Conspiracy Beliefs (and Denials) In High PlacesBy Vince Palamara
"You're never going to satisfy everybody on something like that [the Kennedy assassination]. The experts disagree among themselves. Some will be satisfied with an answer; others won't."- Behn's JFK Library Oral History, 2/24/76, p. 9For some, their conspiracy beliefs (and denials) are remarkably consistent. For others, they are not. The following is a listing of the more prominent conspiracy believers and non-believers alike, as well as those who straddled the fence, so to speak. Keep an open mind, remember the context of the times, and weigh and consider the ramifications.
Secret Service Chief James J. Rowley:
-"Ten hours after the assassination, Secret Service Chief James Rowley knew that there had been three gunmen, and perhaps four, firing in Dallas that day Robert Kennedy, who had already interrogated [Roy] Kellerman, learned that evening from Rowley that the Secret Service believed the President had been the victim of a powerful organization." [Farewell America by James Hepburn (pseud.), 1968, page 301; see also High Treason by Livingstone & Groden, 1998 edition, p. 128]
A change of heart for Rowley?--- "We had no credible information that there was a conspiracy." [Rowley's LBJ Library Oral History, 1/22/69, p. 17; Rowley offered no opinion, one way or another, during his Truman Library Oral History, dated 9/20/88, nor during his interview with the author on 9/27/92. This probably was his last interview: Rowley passed away 11/1/92 (Washington Post, 11/2/92)]
Secret Service Special-Agent-In-Charge (SAIC) of White House Detail (WHD) Gerald A. Behn and Dallas Office SAIC Forrest V. Sorrels:
-"Forrest Sorrels was on the telephone with Jerry Behn, discussing how
the Ruby-Oswald connection could be quickly uncovered. Behn said, "It's
a plot." Sorrels said, "Of course."
[The Death of a President by William Manchester, 1988 edition, page
528. Manchester interviewed Behn once (12/18/64) and Sorrels twice
(8/26/64 & 9/24/64)]
variation on a theme---
According to Orville Nix, a Dealey Plaza eyewitness who filmed the assassination and who was a good friend of Sorrels (Nix was an air-conditioning repairman for the General Service Administration in the Dallas Secret Service Building), Sorrels told him that the shots came from the grassy knoll. ["Rush To Judgment" film by Mark Lane; see also Who's Who in the JFK Assassination by Michael Benson, 1993, p. 314]
A change of heart for Behn?-- "I'm convinced that the Warren Commission report was accurate. As far as I'm concerned, that was it. Oswald was the one guy that did it, and he had enough skill and enough luck to pull it off successfully." [Behn's JFK Library Oral History, 2/24/76, p. 7; Behn offered no opinion, one way or another, during his 3 phone conversations with the author on 9/27/92. Behn passed away 4/21/93 (Washington Post, 4/23/93)]
Sorrels, too?-- "He stated that he had no doubt that the shots came from the area of the TSBD, especially after he heard Chief Curry say, "Get those cars out of here and surround the building." [HSCA interview with Sorrels, 3/15/78: RIF# 1801007410392] and "As far as I am concerned that's a closed incident." [Sorrels to Dallas Morning News reporter Earl Golz, 8/20/78 (Golz notes, AARC); "DMN", 8/27/78. Interestingly, in the same article, Golz states that "All but one of Sorrels' six Dallas agents in 1963 submitted reports of their wherabouts the day of the assassination. Elmer Moore, the agent who did not submit a report, said he was in San Francisco and did not return to Dallas to join the investrigation until a week later." However, two other agents from the Dallas office, Mike Howard and the late Charles Kunkel (deceased 6/27/92), also did not submit reports. For his part, Howard claimed in a lecture in February 1999 that he was at the Hotel Texas cleaning up when the shooting occurred and that Kunkel was in Washington, D.C on an unspecified investigation at the time. Howard and Kunkel's whereabouts remain unverified. (Austin American-Statesman, 6/29/92)] and "The Warren Report stands." [Sorrels to Palamara, 1/28/92 & 9/27/92. Sorrels passed away 11/6/93]
SAIC of the Protective Research Section (PRS) Robert I. Bouck:
