Sunday, November 14, 2010

What McClellan Doeesn't Tell Us

                What McClellan Doesn't Tell Us

                    John Delane Williams

As one who waited for Barr McClellan's book with anticipation that it might throw definitive light on the JFK assassination, to say that I was disappointed would be mild. My reaction apparently was not unique. Brown [1] was surprised to find that the book he helped edit for McClellan was materially changed by the time it left the warehouse. While I had not seen earlier versions of the work, MCClellan's [2] statement to the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) indicated to me that he was in the process of writing a definitive book implicating Lyndon Johnson. McClellan's [3] finished work was less than definitive in this regard.

Basically, McClellan used his relationship to the Edward A. Clark law firm in Austin as the basis for his writing. McClellan, a young attorney, was hired as an associate in Clark's law firm in 1966. McClellan inferred his scenario from his inside position at the firm, concluding that Clark masterminded the assassination on Lyndon's behalf. There is no smoking gun beyond that which researchers had previously reported, only McClellan's inferences.

Mac Wallace, a former employee of the agricultural department and convicted murderer of Doug Kinser, a pitch and putt golf course owner, plays prominently in the McClellan inferred version of the assassination. To be sure, McClellan, in Blood, Money & Power: How LBJ Killed JFK, describes Wallace, Clark and LBJ in fairly convincing depictions of the character of each of these men. Too many loose ends are dangling to give a definitiveness to this undocumented theory as it relates to the JFK assassination. To be sure, each of these men was involved in the conspiracy. What is lacking is the explanation of other events related to the assassination untouched by the Clark-Johnson-Wallace theory. The known 'facts' would scream for a wider conspiracy than McClellan describes. Having said that, much of the description by McClellan may prove to be accurate. But the missing pieces are too large.
First, a description of the Clark-Johnson-Wallace scenario is in order.

                   "How LBJ Did it" 

McClellan chronicles the intertwining of the lives of Lyndon Johnson and Clark. To this is added the bringing in of Mac  Wallace. It is first surmised that none of these men had a conscience. Clark's first major involvement with Lyndon begins with the infamous "ballot box 13", wherein Clark set in motion long before the primary run-off between Johnson and Coke Stevenson for the US Senate nomination for the Democratic Party in Texas in 1948.
Clark set in motion getting the fix in for LBJ's winning the nomination. McClellan reviews the details, some of which he secured from his position as a member of the firm 18 years after the election. The murder of Doug Kinser was said to be at the behest of LBJ; apparently, Kinser was trying to use his relationship with Johnson's sister, Josefa, to acquire a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan thru Johnson's intercession. Clark determined that getting rid of Kinser was necessary to save Johnson's political life. Wallace was enlisted to "take care of the problem." This ended Wallace's own political aspirations (he'd once been the student body president at the University of Texas). Wallace was defended by John Cofer, from the Clark law-firm. Wallace was convicted of first degree murder, and was given five years probation; even that was expunged from his record upon the ending of probation. Clark seemed to "own" many Texas judges. Several other similar scenarios were played out, where persons who potentially could embarrass LBJ were "eliminated", including his sister, Josefa, who died mysteriously after attending a Christmas Eve party at LBJ's Texas ranch in 1961.

Billie Sol Estes' problems apparently became LBJ's problems. To handle these problems, seemingly LBJ would talk to Clark who would then enlist Mac Wallace, who would "eliminate" the source of the problem. The strange death, in 1961, of Henry Marshall, an United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigator, is one case in point. Tying Wallace to Marshall's murder is relatively easy, but apparently not as easy as it was for Clark to get the investigation ended in a rigged grand jury hearing. 

The problems of Bobby Baker, Johnson's former senate aide, are given less prominence in McClellan's book than they deserved. For example, the senate hearings involving LBJ's alleged improprieties, which were going on the day of the assassination involving the testimony of Donald Reynolds is not even mentioned. Reynolds had made a gift of a television set to LBJ and had purchased air time (which was of no value to Reynolds whatsoever) on Lady Bird's radio station, all at the behest of Bobby Baker, for Reynolds having sold Johnson a life insurance policy. (See [4] for a discussion of Reynold's testimony.) The hearings were going on at the very time of the assassination. When the assassination was announced, the hearings were suspended. In that some assassination researchers have conjectured that these very hearings might cause LBJ to resign, or face impeachment, not addressing the hearings seems to be a major oversight.

