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RFK Was Working with LIFE magazine to "Take Down" LBJ in November of 1963
My 60th Birthday

A former editor of LIFE magazine has just provided explosive information, in November of 2009, that indicates the Attorney General of the United States, Robert F. Kennedy, was working with LIFE in November of 1963 to bring down Vice President Lyndon Johnson and ruin his political career, so that his brother, President Kennedy, could replace LBJ as his running mate in 1964.   I include this information in my blog because it confirms a central thesis of my book, which is that LBJ willingly participated in a large domestic conspiracy to assassinate JFK in order to avoid his own political ruin.  I do not view LBJ as the mastermind of any assassination plot, but I do view him as a crucial "enabler," whose cooperation was essential to both covering up the assassination, and to enacting the policy changes desired by the assassination cabal within the national security establishment.

Earlier this month, James Wagenvoord (who in 1963 was the 27 year old Editorial business manager and an assistant to LIFE magazine's Executive Editor) contacted John Simkin, who runs the website Education Forum, with the following revelation.  According to Wagenvoord, "Beginning in late summer 1963 the magazine, based upon information fed from Bobby Kennedy and the Justice Department, had been developing a major newsbreak piece concerning Johnson and Bobby Baker.  On publication Johnson would have been finished and off the '64 ticket (reason the material was fed to us) and would probably have been facing prison time.  At the time LIFE magazine was arguably the most important general news source in the U.S.  The top management of Time, Inc. was closely allied with the USA's various intelligence agencies and we were used...by the Kennedy Justice Department as a conduit to the public...The LBJ/Baker piece was in the final editing stages and was scheduled to break in the issue of the magazine due out the week of November 24 (the magazine would have made it to the newsstands on Nov. 26th or 27th).  It had been prepared in relative secrecy by a small special editorial team.  On Kennedy's death research files and all numbered copies of the nearly print-ready draft were gathered up by my boss (he had been the top editor on the team) and shredded.  The issue that was to expose LBJ instead featured the Zapruder film.  Based upon our success in syndicating the Zapruder film I became Chief of Time/LIFE editorial services and remained in that job until 1968."   [emphasis added by me]

John Simkin of the Education Forum shared this information with author Sterling Seagrove.  Seagrove (who was on the Washington Post staff for four years) wrote: "It was Phil Graham [publisher of the newspaper] who persuaded JFK to ensure his victory in the election by taking LBJ as his running mate, although JFK detested LBJ as one of the most corrupt men in D.C."  Seagrove explained that the newspaper "was getting a steady feed of White House leaks that enabled Larry [Stern] to do a long series of exposes on the corporations LBJ was so intimately tied to (Ling-Temko-Vought, and many others).  It was my understanding that JFK hoped these astounding revelations would ultimately force LBJ to resign the vice-presidency in disgrace."

My analysis: 

First, we now have an insider from LIFE who confirms the longstanding rumors that the top management of Time, Inc. [read: C.D. Jackson and Henry Luce] were closely linked to the U.S. intelligence establishment, and did their bidding from time to time.  Public opinion is all too often molded and generated by the major media organs in the United States, and this proves that point.

Second, the fact that the President's brother, RFK (in his role as Attorney General), was engineering the public destruction of LBJ, provided LBJ with a strong motive to participate in an assassination plot hatched by others.  [Seagrove informed Simkin that this was a poorly kept secret and that he is sure LBJ knew what was going on.]  

Third, the proposed timing of the revelations (the week after JFK's Dallas trip) indicates to me how well the Kennedys were managing the news---arranging for the release of the expose on Lyndon Johnson only AFTER THE NOVEMBER 1963 TEXAS TRIP WAS OVER.  

Fourth, as documented in my forthcoming book (in Chapter 14), it is clear that LIFE purchased the motion picture rights to the Zapruder film on Monday, November 25th, 1963 so that the film could be suppressed as a motion picture.  After paying an additional $100,000.00 for the film on Monday (beyond the $50,000.00 for print rights that they had paid the previous Saturday), Time, Inc. never once permitted the public use of the film as a motion picture, for profit, thus confirming that the real intent of Time, Inc. in repurchasing it was suppression. 

Fifth, no doubt C.D. Jackson (LIFE's publisher, and a CIA asset) and Henry B. Luce (editorial head of the Time, Inc. empire, and an avowed enemy of JFK) were involved in BOTH the decision not to run the LBJ expose after the assassination, AND to repurchase the Zapruder film for purposes of its suppression as a motion picture.  Unfortunately, it seems that the Kennedy brothers' desire to delay publishing the LBJ expose until after the Texas trip was unwise, for it allowed the timing of the assassination to precede the publication of the article, thus ensuring that it would never see the light of day.  So it now seems that LIFE not only suppressed the Zapruder film as a motion picture, but also prevented the ruin of LBJ by literally shredding its expose of the new President, immediately after JFK's assassination.

Sixth, it seems likely to me that because of Henry B. Luce's hatred of JFK and his policies, he (or C.D. Jackson) likely tipped off LBJ about the impending expose.  Luce was undoubtedly playing both sides of the fence, with the Kennedy brothers the losers.  The true story of the deep politics in America in 1963 is not an uplifting one, but we need to face it head on, if we are to understand our real history, and regain our self respect as as a people.

Seventh: Phil Graham's opinion that it was his suggestion that caused JFK to place LBJ on the ticket in1960 is erroneous, and evidence of "the illusion of centrality" exhibited by most participants in historical events.  JFK's secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, made clear in a filmed interview in 1993 (aired on Frontline, in "The Secret File on J.Edgar Hoover") that it was really blackmail, using Hoover's secret documentation on Senator Kennedy's womanizing, that put LBJ on the ticket.  Furthermore, the myth that JFK needed LBJ on the ticket to win the South, and would not have won without him on the ticket, was discredited long ago; JFK carried part of the South in spite of LBJ, who barely carried his own state of Texas in the 1960 election.

Eighth, and Finally: LBJ's knowledge that RFK was actively seeking his public ruin, via LIFE magazine, helps to better explain the great animus between the two men after LBJ assumed the Presidency.

So let us ask the obvious rhetorical question: why didn't we hear about this during the 1960s?  The answer was provided to us hundreds of years ago.

Englishman John Harrison once said: "Treason doth never prosper.  What's the reason?  If it does, none dare call it treason."

Chapters 15 and 16 of my book, Inside the Assassination Records Review Board, detail the corruption of Lyndon Johnson and his likely participation in the JFK assassination plot as an "enabler" necessary to its success.  JFK's death was clearly a consensus decision by the national security establishment, and its operational details were conceived and carried out by individuals within the CIA, but LBJ's cooperation was essential, and this new information, courageously provided by Mr. Wagenvoord and by Mr. Seagrove, provides us with additional information on LBJ's motivation to participate in such a plot.  He did it to save his own political skin, and to avoid disgrace and a jail sentence, as I explain in my book.  Now we know how very, very close Lyndon Baines Johnson came to utter ruin (and the jail sentence predicted by his own grandmother).  The government would not have hesitated to indict a broken LBJ, once he had been disgraced and resigned from office as Vice President.  And the planned expose in LIFE---the week after the Dallas trip---would have ensured LBJ's disgrace and political ruin.  Now we know how very, very close LBJ came to utter destruction in late 1963.  (Article by Doug Horne) END


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