"Mr. Bouck stated that his personal opinion was that although Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin, he did feel that there was a conspiracy." [ARRB interview with Bouck, 5/2/96; see also High Treason, 1998 edition, page 433. Although Bouck does not offer an opinion on the matter during his JFK Library Oral history, dated 6/25/76, Bouck echoed the above sentiments to the author, among other things, on 9/27/92]
ASAIC (#2) of WHD Floyd M. Boring:
"I concur 100 % with the Warren Report." [Boring's JFK Library Oral History, 2/25/76, released January 1998 via efforts from the author] "I would go with the Warren Commission's report." [Mortal Error by Bonar Menninger, 1992, page 233] "Mr. Boring made clear during the interview that he felt Lee Harvey Oswald had shot President Kennedy acting alone, and that there was no shot from the grassy knoll." [ARRB interview with Boring, 9/19/96 (MD259). The ARRB interviewed Boring based off the author's persistent efforts. For what it's worth, Boring stated no position on the matter, one way or the other, during his Truman Library Oral History dated 9/21/88, or during his three contacts with the author, 9/22/93, 3/4/94, and 11/22/97]
ASAIC (#3) of WHD Roy H. Kellerman and SA William R. Greer:
"there have got to be more than three shots, gentleman." [among other provocative things said to the Warren Commission on 3/9/64: 2 H 78] "Well [laughs] we didn't do any of the shooting. I think they'll be talking about this assassination 100 years from now [regarding the Warren Report] That's the way I'd keep it." [Kellerman interviewed on Canada's CFTR radio in 1976, responding to the allegations---from Newcomb & Adams--- that one of the agents from the front seat fired the fatal shot!]
"Enroute to the hospital, Bobby Kennedy said to Kellerman: "did you hear they caught the fellow who did it." Kellerman said: "Good." Admiral Burkley was virtually sitting on Kellerman's lap, but Kellerman is not certain that Burkley heard Bobby Kennedy's comment." (Also, Kellerman's drawing of the head wounds depicts a large opening on the back of the head, as well as a smaller opening, also on the back of the head.) [HSCA interviews with Kellerman, 8/24 & 8/25/77]
"She [Kellerman's daughter] hopes the day would come when these men [Kellerman & Greer] could say in public what they told their families." [3/92 letter to the author from Harold Weisberg, recounting a 1970's contact he had with one of Kellerman's two daughters; see also JFK: The Medical Evidence Reference by Vince Palamara, 1998, p. 108. Roy Kellerman passed away 3/84 and Bill Greer passed away 2/85. The author also interviewed Greer's son Richard 9/17/91, 10/7/91, and 9/23/92.]
"Roy accepted that there was a conspiracy. I'll accept that." [June Kellerman, Roy's widow, interviewed by the author 3/2/92 & 9/27/92; see also the December 1994 issue of Vanity Fair magazine, p. 88: article by Anthony & Robbyn Summers. This information was provided to both of them earlier in 1994]
"He was puzzled about the single bullet (399) theory. He could not see how one bullet could have caused both Kennedy and Connally such extensive wounds." [HSCA interview with Greer, 2/28/78: RIF # 180-10099-10491]
SA Clinton J. Hill (First Lady Detail), rode in follow-up car:"As I lay over the top of the back seat I noticed a portion of the President's head on the right rear side was missing and he was bleeding profusely. Part of his brain was gone. I saw a part of his skull with hair on it lying in the seat I observed a wound about six inches down from the neckline on the back just to the right of the spinal column. I observed another wound on the right rear portion of the skull." [Hill's 11/30/63 report: 18 H 740-745] "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 blood and bits of brain all over the entire rear portion of the car one large gaping wound in the right rear portion of the head." [Hill's testimony before the Warren Commission on 3/9/64: 2 H 138-144]
The 1970's--- "There were only 3 shots---one gun, 3 shots." Interviewer: "Are you satisfied that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone?" "Completely." [Mike Wallace's interview of Clint Hill on "60 Minutes", 12/8/75]
The 1990's--- Clint Hill believes that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman. [or so the narrator for the 1995 History Channel program entitled "The Secret Service," Ike Pappas, states. Although Hill is interviewed at length, he does not actually say this on the program, although he did agree to it during Mike Wallace's questioning back in 1975.]
