Memorandum by J.E. Hoover on 11/29/63

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Summary:  The second half of this post includes the copy of a memorandum
written by J. Edgar Hoover immediately after he met w/LBJ in
the Oval Office seven days after President Kennedy had been
murdered.  The first half analyzes some of the more remarkable
details of this memo.  Make your own conclusions.
 
 
 
 
In 1963, John Edgar Hoover and Lyndon Baines Johnson knew each other
very well.  They had lived across the street from each other for the
past 19 years.  A professional bureaucrat of formidable talents, a 29-
year-old Hoover was appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation
in 1924 (Hoover added "Federal" to the title in 1935) by then Attorney
General Harlan F. Stone to clean up a corrupt organization.  During
WWII, President Roosevelt expanded the FBI's reach charging Hoover with
investigations of Nazi and Communist activities in the U.S.  The Cold
War gave the Bureau new power and Hoover new glory.  Hoover's dossiers
continued to grow as well as his command of Congress, his manipulation
and intimidation of the press, and his stature in the country.  Hoover
supplied Joe McCarthy with a great deal of the ammunition which enabled
McCarthy to sustain his "crusade" far longer than would have been
possible without Hoover's connivance.
 
When Robert Kennedy became Attorney General in 1961, Hoover's
entrenched power-structures suffered a two-year, 10-month setback.
Long before 1961, Hoover had created a direct channel of communication
with whoever was the current occupant of the Oval Office--bypassing the
actual chain of command which went from the President, through the
Attorney General, to Director of the FBI.
 
When LBJ assumed the Presidency, Hoover's direct link into the White
House was re-established.  Johnson's official relationship with Hoover
was enhanced by personal friendship as well.  "As majority leader [in
the Senate], Johnson already had neen receiving a steady stream of
reports and dossiers from the Director . . . which he prized both as
a means of controlling difficult senators and as a gratification of
earthier instincts.  For President Johnson, secrets were in themselves
perquisites of power . . .  No chief executive praised the Director so
warmly.  In an executive order exempting Hoover, then sixty nine, from
compulsory retirement at seventy, Johnson hailed him as `a quiet,
humble and magnificent public servant . . . a hero to millions of
citizens and an anathema to all evil men. . . .  The nation cannot
afford to lose you . . .  No other American, now or in our past, has
served the cause of justice so faithfully and so well' ("Johnson Hails
Hoover Service, Waives Compulsory Retirement," NYT, May 9, 1964)."
-- from "The Age of Surveillance, The Aims and Methods of America's
Political Intelligence System," by Frank Donner, (c) 1980, Knopf.
 
 
 
The following memorandum, written by Hoover immediately after his
meeting with President Johnson, just seven days after the assassination
of President Kennedy, is a remarkable document to say the least.  There
is much information imparted in the memo regarding just how fluid and
unstable the cover story about who killed JFK still was shaping up to be
at that time.  By analyzing the discrepancies between the story Hoover
briefed Johnson about on November 29th, and what the final cover story
handed down by the Warren Commission would claim almost a year later,
we can better appreciate the degree to which the final "official report"
was sculpted to fit the constraints the Commission was forced to adhere
to, regardless of the actual facts of the assassination.
 
 
This document is what is known in bureaucracy-speak as a "memo for the
record."  It was a customary practice in the upper levels of the
bureaucracy in the days before electronic technology in Washington, D.C.
An official of high rank would usually return to her or his office
after such a meeting and dictate a memorandum of as many details of the
discussion as could be remembered.  It was a way of recording one's own
professional dealings for future reference.
 
