Denise Gamino AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Just 10 days before Lyndon Johnson died of a heart attack in 1973, he revealed to an aide his plan to visit President Richard Nixon to seek release of the Pentagon Papers and thousands of other secret Vietnam War documents.
On Monday, the federal government finally will release the infamous multivolume war history that was leaked to the press in 1971. The release comes 40 years to the day after The New York Times' controversial publication of much of the top-secret study compiled by the Department of Defense.
Austin's LBJ Library & Museum, which has had one of the complete sets of the Pentagon Papers since 1969, will unveil the 7,000-page report at an 11 a.m. news conference Monday.
"What the hell took so long?" would be LBJ's response to the official release if he were alive, said Harry Middleton, a past director of the LBJ Library and a White House aide to President Johnson.
"He felt, to get the whole story out, that everybody should have access to the papers in the LBJ Library," Middleton said by phone last week.
The Pentagon Papers, published by the Times and the Washington Post, showed that the Johnson administration escalated the war in Vietnam without informing the public of the extent of U.S. involvement or concerns about failure. LBJ presided over a massive ground war in South Vietnam and air bombing of North Vietnam. The war divided the American people and overshadowed the social and economic programs of Johnson's "Great Society" campaign.
When the Pentagon Papers were published in 1971, during the Nixon administration, Johnson was at his ranch in the Hill Country. He phoned Middleton at the LBJ Library to complain.
"This is only part of the story," Johnson said, according to Middleton. "They don't have the whole story."
The portion of the Pentagon Papers leaked to the press by military analyst Daniel Ellsberg did not contain the section about secret Johnson administration attempts to negotiate a peace agreement with North Vietnam. The Pentagon Papers, according to former Johnson White House aide Tom Johnson, also did not contain key documents generated in the Johnson White House, including what was considered to be the most secret of all foreign policy meetings: the "Tuesday Lunch." These meetings, held in the White House living quarters, included LBJ, the secretaries of state and defense, the CIA director, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the national security adviser, the press secretary and a scribe, who usually was Tom Johnson.
LBJ did not publicly comment on the Pentagon Papers leak at the time, according to records. But he told Nixon adviser Bryce Harlow that he didn't want to comment because he thought the Times and the Post were trying to "re-execute him," according to a book by Pultizer Prize-winning Times journalist Harrison Salisbury. "Without Fear or Favor: The New York Times and its Times" shows that Salisbury relied on an interview with Harlow, who phoned LBJ at his ranch after the Pentagon Papers were published.
When President Johnson called Middleton to discuss the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, LBJ proposed that his aides begin researching what it would take to open the Vietnam documents in the LBJ Library, Middleton said. Johnson asked Middleton to help former national security adviser Walt Rostow "prepare a rationale that I can give to President Nixon that will persuade (him) to send a team here to declassify our Vietnam papers."
Rostow and Middleton summed up their research in two memos that recommended asking Nixon to send eight policy and defense experts to the LBJ Library for up to two years to review documents. They estimated the library had 1.1 million pages of foreign affairs documents. Of those, the Pentagon Papers and other Vietnam documents numbered nearly half a million pages.
Rostow concluded his Jan. 2, 1973, memo to LBJ by offering "to draft the kind of memorandum you may wish to hand to President Nixon."
Then, on Jan. 13, 1973, Middleton attended a dinner party at the LBJ Ranch. Middleton said Johnson pulled him aside to say he wanted a face-to-face meeting with Nixon to seek declassification of the Vietnam War documents.
"I'm going to do that as soon as President Nixon is inaugurated," Johnson said that night. "I'm going to go to Washington and take it up with him."
"One week later, President Nixon was inaugurated for the second time," Middleton said. "Two days after that, President Johnson was dead."
There were 5 Presidents in Dallas that day: Nixon LBJ Kennedy Bush41 and
Nixon's Three Stories of Where He Was on November 22, 1963
In the first place, strange things which could scarcely all be coincidence happened even before JFK was killed. On the morning of November 22, 1963, the day Kennedy was killed the New York Times carried an item on a back page, It was datelined Dallas. And it said that ex-Vice-President Richard M. Nixon had made a speech in Dallas before a group of businessmen,
Not only did the Times carry that story on the very day JFK died, but Nixon was in Dallas the day Kennedy died, and it is very possible that he was still in Dallas at the moment Kennedy died. Despite all other reports to the contrary. And of course the thing that makes this so very important is that Nixon and others have for some reason tried to conceal that fact for more than twelve years.
By itself, this would not be important. Being in Dallas on November 22nd. 1963 does not make just anyone. for example, Nixon, a murderer; but the record of Nixon's visit to Dallas has been deliberately obscured. Let's pick three "official" versions of Nixon's actions that day and see how they compare and then what the differences may signify.
