Spartacus Blog

The Lyndon B. Johnson Tapes and the JFK Assassination

John Simkin

Lyndon B. Johnson became president on the death of John F. Kennedy on 22nd November, 1963. He immediately decided to secretly tape all his telephone conversations. All told he recorded over 800 hours of discussions on the telephone. He told close aides that he did this for two main reasons. (i) It would help him write his memoirs; (ii) He could use this information to apply pressure (blackmail) on politicians and businessmen.

Johnson informed his longtime personal assistant Mildred Stegall that if he died unexpectedly, she must destroy the tapes and their transcripts). However, when died of a heart attack at San Antonio, Texas, on 22nd January, 1973, Stegall did not carry out his instructions. Instead, she placed them in sealed boxes and sent them to the LBJ Presidential Library with the instructions that they must not be opened until at least January 2023. (1)

In 1991 Oliver Stone released his film JFK where he controversially argued that the CIA were involved in the assassination. Congress was appalled by this suggestion and in an attempt to prove this was not true they passed the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. The Act requires that any document that provides information on the assassination must be publicly disclosed in full and be made available unless the President of the United States certifies that: (i) continued postponement is made necessary by an identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations; and (ii) the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure. President Donald Trump has been threatening to force the CIA and FBI to release all the documents that they still claim should remain classified. (2)

The Assassination Records Collection Act was applied to the Johnson tapes (some are still being withheld for national security reasons). However, the tapes dealing with the Kennedy assassination have proved very interesting. Soon after the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, Johnson received a phone call from J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, insisting that Cuba's communist government was behind the assassination of President Kennedy. (3)

Warren Commission

President Johnson refused to accept this theory and told him to reinvestigate the case. The new report was to be given to the Commission he was setting up to "ascertain, evaluate and report upon the facts relating to the assassination of the late President John F. Kennedy." Hoover's problem increased when Oswald was murdered by Jack Ruby. In a recently declassified memorandum dated 24th November, 1963, Hoover comments that Nicholas Katzenbach, the deputy attorney general, believed that the killing of Oswald will make the lone-gunman theory more difficult to sell to the American public: “The thing I am concerned about, and so is Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so that we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.” (4)

Johnson appointed the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Earl Warren to head the commission. Other members of the commission included Allen W. Dulles (the former head of the CIA who had been sacked by President Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs disaster), John J. McCloy (chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank and the Ford Foundation, but at the end of the war helped recruit senior figures in the Gestapo into the security services of West Germany and the United States that made him blackmailable). This rest of the Commission were politicians that President Johnson could manipulate - Gerald Ford, Richard B. Russell, John S. Cooper and Thomas H. Boggs. Johnson was especially close to Russell who gave him daily updates on what was being said at the Warren Commission meetings. (5)

The phone call tape to appoint Earl Warren as head of the commission has either been destroyed or has never been declassified. However, we do have several telephone conversations with Richard Russell, the Senator from Georgia and the leader in Congress resisting Civil Rights legislation. At first Russell refused to serve on the commission. Johnson said: "You've never turned your country down. This is not me. This is your country... You're my man on that commission and you're going to do it! And don't tell me what you can do and what you can't because I can't arrest you and I'm not going to put the FBI on you. But you're goddamned sure going to serve - I'll tell you that!" This is how Johnson worked. He said "I'm not going to put the FBI on you". This is a reminder that he has information about Russell that the FBI is interested in. (Johnson has used a man called Bobby Baker to pay bribes to Russell.)

Johnson also tells Russell that Earl Warren also turned him down. He feared that the report when published would destroy his reputation (it did). Johnson blackmailed him into accepting the post. He told Russell: "You want me to tell you the truth? You know what happened? Bobby (Kennedy) and them went up to see him today and he turned them down cold and said, "No." Two hours later, I called him and ordered him down here and he didn't want to come. I insisted he come. He came down here and told me no - twice. And I just pulled out what Hoover told me about a little incident in Mexico City and I said, "Now I don't want Mr. Khrushchev to be told tomorrow - and be testifying before a camera that he killed this fellow and that Castro killed him and all I want you to do is look at the facts and bring in any other facts you want in here and determine who killed the President. And I think you put on your uniform in World War I, fat as you are, and would do anything you could to save one American life. And I'm surprised that you, the Chief Justice of the United States, would turn me down." And he started crying and he said, "I won't turn you down. I'll just do whatever you say." (6)

In one telephone conversation to Russell he tells why he wants the commission to report that Lee Harvey Oswald is the lone-gunman: "The Secretary of State came over here this afternoon. He's deeply concerned, Dick, about the idea that they're spreading throughout the Communist world that Khrushchev killed Kennedy. Now he didn't. He didn't have a damned thing to do with it." (7)

