JFK Murder Part 14
Sat Jan 27, 2007 18:07

support the single bullet theory.

The Republican Party surprisingly nominated the extreme conservative, Barry Goldwater, in the 1964 presidential election. During the election campaign Goldwater called for an escalation of the war against North Vietnam. In comparison to Goldwater, Lyndon B. Johnson was seen as the 'peace' candidate. People feared that Goldwater would send troops to fight in Vietnam. Johnson, on the other hand, argued that he was not willing: "to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves."

In the 1964 presidential election. Lyndon B. Johnson, who had been a popular leader during his year in office, easily defeated Barry Goldwater by 42,328,350 votes to 26,640,178. Johnson gained 61 per cent of the popular vote, giving him the largest majority ever achieved by an American president.

Another consequence of the election was that the House of Representatives had the largest Democratic majority since 1936. Gerald Ford was elected as minority leader by the slim margin of 73 to 67. During the Tet Offensive Ford called on Johnson to "Americanise the war". At that time, the US already had 500,000 troops fighting in the country. Johnson later described Ford as "so dumb he can't fart and chew gum at the same time."

By 1968, the popularity of the Democratic Party was in decline. Lyndon B. Johnson decided not to stand and was replaced by Hubert Humphrey as the party's presidential candidate. With progressive forces in the country unhappy with Humphrey's support of the Vietnam War, and with George Wallace collecting over 9 million votes in the South, it was no surprise when Richard Nixon won the election. Nixon received 31,770,237 votes against 31,270,533 for Humphrey.

Ford worked closely with Nixon's new administration. Alexander Butterfield later claimed that Nixon always had the minority leader totally under his thumb. He added: "He was a tool of the Nixon administration, like a puppy dog. They used him when they had to - wind him up and he'd go."

In 1970 two of Nixon's conservative nominees to the Supreme Court (Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell) failed their Senate confirmation hearings. Ford joined forces with Richard Nixon and Attorney General John N. Mitchell in an effort to get liberal justice, William O. Douglas, to resign. Stories were spread that Douglas was in the pay of the Parvin Foundation. In April 1970 Ford moved to impeach Douglas, the first major modern era attempt to impeach a member of the Supreme Court. Ford gained very little support for his actions and the hearings were brought to a close and no public vote on the matter was taken.

In 1973, Nixon's vice-president, Spiro Agnew was investigated for extortion, bribery and income-tax violations while governor of Maryland. On 10th October, 1973 resigned as vice-president. Nixon attempted to appoint John Connally as Agnew's replacement. However, Nixon was warned that his appointment would not be confirmed by Congress. Nixon therefore selected Ford instead.

Gerald Ford became president when Richard Nixon was also forced to resign over the Watergate Scandal in August, 1974. Ford therefore became the first man in history to become the president of the United States without having been elected as either president or vice president. Ford nominated Nelson Rockefeller as his vice president. During his confirmation hearings it was revealed that over the years he had made large gifts of money to government officials such as Henry Kissinger.

On 8th September, 1974, Ford controversially granted Richard Nixon a full pardon "for all offences against the United States" that might have been committed while in office. The pardon brought an end all criminal prosecutions that Nixon might have had to face concerning the Watergate Scandal.

On October 17, 1974, Ford vetoed the bill that would significantly strengthen the Freedom Of Information Act, calling it “unconstitutional and unworkable.” However, in November the House of Representatives and the Senate overrode President Ford’s veto.

In December, 1974, Seymour Hersh of the New York Times, published a series of articles claiming that the Central Intelligence Agency had been guilty of illegal activities. In his memoirs, Ford said that he feared a congressional investigation would result in "unnecessary disclosures" that could "cripple" the CIA. He and his aides quickly decided that he needed to prevent an independent congressional investigation. He therefore appointed Nelson Rockefeller to head his own investigation into these allegations.

Other members of the Rockefeller Commission included C. Douglas Dillon, Ronald Reagan, John T. Connor, Edgar F. Shannon, Lyman L. Lemmitzer, and Erwin N. Griswold. Executive Director of the task-force was David W. Belin, the former counsel to the Warren Commission and leading supporter of the magic bullet theory. In 1973 Berlin had published his book, November 22, 1963: You are the Jury, in which he defended the Warren Report as an historic, "unshakeable" document.