                     The Murchison Party

A party was said to be held at the mansion of Clint Murchison, Jr. on the night of November 21, 2003. Until now, Madeleine Brown [5] had been the only person who had admitted to having been at the Murchisons that night, and the meeting there was an all boys event that she did not witness. McClellan reports on the substance of the meeting, which has Edward Clark saying that under Kennedy, "We do not have a reasonable and friendly government...We cannot keep going this way.... I assure you that the solution is at hand. Under the sound leadership of Lyndon Johnson we will turn the nation back on the path of prosperity and greatness... You can rest easy tonight. Our republic will soon be safe from its enemies." Now, it is true that no assassination was announced that night. It would be hard to imagine that LBJ didn't understand that the Kennedy's days were numbered. After the events of the next day, attendees at the party would be able to fill in the blanks. It is not surprising that no attendee would ever acknowledge their presence.

                     The Assassination

The scenario that McClellan has for the assassination is that Oswald and Mac Wallace were shooters on the sixth floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository (TSBD); the fatal shot was fired from behind the picket fence by "Junior", an otherwise non-identified individual. Junior was a contemporary of Wallace, but presumably not previously known to him. Though McClellan seems to try to refrain from identifying Junior, it would seem that he would have had a previous criminal record, and known to Hubert Coffield, of the Texas prison board. Junior was a "little man" [6, (p.195)] "Junior" had a room in downtown Dallas only a few blocks from Dealey Plaza. He would drive to Dealey Plaza and meet Wallace. Junior would be dressed to look like a Secret Service man with a badge. Wallace had earlier met with "Bill Yates", a trusted friend. Yates followed Wallace to Dealey Plaza at 10 AM, also dressed as a Secret Service agent. Yates job was to be a sentry to keep curious onlookers from getting too close. Wallace, Oswald and Junior would be using bullets from the same carton, making identification more difficult. Oswald was to be the patsy. At 11:15 AM, Wallace took the east elevator up to the sixth floor of the TSBD, leaving the doors open, locking it off. Oswald stayed behind when five co-workers took the west elevator down; they sent the elevator back up, as Oswald had requested. Each shooter was to use only one bullet. Junior was to shoot if Wallace was not successful. Oswald had a spent cartridge in his rifle, which he ejected. Oswald fired first, low and to the right. Wallace hit Kennedy in the back shoulder blade. This shot is said to have also caused the damage near his tie knot. The jacket of the bullet is said to have caused the damage to the windshield. The slug is said to have hit the curb, causing a shard of cement to hit James Tague in the cheek. Oswald shot again, hitting Connally. Junior fired the fatal shot from a distance of 150 feet. Both Wallace and Junior escaped. Oswald's murder was intrinsic to the plan. McClellan believes that Ruby was enlisted to kill Oswald through Clark.   

                      The Penthouse Files

McClellan believes that the penthouse records, which were stored at the top of the old Capitol National Bank Building in Austin, hold the proof of a multitude of Clark's nefarious dealings including his relationship to LBJ. Prominent among the documents supposedly held there, at least at one time, was a memo prepared by Martin Harris, a partner of Clark's, on Secret Service protection of the vice-president. The import of such a memo would be in relation to protection stripping, which could be accomplished by knowledgeable insiders. Apparently records of Johnson's sordid dealings were also there. Evidence for Clark's payoff from Big Oil for his role in the assassination (Clark received oil wells worth $2 million several years after the assassination for his part). McClellan went to the penthouse shortly after starting work with the law firm. McClellan describes his visit: upon getting to the penthouse, he and the bookkeeper went through two locked doors before getting to the storage area. Beyond this storage area was yet another area; "Half the available space was behind still another barrier and lock. A heavy wooden and mesh fence had been built, and behind it, boxes were piled even higher and deeper. A locked gate barred entrance. They were Johnson's records, accessible to no one. Even the bookkeper did not have a key." [7, (p. 225)] McClellan surmises that the records may still be in the penthouse, if they have not already been destroyed.

                     Johnson's Psychotherapy

Johnson slipped into a deep depression after giving up the presidency. Initially, Johnson's White House physician, Admiral George Burkley, tried to address Johnson's psychological difficulties. Eventually, by late 1971, an Austin psychiatrist was enlisted to give the former president psychotherapy. By June of 1972, Clark's law firm became aware of the depth of Johnson's disclosures in therapy. To protect themselves, an arrangement was made to pay the unnamed psychiatrist through the law firm, thus extending the attorney client privilege to the psychiatrist. An insurance policy was drawn up making the psychiatrist the beneficiary of a one million dollar policy to remain quiet. The quiet period extends at least thru Lady Bird's lifetime. 