How can Johnson know on 29th November, 1963 that the Soviet Union had nothing to do with the assassination when only a few days earlier, Hoover had told him that a communist conspiracy had killed Kennedy. Did he already know at this stage who did it? Or did he have other reasons to want to believe Oswald was a lone-gunman. Johnson's defenders pointed out this passage from the telephone conversation with Russell might explain his motivation: "It has already been announced (members of the Warren Commission) and you can serve with anybody for the good of America and this is a question that has a good many more ramifications than on the surface and we've got to take this out of the arena where they're testifying that Khrushchev and Castro did this and did that and chuck us into a war that can kill 40 million Americans in an hour. And you would put on your uniform in a minute. Now the reason I've asked Warren is because he is the Chief Justice of this country and we've got to have the highest judicial people we can have." (8)

It is argued therefore that if Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone-gunman and not under the orders of Cuba or the Soviet Union he does not have to launch a nuclear war that would probably "kill 40 million Americans in an hour". Or did Johnson have other reasons for avoiding a full investigation into the assassination. Philip F. Nelson, the author of LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination (2011) has argued: "JFK's murder has never been solved because the public gave LBJ the benefit of the doubt, while he was still alive and for four decades beyond, effectively removing him for scrutiny. That the official government's accusatory finger pointed in other directions, and that LBJ was the primary pointer, precluded an examination of the most likely candidate, the one true aspect with an actual motive." (9)

Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy

Johnson was confident he would be the Democratic Party nomination to be their candidate in 1960. He was the Senate majority leader, the second most powerful man in American politics. As majority leader you decide on who becomes chairman of the various Senate committees. Senators or their financial backers are willing to pay large sums of money to become chairman of committees that can award highly profitable government contracts to private companies. (10)

Kennedy was to first person to declare himself as a candidate. Johnson thought that Kennedy had little chance of being successful as he was a Roman Catholic and came from the north of the country. Catholics were a persecuted minority in the Deep South. The Ku Klux Klan lynched not only blacks, socialists and trade unionists, but Catholics (they disliked them because they allowed blacks to attend their services). The Democrat Party had only selected one Catholic as a prospective president (Al Smith in 1928) who lost heavily to Herbert Hoover. People in the Deep South voted for a Republican from the North rather than a Roman Catholic.

Johnson was confident that Kennedy's campaign would falter, and he would arrive late in the contest to take the nomination. Johnson calculated that Kennedy would be badly beaten by Hubert Humphrey in the May primary in the solidly Protestant West Virginia. In the final days of the campaign, using both planes and cars, Joseph P. Kennedy "moved in hundreds of thousands of dollars (possibly over $1 million) in suitcases into the state." Kennedy defeated Humphrey by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent, "a state the national press had said a Catholic could never win." (11)

Lyndon B. Johnson and Bobby Baker
Inga Arvad, Miss Denmark (1931)

Behind in the polls Johnson mounted an undercover operation where he arranged for his allies to point out his inexperience, poor health (based on stolen medical records) and his sexual relationship with other women. Pamela Turnure, had an affair with Kennedy while she was his secretary in 1958. Her landlady, Florence Kater, tried to sell the story to a newspaper. They decided not to publish details but it was passed to J. Edgar Hoover who had been compiling a "sex dossier" on Kennedy since November 1941 when he had a relationship with Inga Arvad, who had been a guest of Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Summer Olympics. A senior FBI official, William Sullivan, told Anthony Summers, Hoover tried "to sabotage Jack Kennedy's campaign" and "obtained a copy of the compromising sex tapes and offered them to Lyndon Johnson as campaign ammunition". (12)

Lyndon B. Johnson and Bobby Baker
Adolf Hitler and Inga Arvad

Kennedy's campaign was a great success and he secured a substantial early advantage among Democratic state party officials. Johnson did not enter the campaign until July 1960. Seymour Hersh has argued that his decision had been far too late as it had enabled Kennedy to build up an overwhelming lead over the other candidates. It has been suggested that Johnson had information about Kennedy that would force him to withdraw his candidacy at the last moment. This did not happen and he "stayed in the race until the presidential balloting and suffered an overwhelming defeat by Kennedy on the convention floor." (13)

Kennedy offered Johnson the opportunity of his running-mate. As has been explained: "The infighting did not last long. Kennedy emerged the nominee on the first ballot. Then he had to confront the big problem ahead, that of getting enough votes to win the national election. A modern progressive, he needed a conservative base, particularly in the South. In short, he needed Johnson. The majority leader was the natural for vice president... In short he needed Johnson." (14)

Much to everyone's surprise Johnson accepted Kennedy's offer to be his running-mate. Johnson's financial backers, who had made their fortunes from his role as majority leader of the Senate were appalled by the idea. John Nance Garner, the vice-president under Franklin D. Roosevelt, (1933-1944), claimed that the post was an empty honour and was like "a pitcher of warm spit". He added: "Being Vice-President isn't exactly a crime, but it's kind of a disgrace, like writing anonymous letters." (15)

Bobby Baker, Johnson's key aide, later wrote that one businessman, Robert Kerr, who had made his fortune from the oil industry by bribing politicians, threatened to kill him: "Kerr literally was livid. There were angry red splotches on his face. He glared at me, at LBJ, and at Lady Bird. 'Get me my .38,' he yelled. 'I'm gonna kill every damn one of you. I can't believe that my three best friends would betray me.' Kerr did not seem to be joking. As I attempted to calm him he kept shouting that we'd combined to ruin the Senate, ruin ourselves, and ruin him personally. Lyndon Johnson, no slouch as a tantrum tosser himself, had little stomach for dealing with fits thrown by others; he motioned me to take Kerr into the bathroom and mumbled something about explaining things to him."