In her book, Challenging the Secret Government: The Post-Watergate Investigations of the CIA and FBI, Kathryn S. Olmsted, wrote: "His choice for chairman, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, had served as a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, which monitored the CIA. Members Erwin Griswold, Lane Kirkland, Douglas Dillon, and Ronald Reagan had all been privy to CIA secrets in the past or noted for their strong support of governmental secrecy."

The journalist, Joseph Kraft, argued that he feared that the Rockefeller report would not end "the terrible doubts which continue to eat away at the nation." This was reflected in public opinion polls taken at the time. Only 33% had confidence in the Rockefeller Commission and 43% believed that the commission would turn into "another cover-up".

At a meeting with some senior figures at the New York Times, including Arthur O. Sulzberger and A. M. Rosenthal, President Gerald Ford let slip the information that the CIA had been involved in conspiracies to assassinate political leaders. He immediately told them that this information was off the record. This story was leaked to the journalist Daniel Schorr who reported the story on CBS News. As Schorr argued in his autobiography, Staying Tuned: " President Ford moved swiftly to head off a searching congressional investigation by extending the term of the Rockefeller commission and adding the assassination issue to its agenda."

Rockefeller's report was published in 1975. It included information on some CIA abuses. As David Corn pointed out in Blond Ghost: "the President's panel revealed that the CIA had tested LSD on unsuspecting subjects, spied on American dissidents, physically abused a defector, burgled and bugged without court orders, intercepted mail illegally, and engaged in plainly unlawful conduct". The report also produced details about MKULTRA, a CIA mind control project.

Rockefeller also included an 18-page section on the assassination of John F. Kennedy (Allegations Concerning the Assassination of John F. Kennedy). A large part of the report was taken up with examining the cases of E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis. This was as a result of both men being involved in the Watergate Scandal. The report argued that a search of agency records showed that Sturgis had never been a CIA agent, informant or operative. The commission also accepted the word of both men that they were not in Dallas on the day of the assassination.

The Rockefeller Commission also looked at the possibility that John F. Kennedy had been fired at by more than one gunman. After a brief summary of the Warren Commission (1964) and the Ramsay Clark Panel (1968) investigations, Rockefeller concluded: "On the basis of the investigation conducted by its staff, the Commission believes that there is no evidence to support the claim that President Kennedy was struck by a bullet fired from either the grassy knoll or any other position to his front, right front or right side, and that the motions of the President's head and body, following the shot that struck him in the head, are fully consistent with that shot having come from a point to his rear, above him and slightly to his right."

Nelson Rockefeller also looked at the possible connections between E. Howard Hunt, Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby and the CIA. He claimed that there was no "credible evidence" that Oswald or Ruby were CIA agents or informants. Nor did Hunt ever have contact with Oswald. The report argues: "Hunt's employment record with the CIA indicated that he had no duties involving contacts with Cuban exile elements or organizations inside or outside the United States after the early months of 1961... Hunt and Sturgis categorically denied that they had ever met or known Oswald or Ruby. They further denied that they ever had any connections whatever with either Oswald or Ruby."

This section of the report reached the following conclusions: "Numerous allegations have been made that the CIA participated in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Commission staff investigated these allegations. On the basis of the staff's investigation, the Commission concluded there was no credible evidence of any CIA involvement."

The report was condemned as a cover-up. Dr. Cyril H. Wecht accused the Rockefeller Commission of "deliberately distorting and suppressing" part of his testimony as to the nature of Kennedy's head and neck wounds. Wecht demanded that a full transcript of his testimony be released. Rockefeller refused on the grounds that the commission proceedings were confidential.

Dissatisfaction with the report resulted in other investigations into the CIA taking place. This included those led by Frank Church, Richard Schweiker, Louis Stokes, Lucien Nedzi and Otis Pike.