Independent of McClellan's work, Hershman [8] has written a book regarding Johnson's psychological problems. Using predominantly the records left through Johnson's several biographers, Hershman, himself a clinical psychologist, concludes that Johnson had a lifelong battle with manic depression. Several hospitalizations with "mental exhaustion" are referenced. Hershman did not address Johnson's treatment with the psychiatrist, information that was likely unavailable to person's outside of Clark's law firm when Hershman wrote.

             Other documentation provided by McClellan

Several documents of interest are reproduced in the McClellan book. Edward Clark's summary discharge from the Army during World War II is reproduced. The discharge stemmed from the theft of two vehicles. Memos from Clark to Johnson and Johnson to Clark establishing their relationship are included. The Clark memo mentions " take  care of Luca's friend for good..." The Mac Wallace document for his sentence for his conviction for first degree murder, a sentence for five years of unsupervised probation, is shown. The 1984 Grand Jury statement, that changed the official cause of death of Henry Marshall from being a suicide to a homicide, which implicitly is directed at Mac Wallace and Lyndon Johnson, is included. Memos by Leon Jaworski to the Warren Commission regarding the journalist who reported the rumor of Lee Harvey Oswald being an FBI informant, and the muzzling of Jack Ruby are shown. A legal document which McClellan purports to be the basis of Clark's payoff for his role in the assassination is reproduced. But the "piece de resistance" is the material included about Mac Wallace's fingerprint on a box in the sniper's lair in TSBD sixth floor and subsequently identified as such by Nathan Darby.

                  Issues Unaddressed by McClellan

In that forty years elapsed from the time of the assassination and the appearance of Barr McClellan's book, a great deal of evidence has emerged that would demand a much more involved plot than the "LBJ did it with Ed Clark running the show" scenario. Indeed, McClellan's own documents suggest that. The behavior of the Warren Commission on such matters as suppressing even the hint of Oswald being an FBI informer is a case in point.  There are many other indicators of a much wider plot.

One such story is that of Michael Milan [9]. Milan was a member of J. Edgar Hoover's private squad; hence, he was a hit man. Usually, he plied his trade for the Mafia, but on many occasions, Hoover would avail himself of Milan's services. Milan (not his real name) had around 100 identities. Two of them on November 22, 1963 were Michael Milan, car salesman, and Detective Sergeant Milan of the New York City Police Department. This latter identity was set up specifically as an arrangement with Hoover. After the assassination occurred, the sales lot was closed for the day and Milan proceeded to his precinct on West 30th. His phone had already been ringing much of the afternoon. He returned the call, which was patched thru to a Hoover assistant he knew as "Pencil". Milan was told to go to LaGuardia to the American Airlines counter. The tickets were in an envelope with his name. He was to take a handgun and a silencer, and would be flying to Dallas. A briefcase would be waiting for him at the luggage counter with specific instructions. He flew to Dallas that evening, obtaining the briefcase in Dallas. The briefcase had the name of Harold Brinkman, a cabbie for the Yellow Cab Company in it, together with a code number that marked Brinkman for death. Milan made arrangements to have Brinkman pick him up on the morning of the 23rd. After he completed the task, he was to take Brinkman's body to Faracee's Disposal Company. Brinkman figured out that Milan had been sent to put the hit on him. Deviating from his instructions, Milan asked why. Brinkman said he had been hired (the arrangements had been set up at the Carousel Club) to shoot Connally in Dealey Plaza; Brinkman was one of three shooters so engaged. None of the three got a shot off before Connally was shot. Milan finished his job, flying to Washington, where he had a short meeting with Hoover. Clearly, the FBI (and probably also the Mafia) had a hand in the cover-up. The cover-up was begun immediately upon Kennedy's assassination. It is possible that Clark had a hand in this, but more to the point, the FBI was a partner to the cover-up.

