In 2013, Roger Stone published The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ.[1] He was the first JFK assassination conspiracy analyst (not “theorist”) to have worked in the White House and personally known some of the presidents who came afterward.

Jeff Morley wrote in his introduction to his interview with him, “Stone brings unique practical experience and personal contacts at the highest levels of American politics to a subject that has often been written about by people with neither.” He stated that Stone’s background doesn’t make his theory automatically correct, but he cannot be dismissed as someone who is out of touch with American politics and power. He added, ”I think Stone’s indictment of Lyndon Johnson deserves to be taken more seriously than anyone else’s precisely because of his White House experience.”[2]

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One could add that all the evidence that Roger Stone brings forth presents a persuasive argument on its own, despite his biography. The evidence may need to be scrutinized further, but the book provides two perspectives that have been curiously lacking in many studies of the Kennedy assassination. One is the discussion of Kennedy’s serious faults and how they contributed to his downfall, and the other is the discussion of Johnson’s possible guilt in the murder plot. It’s such an obvious rock to turn over, but for fifty years no one wanted to go there.

Roger Stone told Jeff Morley that his book is not disparate from many other groundbreaking works like James Douglass’, The Unspeakable, Phillip Nelson’s LBJ: the Mastermind of the JFK Assassination, Barr McClellan’s Blood Money & Power, Craig Zirbel’s Texas Connection, and Glen Sample and Mark Collom’s The Men on the Sixth Floor. He saw his book as an addition to these seminal works.

Related Post: Fake News in the Age of Assassins: Why the Political Killings of the 1960s Still Matter

A list of Roger Stone’s allegations made in various interviews about the book are as follows.[3] (Additional comments by the author of this essay are in brackets)

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Johnson had motive, means and opportunity to murder John F. Kennedy. He was the lynch pin of the assassination plot, and he carried it out with various people in the CIA, the FBI, the military, Dallas police, organized crime and groups of anti-Castro Cuban exiles.

Johnson was responsible for at least eight murders before he became vice president. He had killed to cover up vote theft and corruption, and he had employed a known killer, Malcolm Wallace, who avoided prison thanks to his connection to Johnson. This killer left a finger print at the 6th floor of the book repository where Lee Harvey Oswald is alleged to have shot from. Descriptions of the person leaving the depository match Wallace.

LBJ (Lyndon Johnson) had the most powerful position in the Senate, one which he should have preferred to being essentially a figurehead as vice president, but he faced investigation in the Senate, and eventual prosecution, for his corruption. LBJ was facing ruin if he didn’t become vice president. LBJ once said he wanted to be vice president because there was a ”one in four chance of Kennedy dying and me becoming president.”

LBJ had a bad reputation among people who worked with him. He fathered three illegitimate children while president, and was said to be an obnoxious, crude, foul-mouthed bully.

Johnson oversaw and approved CIA budgets during the 1950s, and thus had substantial connections to and influence with the security state.

LBJ took $55,000 per month from the mob to protect gambling in Texas.

LBJ had connections to the oil industry in Texas. He helped the oil industry profit from the “depletion allowance” but Kennedy wanted to do away with it.

Johnson also took money for defense contracts, but Kennedy was upsetting his arrangements by putting defense contracts in congressional districts that voted Democrat.

LBJ lived across the street from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, and they got along well. From Hoover, Johnson got information on Kennedy’s sex life in order to blackmail Kennedy and make him choose Johnson as vice president. Kennedy had already chosen someone else, but he made a surprise switch to Johnson at the last minute.

Hoover also faced the threat of termination by Kennedy, so he had motive to co-operate with Johnson in this scheme.

All the heat from corruption investigations stopped for a while when LBJ became vice president, but they soon became a threat again. Bobby Kennedy wanted him off the vice presidential ticket in 1964, and he helped Life Magazine set up an expose on LBJ scheduled to come out on December 1st, 1963. Johnson needed to become president in order to avoid prosecution.