Lyndon B. Johnson and Bobby Baker
Lyndon B. Johnson and Bobby Baker

In the bathroom Bobby Baker outlined the situation: "If he's elected vice-president he'll be an excellent conduit between the White House and the Hill. He'll still be around to consult." He added "I knew that LBJ had arranged a Texas law permitting him to run for reelection to the Senate at the same time he sought any national office; he later, indeed, would be reelected senator from Texas and vice-president on the same day and on the same ballot." Baker went on to argue: "So what in the world's he got to lose? I think it's a tremendous opportunity. It's a lot of pluses and I don't see the minuses." Baker added that Johnson as vice-president was only a heart-beat away from becoming president. (16)

The Bobby Baker Scandal

By 1963 John F. Kennedy realised that Lyndon B. Johnson had become a problem as vice-president as he had been drawn into political scandals involving Fred Korth, Billie Sol Estes and Bobby Baker. According to James Wagenvoord, the editorial business manager of Life, the magazine was working on an article that would have revealed Johnson's corrupt activities. "Beginning in later summer 1963 the magazine, based upon information fed from Bobby Kennedy and the Justice Department, had been developing a major newsbreak piece concerning Johnson and Bobby Baker. On publication Johnson would have been finished and off the 1964 ticket (reason the material was fed to us) and would probably have been facing prison time. At the time LIFE magazine was arguably the most important general news source in the US. The top management of Time Inc. was closely allied with the USA's various intelligence agencies and we were used after by the Kennedy Justice Department as a conduit to the public." (17)

The fact that it was Robert Kennedy who was giving this information to Life Magazine suggests that Kennedy intended to drop Johnson as his vice-president. This is supported by Evelyn Lincoln, Kennedy's secretary. In her book, Kennedy and Johnson (1968) she claimed that in November, 1963, Kennedy decided that because of the emerging Bobby Baker scandal he was going to drop Johnson as his running mate in the 1964 election. Kennedy told Lincoln that he was going to replace Johnson with Terry Sanford, the Governor of North Carolina. (18)

Phil Brennan, a journalist working for The National Review, argued that the Washington press corps had buried the stories about the Bobby Baker scandal and the connections with Johnson. However, John J. Williams, the Republican Party senator for Delaware, was called upon the Committee on Rules and Administration to conduct an investigation of the financial and business interests and possible improprieties of Baker. Brennan points out: "A few days later, the attorney general, Bobby Kennedy, called five of Washington's top reporters into his office and told them it was now open season on Lyndon Johnson. It's OK, he told them, to go after the story they were ignoring out of deference to the administration." (19)

Don B. Reynolds

On 22nd November, 1963, a businessman, Don B. Reynolds, appeared before a secret session of the Senate Rules Committee. Reynolds told B. Everett Jordan and his committee that Johnson had demanded that he provided kickbacks in return for him agreeing to a life insurance policy arranged by him in 1957. This included a $585 Magnavox stereo. Reynolds also had to pay for $1,200 worth of advertising on KTBC, Johnson's television station in Austin. Reynolds had paperwork for this transaction including a delivery note that indicated the stereo had been sent to the home of Johnson. (20) Reynolds also told of seeing a suitcase full of money which Bobby Baker described as a "$100,000 payoff to Johnson for his role in securing the Fort Worth TFX contract". Reynolds also provided evidence against Matthew H. McCloskey. He suggested that he given $25,000 to Baker in order to get the contract to build the District of Columbia Stadium. (21)

Members of the committee thought that when this information was published Lyndon B. Johnson would be forced to resign. Reynolds' testimony came to an end when news arrived that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. As soon as Johnson became president he contacted B. Everett Jordan to see if there was any chance of stopping this information being published. Jordan replied that he would do what he could but warned Johnson that some members of the committee wanted Reynold's testimony to be released to the public. On 6th December, 1963, Jordan spoke to Johnson on the telephone and said he was doing what he could to suppress the story because " it might spread (to) a place where we don't want it spread." (22)

