To Orwell Today,

President Kennedy is assassinated... Lyndon Johnson goes to the hospital. He's not rushed away to a secret location in case of a conspiracy. Then he travels to Air Force One, where he waits to be swore in as President.

This activity convinces me that the federal government knew ahead of time that Kennedy was going to be assassinated and therefore had no reason to rush Lyndon Johnson to a safe place. And why would he demand that Jackie Kennedy be present at his swearing in? To me that was downright dis-respectful. And if the president of these United States can be assassinated in broad daylight, surrounded by no protection whatsoever, then his body can be tampered with at any time and any place. End of story.

-Rick Henson

Greetings Rick,

I agree with you that some agents of the federal government knew ahead of time that JFK was going to be assassinated, and I also have some suspicions about Lyndon Johnson's prior knowledge.

I never knew much about LBJ (except that he hated Bobby Kennedy and Bobby hated him) until reading the Robert Caro LBJ-biography THE MEANS OF ASCENT and then also THE PATH TO POWER (and partially plowed through MASTER OF THE SENATE) which - although written from a perspective not disliking of Johnson - reveal incredible information of his devious behaviour. See also the movie LBJ'S PATH TO WAR.

I was amazed to learn how politically ambitious and corrupt LBJ really was - thus, for example, his nickname LANDSLIDE LYNDON for rigging ballot boxes in a 1948 Senate election - and his renowned reputation as a liar. Also, it seems that LBJ was in the pocket of the Brown & Root war-profiteer construction/contractor company (now a subsidiary of Halliburton) that to this day is making billions on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Africa - just as it did on the Vietnam war which LBJ signed the USA into just days after becoming President.

I now believe (based on those and other books) that LBJ suspected what was 'coming down' that day in Dallas (although he probably had nothing to do with the planning or implementation of the actual assassination which was arranged by far bigger entitites than him).

I first came to this opinion after it was pointed out somewhere (I can't remember where I read it) that LBJ's body language, in the second car behind JFK as they turned on to Elm Street (which coincidently is the name of the house LBJ chose as his Vice-Presidential residence, "The Elms", in Washington, DC), is a clue that he knew JFK was going to be hit. The photo below (spread over two pages) shows JFK's and LBJ's cars. It's from Robert Groden's coffee-table book THE PHOTOGRAPHIC RECORD OF THE KILLING OF A PRESIDENT (although it's not the source for the LBJ-looking-nervous theory I go on to explain):

LBJ/JFK cars LBJ Car

The left photo above shows JFK's Lincoln convertible (GG 300) at the moment when JFK has been first hit - you can see his hands going up to his throat and Jackie's white glove reaching out to hold his arm (emphasized in enlargement in bottom corner). See also THE JFK UMBRELLA MAN and PHOTOS PROVE OSWALD INNOCENT.

The right photo above shows LBJ in the convertible two cars behind, sitting between his wife Lady Bird and Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough. LBJ is wearing a dark cowboy hat* (just the brim is visible below the top of windscreen).

Notice how relaxed everyone else in the photo is - Lady Bird and Yarborough are smiling and looking toward the waving friendly crowd. But look at LBJ - he's sitting stiff as a board and staring straight ahead like he's steeling himself for something he knows is coming. War vets recognize this look as "the thousand yard stare" worn by soldiers expecting to be hit any moment by enemy fire. Timothy McVeigh wore that look on his face the first time he was seen on worldwide TV - in orange jumpsuit with hands and feet shackled - that time he was being transferred from county to state jail over accusations he'd done the Oklahoma City bombing. He was terrified he was going to be shot like Lee Harvey Oswald had been under similar media-frenzy conditions.

Now granted, LBJ wasn't himself in any danger of being a target that day in Dealey Plaza. But if he knew that JFK - just a few yards ahead of him - was a target, it would have probably been impossible to act naturally - as evidenced in the photo above.

In "1984" Orwell called it "facecrime" wherein: "a single flicker of the eyes could give you away. It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself - anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide....Your worst enemy was your own nervous system. Any moment the tension inside you was liable to translate itself into some visible symptom."

