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« Drugs, Corruption, and Justice in Vietnam and Afghanistan: A Cautionary Tale | Main | Drone Wars »

11 December 2009


Peter Dale Scott

In McAdams' review of James Douglass's JFK and the Unspeakable. he summarizes John Prados’ report of a newly released White House tape of August 1963 discussing Vietnam ( “According to John Prados, a historian of the Vietnam war, `President Kennedy’s emphasis indicated his determination to fight the war, not abandon it.’”

McAdams accurately quotes from Prados’s interesting commentary, which is worth reading by all of us. But I have already written to Prados to question the assumption he makes (and is made in McAdams' review): namely, that what Kennedy said in August about the purpose of withdrawing troops from Vietnam reveals what he must have been thinking when, in NSAM 263 of October 11, 1963), he authorized an initial withdrawal of 1000 troops by the end of 1963.

Indeed Prados's analysis of the August discussion, if correct, must be taken as evidence that JFK's purpose for a troop withdrawal had changed between August, when it was discussed as what Prados calls a mechanism "to influence the Diem government," and October, when it was demonstrably authorized to be implemented without advising or alerting the Diem government.

I tried yesterday to point this out tactfully to Prados, a scholar whom I respect, in the following email (I have not yet heard back from him):

Dear John Prados,

I read with interest your account of the newly released audio recordings of White House discussions on Vietnam in August 1963 ( However I am not convinced that what Kennedy said about withdrawal in August can tell us what he had in mind when authorizing NSAM 263 in October. Such an extrapolation would assume that his thinking had not changed through those seven tumultuous weeks.

It seems to me that you do make this extrapolation in the following paragraphs

Finally, the new Kennedy tapes further illuminate the debate as to whether John F. Kennedy intended to withdraw the United States from the Vietnam war. The record of the August meetings shows President Kennedy's acute awareness of the political capital he would lose in Congress if the Vietnam war were lost (Item 12). In the meetings Kennedy and his advisers use the term "withdrawal" mostly to signify termination or suspension of aid to the Diem government. They explicitly use "evacuation" in conversations about getting Americans out of South Vietnam in the context of a coup situation, and a plan for such an evacuation was discussed and refined during this period. Kennedy and his advisers were reaching for mechanisms to influence the Diem government, and they would, as noted, terminate aid to some of Diem's troops.

South Vietnamese officials, specifically including Nhu, made public statements at this time that hinted at a future demand for the Americans to leave Vietnam. The minor withdrawal that President Kennedy approved and which Secretary McNamara ordered in October 1963 should be seen in this context: it was a measure that simultaneously suggested that Washington could be responsive to demands by the Diem government, simplified U.S. problems in case an evacuation actually needed to be carried out, and put Diem further on notice that the United States had the power to leave him in the lurch.


And I think you are demonstrably wrong in the last sentence, when you claim that

The minor withdrawal that President Kennedy approved and which Secretary McNamara ordered in October 1963 should be seen in this context: it was a measure that … put Diem further on notice that the United States had the power to leave him in the lurch.

It couldn’t have put Diem on notice, because NSAM 263 explicitly directed there be no formal announcement of the withdrawal; and indeed there was none until after Diem was dead. This directive of secrecy applied to the withdrawal alone, in explicit contrast (as Newman, Galbraith, and I have pointed out) to the Taylor-McNamara proposals for economic and financial sanctions, which were indeed publicized and indeed served as a message to Diem.

This is what I have to say on the his matter, in The War Conspiracy, pp. 290-91:

1) Kennedy did unambiguously order on October 5 1963 that 1000 U.S. troops be withdrawn from Vietnam by the end of December 1963. This was a decision, unlike the intention announced on October 2, as can be seen from a memo of the October 5 meeting:

The President also said that our decision to remove 1,000 U.S. advisors by December of this year should not be raised formally with Diem. Instead the action should be carried out routinely as part of our general posture of withdrawing people when they are no longer needed.

This language was repeated in National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) 263 of October 11, 1963:

The President approved the military recommendations contained in section I B (1-3) of the [McNamara-Taylor] report, but directed that no formal announcement be made of the implementation of plans to withdraw 1,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963.