Abe Fortas, a lawyer who represented Johnson and Bobby Baker worked behind the scenes in an effort to keep this information from the public. Johnson also arranged for a smear campaign to be organized against Reynolds. To help him do this J. Edgar Hoover passed to Johnson the FBI file on Reynolds. On 17th January, 1964, the Committee on Rules and Administration voted to release to the public Reynolds' secret testimony. Johnson responded by leaking information from Reynolds' FBI file to Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson. The following month the Washington Post reported that Reynolds had lied about his academic success at West Point. The article also claimed that Reynolds had been a supporter of Joseph McCarthy and had accused business rivals of being secret members of the American Communist Party. It was also revealed that Reynolds had made anti-Semitic remarks while in Berlin in 1953. (23)

Meanwhile FBI carried out a new investigation into the Kennedy assassination. Whereas on 23rd November, 1963, Hoover had told Johnson that the case against Lee Harvey Oswald was "not very, very strong" was now conclusive "beyond any doubt showing Oswald was the man who killed President Kennedy". Hoover, promised the report would be ready by 27th November. However, this date was missed because the FBI wanted more time to investigate possible links with either the American Communist Party or pro-Castro organizations. Nicholas Katzenbach, the deputy attorney general, complained as "time was of the essence" as it was necessary "to put to rest all the rumors and speculations in the U.S. and world press that Kennedy's death was the result of a conspiracy." (24)

On 5th December, 1963, the FBI report was handed over to Katzenbach. It's two main conclusion were that Oswald had killed the president and that he had acted alone. The FBI report was handed to the Warren Commission when it met for the first time later that day. Its 888-page final report was presented to President Johnson on 24th September, 1964, and made public three days later. It reached the following conclusions:

(i) The shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally were fired from the sixth floor window at the southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository.

(ii) The weight of the evidence indicates that there were three shots fired.

(iii) Although it is not necessary to any essential findings of the Commission to determine just which shot hit Governor Connally, there is very persuasive evidence from the experts to indicate that the same bullet which pierced the President's throat also caused Governor Connally's wounds. However, Governor Connally's testimony and certain other factors have given rise to some difference of opinion as to this probability but there is no question in the mind of any member of the Commission that all the shots which caused the President's and Governor Connally's wounds were fired from the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository.

(iv) The shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally were fired by Lee Harvey Oswald.

(v) The Commission has found no evidence that either Lee Harvey Oswald or Jack Ruby was part of any conspiracy, domestic or foreign, to assassinate President Kennedy.

(vi) In its entire investigation the Commission has found no evidence of conspiracy, subversion, or disloyalty to the U.S. Government by any Federal, State, or local official.

(vii) On the basis of the evidence before the Commission it concludes that, Oswald acted alone.

House Select Committee on Assassinations

The American public have never believed that John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a lone-gunman (see below) even though the US media (and the UK media) gave their full support to the Warren Commission report. In fact, they did whatever they could to portray those who pointed out the inaccuracies in the report as "mad conspiracy theorists". We also know from declassified documents and witness testimony that the CIA were active in putting pressure on publishers not to produce books that were critical of the Warren Commission. This is why the first books that did argue this were published by French and UK companies. (25)

Lyndon B. Johnson and Bobby Baker
Lyndon B. Johnson and Bobby Baker

Eventually books critical of the Warren Commission written by historians and journalists did appear in America. In 1975, Frank Church became the chairman of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities. This committee investigated alleged abuses of power by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Intelligence. They discovered that the FBI was involved in the assassination of Fred Hampton, one of the leaders of the Black Panthers. (26)

Church's committee also discovered that the CIA and the FBI had sent anonymous letters attacking the political beliefs of targets in order to induce their employers to fire them. Similar letters were sent to spouses in an effort to destroy marriages. The committee also documented criminal break-ins, the theft of membership lists and misinformation campaigns aimed at provoking violent attacks against targeted individuals. One of those people targeted was Martin Luther King. The FBI mailed King a tape recording made from microphones hidden in hotel rooms. The tape was accompanied by a note suggesting that the recording would be released to the public unless King committed suicide. (27)

In September, 1975, a subcommittee under Richard Schweiker was asked to investigate the performance of the intelligence agencies concerning the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In its final report, issued in April 1976, the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities concluded: "Domestic intelligence activity has threatened and undermined the Constitutional rights of Americans to free speech, association and privacy. It has done so primarily because the Constitutional system for checking abuse of power has not been applied." The committee also revealed details for the first time of what the CIA called Operation Mockingbird (a secret programme to control the media). (28)

Lyndon B. Johnson and Bobby Baker
Richard Schweiker

The Richard Schweiker committee also reported that the Central Intelligence Agency had withheld from the Warren Commission, during its investigation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, information about plots by the Government of the United States against Fidel Castro of Cuba; and that the Federal Bureau of Intelligence had conducted a counter-intelligence program (COINTELPRO) against Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. (29)

In 1976, a Detroit News poll indicated that 87% of the American population did not believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman who killed Kennedy. Later that year, Senator Thomas N. Downing called for a new investigation into the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Downing said he was certain that Kennedy had been killed as a result of a conspiracy. He believed that the recent deaths of Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli were highly significant. He also believed that the CIA and the FBI had withheld important information from the Warren Commission. (30)