Not long after Kennedy was shot, Nixon wrote an unusually long article for the Reader's Digest. It appeared in the November 1964 issue under the strange title, "Cuba, Castro, and John F Kennedy." Prepared as it was by Nixon or for his signature and prepared for the massive worldwide audience of the August Reader's Digest, we are asked to believe that this is the factual account of what took place. Nixon says
"I urged, in a statement to the press < Dallas on November 21 that the President and the vice-president be shown the respect to which their office entitled them." [br />
"I boarded a plane in Dallas on the morning of November 22 to New York. We arrived on schedule at 12:56. I hailed a cab. We were waiting for a light to change when a man ran over from the street corner and said that the President had just been shot in Dallas. This is the way that I learned the news."
Now let's look at another Nixon account of the same day The November 1973 issue of Esquire magazine carried the following Nixon quote;
"I attended the Pepsi Cola convention < in Dallas >and left on Friday morning. November 22, from Love Field. Dallas, on a flight back to New York , . . on arrival in New York we caught a cab and headed for the city the cabbie missed a turn somewhere and we were off the highway . . . a woman came out of her house screaming and crying. I rolled down the cab window to ask what the matter was and when she saw my face she turned even paler. She told me that John Kennedy had just been shot in Dallas,"
Now let's look at the "official" account from "The Day Kennedy was Shot, by Jim Bishop:"
"At Idlewild Airport now JFK Airport) in New York , reporters and photographers had been waiting for the American Airlines plane among (the passengers) was Nixon. As he got off the plane he thought that he would give 'the boys' basically the same interview he had granted in Dallas . Nixon posed for a few pictures . . . got into a taxi-cab was barely out of the airport when one of the reporters got the message: The President has been shot in Dallas."
Now let's compare these. Nixon was in Dallas on November 22. The versions agree that he took some plane out in the morning Bishop says it was American Airlines and that it went into Idlewild. Nixon says that it landed precisely at 12:56 nearly one half-hour after Kennedy had been shot. Certainly the crew would have heard over their radio that the president had been shot and would have told their passengers. Then Bishop says reporters and photographers were there. Certainly they too would have known about Kennedy's murder by then. Everyone else in the world did. Bishop says the photographers took pictures. Where are they?
Nixon says he traveled to New York from Dallas with a friend. Who? And what is his story?
Nixon says he got in a cab, presumably well after 12:56. What cabbie in New York City would have not known the news by then? And then Nixon tells a strange story. The first time a man ran out to the cab with the news, and the second time the cab was "lost" and a woman ran out screaming and crying the news. These different accounts do not hold water.
With all of this very contrived series of accounts it looks as though someone has been fabricating a cover-up of Nixon's actions that day. Why?
The True Story
Actually, Nixon was in Dallas when JFK was shot. On April 2nd 1975 a young man was listening to a talk at his school when he heard the lecturer tell about the Esquire account of Nixon's trip to Dallas, and how and when Nixon had learned about JFK's death. That young man then told the lecturer, "My father was an executive for the Pepsi Cola Company, and he was in Dallas on November 22nd 1963 at that convention. He has told me that Nixon was there in Dallas at the convention when the announcement was heard that JFK had been killed, Nixon left later that afternoon,"
This young man is the son of Mr. Harvey Russel of the Pepsi Cola Company. When Mr. Russel was informed of his son's account, he agreed that his son's story was true. Mr. Russel confirmed that Nixon was attending that meeting at the time the shots were fired. He added Nixon was there representing the Pepsi Cola Company's law firm Mudge, Rose, Nixon et al. The Dallas newspapers stated that Nixon was attending a board meeting.
Mr. Russel confirmed that the session Nixon was attending broke up when the assassination news came through. Nixon then returned to his hotel and later in the afternoon had been driven to the Dallas airport by a Mr. Deluca, also a Pepsi Cola official.
These surprising series of events and the manner in which they unfolded after all these years underscore that there was something unusual about Nixon's visit to Dallas. Telephone calls to Deluca and again to Russel did little more than highlight their growing concern over the inadvertent disclosure of this story.
George Herbert Walker Bush?
Red Hering... Bush phoning in... READ RUSS BAKER
Family of Secrets. The Bush Dynasty, America's Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years
Barbara Bush: I was getting my hair done in Tyler, Texas, working on a letter
"The elder Bush cannot really remember where he was on November 22,
At 1:45 p.m. Mr. George H. W. Bush, President of the Zapata Off-shore Drilling Company, Houston, Texas, residence 5525 Briar, Houston, telephonically furnished the following information to writer by long distance telephone call from Tyler, Texas.