The debate over the significance of this decision has not abated, but it has changed. The significance of the decision is still minimized by historians like Kai Bird, who now argue that it was no more than a temporary tactic to put pressure on Diem. There were indeed some advisers at the time who saw the threat of withdrawal as a means to pressure Diem. But in the McNamara-Taylor Report of October 2 and the ensuing NSAM 263 of October 11, the withdrawal plan was separated from the political program of economic and financial sanctions. As John Newman and James Galbraith have pointed out, the withdrawal decision was to be kept secret, while the other sanctions were to be publicized, showing clearly that “Kennedy did not want Diem or anyone else to interpret the withdrawal as part of any pressure tactic (other steps that were pressure tactics had also been approved).”

Howard Jones concludes that the withdrawal decision in NSAM 263 embodied a policy that changed with Johnson’s succession to the presidency:

As the presidential tapes show, McNamara urged President Kennedy as late as October 2, 1963, to pursue the withdrawal plan as “a way to get out of Vietnam.” Kennedy’s assassination brought the process to a halt.

I would be interested in your reaction to these comments.



Thank you, Peter. I was about to not even read more of the book b/c of this review. A Harvard graduate and professor at Marquette is no small thing! But your comments are at least a counterpoint so I guess with my smaller brain I will still read more and decide for myself. I will say I find Douglass irritating as an author and narrator but that doesn't mean his book is all wrong.

Jon Harrison

Scott's points are well taken. I don't think that Douglass's book has added much if anything new to our knowledge of either the assassination or Kennedy's Vietnam policy as it evolved in late '63. However, McAdams in his review falls into the same traps he accuses Douglass of getting caught in: selectivity, failure to consider context, and prejudgement based on ideology.

Whether Kennedy would have withdrawn from Vietnam after 1964 we can never know. There is a much better case for it than McAdams claims, and Scott's comment highlights some of the best evidence. As to the assassination, an objective look at the evidence really leaves one in no doubt that a conspiracy was involved, and that it was domestic in origin. There is undoubtedly an enormous amount of pro-conspiracy literature that is pure bunkum. This was and is the inevitable result of "respectable" elements in media and government failing to pursue the crime properly; as a result all sorts of people rush in to fill the void. But real scholarship on the assassination does exist, and it has successfully demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that Oswald, or at least Oswald acting alone, was NOT responsible for Kennedy's death. It has further demonstrated that the scope of activity both before and after the event was far too extensive and sophisticated to have been the work of a lone nut -- or a few lone nuts acting in concert. On the evidence, a powerful conspiracy -- which had to include elements within the US government -- was involved.

Perhaps McAdams has not taken the time to review the evidence in detail. Alternatively, he may simply be predisposed, psychologically, to dismiss the idea that a portion of the American government would kill the legitimate, elected leader of the country. For just as there are people who must see a conspiracy behind every tragedy, there are those who cannot admit that America is in some respects no different from any other polity in human history.


Thanks for the review.
Ugh, what a bore of a book.

William Murphy

Senator Edward Kennedy voted for the Tonkin resolution, almost a declaration of war against North Vietnam, less than a year after the assassination of JFK. Theodore Sorensen, legal counsel to JFK, wrote in KENNEDY (1965) that JFK intended to stay in Vietnam because there was no alternative. Sorensen is mentioned many times by Douglass, but that fact is not mentioned.

In A THOUSAND DAYS, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., longtime political adviser to JFK, does not mention any plan by JFK to withdraw even though he does not state explicitly that JFK intended to stay in Vietnam. Douglass claims that Robert McNamara supported JFK's plan to withdraw, but McNamara supported LBJ's escalation of the war in 1965, and in one of his books he states that it was only in December 1965 that he first mentioned to LBJ that the war could not be won.

Robert Kennedy entered the Senate in 1965, and neither he nor Edward Kennedy made any objections to LBJ's escalation of the war.

That James Douglass wrote a silly book does not bother me. What does bother me is that no one at Orbis Books spent about eight hours in a good public library to find all of the above facts and neither did the Jesuit (I have forgotten his name) who wrote an uncritical review in America magazine.

Gary L. Aguilar

Professor McAdams writes, "Douglass endorses Gary Aguilar’s tendentious treatment of eyewitness testimony in an effort to impeach basic forensic findings . . . . "

John McAdams has frequently claimed that I've tendentiously treated the statements of witnesses to JFK's injuries, most recently in his book "JFK Assassination Logic."