Coretta Scott King also called for her husband's murder to be looked at by a Senate Committee. She visited Washington to tell the Congressional Black Caucus that she had new evidence in her husband's death. It was suggested that there was more chance of success if these two investigations could be combined. Henry Gonzalez and Walter E. Fauntroy joined Downing in his campaign and in 1976 Congress voted to create a 12-member committee to investigate the deaths of Kennedy and King. (31)

Downing named Richard Sprague as chief counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Sprague quickly assembled a staff of 170 lawyers, investigators and researchers. On 8th December, 1976, Sprague submitted a 1977 budget of $6.5 million. Smear stories against Sprague began appearing in the press. David B. Burnham of The New York Times reported that Sprague had mishandled a homicide case involving the son of a friend. Members of Congress joined in the attacks and Robert E. Bauman of Maryland claimed that Sprague had a "checkered career" and was not to be trusted. Richard Kelly of Florida called the House Select Committee on Assassinations a "multimillion-dollar fishing expedition for the benefit of a bunch of publicity seekers."

On 2nd February, 1978, Henry Gonzalez replaced Thomas N. Downing as chairman of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Gonzalez immediately sacked Sprague as chief counsel. Sprague claimed that only the full committee had the power to dismiss him. Walter E. Fauntroy agreed with Sprague and launched a campaign to keep him as chief counsel. On 1st March, Gonzalez resigned describing Sprague as "an unconscionable scoundrel"

Louis Stokes of Ohio was now appointed as the new chairman of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. After a meeting with Stokes on 29th March, Sprague agreed to resign and he was replaced by G. Robert Blakey. Sprague later told Gaeton Fonzi that the real reason he was removed as chief counsel was because he insisted on asking questions about the CIA operations in Mexico. Fonzi argued that "Sprague... wanted complete information about the CIA's operation in Mexico City and total access to all its employees who may have had anything to do with the photographs, tape recordings and transcripts. The Agency balked. Sprague pushed harder. Finally the Agency agreed that Sprague could have access to the information if he agreed to sign a CIA Secrecy Agreement. Sprague refused.... "How," he asked, "can I possible sign an agreement with an agency I'm supposed to be investigating?" (32)

The House Select Committee of Assassinations set up a panel of forensic pathologists to examine the autopsy materials and other medical evidence. During the investigation the committee discovered that the Dallas Police had a recording of the assassination. A microphone, mounted on one of the motorcycles escorting the motorcade, had picked up sounds in Dealey Plaza at the time of the assassination. Acoustic experts analysed the recording and were able to distinguish four rifle shots. They concluded that there was a 95 per cent probability that the third bullet was fired from the Grassy Knoll. (33)

As a result of this acoustic evidence G. Robert Blakey was able to state that there were "four shots, over a total period of 7.91 seconds were fired at the Presidential limousine. The first, second and fourth came from the Depository; the third from the Grassy Knoll." The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that "scientific acoustical evidence establishes a high probability that two gunmen fired at President John F. Kennedy." It added that "on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy". (34)

The HSCA was "unable to identify the other gunman or the extent of the conspiracy." However, it did discover evidence to suggest that anti-Castro Cubans were involved in the assassination. For example, an undercover agent heard Nestor Castellanos tell a meeting of anti-Castro Cubans, "We're waiting for Kennedy (on) the 22nd. We're going to see him in one way or another." It concluded that "individuals active in anti-Castro activities had the motive, means, and opportunity to assassinate President Kennedy". The committee claimed that the Warren Commission "failed to investigate adequately the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President." (35)

Richard Billings and G. Robert Blakey
Richard Billings and G. Robert Blakey

G. Robert Blakey and Richard Billings wrote an account of the HSCA investigation entitled The Plot to Kill the President (1981). In the book Blakey and Billings argue that there was a conspiracy to kill John F. Kennedy. He believes that Lee Harvey Oswald was involved but believes that there was at least one gunman firing from the Grassy Knoll. Blakey came to the conclusion that Mafia boss, Carlos Marcello, probably organized the assassination. (36)

Carl Oglesby summarized Blakey and Billings theory as follows: (a) Oswald alone did shoot and kill Kennedy, as the Warren Commission deduced. (b) An unknown confederate of Oswald's, however, also shot at the President, firing from the celebrated "grassy knoll." This shot missed. (c) Apart from the question of the number of assailants in the attack, Oswald acted as the tool of a much larger conspiracy. (d) The conspiracy behind Oswald was rooted in organized crime and was specifically provoked by JFK's anti-crime program. Singly or in some combination, prime suspects are Carlos Marcello and Santos Trafficante, godfathers respectively of the New Orleans and Tampa Mafias. Each one had the motive, means, and opportunity to kill J.F.K." (37)