All the best,
Jackie Jura

PS - See also LBJ AIR FORCE 2 TO 1 ("...Glancing at the bronze box, Mrs. Kennedy began to think of Abraham Lincoln. The buoyant, youthful sophisticated John F. Kennedy became fused in the shadow of death with the wary, cavernous man who had sealed the fractures in the union with the blood of its best boys. He, too, had had his Johnson; he, too, had died on a Friday; he, too, had been sitting with his wife; he, too, had been shot in the back of the head; in death he, too, had turned over the affairs of the nation to a man who was earthy, a vindictive Southerner who was politically alienated from his area.")



WWII pilot flew Air Force Two (...While in Washington, John Kistler took command of Air Force Two, the plane used by Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. Kistler admits he was glad to end his time aboard the vice president's plane. "To tell you the truth, I really didn't appreciate him," Kistler said of Johnson. "He did too many things that were against the law. I couldn't stand it."...)

Where's Box 13?. Dallas Morning News, Mar 12, 2008
Lyndon Johnson earned the nickname "Landslide Lyndon" after his 87-vote triumph in the 1948 Democratic Senate primary against Coke Stevenson....Johnson was trailing six days after the election, and seemed certain to lose, when a protégé of George Parr, the "Duke of Duval" and political boss of the heavily Hispanic counties in southern Texas, "discovered" 200 allegedly uncounted ballots in Box 13, Alice, Texas. These 200 "voters" cast their ballots 198 to 2 for Johnson, putting him over the top. The election, of course, was stolen: the added 200 names were written in a different colored ink, and Stevenson's attorneys tracked down the final name on the original voter list, who affirmed that he had voted just as the polls were closing....The thing ended up in court and LBJ's lawyers -- including Abe Fortas, who would become a Supreme Court justice -- outgunned Stevenson...

Top Iraq contractor skirts US taxes offshore. Boston Globe, Mar 6, 2008
CAYMAN ISLANDS - Kellogg Brown & Root, the nation's top Iraq war contractor and until last year a subsidiary of Halliburton Corp., has avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in federal Medicare and Social Security taxes by hiring workers through shell companies based in this tropical tax haven.....With an estimated $16 billion in contracts, KBR is by far the largest contractor in Iraq, with eight times the work of its nearest competitor. The no-bid contract it received in 2002 to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure and a multibillion-dollar contract to provide support services to troops have long drawn scrutiny because Vice President Dick Cheney was Halliburton's chief executive from 1995 until he joined the Republican ticket with President Bush in 2000....Founded by two brothers in Texas in 1919, the construction firm of Brown & Root quickly became associated with some of the largest public-works projects of the early 20th century, from oil platforms to warships to dams that provided electricity to rural areas. Its political clout, particularly with fellow Texan Lyndon Johnson, was legendary, and it became a major overseas contractor, building roads and ports during the Vietnam war. Halliburton, a Houston-based oil conglomerate, acquired Brown & Root in 1962. And after the Vietnam cease-fire agreement in 1973, it all but stopped doing overseas military work for two decades. But in 1991, during the Gulf War, Halliburton decided to try to revive its military business...

'LBJ: Architect of American Ambition'
New York Times, Aug 20, 2006

The tall man wearing the Stetson sitting in the back of an open convertible was as unhappy as he had ever been in his life. Three years earlier, Lyndon Johnson had reluctantly agreed to serve as John F. Kennedy's running mate in the 1960 election. The Kennedys had not really wanted him, but the Democrats had to have Texas to win the presidency, and LBJ, the Lone Star State's most famous contemporary politician, could carry Texas. Johnson reasoned at the time that his position as majority leader would be meaningless if Richard Nixon and the Republicans won. The thirty-four months he had served as vice president had been excruciating. The "Irish Mafia" surrounding the president, and the liberal intellectuals that JFK had brought to Washington, snubbed Lyndon and Lady Bird at every opportunity. Portrayed as hayseed, a rube with coarse language and coarser looks, he was the constant butt of jokes on the Georgetown cocktail circuit and at Hickory Hill, Bobby and Ethel Kennedy's country home. The president had been outwardly respectful but had shunted LBJ aside to oversee the Space Program and the Committee on Equal Opportunity. As a consolation prize, the Johnsons had been sent on numerous overseas junkets where the vice president invariably responded to the warnings of pretentious U.S. diplomats by deliberately offending local customs. He had grown heavy, looked slovenly, and drank too much, Johnson thought ruefully. He was disgusted with his life and himself. Goddamn the Kennedys and goddamn his political luck!