Interested parties may find interesting my review of McAdams's book [] in which, inter alia, I write:

The professor writes,

“The tour de force of selectively using testimony to reach a particular conclusion can be found in an essay by Gary Aguilar, who claims to have examined the testimony of forty-six witnesses to Kennedy’s wounds at Parkland Hospital and Bethesda Naval Hospital. Aguilar claims that forty-four of them saw a wound to the ‘back of the head,’ contradicting the autopsy photos and X-rays and suggesting a shot from the grassy knoll … To reach this number, however, Aguilar has to be massively selective in the testimony he uses and quite tendentious in how he interprets it.” (p. 28)

McAdams showcases the statements of Clint Hill as his first example of my tendentiously abusing evidence. He writes, “Clint Hill was the Secret Service agent who ran to the presidential limo after the shooting started and huddled over John and Jackie Kennedy on the wild ride to Parkland. Aguilar quotes him (correctly) as telling the Warren Commission that he saw a “large gaping wound in the right rear portion of the [president’s] (sic) head.” Aguilar interprets this statement as supporting his position (that JFK had a rearward skull wound) despite its vagueness. But Hill told National Geographic, in a TV special titled "Inside the US Secret Service," that there was a ‘gaping hole above the right ear about the size of my palm.’ (p. 29) ‘Above his right ear’ implies parietal bone and is consistent with the autopsy photos and X-rays.”

McAdams never mentions that I prefaced my witness compilation with, “It was not the author’s intent to list every comment ever made by every witness, but rather to gather the earliest, presumably most reliable, accounts for consideration and comparison.” That aside, apparently McAdams considers me massively selective and quite tendentious because I failed to include in my 1994 essay statements that Hill (may have) made to National Geographic in 2004. (I’ve not been able to get a copy of the video to verify McAdams’s assertions. For what it’s worth, in his new book, "Mrs. Kennedy and Me," Hill has again described JFK’s skull damage as involving the upper right rear of the head.[xxxvi])

But McAdams is correct that I offered Hill as a witness who said JFK’s skull damage was rearward. I did so because Hill’s meaning seemed clear enough in the full quote I cited, from which the professor took only a snippet. Here’s what I originally wrote, a longer Hill quote:

“The right rear portion of his head was missing. It was lying in the rear seat of the car. His brain was exposed ...There was so much blood you could not tell if there had been any other wound or not, except for the one large gaping wound in the right rear portion of the head.” (WC--V2:141)

Though McAdams doesn’t tell, I quoted more than just that. In the same essay, I also quoted Hill’s own 11/30/63 statement, in which he said that he “observed another wound (in addition to the throat wound) on the right rear portion of the skull. (WC--CE#1024, V18:744)” Perhaps there are readers who could read all that I wrote and yet agree with McAdams that I was wrong to believe that by “right rear,” Hill actually meant right rear. Nevertheless, by omitting much of what I wrote, McAdams has placed himself squarely among “advocates (who) selectively present information that serves their purposes.”

McAdams also takes aim at Bethesda autopsy technician, Jerrol Custer, who author David Lifton reported had said that, “the rear of the President’s head was blown off.” As David Mantik perfectly put it, McAdams “cites Jerrol Custer’s much later recall of the skull wound as being more accurate than his earlier description (which violates the rule that earlier reports are to be privileged over later ones). In any case, Custer’s wandering recollections for the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) raise deep doubts about his (later) memory. McAdams has again employed special pleading, i.e., selecting evidence favorable to his side and ignoring the rest. (For a photo showing Custer demonstrating the occipital wound, see "The Killing of a President" by Robert Groden (p. 88).”[xxxvii]

Next, McAdams writes, “Aguilar quotes Doris Nelson, a Parkland nurse, as having been asked by conspiracy authors Robert Groden and Harry Livingstone whether the autopsy photo showing the back of the president’s head as being intact was accurate.” (p. 29) A quick check shows that’s not what I wrote. Rather, I said that the Boston Globe’s Ben Bradlee, Jr. had asked her, according to Groden and Livingstone.