In 1993 Gaeton Fonzi, the HSCA leading investigator, published The Last Investigation, a book detailing his research into the assassination. It is considered by many critics as among the best books on the Kennedy assassination and is currently recognized as an authority on those aspects of the assassination involving anti-Castro Cubans and the intelligence agencies. Fonzi became very interested in the forces that enabled the the cover-up to take place: "Could any but a totally controlling force - a power elite within the United States Government itself - call it what you will, the military-intelligence complex, the national security state, the corporate-warfare establishment - could any but the most powerful elite controlling the U.S. Government have been able to manipulate individuals and events before the assassination and then bring such a broad spectrum of internal forces to first cover up the crime and then control the institutions within our society to keep the assassination of President Kennedy a false mystery for 35 years?" (38)

As Paul Vitello pointed out in the The New York Times: "Gaeton Fonzi was one of the most relentless investigators on the House Select Committee on Assassinations in the late 1970s, remembered by former colleagues with both awe and echoes of the impatience he inspired with his pursuit of the full story behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He chronicled the near-blanket refusal of government intelligence agencies, especially the C.I.A., to provide the committee with documents it requested. And he accused committee leaders of folding under pressure - from Congressional budget hawks, political advisers and the intelligence agencies themselves - just as promising new leads were emerging." (39)

G. Robert Blakey still retains his belief in the involvement of the Mafia, but new evidence appeared 17 years ago that convinced him that CIA officers were involved in the plot. Blakey was shocked in 2003 when declassified CIA documents revealed the full identity of the retired agent, George Joannides, who had acted as the committee's liaison to the agency. Joannides, who had also overseen a group of anti-Castro Cuban exiles in Dallas in the months before the assassination, when Lee Harvey Oswald was in contact with them. Blakey issued a statement where he said: "I am no longer confident that the Central Intelligence Agency co-operated with the committee.... I was not told of Joannides' background with the DRE, a focal point of the investigation. Had I known who he was, he would have been a witness who would have been interrogated under oath by the staff or by the committee. He would never have been acceptable as a point of contact with us to retrieve documents. In fact, I have now learned, as I note above, that Joannides was the point of contact between the Agency and DRE during the period Oswald was in contact with DRE. That the Agency would put a 'material witness' in as a 'filter' between the committee and its quests for documents was a flat out b)reach of the understanding the committee had with the Agency that it would co-operate with the investigation." (40)

John Simkin (10th November, 2020)


(1) Mildred Stegall, The Statesman (13th February, 2011)

(2) The New York Times (26th October, 2017)

(3) Gerald D. McKnight, Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why (2005) page 10

(4) The New York Times (26th October, 2017)

(5) Gerald D. McKnight, Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why (2005) page 34

(6) Lyndon B. Johnson, telephone conversation with Richard B. Russell (4.05 pm, 29th November, 1963)

(7) Lyndon B. Johnson, telephone conversation with Richard B. Russell (4.05 pm, 29th November, 1963)

(8) Lyndon B. Johnson, telephone conversation with Richard B. Russell (8.55 pm 29th November, 1963)

(9) Philip F. Nelson, LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination (2011) page x

(10) Barr McClellan, Blood, Money and Power (2003) page 144

(11) Richard D. Mahoney, Sons and Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy (1999) pages 52-53

(12) Anthony Summers, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover (1993) pages 264-267

(13) Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot (1998) pages 91-92

(14) Barr McClellan, Blood, Money and Power (2003) page 151

(15) William Manchester, The Death of a President (1967) page 22

(16) Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing (1978) pages 126-127

(17) James Wagenvoord, email to John Simkin (3rd November, 2009)

(18) Evelyn Lincoln, Kennedy and Johnson (1968) page 129

(19) Phil Brennan, Newsmax (18th November, 2002)

(20) Time Magazine (31st January, 1964)

(21) New York Times (2nd December, 1964)

(22) B. Everett Jordan, telephone conversation with Lyndon B. Johnson (6th December, 1963)

(23) The Washington Post (5th February, 1964)

(24) Gerald D. McKnight, Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why (2005) page 23

(25) Arthur Swift, Majority in U.S. Still Believe JFK Killed in a Conspiracy (15th November, 2013)

(26) Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (April, 1976)

(27) Curt Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets (1991) pages 568-570

(28) Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (April, 1976)

(29) Anthony Summers, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover (1993) pages 353-362

(30) Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation (1993) pages 175-176

(31) G. Robert Blakey & Dick Billings, The Plot to Kill the President (1981) page 63

(32) Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation (1993) page 196

(33) The Dallas Morning News (9th August, 1978)

(34) G. Robert Blakey & Dick Billings, The Plot to Kill the President (1981) pages 103-108

(35) Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (April, 1976)

(36) G. Robert Blakey & Dick Billings, The Plot to Kill the President (1981) pages 240-247

(37) Carl Oglesby, Is the Mafia Theory a Valid Alternative (1988)

(38) Gaeton Fonzi, speech on receiving the Mary Ferrell-JFKLancer Pioneer Award (21st November 21, 1998)