Hoover starts out recounting that Johnson brings up "the proposed group"
--what will become the Warren Commission--to study the report Hoover is
trying to complete by the end of the same day.  This has been initiated
by Johnson to prevent an independent investigation by Congress of the
assassination (Reagan tried to do the same thing with the Tower
Commission).  Johnson would publically announce the creation of the
Warren Commission later that same day.  This was a critical move by
Johnson:  by appointing the Warren Commission, they effectively bottled
up Bobby Kennedy, they bottled up the Senate, and they bottled up Texas.
The Tower Commission didn't succeed in pre-empting an investigation by
Congress.  In the end, the Warren Commission didn't either, but it did
keep the cork in place, preventing any other "official" examination, for
well over another decade.
 
It is interesting to note that of all the people listed at the bottom of
page one, retired General Lauris Norstad (who had been head of the NATO
forces at SHAPE headquarters in Europe before his retirement) was the
only one who somehow succeeded in not serving on this Presidential
Commission.  Earl Warren did NOT want the job and had sent a memo ahead
to the Oval Office, before he answered LBJ's summons, stating he would
not participate in such a commission.  But when push came to shove,
Johnson's formidable powers of persuasion turned Warren's `no' into a
`yes.'  Apparently, even such focused persuasion could not win Norstad's
agreement.
 
The six topic bullets at the bottom of page one are file listings.  This
is important for anyone ever finding themself searching for documents
from the government through Freedom Of Information Act requests.  This
type of listing is very useful beccause it lets one know that these
files exist, and that one might be able to find documents using this
method which one might not find (or even know about) any other way.
 
In the middle of the first paragraph on page 3, Hoover relates how the
Dallas police didn't even make a move to stop Ruby.  This is a pretty
heavy line by Hoover.  He implies the Dallas cops must have somehow
been in collusion to silence Oswald from living to stand trial.  But
the implication is never fleshed out.
 
The second half of page three contains some of the most enlightening
statements of the whole memo.  Hoover tells Johnson three shots were
fired.  Johnson asks "if any were fired at him."  This question goes
a long way towards explaining the duress under which he served as
president.  LBJ had heard bullets flying overhead--he had been that
close to the action.  It was completely out of keeping with the
standard security procedures the Secret Service employed to have any
such parade appearance be attended by *both* the president and the
vice president.  Johnson heard the sounds of those guns very clearly
and the message they conveyed.  He lived out the rest of his public
life always aware of their possible return.  Not long before he died,
LBJ was interviewed by his friend and writer Leo Janos.  In the July,
1973 issue of "The Atlantic Monthly," Janos relates that LBJ told him:
 
1. "that the assassination in Dallas had been part of a conspiracy;
2. "I never believed that Oswald acted alone . . .;
3. "we had been operating a damned Murder Inc. in the Carribean."
 
The presence of the vice president 2 cars behind the president in the
parade in Dallas was a fundamental breach of the level of security
normally adhered to by the Secret Service.  He took the experience back
with him to the White House and never forgot its meaning.  He could
just as easily be snuffed out if he ever got out of line.
 
Then there follows a most curious and confused explanation by Hoover of
the three shots fired:  "the President was hit by the first and third
bullets and the second hit the Governor".  Obviously Hoover did not yet
know about the injury suffered by James Tague.  Tague's face was nicked
by a bullet fragment (or a fragment from the curb it hit) which missed
the limousene entirely and struck the curb at his feet, approximately
160 feet past the location of the president's car.  This shot would end
up having to be one of "the three bullets fired" in the official story.
 
Johnson then explicitly asks again "were they aimed at the President."
It would appear that LBJ needed repeated assurance by Hoover that no one
had intended to shoot him.  Hoover then says a mouthful when he states
"I further advised him that we have also tested the fact you could fire
those three shots in three seconds."  Apparently they did not yet
understand the implications of the Zapruder film (or perhaps they were
confident they would be successful in never allowing the public to gain
any kind of access to it) and that it would be used as a clock.
 
Probably the most confused statements Hoover recounts making are when
he describes for Johnson's benefit how Connally was hit:  "I explained
that Connally turned to the President when the first shot was fired and
in that turning he got hit.  The President then asked, if Connally had
not been in his seat, would the President have been hit by the second
shot.  I said yes."  All we can conclude about this muddled explanation
is that Hoover was doing his best to explain things that he himself did
not understand or appreciate the complexity of.
 