Citing p. 454 of High Treason, I wrote, “As Groden and Livingstone reported, however, journalist Ben Bradlee, Jr. asked her , ‘Did you get a good look at his head injuries?’ Nelson: ‘A very good look ...When we wrapped him up and put him in the coffin. I saw his whole head.’ Asked about the accuracy of the HSCA autopsy photographs she reacted: ‘No. It's not true. Because there was no hair back there. There wasn't even hair back there. It was blown away. Some of his head was blown away and his brains were fallen down on the stretcher.’”[xxxviii]

This amusingly tendentious distortion aside, the professor “refutes” Nelson by sending readers to a photo apparently taken by an interviewer for Life magazine. In it, Nelson seems to be holding her hand over the right side of her own head, apparently demonstrating JFK’s wound. But McAdams doesn’t explain, either in his book or in his on-line writings, why Nelson specifically rejected the wounds in an official autopsy photograph that Ben Bradlee, Jr. had showed her. Nor does he even mention other evidence we have from Nelson.

In his marvelously comprehensive, on-line compilation, Vince Palmara quotes the following from authors Groden and Livingstone, “Nurse Nelson drew a picture of the head wound, mostly in the parietal area, but well towards the rear of the head. Her drawing conflicts strongly with the official autopsy photograph. When she saw that picture she said immediately, “It’s not true…There wasn’t even hair back there. It was blown away. All that area (on the back of the head) was blown out.”[xxxix]

Though Nelson is indeed holding her hand over the right side of her head in the photo, she also apparently drew a diagram McAdams doesn’t mention that showed a large defect involving both the right side and the rear of JFK’s head, consistent with the vast majority of other witnesses. The professor brandishes Nelson’s photo as the definitive proof of where she really believed the skull wound was – solely on the right side of JFK’s head. Thus a witness demonstrating JFK’s head wound in a photo settles it. Unless it goes the wrong way. Then, you never hear about it.

The professor pocket vetoes 18 photos on pages 86, 87 and 88 of Robert Groden’s "The Killing of a President:" 18 separate witnesses, including seven physicians, demonstrate JFK’s skull damage by placing their hands on the right rear of their own skulls. While most include the right side, above the ear, they all show that the area behind JFK’s right ear was also damaged. None point to damage in front of the ear. The photo of Charles Carrico, MD, for example, has him placing his own hand exactly where he described the wound to the Warren Commission and the HSCA, the top right rear portion of his head. The caption reads, “There was a large – quite a large – defect about here (pointing) on his head.”

McAdams feels strongly about Carrico. He takes after me for including him among my witnesses to a rearward head wound, and also for my not mentioning that Dr. Carrico had drawn a diagram for the Boston Globe that depicted a wound on the right side of Kennedy’s head. I confess I was unaware of that diagram when I wrote my compilation in 1994, but the doctor’s early descriptions seem clear enough. And Carrico’s later vacillations seem clear enough, too.

In my compilation, I wrote that Carrico had said, “(the skull) wound had avulsed the calvarium and shredded brain tissue present with profuse oozing.....attempts to control slow oozing from cerebral and cerebellar tissue via packs instituted . . . . ” (CE 392--WC V17:4-5)

Arlen Specter asked him, “Will you describe as specifically as you can the head wound which you have already mentioned briefly?”

Dr. Carrico: “Sure. This was a 5- by 71-cm (sic--the author feels certain that Dr. Carrico must have said ‘5 by 7-cm’) defect in the posterior skull, the occipital region.”

In an interview with Andy Purdy for the HSCA on 1-11-78, Dr. Carrico said, “The skull wound "...was a fairly large wound in the right side of the head, in the parietal, occipital area. One could see blood and brains, both cerebellum and cerebrum fragments in that wound.” (emphasis added). [xl]

I added: “Despite a fifteen-year consistent recollection, like several other Parkland physicians, Carrico's memory seemed to undergo a dramatic transformation when confronted by author (Gerald) Posner. On March 8, 1992 Posner reported Carrico said, ‘We saw a large hole on the right side of his head. I don't believe we saw any occipital bone. It was not there. It (the location of the skull defect) was parietal bone...’.[xli] Both Posner and Carrico would have done well to have reviewed Carrico’s prior testimonies and affidavits before conducting interviews.”

Of course the professor shields his readers from this inconvenient information.

Thus, McAdams doesn’t lay a glove on, nor does he even address, the very essence of my inquiry. Namely, that, as I wrote, “despite over 40 witnesses’ having given opinions on the subject, not a single witness' earliest account acceptably described the anterolateral skull/scalp defect in JFK’s autopsy photographs. Why not? Second, while 45 of 46 witnesses were correct, JFK’s skull wound was on the right side, how could 44 wrongly agree the wound involved the skull’s rear, yet no one recall that it was where it should be - based on photographs - toward the front? In other words, if error is random, and if these authentic images prove the witnesses to have been in error, how could so many experienced witnesses, viewing the body in two very different locations, have been able to accurately identify on which side of JFK’s skull the wound was, yet be universally wrong the wound was more rearward than toward the front?”