(39) Paul Vitello, The New York Times (11th September, 2012)

(40) G. Robert Blakey, statement on the Central Intelligence Agency on 19th November, 2013

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It is important we remember the Freedom Riders (11th August, 2020)

Dominic Cummings, Niccolò Machiavelli and Joseph Goebbels (12th July, 2020)

Why the coronavirus (Covid-19) will probably kill a higher percentage of people in the UK than any other country in Europe.. (12th March, 2020 updated 17th March)

Mandy Rice Davies and Christine Keeler and the MI5 Honey-Trap (29th January, 2020)

Robert F. Kennedy was America's first assassination Conspiracy Theorist (29th November, 2019)

The Zinoviev Letter and the Russian Report: A Story of Two General Elections (24th November, 2019)

The Language of Right-wing Populism: Adolf Hitler to Boris Johnson (11th October, 2019)

The Political Philosophy of Dominic Cummings and the Funding of the Brexit Project (15th September, 2019)

What are the political lessons to learn from the Peterloo Massacre? (19th August, 2019)

Crisis in British Capitalism: Part 1: 1770-1945 (9th August, 2019)

Richard Sorge: The Greatest Spy of the 20th Century? (29th July, 2020)

The Death of Bernardo De Torres (26th May, 2019)

Gas Masks in the Second World War killed more people than they saved (9th May, 2019)

Did St Paul and St Augustine betray the teachings of Jesus? (20th April, 2019)

Stanley Baldwin and his failed attempt to modernise the Conservative Party (15th April, 2019)

The Delusions of Neville Chamberlain and Theresa May (26th February, 2019)

The statement signed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (20th January, 2019)

Was Winston Churchill a supporter or an opponent of Fascism? (16th December, 2018)

Why Winston Churchill suffered a landslide defeat in 1945? (10th December, 2018)

The History of Freedom Speech in the UK (25th November, 2018)

Are we heading for a National government and a re-run of 1931? (19th November, 2018)

George Orwell in Spain (15th October, 2018)

Anti-Semitism in Britain today. Jeremy Corbyn and the Jewish Chronicle (23rd August, 2018)

Why was the anti-Nazi German, Gottfried von Cramm, banned from taking part at Wimbledon in 1939? (7th July, 2018)

What kind of society would we have if Evan Durbin had not died in 1948? (28th June, 2018)

The Politics of Immigration: 1945-2018 (21st May, 2018)

State Education in Crisis (27th May, 2018)

Why the decline in newspaper readership is good for democracy (18th April, 2018)

Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (12th April, 2018)

George Osborne and the British Passport (24th March, 2018)

Boris Johnson and the 1936 Berlin Olympics (22nd March, 2018)

Donald Trump and the History of Tariffs in the United States (12th March, 2018)

Karen Horney: The Founder of Modern Feminism? (1st March, 2018)

The long record of The Daily Mail printing hate stories (19th February, 2018)

John Maynard Keynes, the Daily Mail and the Treaty of Versailles (25th January, 2018)

20 year anniversary of the Spartacus Educational website (2nd September, 2017)

The Hidden History of Ruskin College (17th August, 2017)

Underground child labour in the coal mining industry did not come to an end in 1842 (2nd August, 2017)

Raymond Asquith, killed in a war declared by his father (28th June, 2017)

History shows since it was established in 1896 the Daily Mail has been wrong about virtually every political issue. (4th June, 2017)

The House of Lords needs to be replaced with a House of the People (7th May, 2017)

100 Greatest Britons Candidate: Caroline Norton (28th March, 2017)

100 Greatest Britons Candidate: Mary Wollstonecraft (20th March, 2017)

100 Greatest Britons Candidate: Anne Knight (23rd February, 2017)

100 Greatest Britons Candidate: Elizabeth Heyrick (12th January, 2017)

100 Greatest Britons: Where are the Women? (28th December, 2016)

The Death of Liberalism: Charles and George Trevelyan (19th December, 2016)

Donald Trump and the Crisis in Capitalism (18th November, 2016)

Victor Grayson and the most surprising by-election result in British history (8th October, 2016)

Left-wing pressure groups in the Labour Party (25th September, 2016)

The Peasant's Revolt and the end of Feudalism (3rd September, 2016)

Leon Trotsky and Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party (15th August, 2016)

Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of England (7th August, 2016)

The Media and Jeremy Corbyn (25th July, 2016)

Rupert Murdoch appoints a new prime minister (12th July, 2016)

George Orwell would have voted to leave the European Union (22nd June, 2016)

Is the European Union like the Roman Empire? (11th June, 2016)

Is it possible to be an objective history teacher? (18th May, 2016)

Women Levellers: The Campaign for Equality in the 1640s (12th May, 2016)

The Reichstag Fire was not a Nazi Conspiracy: Historians Interpreting the Past (12th April, 2016)

Why did Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst join the Conservative Party? (23rd March, 2016)

Mikhail Koltsov and Boris Efimov - Political Idealism and Survival (3rd March, 2016)