SA Samuel A. Kinney, driver of the follow-up car:"SA Kinney immediately recognized the first sound as that of gunfire, realizing that it was a "shot from over our right shoulder" which hit the President in the throat. "While Jackie was setting him back up, Connally turns right, then left then pow, pow. The SECOND shot" (hit Connally and)"left Connally's back open." "The THIRD shot hit the President SA Kinney finds the idea of conspiracy plausible" (emphasis added; no mention of any missed shots, as well) [HSCA interview with Kinney, 2/26/78: RIF#180-10078-10493] "Sam told me twice that he saw the back of JFK's head come off immediately when the fatal shot struck the President's head (Kinney was watching Kennedy's head-and the rear bumper of the limousine -- as a normal part of his duty to maintain a five-foot distance between the follow-up car and JFK's limo, something he did hundreds of times before). Sam told me "it was the right rear -- I saw that part blow out." Kinney added that his windshield and left arm were hit with blood and brain matter immediately after the head shot.
Once at Parkland Hospital, Kinney helped remove the President from the back seat of the limousine along with Clint Hill, Roy Kellerman, and Dave Powers, thereby receiving an extremely vivid, close-up look at the wound on JFK's head. "His brain was blown out," Sam said, " there was nothing left !" I pressed further, to which Sam added: "There was brain matter all over the place...he had no brains left in his head Kinney believes there was a conspiracy, but that Oswald was the lone shooter" [10/19/92, 3/5/94, and 4/15/94 interviews with Vince Palamara (The Third Alternative-Survivor's Guilt: The Secret Service and the JFK Murder, pp. 8-9, 28, 55-56, 78-80,81-82, 110-111). Sam passed away 7/21/97 (letter from Hazel Kinney to author, 11/20/97).]
SA Paul E. Landis, Jr. (First Lady Detail), rode in follow-up car:"My reaction at this time was that the shot came from somewhere towards the front." [Landis' report dated 11/27/63: 18 H 758-759] ""I still was not certain from which direction the second shot came, but my reaction at this time was that the shot came from somewhere towards the front, right-hand side of the road." [Landis' detailed report dated 11/30/63: 18 H 751-757]
ASAIC of V.P./ LBJ Detail Rufus W. Youngblood, rode in LBJ's car:Interviewer: "Do you have anything you want to add to that, or any qualifications you want to add to the previous record of events in Dallas?" "No, I think that it has been very well covered in the Warren Commission and other reports. I have nothing additional." [Youngblood's LBJ Library Oral History, 12/17/68, p. 24] "Do I believe Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, killed the President, and do I believe Jack Ruby, acting alone, killed Oswald. My answer is yes. The Warren Commission, in my opinion, accomplished its mission, and dug deep until it reached the truth." [Youngblood's book 20 Years in the Secret Service, 1973, p. 177]
The 1990's--- "Him [Jim Garrison] and Marguerite Oswald: two nuts!" [author's interview with Youngblood, 10/22/92. The author also interviewed Youngblood on 2/8/94. Youngblood passed away 10/2/96 (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/4/96)]
ATSAIC of V.P./ LBJ Detail Thomas "Lem" Johns, rode in V.P. follow-up car:"The first two sounded [shots] sounded like they were on the side of me towards the grassy knoll" [HSCA interview with Johns, 8/8/78: RIF# 180-10074-10079]
DNC advance man Jacob L. "Jack" Puterbaugh, rode in pilot car:"Puterbaugh said he has some doubts about the validity of the Warren Commission's findings, since "the ballistics stuff doesn't add up." [Larry Haapanen's interview with Puterbaugh, 9/5/70 (transcript provided to the author)] The 1990's--- Puterbaugh had no comment to make, one way or another. [1/3/98 letter to Vince Palamara]
SAIC of Miami Office John A. Marshall:"Twice during the interview, Mr. Marshall mentioned that, for all he knew, someone in the Secret Service could possibly have been involved in the assassination. This is not the first time an agent has mentioned the possibility that a conspiracy existed, but it is the first time that an agent has acknowledged the possibility that the Secret Service could have been involved." [HSCA interview with Marshall, 2/22/78: RIF#1801007410393]
SA Abraham Bolden, Chicago Office:Abe is a firm believer in a conspiracy and in Secret Service negligence. Also, Abe is adamant that there was a plot to kill JFK in Chicago in early November, 1963. I spoke to Bolden twice and corresponded at length with him between 1993 and the present. Bolden is currently working on his own book with his wife.