Then there is the story of Richard Case Nagell [10]. 
Nagell apprised the FBI of Kennedy's planned assassination with details that should have led to the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, in September of 1963. Nagell had been assigned the task by the Soviets of eliminating Oswald, to forestall Kennedy's assassination. Nagell choose the route of informing the FBI, and when that didn't work, Nagell entered a bank in El Paso, fired two shots into the plaster wall, and, calmly exiting, he waited in his car until a young policeman neared, at which time Nagell surrendered. Later, Nagell said to FBI agents, " I would rather be arrested than commit murder and treason." [11] It is interesting that, among the various government agencies that would have had information about a possible plot to assassinate Kennedy, none would act on behalf of their president; it took the Soviet government to try to avoid the assassination.

Then there is the issue of multiple Oswalds. Armstrong [12] recently published a massive document asserting two Oswalds, Harvey and Lee. Armstrong builds a strong case that government agencies deliberately removed documents and either destroyed them or otherwise removed them from public view. Two separate sets of school records for two clearly different people using the name Lee Harvey Oswald were underway by 1952. This continued thru the two men's military service as well. But there are other Oswald impersonators as well. Perhaps the most notable is the misidentification of a person not even resembling Oswald, photographed at the Soviet embassy in Mexico City. That person was identified as Oswald and published in the Appendix of the Warren Report. Curiously, the Oswald impersonator was identified as Ralph Geb by Gene Noblitt [13]. Noblitt was a high school classmate (at Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas) and acquaintance of Geb. Noblitt was reading Hugh McDonald's Appointment in Dallas. [14] McDonald had the picture from the Warren Commission exhibits (#237) along with two other pictures taken outside the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City. McDonald claims the pictures were of "Saul", whom McDonald says was the actual assassin of President Kennedy, shooting (probably) from The Dallas Records Building. More amazingly, another classmate was Malcolm Wallace. The Sample & Collom book has a picture of Wallace and Geb in their high school football uniforms. Noblitt claimed Wallace and Geb were best friends in high school. Given Wallace's identified fingerprints on the Sixth Floor of the TSBD and Geb's (Saul's) statement about the shooting of President Kennedy, the web becomes more tangled.

The point of all this is that McClellan presents a fairly succinct case against Lyndon Johnson, Edward Clark and Mac Wallace. But McClellan's scenario does not account for a large amount of the conspiratorial activity. Without the complete concurrence of major players in  key positions in both the FBI and the CIA, the conspiracy would have unraveled much more quickly than has been the case. This is not to say the FBI and CIA "did it", and in that sense McClellan may have well ferreted out Edward Clark as a major player. But Clark needed other major players who had their own reasons to see the assassination thru to a "successful" conclusion. There is still much more to be uncovered. But even with Walt Brown's and my own disappointment with McClellan's final version of the text, McClellan's contribution is quite noteworthy.

[1] Brown, W. (2004). Update: Blood. Money and Power, by Barr          McClellan. JFK/DPQ 9(2) 32-34.
[2] McClellan, B. (1998). Petition Submitting New Evidence and         Suggesting Further Investigation. Petition to the Assassination      Records Review Board, May 28. Reproduced in Sardie (1998). LBJ:      A Closer Look-Research Materials.                        
[3] McClellan, B. (2003). Blood, Money and Power: How L.B.J.           Killed J.F.K. New York: Hanover House.
[4] Williams, J.D. & Conway, D. (2001). The Don Reynolds Testimony      and LBJ. (2001). Kennedy Assassination Chronicles. 7(1) 19-27.
[5] Brown, M.D. (1997). Texas in the Morning: The Love Story of        Madeleine Duncan Brown and President Lyndon Baines Johnson.        Baltimore: The Conservatory Press.
[6] McClellan, Blood, Money and Power.
[7] ibid.
[8] Hershman, D.J. (2002). Power Beyond Reason: The Mental Collapse      of Lyndon Johnson. Ft. Lee, NJ: Barricade Books.
[9] Milan, M. (1989). Squad. New York: Berkley Books.
[10] Russell, D. (1992). The Man Who Knew too Much. New York:           Caroll & Graf.
[11] ibid.
[12] Armstrong, J. (2003). Harvey & Lee: How the CIA Framed Oswald.       Arlington, TX: Quasar Ltd.
[13] Sample, G. & Collom, M. (1995). The Men on the Sixth Floor.:       The Story of Loy Factor, an Insider/Participant in the JFK         Killing. Garden Grove, CA: Sample Graphics.
[14] McDonald, H. (1975). Appointment in Dallas: The Final              Solution to the Assassination of JFK. New York: Hugh               McDonald.

 From JFK Deep Politics Quarterly. (2004). 9, 3, 19-24.        

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