Why the name Spartacus Educational? (23rd February, 2016)

Right-wing infiltration of the BBC (1st February, 2016)

Bert Trautmann, a committed Nazi who became a British hero (13th January, 2016)

Frank Foley, a Christian worth remembering at Christmas (24th December, 2015)

How did governments react to the Jewish Migration Crisis in December, 1938? (17th December, 2015)

Does going to war help the careers of politicians? (2nd December, 2015)

Art and Politics: The Work of John Heartfield (18th November, 2015)

The People we should be remembering on Remembrance Sunday (7th November, 2015)

Why Suffragette is a reactionary movie (21st October, 2015)

Volkswagen and Nazi Germany (1st October, 2015)

David Cameron's Trade Union Act and fascism in Europe (23rd September, 2015)

The problems of appearing in a BBC documentary (17th September, 2015)

Mary Tudor, the first Queen of England (12th September, 2015)

Jeremy Corbyn, the new Harold Wilson? (5th September, 2015)

Anne Boleyn in the history classroom (29th August, 2015)

Why the BBC and the Daily Mail ran a false story on anti-fascist campaigner, Cedric Belfrage (22nd August, 2015)

Women and Politics during the Reign of Henry VIII (14th July, 2015)

The Politics of Austerity (16th June, 2015)

Was Henry FitzRoy, the illegitimate son of Henry VIII, murdered? (31st May, 2015)

The long history of the Daily Mail campaigning against the interests of working people (7th May, 2015)

Nigel Farage would have been hung, drawn and quartered if he lived during the reign of Henry VIII (5th May, 2015)

Was social mobility greater under Henry VIII than it is under David Cameron? (29th April, 2015)

Why it is important to study the life and death of Margaret Cheyney in the history classroom (15th April, 2015)

Is Sir Thomas More one of the 10 worst Britons in History? (6th March, 2015)

Was Henry VIII as bad as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin? (12th February, 2015)

The History of Freedom of Speech (13th January, 2015)

The Christmas Truce Football Game in 1914 (24th December, 2014)

The Anglocentric and Sexist misrepresentation of historical facts in The Imitation Game (2nd December, 2014)

The Secret Files of James Jesus Angleton (12th November, 2014)

Ben Bradlee and the Death of Mary Pinchot Meyer (29th October, 2014)

Yuri Nosenko and the Warren Report (15th October, 2014)

The KGB and Martin Luther King (2nd October, 2014)

The Death of Tomás Harris (24th September, 2014)

Simulations in the Classroom (1st September, 2014)

The KGB and the JFK Assassination (21st August, 2014)

West Ham United and the First World War (4th August, 2014)

The First World War and the War Propaganda Bureau (28th July, 2014)

Interpretations in History (8th July, 2014)

Alger Hiss was not framed by the FBI (17th June, 2014)

Google, Bing and Operation Mockingbird: Part 2 (14th June, 2014)

Google, Bing and Operation Mockingbird: The CIA and Search-Engine Results (10th June, 2014)

The Student as Teacher (7th June, 2014)

Is Wikipedia under the control of political extremists? (23rd May, 2014)

Why MI5 did not want you to know about Ernest Holloway Oldham (6th May, 2014)

The Strange Death of Lev Sedov (16th April, 2014)

Why we will never discover who killed John F. Kennedy (27th March, 2014)

The KGB planned to groom Michael Straight to become President of the United States (20th March, 2014)

The Allied Plot to Kill Lenin (7th March, 2014)

Was Rasputin murdered by MI6? (24th February 2014)

Winston Churchill and Chemical Weapons (11th February, 2014)

Pete Seeger and the Media (1st February 2014)

Should history teachers use Blackadder in the classroom? (15th January 2014)

Why did the intelligence services murder Dr. Stephen Ward? (8th January 2014)

Solomon Northup and 12 Years a Slave (4th January 2014)

The Angel of Auschwitz (6th December 2013)

The Death of John F. Kennedy (23rd November 2013)

Adolf Hitler and Women (22nd November 2013)

New Evidence in the Geli Raubal Case (10th November 2013)

Murder Cases in the Classroom (6th November 2013)

Major Truman Smith and the Funding of Adolf Hitler (4th November 2013)

Unity Mitford and Adolf Hitler (30th October 2013)

Claud Cockburn and his fight against Appeasement (26th October 2013)

The Strange Case of William Wiseman (21st October 2013)

Robert Vansittart's Spy Network (17th October 2013)

British Newspaper Reporting of Appeasement and Nazi Germany (14th October 2013)

Paul Dacre, The Daily Mail and Fascism (12th October 2013)

Wallis Simpson and Nazi Germany (11th October 2013)

The Activities of MI5 (9th October 2013)

The Right Club and the Second World War (6th October 2013)

What did Paul Dacre's father do in the war? (4th October 2013)

Ralph Miliband and Lord Rothermere (2nd October 2013)