This puzzle is particularly pesky given the fact that, as established authorities such as Elizabeth Loftus [xlii] and others [xliii][xliv] have shown, with the professor blithely ignoring them, studies prove that witnesses tend to be very good at accurately recalling “salient” details of witnessed events, the simple location of wounds certainly qualifying as “salient” to the treating doctors in Dallas and other credible witnesses.

Though McAdams ignores or dismisses most of early accounts of the doctors about where JFK’s skull damage was, he positively gushes over the anti-conspiracy implications of their early remarks about his throat wound. Referring to the low location in the neck given for that wound by resident physician Malcolm Perry, MD, and by Kennedy’s senior treating physician, neurosurgery professor Kemp Clark, McAdams writes, “these assessments come from admission notes of November 22, 1963 … long before any of the doctors could have learned of any controversy over the issue and ‘regularized’ their testimony.”

By now, readers will scarcely be surprised to learn that McAdams doesn’t apply the same standard regarding what these same witnesses said about JFK’s head injuries. In the same, ‘unregularized,’ admission notes,[xlv] brain surgeon Kemp Clark said that, “There was a large wound in the right occipitoparietal region … Both cerebral and cerebellar tissue were extruding from the wound.” (WC--CE#392) By hand, Dr. Clark also wrote, “… There was a large wound beginning in the right occiput extending into the parietal region ... ." (Exhibit #392: WC V17:9-10) In his 11-22-63 note, Dr., Perry described the head wound as, "A large wound of the right posterior cranium..." (WC--V17:6--CE#392)

Gary Aguilar, 29 May 2012


Mr. Aguilar's arguments in response to the criticisms of Mr. McAdams are, in my opinion, well taken.

Dave snoyl

It is hard to believe people are actually defending the lone nut and the Warren Commission. That is because they lack a brain or are on the payroll. It is so ridiculous, absurd that one really wonders what the motive is for defending. The majority of the US public know the truth. The sad part is, the media has been completely complacent, but then again we know who approves the press. McAdams you are a traitor and defender of lies, you big phoney

Tony Santi

I wonder why someone would put as much effort in trying to discredit an extremely well-researched book as this one. This review is full of hate and it doesn't bring anything at all serious to take away the value of JFK AND THE UNSPEAKABLE. Funny this genius doesn't even comment on how Oswald was handled by the CIA as a pawn, through documented relationships and facts. Excuse me, why then was he killed just a couple of days later? Some of the grossly incorrect statements in this review are that "JFK comes across as spineless" (nothing further from the truth), and that he was killed "because of Vietnam," when the book makes it very clear that Vietnam might have been only a partial reason to organize the coup de etat that, in fact, took place in 1963.

Henk de Wit

What a vile attack John McAdams makes on the research and writings of Mr. Douglass, accusing him among other things of "amateurism." Professional' historians who largely make careers with government funding hardly can be judged as "independent" on matters concerning JFK and his assassination.

Indeed, as mentioned above, only a blind fool nowadays still believes "Oswald did it."

There is nothing mysterious about the murder of Kennedy. The CIA simply regarded JFK as a growing "national security risk" during his presidency and routinely removed him from power. As was a very common CIA procedure in those days, with the only remark that it usually concerned foreign leaders.

Who pulled the trigger...? Who cares...?

The "national security state" nowadays again has grown to gigantic, "out-of-control" proportions, because no president has dared to seriously oppose these powers. John Kennedy did, at the cost of his own life. He therefore deserves eternal respect, and certainly not the scorn of some naive or fraudulent "professional" historian.


Mr. Henk de Wit likewise is biased. The Europeans saying how it is in defense of the pathological liar who attempted suicide and beat his wife, undesirably discharged Oswald, likewise are biased--in fact all of us are. So take a look in the mirror first.