Texas governor Connally was not supposed to be, and didn’t want to be, in the limousine with Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Johnson tried to get him switched out, but Kennedy insisted on making no changes. He wanted to ride with Connally to create the appearance that the governor of Texas supported him. (Kennedy knew threats of assassination were in the air. There had been a thwarted assassination attempt in Chicago just a few weeks earlier. If he had put less importance on this campaign appearance, and more on his safety, he would have called off this dangerous ride through Dallas in a convertible with the top down.)

JBJ was riding a few vehicles behind in the motorcade, and there is a photo of him “hitting the deck” and talking on a two-way radio a few seconds before the first bullet was heard.

Bill Moyers, deputy director of the Peace Corps at the time, soon to be Johnson’s press secretary, relayed a message to the secret service that Kennedy wanted the bubble top on the convertible removed. He was deceived into passing on this false information and has never spoken about it since.

Jacqueline Kennedy could get no reliable information from American intelligence, but French intelligence told her they had concluded LBJ was central to the plot. Charles de Gaulle had survived assassination attempts directed at him by European CIA/NATO/French intelligence front companies based in Italy. (These fronts had connections to Americans investigated by Jim Garrison in his famous trial of Kennedy assassination conspirators.[4]) Soviet intelligence made the same conclusion that LBJ was the key figure in the assassination plot, and the CIA knew that the KGB held this view.)

One of the last statements by Jack Ruby, killer of Oswald, on the question of conspiracy was “Look at the man at the top.”

Johnson told the Warren Commission that the Soviets killed Kennedy and this “fact” needed to be covered up to avoid nuclear war. If the public knew the truth, they would demand retribution. This explains why so many went along with the preposterous lies of the Warren Commission. (As ever, “national security” was the always-convenient excuse. Nuclear arsenals are convenient in this way for invoking dread fear and cancelling possible solutions to problems unrelated to nuclear arsenals. They don’t need to be detonated to be useful.)

George H.W. Bush said for thirty years he didn’t remember where he was on Nov. 22, 1963, but every other American alive at the time found it impossible to forget where they were at the moment they heard about the assassination.

Four men who would later become president were in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

LBJ delivered millions of war profits to his friends. The United States could have ended the war in Vietnam and normalized relations with Cuba if Johnson had not become president. (This is true only if we assume someone else, Kennedy or another president, could have stopped the war machine from getting what it wanted. The wishful past hypothetical is unprovable.)

In describing his own life and political evolution, Roger Stone said, “I’ve soured on the duopoly.” He is against foreign wars and the excessive military budget. He helped Gary Johnson in his 2012 campaign as an independent presidential candidate. (In his 2017 speech at Oxford University he said he is appalled by the erosion of civil liberties in the 21st century, and he decried the persecution of Julian Assange, noting that he should have the same protections as other journalists and publications such as the New York Times and others that published the Pentagon Papers long ago.)[5]

Roger Stone worked for Richard Nixon and he believes Watergate was a second coup d’etat that ousted Richard Nixon. (This is a “fringe” interpretation of Watergate, but it has been pointed out by leftists for years that the triumph of justice inside the Beltway did nothing to solve state crimes committed against dissident American citizens by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program[6], or the high profile assassinations of JFK, RFK, MLK and Malcolm X.)

Roger Stone interviewed John Davis Lodge who confirmed that his brother Henry Cabot Lodge, JFK’s Ambassador to South Vietnam, had knowledge of the involvement of the CIA and Lyndon Johnson in JFK’s murder.

Roger Stone also cited Governor Jesse Ventura’s research which confirmed the link between the Bay of Pigs, JFK’s assassination and the downfall of Nixon in Watergate.

Nixon never overtly said “LBJ did it” but he did say a number of things that more than indicate he believed this. Nixon recognized Jack Ruby and knew him since 1947 as a “Johnson Man.” Upon seeing Ruby kill Oswald on national TV Nixon recognized him—and understood what had really happened in Dallas. Nixon told him in 1989, ”The difference between me and LBJ  was we both wanted to be President, but I wouldn’t kill for it.”

