All the Way with LBJ
With the possible exception of 9/11, few events in the Grand American Narrative have attracted or generated as much controversy, speculation, rumour, fevered imagination, contrived analysis, or misinformation, disinformation and counterfactual hypothesising as the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK). Was it actually Lee Harvey Oswald (LHO) who masterminded and perpetrated the hit on his 'Pat Malone'? (Spoiler alert: No it wasn't! Now let's move on.)
Or was LHO a patsy for others? If we accept indeed there were "others", it begs some very basic, crucial questions: Who conceived of the hit on JFK, and why? Who was involved in its elaborate planning and orchestration, and the even more complex, and never-ending cover-up? Who had the motive, the means and the opportunity?
Moreover, given the monumental logistical undertaking required, how was the collective understanding to proceed arrived at in the first instance by all those involved? And how was it planned, coordinated and executed without leaving substantial evidence to point to the actual perpetrators, facilitators and sponsors? Further, how is it possible that all attempts thus far to establish the real facts have been criminally derailed and/or terminated with extreme prejudice despite the overwhelming evidence there was a conspiracy?
It is precisely because the Single Bullet/Lone Nutter narrative from the off was so far-fetched the ongoing speculation surrounding the assassination is unlikely to peter out anytime soon. With the number of books alone written about the subject enough to fill your average Presidential Library, by that loose metric alone -- 9/11 aside -- it is probably still the Mother of all Modern Conspiracies.
In fact it was the 'Big Event' that spawned the prevailing, pejorative view of people who rejected the official Warren Commission report as a cover-up, as tin-foil hat wearing loony-toons. Needless to say, this is the very upshot certain folks intended. Along with numerous other skeletons in the fetid, gloomy closets of American history, the "conspiracy theory" meme is all part of the misinformation and disinformation mix that has been peddled to forever muddy the waters of the facts and circumstances related to JFK's demise so it forever remains a mystery.
Yet if Phillip Nelson's just released book LBJ: From Mastermind to "The Colossus" is anything to go by, we are now several steps closer to answering most if not all of the above questions and solving -- over, above and beyond any reasonable doubt -- the Crime of the (Last) Century.
With Nelson's masterful tome -- the eagerly anticipated follow-up to his equally compelling 2010 book LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination -- we now might say with some finality the real conspiracy theorists are the ones still clinging to the single bullet/lone nutter theory, a monumentally dubious hypothesis that always required a wholesale suspension of belief in the basic laws and principles of physics, statistics, ballistics, maths, probability, logic and deductive reasoning, not to mention plain common sense.
The Man Who Would Be President
Of all the JFK conspiracy theories out there, few are as compelling as that of his vice-president Lyndon Baines Johnson (aka LBJ) being the "mastermind", to borrow from Nelson. Of all the suspects, it was Johnson -- the vice president whose very title even before any deliberation on his suspected assassination links most accurately defined the man who held it -- who might have been considered the most prime suspect.
Whilst the JFK Thing/LBJ Link was and still remains the most plausible for some, for others it was the one theory that if proven true, it might have shaken America to its core. Even after fifty years or more, one suspects it still has the potential to do so. And given that most Americans would've had difficulty believing their own country would intervene in another country to kill or remove a legitimately elected leader, let alone stage a coup in their own backyard and ruthlessly and violently relieve their own duly elected leader from the burdens of office in such a manner, [this] surely would have been a bitter pill to swallow then, as now.
One of the reasons for the continuing speculation about the JFK Thing has been the unwillingness of successive administrations to release the mountains of evidence still under wraps. The rationale given as to why it has been withheld was/it ostensibly because of "national security" reasons. Yet, the "national security" card is still being played to this day. As much of the remaining evidence is not due for release until 2017, we can expect this 'card' to remain in play for some time yet.
In his first book Nelson did a remarkable job of aggregating -- and then tying together -- all of the disparate elements and convoluted threads of the JFK narrative. He presented an irresistibly convincing account -- a no holds barred indictment -- of LBJ's role as the main instigator. According to Nelson, Johnson was the man who -- along with especially G-Man supremo J Edgar Hoover, former CIA super-spooks Allen Dulles and James Jesus Angleton and others -- orchestrated the seemingly impossible task of keeping it all under wraps.
Nelson lays out in fascinating, sordid detail LBJ motives: how it was all planned and micro-managed; and how he was able to -- once he became commander in chief -- meet the daunting challenge of covering his tracks. For the most part he deconstructs then reframes much of that existing evidence and witness testimony to reveal fresh insights. In effect he attempts to link together what the available evidence has been telling us for some time.