Michael Wilkerson

And no mention by McAdams of the attempts on JFK, in Chicago and Tampa, immediately before Dallas.

mike wilkerswon

Listen to the James Sibert interview in 2005 on C-SPAN, where Sibert says he never believed the SBT because the back wound was too low . . . and was probed and found to be too shallow. Sibert was one of two FBI agents who were present at the autopsy. This is an hour-long interview. His position was backed up by several doctors and Burkely, the President's physician on 11-22-63. Sibert also discusses how the back wound was moved up. Sibert says he doesn't believe in a conspiracy or a non-conspiracy, but makes it clear that he never "bought" the Single Bullett Theory because of the location of the back wound, and a trajectory was never found to exit the throat. On the night of the autopsy, the "majic bullet" was believed to have fallen out of the back, at Parkland. Listen to this interview . . . has McAdams?

mike wilkerson

And the throat wound was probably an exit wound of a bullet fragment from the head shot . . . that's all.

mike wilkerson

Listen to Sibert interview on C-SPAN in 2005, where he says he never believed the SBT because, as he observed at the autopsy, the location was too low . . . moved higher in the final report of the WC. He talks about Gerald Ford and mentions Specter as telling a falsehood about his (Sibert's) notes during the autopsy relative to the location of the back wound. Sibert says he never said it was in the neck . . . has McAdams ever listened to this interview??

Michael M Wilkerson

And, one thing we know for sure is: the autopsy was botched. Why? Because for some inexplicable reason, the people at the autopsy did not know there was a wound in the throat, beneath the trachea--although the whole country, based on the press conference at Parkland, knew there was a wound in the throat. Whether it was an entrance or exit-wound makes no difference. The doctors at the autopsy did not know that. And that wound was never examined. So there is no proof that the back wound traversed the body and exited the throat. The conclusion of he autopsy regarding the back wound was that it penetrated so far, and fell out at Parkland. Only the next day, when Humes finally talked to Parkland and was advised of a wound in the throat, did he conclude (conjecture) that the wound in
the back, exited the throat . . . not based on any evidence found at the autopsy. Whether there was a conspiracy or not is not the point. The point is there is no evidence of proof regarding the SBT, only conjecture and speculation, after the autopsy concluded there was no trajectory from the rear (back) to the throat. So the best evidence--the autopsy--was botched. Was the throat wound caused by a bone fragment from the head wound, or by an entrance wound (probably not) or by an exit wound from the back? We will never know, because that wound was never examined. Why, when the throat wound was so well known after 1 pm CST--hours before the autopsy--was it that nobody at the autopsy knew that there was a throat wound. Unbelievable to even a lay person, such as myself. That should be the focus of some kind of investigation by itself. But what do I know? I'm just a retired Treasury agent, who has studied the murder, since I was 12.

mike wilkerson

And the back wound was never "laid open" to validate a trajectory to the throat. Humes decided not to, after he was advised of a bullet at Parkland and concluded that it fell out of the back, after it could only be probed so far. When he was advised that there was a throat wound on Saturday, he concluded that the back wound and the throat wound were connected--with no evidence that that was true. The autopsy was over and the body could not be re-examined. Again, it is hard to believe that the autopsy people did not know of a wound in the throat, when that information was available after 1pm CST at Parkland.

The autopsy was botched regarding the back wound and throat wound. And most observers (including FBI agent Sibert) knew that the back wound was too low to have exited the throat. Humes knew he botched the autopsy, that's why he burned the original notes, not because they were stained with blood; that's absurd in the context of what was supposed to be a competent autopsy. Neither Humes or Boswell had much, if any experience with this kind of autopsy. Even Specter knew per memo, that one day, someone would compare the drawings of the back wound with the autopsy photograph and discover a significant error.

mike wilkerson

Mr. McAdams, I have used your website to support a conspiracy theory, using facts that were available within two years after the assassination. The original facts are all anyone needs; who cares about the "tramps" or all the other nonsense that has come out over the years? One doesn't need any of that.
It has come out that there were attempts in Chicago and Tampa, immediately before Dallas. Read Abraham Bolden's (a former Secret Service agent) account of the Chicago attempt. These attempts have been documented in several books. You mention the Miami visit--and you need to look at the Tampa and Chicago trips, as well. This is strong evidence that a conspiracy had been in the works.

mike wilkerson

And of course, Abrahamn Bolden was a "disgraced Secret Service agent . . . after he complained about the plot in Chicago . . . with a contrived bribery scam . . . spent six years in prison. In 1979, the House Committee knew little about the Chicago plot; Bolden's book came out in 2008. If you can't dispute his claims, then, of course, attack the person. Read the book. You can't dismiss Bolden's claims by saying he was disgraced; that does not make his claim untrue. There was also a plot uncovered in Tampa..We know a lot more about these plots now than the House Committee knew in 1979. Your bias is just as negligent as some of the conspiracy proponents. You use what you want and do superficial research on much of the rest. If one uses the circumstance evidence regarding the plots in Chicago and Tampa, Bay of Pigs, Mafia and CIA connections, a climate of distaste for JFK is easy to prove with information that has come out in the last 20 years. Forget about the botched autopsy, and the complicated life of Oswald (certainly not a nut,or alone). One can easily build a case for conspiracy--as the House committee did in 1979. The acoustic evidence was not the only evidence they used to conclude that there was probably a conspiracy in 1979.