BUSH stated that he wanted to be kept confidential but wanted to furnish hearsay that he recalled hearing in recent weeks, the day and source unknown. He stated that one JAMES PARROTT has been talking of killing the President when he comes to Houston.
BUSH stated that PARROTT is possibly a student at the University of Houston and is active in political matters in the area. He stated that he felt Mrs. FAWLEY, telephone number SU 2-5239, or ARLENE SMITH, telephone number JA 9-9194 of the Harris County Republican Party Headquarters would be able to furnish additional information regarding the identity of PARROTT.
BUSH stated that he was proceeding to Dallas, Texas, would remain in the Sheraton-Dallas Hotel and return to his residence on 11-23-63. His office telephone number is CA 2-0395.
Here, George Bush establishes a paper trail for himself of being in Tyler, Texas just moments after the shooting of the President. But interesting enough, he also gives the suspect an alibi as well.
The FBI investigated James Parrot and found him to be innocent and completely harmless. He had apparently made no such threats against the President or anyone else. Parrot lived at home with his mother. He had been discharged from the air force on psychological grounds and had a seventh grade education. He was self-employed as a sign painter. And importantly, he had two alibis—one was from his mother. She said he was home at the time of the shooting.
But here is the kicker—Parrot's second alibi comes from Bush campaign member Kearney Reynolds. It seems at the time Poppy was making his call to the FBI to report Parrot, Reynolds was sent to Parrot's house to tell him of the assassination and request a sign to be made for the campaign. So not only does George Bush create an alibi for himself but gives one to the man he is fingering as a suspect by using with one of his own associates!
James Parrot was given a soft landing. He never knows who accused him till years later. He even worked as a volunteer on Bush's 1992 presidential campaign not knowing the full extent of what happened. Bush claims to have never known Parrot but he would have to know more than he let on to send Reynolds to the guy's house to ask for campaign signage. After all, this was Poppy's suggestion.
Barbara Bush gets into this too in her memoirs. She includes a letter she claims to have written to her children in a Tyler beauty parlor the day of the assassination. It starts out "Dearest Family" but all of her children are under 10 years of age and the eldest, George W., is away in prep school. Also, she'll be home in a few days so by the time she would have mailed the letter they would have been home before the letter arrived. She makes no mention of Poppy's call to the FBI. In fact, the letter is rather bland but not without hopeful thoughts that a commie did it. She signs it "Bar" and not as "mother" or any maternal identifier as one would for small children. Nobody ever knows of this letter till it is published in her memoirs. It is unspecified if the letter was even mailed. So, if Poppy can't remember, Bar can.
Here we have George Bush providing cover for himself on this fateful day. But it raises the question; if he was not involved in the crime, then why go to such effort to create an alibi? He was running for Senator at the time, an unsuccessful bid that would have him loosing to Democrat Lloyd Benson. Poppy was deeply embedded with the Texas oil oligarchy. They were very antagonistic to Kennedy, even running hostile ads in the local Dallas paper the day of the assassination. (D. H. Byrd, a Texas oil businessman, and virulent Kennedy hater, owned the School Book Depository building.) Perhaps Poppy didn't want any blow-back from that if they came under tighter scrutiny?
Of course, the only other explanation was that George Bush was involved in a conspiracy.
It makes it even more interesting to consider that George Bush Sr. was, at least circumstantially, a CIA operative during this time. His business partner in Zapata Oil, Thomas Devine, was a CIA staff employee. This relationship dates as far back as 1953. We know this from a CIA memo. In 1985 Journalist Joseph McBride, while researching a piece for Daily Variety stumbled upon a document that would provide more fuel for the Kennedy assassination researchers. It was a memo written by FBI Director Hoover mentioning a briefing given to two individuals on November 29, 1963. One man was Capt William Edwards of the DIA and the other was George Bush of the CIA. Bush was CIA Director for one year, 1976-77 and denied ever being connected with the Agency prior to that. When questioned, the CIA said it was a different man, a George William Bush. McBride found the man in question who denied that he ever received such a briefing, as he was a GS-5 probationary civil servant—a night clerk. Poppy will answer no questions regarding this issue. (Vince Buglosi in his Reclaiming History End Notes says that the ARRB found no connection to Bush Sr. and that former CIA Director Allen Dulles had a Major General George Bush in his appointment calendar. Buglosi makes no determination on any of this. The ARRB simply didn't look into it deeply enough or else wanted to avoid a conflict.)
"If the American people knew what we have done, they would string us
up from the lamp posts." George H. W. Bush