happen in the Arab world that are unknown to the West; however, we do know that the Saudis eventually became involved in BCCI – the international money-laundering operation. We also know that King Saud, who ruled Saudi Arabia during the Kennedy administration, was deposed in favor of King Faisal in 1964. The coup was a year after the death of Qasim in February, 1963 and the death of President Kennedy in November of the same year.
King Faisal’s links with Texas are deep and lasting. The King Faisal Foundation is an affiliate of the University of Texas at Austin. Methodist International, the global subsidiary of The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas works with the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Saudi Arabia. The Hunts (Bunker) and a group of well-connected Saudis (introduced to him by John Connally) worked together to form a silver syndicate. And the Texas oil aristocracy and the Saudi royal family had much in common – love of fine horses, conservative politics and – most of all – oil.
Over the years the Saudis have been rumored to be involved in many illegal activities – from the Hunt’s attempt to corner the silver market to the events of September 11 (Osama Bin Laden was a member of the extended Saudi royal family). The Saudis, however, remain beyond the reach of American justice and the power of subpoenas.
What role the Saudis might have played in the Kennedy Assassination will never be known. Their ability to covertly move large amounts of money around the world is unquestioned. Their alliance with Texas and Texas oil is a matter of public record.
If there was a conspiracy involving “big oil” was Johnson part of it? The answer may well be that he was not one of the perpetrators but that he was an incidental beneficiary and that he participated in the cover up.
In Robert Caro’s new book, Passage of Power, which covers Johnson’s career from 1060-1965, Caro details the hatred between Johnson and Bobbie Kennedy and charts Johnson’s probable career path had Kennedy survived. Johnson was reluctantly put on the Kennedy 1960 ticket to win the South, especially Texas. By 1963 Johnson’s ability to provide the same benefits in 1964 was gone. Johnson was no longer in the Senate, no longer able to win friends. He had been sidelined and humiliated by the Kennedy associates, who called him “Rufus Cornpone”. He was so out of power that when Kennedy planned his 1963 Texas trip he called John Connally, the Governor of Texas and met with Connally without even telling Johnson. Johnson had to find out about the meeting later from Connally (one reason Connally may not have been forewarned of the assassination). Johnson’s alienation may be one of the reasons he was not included in the conspiracy – he had nothing to contribute.
However, Johnson had far more serious problems. In 1963 investigators were closing in on Johnson’s shady financial dealings – bribes, kickbacks and scams that had made him an extremely wealthy man. In fact, at the very hour Kennedy was killed there was a Congressional investigation going on regarding Johnson’s finances. So the assassination caused a huge turnaround in his situation. It stopped the investigation and created a groundswell of support for Johnson as the new President. Johnson followed his asctnt to power with passage of critical civil rights and tax legislation that Kennedy had been unable to get through congress for years. He built up an enormous amount of good will – subsequently lost over Viet Nam but sufficient to protect him from the affects of his own crimes.
Apart from the incidental benefits Johnson received, there is no other evidence that Johnson was involved. His private, taped conversations with FBI head J. Edgar Hoover immediately following the assassination gave no hint that he knew anything. (see previous blogs). On the other hand, it is clear that shortly after the assassination he took several actions that covered up significant facts that would tend to incriminate his Texas cronies. The choice of the members of the Warren Commission, the direction the Commission took, the failure to investigate critical connections between the killing and the oilmen are all possible evidence of an attempt to cover up..
Caro discusses the conspiracy theory very briefly in his latest book. He says he found “no evidence” of a conspiracy, but does not go so far as to clear Johnson’s name.
Money – a necessary ingredient to any plot. Big oil had plenty of money, but how could they use it to accomplish their ends without getting caught.?
One answer could be the Middle East. The largest known criminal banking enterprise in the world,Bank of Credit and Commerce International (“BCCI”) was started by a muslim, Agha Hasan Abedi. Abedi was one of millions of muslims who fled India for Pakistan in 1947. Abedi concealed a huge international criminal enterprise under the guise of philanthropy. He started his banking career in 1959, founding a Pakistani bank that later (with help from Bank of America) became BCCI. BCCI was a complex group of interwoven companies designed to evade legal restrictions on the movement of capital and goods. The “bank” grew into a means to facilitate illegal activity by the officials of many of the governments whose laws BCCI was braking. The bank was registered in Luxembourg but it had offices in London and Pakistan. Eventually, the bank was capitalized by the sheik of Abu Dabi (United Arab Emirates) and Bank of America. Allegedly the bank’s affairs were controlled in part by the head of Saudi intelligence to enable it to fund covert activities. Among the dictators it allegedly funded were Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, the Medillin Cartel and Abu Nidal.
The bank was an expert at moving funds covertly. It eventually moved money for the CIA and Oliver North, transferring the money and weapons for the Iran Contra scandal. The CIA and BCCI also worked together to arm and finance he Afghan mujahideen during the Afgan war with the Soviet Union in the 1970’s.
Before Mr. Abedi’s Pakistani bank became BCCI, however, it operated in Pakistan. And during the same time – the mid-1950’s, the Hunts also began doing business in Pakistan., drilling for oil.
It is unlikely that in the 1950’s any American businessman could operate in Pakistan without at least running into Abedi. What the two men might have discussed, the attachment that might have formed, is unknown. But if Texans wanted to move money around the world covertly in 1962-63 they had the connections to make it happen.