Mr. McAdams sat quietly in the corner of the room at the 2013 Cyril Wecht JFK Symposium held in Pittsburgh in October 2013. A variety of speakers--including Mark Lane, Robert Tannenbaum, Dr. Robert McClelland, Jefferson Morley and Oliver Stone (among others)--gave undisputed evidence that Lee Oswald was NOT a lone assassin. Mr. McAdams sat in that corner and said nothing when the speakers ended their presentations and asked for questions or comments. My belief is that McAdams would rather hide behind a fence and throw stones at what he perceives is the opposition rather than facing the circumstances of the assassination and admitting what over 70% of Americans already know what happened.


McAdams raises some good points about the obvious bias of Douglass and that does take away from his conclusions, though it shows he has a definite passion for his beliefs. I pretty much ignored the rhetoric and found he did weave an interesting narrative about the assassination plot or plots. While there are many elements of the plot, one of the most damning is what happened in Chicago just three weeks before the assassination in Dallas. McAdams tries to explain away Chicago by saying the House Select Committee did not find Bolden's story credible. That's like saying Carlos Marcello did not find the government's case against him for deportation credible, or that O.J. Simpson did not find the LAPD's case against him credible. The House committee was another set up to deflect blame away from the CIA and other government agencies, which is what it did in blaming Marcello, Trafficante, and Hoffa. I believe those three were involved in some way, but the major player was the CIA. Other government agencies and top officials like LBJ played roles in the cover-up. The mafia would not have the power and means to cover up the crime, though it certainly could have been involved in the actual hit.

There were media arrest reports of Vallee in Chicago, though the two others detained don't have such reports that I've seen. Bolden's trial that resulted in him going to prison was one of the most obscene miscarriages of injustice in American history, when you read the transcripts. Other Secret Service agents confirmed Bolden's account. His autobiography is written from a position of authority and personal experience that is hard to debunk. This is the man JFK called the "Jackie Robinson of the Secret Service." And McAdams thinks he lied about his life story?

m c

Ruby rubbed out Oswald.

Case closed.


I think it's well within the realm of possibility that Kennedy was making a major philosophical shift in 1963 in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis. His American University address is extraordinary—he is saying amazing things, especially for 1963—I urge people to read it. I also consider it within the realm of possibility that Kennedy would hold his thinking close to the vest, and not tell Dean Rusk and McGeorge Bundy. I further consider it within the realm of the possible that certain parties got worried about all that peace talk. The Douglass book does a good job of examining these possibilities and is a useful primer in the complexity of presidential decision-making. Unfortunately the author drags in every conspiracy theory under the sun, turning what might have been a strong website article into a lengthy book.


The review by McAdams states: "The portrait of Kennedy that Douglass leaves is that of a president who was either an inveterate liar, feckless, or inept at controlling the government, and possibly all three." I disagree strongly that this is the impression of JFK created by Douglass. The author paints a picture of a president who knows there are large, powerful, nasty subterranean forces in the government, that he can't possibly control them all, and he'd better tread carefully if he wants to change the world for the better. He'd better be polite to Gen. Curtis LeMay (see "Seven Days in May" for a sense of what JFK was up against there); he'd better say certain things in press conferences and interviews that may not reflect his true sentiments, etc. The impression I take away from the book is not of an inveterate liar, or a feckless fool, or someone who can't control the government, but of a hard-headed realist faced with a huge challenge who knows that NO ONE can control the entire government. (Arthur M. Schelsinger Jr. [paraphrase]: "Intelligence agencies tend to go into business for themselves.") I will say, I think Kennedy lied at times. (I don't think he was an "inveterate" liar; that word suggests that lying is the core of his thinking.) All presidents lie at times. It goes with the territory. To think otherwise about presidents is naive. Franklin D. Roosevelt was one of the great liars of presidential history; he lied many times. Do you think he would have gotten very far in 1933 if he had stood up in front of the American people and said how bad things really were? (I don't. He might have fomented a revolution.) Do you think Lincoln told the full truth about U.S. Army ineptness as he desperately tried to find a general who would fight? (I don't. He needed to encourage his soldiers to believe they were well-led.) Do you think Ike told the full truth in 1961 when he identified the military-industrial complex? (I don't. He was persuaded to cross out the word "congressional" in his description of the complex. That's a lie, a big one.)