Nixon was vice president in the late 1950s and was involved in plans to invade Cuba. Nixon knew things about the Bay of Pigs failed invasion and threatened to divulge them. In exchange he wanted files on the Kennedy assassination to use for his own leverage with the CIA. When the Watergate break-in occurred, there was a CIA person involved. The CIA used their knowledge of the break-in against Nixon to bring him down in this “second coup.” With this coup, the CIA proved they didn’t favor either party.

The cover-up continues. The New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post and CNN all refused to review Roger Stone’s book or interview him.

Such an assassination could not be done today because of the impossibility of controlling the media.

Roger Stone said that in his long career he was most proud of his work with Reagan, and, secondly, most proud of this book. He said Reagan was not a member of the establishment. He was an outsider who made some fundamental changes. No president was perfect.

“… many JFK assassination researchers believe the President was killed by ‘the establishment’ or the ‘military-industrial complex,’ which would include munitions manufacturers, defense contractors, Texas oil, the CIA, the FBI and numerous ambitious politicians. What these researchers don’t understand is that ‘the establishment’ is not monolithic. Members of the establishment don’t necessarily move in concert. The establishment is racked with its own intramural contests, rivalries and struggles for political power. While it may be true that many establishment figures either knew about Kennedy’s murder in advance or at least acquiesced in it, they were not conspirators themselves.” (The group of people who “acquiesced” must certainly include a relatively large number of people who did not want to acquiesce but were too intimidated to speak out and call for investigations, or too afraid of causing the world community and American citizens to lose faith in the United States government. The stayed silent simply to preserve the status quo, support the current president, and support the fight against communism.)

The four major American political assassinations of the 1960s all happened during the presidency of Lyndon Johnson:

John F. Kennedy                  November 22, 1963

Malcolm X                             February 21, 1965

Martin Luther King Jr.         April 4, 1968

Robert Kennedy                  June 6, 1968

 Comments

The theory that Johnson was the lynch pin of the assassination is highly plausible. Kennedy probably could have been pushed into giving the generals their war in Vietnam, especially since he had stated that withdrawal of American support depended on South Vietnamese victory, which was very unlikely to happen without American help. He would have had to be a hawk in order to get re-elected because he had won in 1960 by only a thin margin, and that was achieved by attacking Eisenhower and Nixon from the right. It was well-known that Kennedy was capable of great compromises in order to get elected.

If Kennedy had not been willing to deliver the war, the security state and weapons contractors could have thrown their support behind other presidential candidates, from either party. Because a faction of the national security complex was capable of carrying out a murderous coup d’etat, it was certainly capable of the safer and easier task of carrying out a character assassination that could have eliminated Kennedy as a political force. Perhaps they wanted to carry out this assassination so that it would be a deterrent for all future presidents, but if they had simply wanted Kennedy gone, the presidential election was only a year away, and in that year there would have been plenty of opportunity to blackmail Kennedy or expose his sexual scandals, or to just plant rumors about him or hound him in the media, as was done with Gary Hart twenty-five years later to make him drop out of the 1988 presidential contest.

Character assassination should have been the preferred option for the conspirators because it would eliminate the risks involved in committing the high crimes of murder and treason. There would be no need for the complicated cover-up and preposterous lies about the “magic bullet” and so on—no risk of failure or injuring bystanders, or being caught on film by someone with a home movie camera.

It’s unlikely that the conspirators would have acted without the man who would be king giving the green light and an assurance of a cover-up. Thus it’s logical to assume that the reason that the character assassination of JFK was not preferred was because it would have eliminated Lyndon Johnson’s opportunity to become the president. If Kennedy declined to run in 1964 because of a character assassination campaign, Johnson would go down with him. In contrast, the assassination guaranteed Johnson’s ascendancy to the presidency and escape from prosecution for corruption, and a quick escalation of the war in Vietnam.

