We’ve already discussed Connally’s desertion of the Democratic Party. It was a history-changing event, turning Texas and much of the South into a Republican stronghold. When Connally left the Democrats a great deal of Texas oil money left with him. Why would the Hunts, the Murchison’s, leave a party they had controlled for so long and venture into Republican territory?
Historians point to an ideological shift; the liberalization of the Democrats under Johnson and Carter. However, the conclusion may be confusing cause and effect. It is possible that the departure of the Texas conservatives caused the Democrats to shift to the left ? They had to, after all, to attract a new breed of voters and supporters. So why would the Big Rich Texans depart? Perhaps because Connally forced them to. Perhaps because he had a weapon that could ensure their loyalty to him even in the extreme circumstance of party desertion.
The second strange event occurred with Gerald Ford. Ford was a member of the Warren Commission. He was known to have been unusually close to Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover and to have passed their influence on to the Commission. Some say he was in charge of that part of the investigation that involved the path of the bullet.
Ford’s career took off when he was selected to succeed the disgraced Spiro Agnew as Richard Nixon’s Vice President. It was a position that Nixon had tried to confer on Connally, to give him a springboard for a Presidential run in 1976, but the Republican establishment overruled him.
Ford’s selection was an important event in his career. He had little money and little political power, although he was well thought of. Suddenly he was one step removed from the Presidency. Then, in a remarkable turn of events, Nixon resigned and Ford became President. In the midst of an ongoing investigation into the Watergate scandal, Ford pardoned his predecessor. The pardon was widely considered a death warrant for Ford’s hopes to be elected President. People found it incredible. An act of great nobility. A sacrifice to keep peace in the nation. And the predictions proved true. Ford lost the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter.
What would cause Ford to throw his career away? Was he really that noble? Could he really have believed that stopping the investigation would result in peace between the warring political parties? One possibility is far more practical – his fear that a continuation of the Watergate investigation would disclose evidence regarding the Kennedy assassination and cover up. What would the evidence be?
Prior to Watergate few people knew about the White House tape recording system. Not until Nixon’s aide, Alexander Butterfield, disclosed their existence to Senate Committee staffer Donald Sanders in July 1973 were they made public. The disclosure led to a subpoena and the rest is history.
Of course, Nixon knew about the White House taping system. And he had access to the tapes of his predecessor Lyndon Johnson. Nixon was also a crony of the Texas oil crowd. He even visited the infamous Del Charro hotel in Del Mar as Murchison’s guest. He may have known of the conspiracy but dismissed it as politics as usual. Until his own career was in jeopardy. Then he would have searched Johnson’s tape recordings for evidence he could use to buy off the Senate committee.
Having failed in that endeavor (or found it too dangerous to attempt) he might have approached Ford to make a deal: the tapes for a pardon.
There is another possibility that involves Connally, who was Nixon’s most trusted advisor even after he resigned as Secretary of the Treasury. The possibility that Connally learned of the tapes, got possession of them and bribed Ford to pardon Nixon. If Connally came into possession of such explosive evidence it would explain his hold on his Texas friends.
Ripples in a pond. Tracks in the snow. Evidence that something has occurred to disrupt the natural order of things. A suspect’s behavior, an attempt to cover up. These are what criminal investigators look for. So what ripples, what tracks, what evidence did the FBI or the Warren Commission look for?
The FBI reached its conclusion that Oswald acted alone shortly after the assassination. They would not have had the time to search for suspicious behavior among the prime suspects. The Warren Commission focused not on subsequent behavior but on the path of a bullet and the past of the suspect Oswald. Yet there were a myriad of other potential suspects. How could the path of a bullet assist the investigators in looking for other suspects? The answer is obvious – the two had no connection unless the investigators assumed that the suspects committed the crime rather than hiring a hit man to do their work. What would be the basis for such an assumption?
Do powerful people, Presidents, Mafia bosses, foreign powers commit crimes or do they hire people for such things? Once again, the answer is obvious.
Years after the assassination the House Select Committee on Assassinations report (House Report 95-1828 United States House of Representatives, January 2, 1979), did investigate possible suspects. Americans were rightly suspicious of the Warren Commission’s procedures. The Commission performed a more orthodox investigation. Looking at possible suspects. It concluded that there was a “probable conspiracy” in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and recommended the Justice Department investigate further. As of the date of this blog, the Justice Department had done nothing. See the complete House Report at http://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/select-committee-report
Sometimes evidence appears years after the event. Witnesses come forward, bones are uncovered by construction, documents are unsealed. Or, with the benefit of hindsight, people put two and two in perspective and it comes up four.
The bones of the congressional investigation have yet to be uncovered. The files relating to the Committee’s investigation were to be locked away until the year 2029; but the conclusion created a public uproar that led Congress to enact the “JFK Act”. The JFK Act mandated that all postponed assassination records be opened to the public no later than the year 2017. Government offices can continue to postpone public release of material in assassination records after the year 2017 if “the President certifies” that (1) “continued postponement is made necessary by an identifiable harm to the military, defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations” and (2) “the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.” Without such certification, all postponed records or portions of records will be released in 2017.
The most critical witnesses to the assassination, the alleged shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, the person who killed the shooter, Jack Ruby and the passengers in the Kennedy car, are all dead. Most of the other key players, President Johnson, FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover, Warren Commission head Justice Earl Warren and other Commission members are all dead.
In 2011, 17 years after Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died, her secret diaries were released. They indicated that she believed Lyndon Johnson was behind her husband’s killing.
Jackie Kennedy Onassis believed that Lyndon B Johnson and a cabal of Texas tycoons were involved in the assassination of her husband John F Kennedy, ‘explosive’ recordings are set to reveal. The secret tapes will show that the former first lady felt that her husband’s successor was at the heart of the plot to murder him. She became convinced that the then vice president, along with businessmen in the South, had orchestrated the Dallas shooting, with gunman Lee Harvey Oswald – long claimed to have been a lone assassin – merely part of a much larger conspiracy. Texas-born Mr Johnson, who served as the state’s senator, completed Kennedy’s term and went on to be elected president in his own right. The tapes were recorded with leading historian Arthur Schlesinger Jnr within months of the assassination on November 22, 1963, and had been sealed in a vault at the Kennedy Library in Boston. http://www.theblogmocracy.com/2011/08/08/jackie-onassis-blames-lbj-for-jfks-shooting/.
Lee Harvey Oswald claimed he had been set up shortly before he was killed. For a video of the killing, check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xU7Lhd7Wwo
The FBI’s involvement with Osawld is discussed in the House Report pages 195-196. According to FBI Agent James Hosty, two days after the assassination, Dallas FBI Special Agent-in-Charge J. Gordon Shanklin ordered Hosty to destroy a note that Oswald had left with a receptionist at the Dallas FBI office about seven to ten days before the assassination. The note allegedly contained some sort of threat. In testimony before the Warren Commission, Shanklin denied ordering Hosty to destroy Oswald’s note, and denied having any knowledge of the note. The FBI acknowledged that Hosty’s and Shanklin’s accounts contradicted each other, but said that it would not investigate the matter further. Oswald’s killer, Jack Ruby, claimed someone had injected him with cancer.
The other two passengers in the car were John Connally and his wife, Nellie. Connally died in 1993. His wife, Nellie was the last surviving passenger. For Connally’s account of the assassination, check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q40kO48nrs&feature=related
That leaves the ripples. Other evidence, the behavior of possible suspects. What behavior might give away a powerful person’s involvement in the assassination.
Next week we’ll discuss.