SAIC Maurice G. Martineau:Abe's boss in the Chicago office (and certainly no friend of Bolden's, as Martineau made clear to the author), Martineau was equally adamant to me that a conspiracy took the life of President Kennedy. He also told me he finds the work of the HSCA much more valid than that of the WC. However, when it comes to info. on the Chicago plot, Martineau is afraid to give me details to this day.
John Norris:A member of the uniformed division of the Secret Service, Norris is a fervent believer in a conspiracy, although one gets the impression this is more based on his beliefs than actual knowledge, but I could be mistaken. Still, his views and beliefs are important for obvious reasons [see also "JFK: Breaking The Silence" by Bill Sloan (1993)].
Admiral George G. Burkley:HSCA [RIF#180-10086-10295] FROM: RICHARD SPRAGUE TO: FILE
"Reasonable Doubt", p. 49 (1982 interview by Henry Hurt+letters of 10/6/82 and 10/14/82)---believed that President Kennedy's assassination was the result of a conspiracy. According to the 5/31/87 issue of Paul Hoch's newsletter "Echoes of Conspiracy" (vol. 9, No. 1), "Dr. Burkley recently told a relative of his that he did think that Oswald must have been part of a conspiracy, because the way he and his family lived and traveled was indicative of financial support.". Burkley passed away 1/91.
Presidential Aides David F. Powers and Kenneth P. O'Donnell, rode in follow-up car:7 H 472-474: Affidavit dated 5/18/64---"the first shot went off I noticed then that the President moved quite far to his left after the shot from the extreme right hand side where he had been sitting. There was a second shot and Governor Connally disappeared from sight and then there was a third shot which took off the top of the President's head and had the sickening sound of a grapefruit splattering against the side of a wall. The total time bewteen the first and third shots was about 5 or 6 seconds. My first impression was that the shots came from the right and overhead, but I also had a fleeting impression that the noise appeared to come from the front in the area of the triple overpass. This may have resulted from my feeling, when I looked forward toward the overpass, that we might have ridden into an ambush"
7/20/87 Boston Herald "JFK: The Day The Nation Cried", 1988---the most detailed (albeit brief) account of the shooting by him on video---does not leave room for a missed shot.
High Treason, p. 423 and Groden's The Killing of a President, p. 205 (refering to O'Neill's 1987 book Man of the House, p.211); "Larry King Live", 1/20/92 (interview with O'Neill); "Beyond JFK: The Question of Conspiracy" video (1992-O'Neill)---Powers and Kenneth P. O'Donnell told Tip O'Neill that the shots came from the grassy knoll [for his part, O'Donnell said "my reaction in part is reconstruction---is that they came from the right rear."[7 H 468; Powers passed away 3/27/98. O'Donnell passed away 9/9/77.]