There is also the possibility that LBJ was an ambiguous or reluctant collaborator in the murder and the cover-up. Once he was invited to join the plan, what would his options have been? This train was leaving the station with or without him. He could have alerted the president, but he had to be keenly aware that he too could be killed if he didn’t go along with the plan. Furthermore, if he saw himself as a moderate who could refrain from launching a pre-emptive nuclear war on the USSR, as many cold warriors desired in the early 1960s, then he would hesitate to take a chance on someone besides himself becoming president after a double coup d’état. This grim scenario suggests that the United States was in an age of terror similar to that of the USSR in the 1930s in which tyrannical plots from below could only be stopped with tyrannical counter-measures from the legitimate head of state. In the Soviet case, however, Stalin was willing to take extreme measures in order to hold onto his position at the top of the hierarchy.

It is quite astounding, actually, to note how neglected Johnson has always been in all discussions of the assassination, by both conspiracy analysts and by those who endorse the lone gunman explanation. Most Americans can get past their cognitive dissonance and admit that Kennedy must have been killed by a conspiracy within the security state, but they can’t descend one level lower in the “Unspeakable”[7] to consider that the man sitting in the sacred Oval Office was guilty of involvement in the plot. Acceptance of this darker explanation requires one to go beyond partisan attachment to the Democratic Party and address the serious flaws of both Kennedy and Johnson. If Kennedy really did have that spiritual conversion in the last year of his life, how can that be reconciled with his unrestrained sexual appetite? And how does that appetite and his reputation for virility not contradict the descriptions of him as sickly and in pain for half the time he lived? These are serious contradictions that are rarely addressed by those who mourn the loss of the great peacemaker. Yet to non-Americans, or to any impartial observer looking with fresh eyes at Johnson’s rise to power, the likelihood of his guilt is as obvious as it is for a child watching Scar in The Lion King. Cui bono?

This tendency to ignore the possibility of Johnson’s guilt has also been on display since Roger Stone involved himself in Donald Trump’s election campaign. This may have been a foolish move on his part to ride in the clown car and associate himself with Trump’s inchoate policies. At present, Trump seems to be going along with plan to slowly kill Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The Washington establishment pounced on Roger Stone, and Twitter banned him permanently, but, ironically, no one seemed ever mention his book about Lyndon Johnson that had been a New York Times best-seller just four years earlier. The silence on this matter is a sort of “dog that didn’t bark.” Perhaps Roger Stone is disliked more for his book than he is for his association with the Trump campaign. It is easy to cite disastrous effects of Trump’s economic and environmental policies and be alarmed by his erratic and callous behavior, and thus question why we should take Roger Stone seriously. However, one aspect of Trump’s presidency is the fear he has struck in the national security complex because of his outsider status and his common man’s common sense frankness about what the US government has been doing during his lifetime. Every other president had the “etiquette” to know that certain things, like government-sponsored terror and assassinations, are not talked about in polite company. But Trump just doesn’t care, sometimes. One example was his infamous statement to Bill O’Reilly shortly after becoming president when he dismissed O’Reilly’s concern that Putin was a “killer.” He shrugged and said, “There’s a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?” The establishment went, as Americans like to say, “ballistic.”

Notes

[1] Roger Stone and Mike Colapietro, The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ (Skyhorse Publishing, 2013).

[2] Jeff Morley, “Why Roger Stone’s JFK book has to be taken seriously,” jfkfacts.org, June 25, 2013.

[3] See note 2 for one of these interviews. The other interviews can be found at these links: LBJ and the Killing of JFK with Roger Stone and Roger Stone: The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ.

[4] Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins (Skyhorse Publishing, 2008, 1988), Chapter 6.

[5] Roger Stone Full Address and Q&A at Oxford Union, February 2018.

[6] A Huey P. Newton Story, (Luna Ray Films, 2002).

[7] James W. Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (Touchstone, 2008). I used the word Unspeakable to make reference to this excellent study of the JFK assassination. However, Douglass, along with the other Mr. Stone (Oliver) interested in JFK, makes only passing mention of the practical and moral issues raised by Kennedy’s scandalous private behavior. Putting aside the moral question about his reckless sexual behavior, it was strategically foolish because it put him at risk of political ruin, not to mention the effects it had on his family. It left him open to blackmail and questions about his fitness to hold high office. If he was so keenly aware of the difficulty of saving the world from nuclear holocaust, why did he let his own appetites jeopardize his hold on power even further?

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