Hoover goes on to claim they found the gun and three shells on the fifth
floor.  As you can see at this point, the number of variations on what
would become the official cover story are quite numerous.  All of the
the facts of the assassination were working against them.  They had
a story all worked out--3 seconds, 3 shots, fifth floor--and yet they
didn't know the facts.
 
Fletcher Prouty commented on this issue to me while we were discussing
this memo recently.  "It reminds me so much of when the U-2 was lost and
the guys from NASA began to explain the U-2 flight until a couple of
days later when somebody told them, `hey--it wasn't a NASA flight, we
can't do it that way.'  And they began to change the cover story.  But
then Kruschev said, `Look, I've got the pilot, I know the story.'  The
U-2 boys used to work across the hall from me--I'd see them coming and
going--oh they were shattered, because their cover story had been
totally wrong.  So Hoover is in the same kind of a box here--he is
trying to explain something that is nothing but a cover story, and
almost everytime he turns around, he finds there's another hole in it."
 
Near the end Johnson extolls the virtues of his relationship to Hoover
stating "I was more than head of the FBI - I was his brother and personal
friend;  that he knew I did not want anything to happen to his family;
that he has more confidence in me than anybody in town."  Pretty
laudatory words which substantiate the unusally close rapport these two
men had.  Then Hoover writes that Johnson tells him "he would not embroil
me in a jurisdictional dispute. . . "  This was the reference to Bobby
Kennedy and the pre-empting of any other legitimate, independent and
official investigation that would NOT be under the control of the FBI.
They would see to it that there would not be the kind of "rash of
investigations" Hoover said at the beginning of this meeting "would be a
three-ring circus."
 
It is a known fact that in his later years Hoover's meglomania
approached epic proportions.  He had various reasons why he did not want
any independent investigation which would *not* be dependent upon his
agency for the collection of data and use of his investigative staff.
Johnson was feeling quite vulnerable in these first days and was
very dependent on Hoover to tell him what to do concerning how to
consolidate his position and "reassure" the nation the assassination
was not political in any way, but rather the random occurence of a lone
sick mind.  That was the only approach to take if they wanted to avoid
having to deal with why Kennedy had been killed.  By de-politicizing
the assassination, they were able to ignore the basic question of why.
 
This memorandum shows that the people in the federal government who were
responsible for creating the Warren Commission, and giving it only a
very selected and specific set of "data" by which they reached the
conclusions that became the official report, that they did not start
with the final cover story--they created it later because even Hoover
and Johnson didn't know about it a week after the event.  They were still
making things up a week later.  It goes back to the old truth that it's a
big mistake to overestimate the abilities and knowledge of people--even
in high office.  They can make pretty stupid mistakes and then when they
have to recant their stories, you are left with the kind of contrivance
we know as the Warren Report.
 
--ratitor
 
--
daveus rattus
 
yer friendly neighborhood ratman
 
KOYAANISQATSI
 
ko.yan.nis.qatsi (from the Hopi Language)  n.  1. crazy life.  2. life
in turmoil.  3. life out of balance.  4. life disintegrating.
5. a state of life that calls for another way of living.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
 
WASHINGTON __, D.C.
 
1:39 p.m.                                      November 29, 1963
 
MEMORANDUM FOR MR. TOLSON
MR. BELMONT
MR. MOHR
MR. CONRAD
MR. DE LOACH
MR. EVANS
MR. ROSEN
MR. SULLIVAN
 
 
The President called and asked if I am familiar with the proposed
group they are trying to get to study my report - two from the House,
two from the Senate, two from the courts, and a couple of outsiders.  I
replied that I had not heard of that but had seen reports from the
Senate Investigating Committee.
 