Milton T. Wright, Jr., driver of Mayor Cabell's car:"I don't believe in the conspiracy or more that [sic] one gun theory." [8/28/98 letter to Vince Palamara]
Evelyn Lincoln:4/21/91 interview with Harry Livingstone for High Treason 2, pp. 435-437---"I remember coming into Parkland Hospital, and Dr. Burkley telling me that he [JFK] had gone, and Jackie was sitting outside of the place where he was being kept -- they were doing the autopsy or whatever they were doing, and I went up to her and tried to console her."; "I never looked at any of that [the autopsy materials]. Nothing. I kept it, and then Bobby [Kennedy] moved it into another room. It was all sealed up. I never saw any of it I had no access to it."; "It was a conspiracy. There was no doubt about that...J. Edgar Hoover was involved in it."; Bloody Treason by Noel Twyman, p. 831 and Assassination Science by James Fetzer,p. 372: 10/7/94 letter to Richard Duncan---"As for the assassination is concerned [sic] it is my belief that there was a conspiracy because there were those that disliked him and felt the only way to get rid of him was to assassinate him. These five conspirators , in my opinion, were Lyndon B. Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, the Mafia, the CIA, and the Cubans in Florida. The House Intelligence Committee investigation, also, came to the conclusion that there was a conspiracy."[Lincoln conveyed the same thoughts to Anthony Summers: see The Fourth Decade journal, May 1998 issue, p. 14. Evelyn passsed away 5/11/95]
Advance man Marty Underwood (worked on the planning of JFK's Texas tour - specifically, his proposed stops at Houston and Austin):In an exclusive interview conducted on 10/9/92, the author obtained the following new information [similar in content to what Underwood told "Evening Magazine" on 11/22/88, his only tv appearance]:
- Underwood became "an honorary Secret Service agent" and served under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. While with LBJ, he became the "aide in charge of the Secret Service." The advance man confirmed to this author that JFK did not restrict agents from riding on the Presidential limousine. Underwood told Harrison Livingstone: "There were so many things that fell through in Dallas. Any advance man who had any sense at all would never have taken him down that route." When Livingstone commented that the route was changed, Underwood added: "Yeah, I know. You don't take a guy down a route like that." (High Treason 2, by Harry Livingstone, page 442)
- FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had a file on Underwood and, according to the advance man, Hoover hid the Lee Harvey Oswald file from the Secret Service;
- Underwood stated that the CIA, the FBI, and the mafia "knew [JFK] was going to be hit" on 11/22/63 - this information came from his direct contacts with CIA officer Win Scott, the Mexico City Station Chief during Oswald's visit to that region! In addition, Underwood stated that, eighteen hours before Kennedy's murder, "we were getting all sorts of rumors that the President was going to be assassinated in Dallas; there were no if's, and's, or but's about it." When Underwood told JFK about these disturbing reports, the President merely said, "Marty, you worry about me too much" (indeed, JFK told San Antonio Congressman Henry Gonzalez on 11/21/63: "The Secret Service told me that they have taken care of everything. There's nothing to worry about").
The reason why Underwood opened up to me is best expressed by him: "Everyone who had anything to do with Dallas in any way -- Kenny O'Donnell, the Secret Service -- they're practically all dead now. I just think people should know the truth."
From ARRB's Final Report, pages 135-136 (see also p.112; as with Floyd Boring, I alerted the ARRB's Tom Samoluk in early 1996 to Underwood, even sending him Underwood's only tv appearance on video, "Evening Magazine" dated 11/22/88 mentioned above]:
"Martin Underwood, a former advance man for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, was a member of President Kennedy's advance team in Texas in November 1963. A researcher [Gus Russo] who worked with Seymour Hersh on his book, The Dark Side of Camelot, told the Review Board that Underwood claimed that President Johnson sent Underwood to Mexico City in 1966 or 1967 to see what he could learn about the Kennedy assassination. Underwood allegedly met with Win Scott, former CIA Chief of Station in Mexico City.Vince Palamara 2/15/99