Beside him in the car were his wife, Lady Bird, and the senior senator from Texas, Ralph Yarborough. Lady Bird was his only spouse but just one of a number of lovers. Throughout their marriage, she had simultaneously supported, reassured, and disappointed him. His volatility craved her stoicism, but at times it infuriated him...

As the motorcade raced off to Parkland Hospital, Johnson, weighed down by Youngblood's two hundred pounds, began to consider his situation. Before their departure for Texas, Washington had been full of rumors that JFK was going to drop him from the ticket. Now there was a possibility that he would become, temporarily at least, president of the United States. The sudden reversal of fortune, if it came, would be stunning. He was both exhilarated and apprehensive....

At Parkland, Lyndon and Lady Bird were hustled into a brightly lit room, the windows covered with sheets. Would-be assassins must be denied a shot at the vice president. The emergency room at the hospital seemed a maze of self-contained compartments, one housing Secret Service personnel, another the Dallas police, and others various medical teams, grieving Kennedy aides, and members of the Johnson entourage. While Lyndon conferred with Youngblood and his colleagues, Lady Bird went to console Jacqueline Kennedy and Nellie Connally, whose husband had also been shot.

Finally, LBJ was informed that Kennedy was dead. Lyndon Johnson was president of the United States. He was tempted to give in to the awe of the moment, but he resisted. Every second was crucial. The way he handled the assassination and its aftermath would do much to determine his success or failure as president, Johnson sensed. It was decided that he and his staff would return on Air Force One rather than Air Force Two because of the former's superior communication equipment. During the ensuing mad dash to Dallas Love Field, LBJ informed Kennedy aide Kenneth O'Donnell that he was not leaving without Jackie and the president's body. They had come together, and they would return together.

Aboard Air Force One, while Johnson gathered his aides and the Kennedy people waited in shock for the presidential coffin to arrive, LBJ decided for symbolic reasons to be sworn in as president. The country was subsequently treated to the famous picture of LBJ, hand on Bible, standing before Judge Sarah T. Hughes, flanked by Lady Bird and Jackie, her pink suit still splattered with her husband's blood. During the flight back, LBJ holed up in the state room, leaving Jackie the bedroom and personal quarters. From the front of the plane, LBJ could hear O'Donnell and his comrades, who were drinking steadily and growing more boisterous in the process. The new president knew that they were talking about him and what they were saying, how unfit he was to follow their fallen hero, how the trip to Texas would have been unnecessary if he had done his job, how difficult it was going to be to stomach his coarseness after JFK's elegant grace. He was tempted to get rid of the whole lot, cabinet and all, but he quickly rejected the idea. Unlike duly elected presidents, he would not have the time intervening between election and inauguration to vet and choose members of his government. Though Johnson knew that he could not trust most of the Kennedy team and that many of them would actively conspire against him, he would have to rely on them - at least for a time....

Air Force One landed at Andrews Air Force Base. Bobby Kennedy boarded the plane, brushing past the Johnsons without acknowledgment, rushing to join Jackie and the coffin containing his brother's body. The Kennedys deplaned first and then, separately, Johnson and his aides. LBJ spoke a few words to the small crowd that had gathered in the rain and darkness. Accompanied by National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, LBJ flew by marine helicopter to the White House. After greeting those of the staff who were on hand and receiving selected congressional leaders, the new chief executive departed for The Elms, the modest estate he and Lady Bird had chosen as their vice presidential residence. Selected friends and staff were there. So was daughter Lucy, who was then attending high school in Washington. Lynda, the Johnsons' older daughter, was a student at the University of Texas in Austin. There was supper and conversation. LBJ watched television footage of the assassination until he could stand it no longer. He went to bed. With aide Horace Busby and his wife holding his hands, he drifted off to sleep.

The next two days were filled with funeral preparations and meetings with cabinet members. LBJ at first intended to leave the investigation of the assassination to the Texas attorney general's office but was then persuaded to constitute a national commission; the stakes were too high to leave the matter to state authorities. In the midst of the national outpouring of grief that accompanied JFK's murder, Johnson realized that he would be spending the rest of his days as president living and acting in the shadow of a martyr. He could either be overwhelmed by Kennedy's death, or he could use it to advance his personal and political agenda...

Jackie Jura
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