Ford's ability to govern was handicapped by the way he had obtained power and the fact that he had to deal with a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party. On over fifty occasions Congress vetoed his proposed legislation. Ford also struggled with rampant inflation and the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression.

At the Republican National Convention in August, 1976, Ford defeated Ronald Reagan and won the party's nomination. His presidential campaign did not go well. In one of his televised debates with Jimmy Carter he stated "there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe". Ford, was also handicapped by his association with Richard Nixon and the Watergate Scandal, and was defeated by Carter by 40,276,040 to votes to 38,532,360.

After his defeat in 1976 Gerald Ford retired to his home in Palm Springs, California. In 1980, Ronald Reagan gave serious consideration to Ford as a potential vice-presidential running mate. Negotiations between the Reagan and Ford camps took place at the Republican National Convention in Detroit. According to an article by Richard V. Allen (New York Times Magazine, July 30, 2000). Ford conditioned his acceptance on Reagan's agreement to an unprecedented "co-presidency", giving Ford the power to control key executive branch appointments (such as Henry Kissinger as Secretary of State and Alan Greenspan as Treasury Secretary). After rejecting these terms, Reagan offered the vice-presidential nomination to George H. W. Bush.

In January 2006, Ford was treated for pneumonia. In August of that year it was reported that he had been fitted with a pacemaker. Gerald Ford died on 26th December, 2006.

(1) William C. Sullivan, The Bureau: My Thirty Years in Hoover's FBI (1979)

Hoover was delighted when Gerald Ford was named to the Warren Commission. The director wrote in one of his internal memos that the bureau could expect Ford to "look after FBI interests," and he did, keeping us fully advised of what was going on behind closed doors. He was our man, our informant, on the Warren Commission.

Ford's relationship with Hoover went back to Ford's first congressional campaign in Michigan. Our agents out in the field kept a watchful eye on local congressional races and advised Hoover whether the winners were friends or enemies. Hoover had a complete file developed on each incoming congressman. He knew their family backgrounds, where they had gone to school, whether or not they played football, and any other tidbits he could weave into a subsequent conversation.

Gerald Ford was a friend of Hoover's, and he first proved it when he made a speech not long after he came to Congress recommending a pay raise for J. Edgar Hoover, the great director of the FBI. He proved it again when he tried to impeach Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, a Hoover enemy.

(2) Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing: Confessions of a Capitol Hill Operator (1978)

Edward Bennett Williams said, "Bobby, you can never figure what a jury will do. It's a roll of the dice. Think about it. Bill Bittman's tough. Bobby Kennedy put him on the Jimmy Hoffa case because he's like a bulldog, and he put Hoffa in Jail. There's a lot of press hysteria connected with your case and the political implications are grave."
I thought about it while Williams silently drove the car and then said, "Ed, absolutely under no circumstances do you have authority to tell Bittman I'll plead guilty to one damn thing. If I do, the press will play it that I got my wrists slapped, that I copped out, that a fix was in. The assumption of total guilt will be with me the rest of my life."

"Well," he said, "it will be with you if a jury finds you guilty, too."

"Maybe they can kill me," I said, "but they can't eat me. I'll go to trial."

"I concur with your decision," Williams said. "I didn't want to influence you, because if something goes wrong then you're the guy who will have to pay the piper."

I knew that William O. Bittman was a tough nut. He had hard, cold eyes and by his own admission was humorless. A bulky former line-backer for Marquette University, lie wore his hair in a crewcut and reminded me of a man the nation Would later get to know - H. R. Halderman of the Nixon staff. I knew from his wiretapping, electronic buggings, and the pressure he'd applied to potential witnesses that Bittman would play hardball all the way (I learned that when the FBI bugged Fred Black's Sheraton-Carlton Suite for six months, one of the periodic visitors there was a congressman named Jerry Ford. He was friendly with Black, but I don't know what he used the suite for). Yet, I could not bear the thought of being labeled as a guy who'd stolen from his best friend. I wanted to get my relationship with Senator Kerr on the record and was willing to run risks in order to do that. Edward Bennett Williams had been preparing my case for almost two years; I had confidence in his ability to get my story across.

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