I'd like to elaborate a bit on the topic of presidential lying, which I touch on in the above post. I myself don't have a major problem with a moderate amount of presidential lying; as I say in the earlier post, I think lying is part of the job. I have a problem with presidential lying when it forms the core of a president's thinking; Nixon comes to mind here.

I want to offer a bit more evidence for the idea that FDR (one of our greatest presidents, needless to say) was a liar. From the Publishers Weekly review of an FDR biography:

"(Eleanor Roosevelt) recognized that intermixed with his enormous capacity and willingness to do good, there was a certain self-serving casualness that permitted numerous petty lies perpetrated on friends, allies and family."

FDR also lied about large topics. Is it possible that FDR's gift for lying helped him succeed as a president? Interesting question, to quote Claude Rains in "Lawrence of Arabia" (in the role of a diplomat who knew that real-world policymaking sometimes requires a lie or two).

The question of lying is currently at the center of U.S. presidential politics. Hillary Clinton's "lies" are a full-employment act for right-wing radio commentators. A right-wing acquaintance of mine uses the L word every single time Clinton's name comes up. I wish someone would write a compendium of great presidential lies to throw in the face of that naive guy and his radio friends.

A Google search for the terms "presidential lies" offers illuminating reading.


If I may, one additional post about presidential lying. I've gotten a little bit obsessed with this topic because JFK's lying is fundamental to three interesting things: (a) the Douglass book; (b) the McAdams review; and (c) the question of what was going on in Kennedy's head in 1963. My belief, as noted above, is that Douglass describes a hard-headed realist in the midst of shifting his views who was willing to lie in order to hold things together in the face of ferocious opposition. One form of this lying was inserting lines in the American University speech that kept the LeMays of the world at bay. Another form was saying two opposite things in the same TV interview. By contrast, McAdams believes that Douglass (unintentionally) describes a spineless "inveterate" liar worthy of our disapprobation.

The real point of my post is to cite this useful article:

Allen Dulles

McAdams will get blown out by history in October and thusly forgotten forever. Oswald's ties to the CIA, David Phillips, and others will be exposed soon enough.

Ken Laney

Even in 1963 you would think the crime scene would have been preserved. The Zapruder film slipped through the cracks. Anyone who knows anything about high-powered rifles knows entry wounds are small and the exit wounds are large. This is not an opinion but a fact. The Zapruder film indicated a portion of Kennedy's rear skull was blown away along with Jackie saying she tried to put it back on. A shot could have hit Kennedy from the rear but the shot that made him fall back with the damage to the skull had to have come from the front right. This would say the shot came from the "grassy knoll" and I only know what I have read, but the CIA, FBI, and Secret Service supposedly had "control" of the crime scene. I see no control of anything other than a control of the cover up.

Albert Michaels

McAdams comes across as a sneering bully in this review, and he implies an authoritative position that he doesn't have. By the time you get to his discussion of the actual material, you have already been told, implicitly, what to think. As we know from his other activities, none of this is surprising, nor is it surprising that he quotes Posner, who has been proven to a fraud himself. This type of psychological leveraging and wordplay is and has been common throughout the mainstream media in relation to this subject in the decades since it happened, right up to the present day. Even Peter Jennings did a version of it. Aside from claiming, though not remotely proving, that the evidence for conspiracy is nonsense, how much evidence (not editorials, opinions, arguments or analysis, but real evidence) have the WC defenders really produced over the years?

Muhammad Solehuddin

Thank you for nice information.



Telkom University

Bagaimana buku ini menggabungkan kedua narasi ini, dan sejauh mana pernyataan dan tindakan Kennedy terkait Vietnam dinilai problematik dalam konteks buku ini?"

How does this book combine these two narratives, and to what extent are Kennedy's statements and actions regarding Vietnam considered problematic in the context of this book?"

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Washington Decoded