The President stated he wanted to get by just with my file and my
report.  I told him I thought it would be very bad to have a rash of
investigations.  He then indicated the only way to stop it is to
appoint a high-level committee to evaluate my report and tell the House
and Senate not to go ahead with the investigation.  I stated that would
be a three-ring circus.
 
The President then asked what I think about Allen Dulles, and I
replied that he is a good man.  He then asked about John McCloy, and I
stated I am not as enthusiastic about McCloy, that he is a good man but
I am not so certain as to the matter of publicity he might want.  The
President then mentioned General (Lauris) Norstad, and I said he is a
good man.  He said in the House he might try (Hale) Boggs and (Gerald
R.) Ford and in the Senate (Richard B.) Russell and (John Sherman)
Cooper.  I asked him about Cooper and he indicated Cooper of Kentucky
whom he described as a judicial man, stating he would not want (Jacob
K.) Javits.  I agreed on this point.  He then reiterated Ford of
Michigan, and I indicated I know of him but do not know him and had
never seen him except on television the other day and that he handled
himself well on television.  I indicated that I do know Boggs.
 
Johnson, President Lyndon B.
Assassination of President John F. Kennedy
Presidential Commission on Assassination
of President John F. Kennedy
Security - Presidential
Presidential Conferences
Presidential Travel Security
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Memorandum for Messrs. Tolson, Belmont, Mohr,   November 29, 1963
Conrad, DeLoach, Evans, Rosen, Sullivan
 
 
The President then mentioned that (Walter) Jenkins had told him that
I have designated Mr. DeLoach to work with them as he had on the Hill.
He indicated they appreciated that and just wanted to tell me they
consider Mr. DeLoach as high class as I do, and that they salute me for
knowing how to pick good men.
 
I advised the President that we hope to have the investigation
wrapped up today but probably won't have it before the first of the week
as an angle in Mexico is giving trouble - the matter of Oswald's getting
$6500 from the Cuban Embassy and coming back to this country with it;
that we are not able to prove that fact;  that we have information he
was there on September 18 and we are able to prove he was in New Orleans
on that date;  that a story came in changing the date to September 28
and he was in Mexico on the 28th.  I related that the police have again
arrested Duran, a member of the Cuban Embassy;  that they will hold her
two or three days;  will confront her with the original informant;  and
will also try a lie detector test on her.
 
The President then inquired if I pay any attention to the lie
detector test.  I answered that I would not pay 100% attention to them;
that it was only a psychological asset in investigation;  that I would
not want to be a part of sending a man to the chair on a lie detector
test.  I explained that we have used them in bank investigations and a
person will confess before the lie detector test is finished, more or
less fearful it will show him guilty.  I said the lie detector test has
this psychological advantage.  I further stated that it is a misnomer to
call it a lie detector since the evaluation of the chart made by the
machine is made by a human being and any human being is apt to make the
wrong interpretation.
 
I stated, if Oswald had lived and had take a lie detector test, this
with the evidence we have would have added that much strength to the
case;  that these is no question he is the man.
 
I also told him that Rubenstein down there has offered to take a lie
detector test but his lawyer must be consulted first;  that I doubt the
lawyer will allow him to do so;  that he has a West Coast lawyer
somewhat like the Edward Bennett Williams type and almost as much of a
shyster.
 
The President asked if we have any relationship between the two
(Oswald and Rubenstein) as yet.  I replied that at the present time we have
 
 
- 2 -
 
 
 
 
Memorandum for Messrs. Tolson, Belmont, Mohr,   November 29, 1963
Conrad, DeLoach, Evans, Rosen, Sullivan
 
 
not;  that there was a story that the fellow had been in Rubenstein's
nightclub but it has not been confirmed.  I told the President that
Rubenstein is a very seedy character, had a bad record - street brawls,
fights, etc.;  that in Dallas, if a fellow came into his nightclub and
could not pay his bill completely, Rubenstein would beat him up and
throw him out;  that he did not drink or smoke;  that he was an
egomaniac;  that he likes to be in the limelight;  knew all of the
police officers in the white light district;  let them come in and get
food and liquor, etc.;  and that is how I think he got into police
headquarters.  I said if they ever made any move, the pictures did not
show it even when they saw him approach and he got right up to Oswald
and pressed the pistol against Oswald's stomach;  that neither officer
on either side made any effort to grab Rubenstein - not until after the
pistol was fired.  I said, secondly, the chief of police admits he moved
Oswald in the morning as a convenience and at the request of motion
picture people who wanted daylight.  I said insofar as tying Rubenstein
and Oswald together, we have not yet done so;  that there are a number
of stories which tied Oswald to the Civil Liberties Union in New York in
which he applied for membership and to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee
which is pro-Castro, directed by communists, and financed to some extent
by the Castro Government.
 
The President asked how many shots were fired, and I told him three.
He then asked if any were fired at him.  I said no, that three shots
were fired at the President and we have them.  I stated that our
ballistic experts were able to prove the shots were fired by this gun;
that the President was hit by the first and third bullets and the second
hit the Governor;  that there were three shots;  that one complete
bullet rolled out of the President's head;  that it tore a large part of
the President's head off;  that in trying to massage his heart on the
way into the hospital they loosened the bullet which fell on the
stretcher and we have that.
 
He then asked were they aimed at the President.  I replied they were
aimed at the President, no question about that.
 
I further advised him that we have also tested the fact you could
fire those three shots in three seconds.  I explained that there is a
story out that there must have been more than one man to fire several
shots but we have proven it could be done by one man.
 
The President then asked how it happened that Connally was hit.  I
explained that Connally turned to the President when the first shot was
fired and in that turning he got hit.  The President then asked, if
Connally had not been in his seat, would the President have been hit by
the second shot.  I said yes.
 
 
- 3 -
 
 
 
 
Memorandum for Messrs. Tolson, Belmont, Mohr,   November 29, 1963
Conrad, DeLoach, Evans, Rosen, Sullivan
 
 
I related that on the fifth floor of the building where we found the
gun and the wrapping paper we found three empty shells that had been
fired and one that had not been fired.  that he had four but didn't fire
the fourth;  then threw the gun aside;  went down the steps;  was seen
by a police officer;  the manager told the officer that Oswald was all
right, worked there;  they let him go;  he got on a bus;  went to his
home and got a jacket;  then came back downtown, walking;  the police
officer who was killed stopped him, not knowing who he was;  and he
fired and killed the police officer.
 
The President asked if we can prove that and I answered yes.
 
I further related that Oswald then walked another two blocks;  went
to the theater;  the woman selling tickets was so suspicious - said he
was carrying a gun when he went into the theater - that she notified the
police;  the police and our man went in and located Oswald.  I told him
they had quite a struggle with Oswald but that he was subdued and shown
out and taken to police headquarters.
 
I advised the President that apparently Oswald had come down the
steps from the fifth floor;  that apparently the elevator was not used.
 
The President then indicated our conclusions are:  (1) he is the one
who did it;  (2) after the President was hit, Governor Connally was hit;
(3) the President would have been hit three times except for the fact
that Governor Connally turned after the first shot and was hit by the
second;  (4) whether he was connected with the Cuban operation with
money we are trying to nail down.  I told him that is what we are trying
to nail down;  that we have copies of the correspondence;  that none of
the letters dealt with any indication of violence or assassination;
that they were dealing with a visa to go back to Russia.
 
I advised the President that his wife had been very hostile, would
not cooperate and speaks only Russian;  that yesterday she said , if we
could give assurance she would be allowed to remain in the country, she
would cooperate;  and that I told our agents to give that assurance and
sent a Russian-speaking agent to Dallas last night to interview her.  I
said I do not know whether or not she has any information but we would
learn what we could.
 
The President asked how Oswald had access to the fifth floor of the
building.  I replied that he had access to all floors.  The President
asked where was his office and I stated he did not have any particular
place;  that he
 
 
- 4 -
 
 
 
 
Memorandum for Messrs. Tolson, Belmont, Mohr,   November 29, 1963
Conrad, DeLoach, Evans, Rosen, Sullivan
 
 
was not situated in any particular place;  that he was just a general
packer of requisitions that came in for books from Dallas schools;  that
he would have had proper access to the fifth and sixth floors whereas
usually the employees were down on lower floors.  The President then
inquired if anybody saw him on the fifth floor, and I stated he was seen
by one of the workmen before the assassination.
 
The President then asked if we got a picture taken of him shooting
the gun and I said no.  He asked what was the picture sold for $25,000,
and I advised him this was a picture of the parade showing Mrs. Kennedy
crawling out of the back seat;  that there was no Secret Service Agent
on the back of the car;  that in the past they have added steps on the
back of the car and usually had an agent on either side standing on the
bumper;  that I did not know why this was not done - that the President
may have requested it;  that the bubble top was not up but I understand
the bubble top was not worth anything because it was made entirely of
plastic;  that I had learned much to my surprise that the Secret Service
does not have any armored cars.
 
The President asked if I have a bulletproof car and I told him I
most certainly have.  I told him we use it here for my own use and,
whenever we have any raids, we make use of the bulletproof car on them.
I explained that it is a limousine which has been armorplated and that
it looks exactly like any other car.  I stated I think the President
ought to have a bulletproof car;  that from all I understand the Secret
Service has had two cars with metal plates underneath the car to take
care of hand grenades or bombs thrown out on the street.  I said this is
European;  that there have been several such attempts on DeGaulle's
life;  but they do not do that in this country;  that all assassinations
have been with guns;  and for that reason I think very definitely the
President ought to always ride in a bulletproof car;  that it certainly
would prevent anything like this ever happening again;  but that I do
not mean a sniper could not snipe him from a window if he were exposed.
 
The President asked if I meant on his ranch he should be in a
bulletproof car.  I said I would think so;  that the little car we rode
around in when I was at the ranch should be bulletproofed;  that it
ought to be done very quietly.  I told him we have four bulletproof cars
in the Bureau:  one on the West Coast, one in New York and two here.  I
said this could be done quietly without publicity and without pictures
taken of it if handled properly and I think he should have one on his
ranch.
 
 
- 5 -
 
 
 
 
 
Memorandum for Messrs. Tolson, Belmont, Mohr,   November 29, 1963
Conrad, DeLoach, Evans, Rosen, Sullivan
 
 
The President then asked if I think all the entrances should be
guarded.  I replied by all means, that he had almost to be in the
capacity of a so-called prisoner because without that security anything
could be done.  I told him lots of phone calls had been received over
the last four or five days about threats on his life;  that I talked to
the Attorney General about the funeral procession from the White House
to the Cathedral;  that I was opposed to it.  The President remarked
that the Secret Service told them not to but the family wanted to do it.
I stated that was what the Attorney General told me but I was very much
opposed to it.  I further related that I saw the procession from the
Capitol to the White House on Pennsylvania and, while they had police
standing on the curbs, when the parade came, the police turned around
and looked at the parade.
 
The President then stated he is going to take every precaution he
can;  that he wants to talk to me;  and asked if I would put down my
thoughts.  He stated I was more than head of the FBI - I was his brother
and personal friend;  that he knew I did not want anything to happen to
his family;  that he has more confidence in me than anybody in town;
that he would not embroil me in a jurisdictional dispute;  but that he
did want to have my thoughts on the matter to advocate as his own
opinion.
 
I stated I would be glad to do this for him and that I would do
anything I can.  The President expressed his appreciation.
 
Very truly yours,
 
[signed J. E. H.]
 
John Edgar Hoover
Director