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«NOVEMBER 22, 1963 (Friday) 12:00 AM (Nov. 22, 1963) Nine Secret Service agents drinking at Pat Kirkwood’s bar the “Cellar Door” in Fort Worth, ...»

-- [ Page 98 ] --

November 24, 1998 Boston (AP) -- At the end of the Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy brushed aside former President Eisenhower’s concerns that Nikita Khrushchev might renege on his agreement with the United States, tapes released Tuesday show. Eisenhower asks Kennedy: “Suppose they try to bombard Guantanamo (Bay),’’ referring to the U.S. military base on Cuba’s eastern tip. Kennedy said: ``I think we will retain sufficient freedom to protect our interests. If they engage in subversion, if they attempt any aggressive act, then all bets are off.’’ The tape was just one of 37 recordings made public Tuesday by the John F. Kennedy Library. Four hours of the tapes -- which include conversations with former presidents Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman and Eisenhower -- had been missing for 32 years. In late October 1962, Kennedy made a call to Eisenhower to brief him on the Cuban missile crisis, a situation that became public on Oct. 22, 1962, when Kennedy revealed the Soviet Union had deployed nuclear missiles in Cuba. Stephanie Fawcett, former senior foreign policy archivist for the JFK library, said, “These are incomparable as a resource. You put on those headphones and you are literally a fly on the wall.’’ Also in the recordings, Kennedy is heard saying weeks before his own assassination that he was troubled by his actions preceding the overthrow and killing of South Vietnam’s president. ``I was shocked by the death of Ngo Dinh Diem. He was an extraordinary character, while he became increasingly difficult in the last few months. He has been able to hold his country together for the last 10 months,’’ Kennedy said Nov. 4, 1963 in an Oval Office tape. Kennedy also questioned what the outcome of the coup and assassination would be. “The question is now whether the generals can stay together and build a stable government or whether public opinion will turn on Saigon.’’ Kennedy’s comments about the coup, which historians have said was U.S.-backed, were on one of the four hours of tapes that had been in the possession of Kennedy’s personal secretary, Evelyn Norton Lincoln, who died in 1995 and left them to Robert L. White, a collector of Kennedy memorabilia. White gave the tapes to the library earlier this year. In the tapes, Kennedy expressed regret over sending a cable that preceded the Diem overthrow. ``I feel we must bear a good deal of responsibility for it, beginning with our cable in early August, which we suggested the coup. In my judgment that wire was badly drafted, it should have never been sent on a Saturday. I should have never given my consent to it without roundtable conference,’’ Kennedy said.

On the tape, the president said he sent another wire, but the planning for the coup was already in place. Kennedy also questioned what the outcome of the coup and assassination would be.``The question is now whether the generals can stay together and build a stable government or whether public opinion will turn on Saigon.’’ Thirteen hours of tapes are from the president’s telephone calls. In his calls to the three former Presidents, JFK told them he was pleased with the progress that was made with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev but worried about future relations with Cuba. ``I don’t think the Cuban story is over yet,’’ he told Truman. “It may be only one more chapter in a very long story as far as Cuba is concerned.’’ November 23, 1998 (Houston, Texas) “I will fight anybody that argues with me about those three shots,” says the last survivor of the Lincoln Continental that rolled through Dealey Plaza in Dallas 35 years ago this week. “I do know what happened in that car,” says Nellie Connally. “Fight me if you want to.” Sitting in her high-rise apartment overlooking the Houston skyline, Mrs.

Connally,the widow of the Texas governor who was shot along with John F. Kennedy, is discussing the motorcade, thumbing through a diary she scribbled out on yellow legal pages a few weeks after the assassination. Mrs. Connally had put the diary away in December 1963 and rediscovered it only after her husband’s 1993 death. The heretofore- unpublished diary reaffirms the Connallys’ verdict about the shooting: that the Warren Commission was wrong in concluding that a single bullet passed through JFK’s neck and Connally’s chest.

Neither Governor Connally nor his widow shared the more elaborate conspiracy theories of the case; like her husband, Mrs. Connally says that the only assassin was Lee Harvey Oswald--”a scrambled egg brain with 15 bucks” for a high- powered rifle. But the Connally family position is different from the Warren Commission’s: though they agree there was no conspiracy, they also insist there was no “magic bullet.” On the 35th anniversary of the murder, it is striking that doubts about the full truth of the assassination linger in even the last survivor, and her diary is a revealing, emotional account of one of the century’s most important turning points.

Also, late this month, Kerry Thornley, author of a book about Lee Harvey Oswald written in part before he was accused of n assassinating President John F. Kennedy, dies of cardiac arrest. He is 60. Thornley befriended LHO in 1959 when both were serving in the Marines in California. He began writing The Idle Warriors, the story of a disillusioned Marine who defects to the Soviet Union, after Oswald defected. He finished the manuscript in 1962, and in 1964 was called before the Warren Commission. He testified about Oswald’s apparent fascination with Communism. A few years later he was brought into court by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who accused him of conspiring to kill the president. The Idle Warriors was eventually published in 1991. A second manuscript, a nonfiction book called Oswald, was published in 1965. Thornley was the subject of a chapter in Jonathan Vankin’s 1992 book Conspiracies, Cover ups, and Crimes. According to Vankin, “Thornley’s association with the President’s alleged assassin has long ceased to seem a coincidence to him... he has come to believe that he was, against his will and without his knowledge, part of the conspiracy that killed Kennedy.” Vankin wrote that Thornley believed he and Oswald were part of a master plot that started before either was even born. “I’ve realized that I’m the product of a German breeding experiment. My mother and father were spies for Japan during the war.” Vankin speculated that Thornley may have been engaging in “an elaborate mind game he plays with himself and anyone who’ll join in,” but by no means stated that conclusively. Vanking also wrote that Thornley traced some of what happened to him to a 1961 meeting in New Orleans with a man he came to believe was an intelligence agent. “He basically predicted everything to me that was going to happen in the next twenty years, including the Manson family, the war in Vietnam, and so on and so forth,” Vankin quoted Thornley as saying.





“He told me I’d be persecuted to the end of my life. I probably will be. I’m getting used to it, I guess.” Charles Spalding dies this year at age eighty-one.

n January 1, 1999 An elderly but buoyant Fidel Castro celebrates the 40th anniversary of his Cuban Revolution. He has now outlasted Khrushchev, Bobby Kennedy and John F. Kennedy - also surviving countless assassination plots. (It is reported that Castro is now one of the world’s richest men.) January 17, 1999 One of the top investigators of the Warren Commission dies today. David Belin, a Des Moines n attorney, dies of head injuries received in a fall in a Minnesota Hotel Room. He was also an executive director to the Rockefeller Commission which investigated the CIA’s activities. From 1978 until his death he was a founding member of the law firm Belin, Lamson, McCormick, Zumbach, Flynn. Belin authored ‘Final Disclosure’ (1988); and ‘November 22: You are the Jury’ (1973). He is 70 years old.

February 19, 1999 Organic material found on a bullet fragment from the John F. Kennedy assassination is “human tissue in varying states of preservation,” according to the The National Archives and Records Administration. The bullet fragment was recovered from the limousine in which JFK and Connally were riding. Federal officials said they may soon ask blood relatives of President Kennedy and the late Texas Gov. John Connally to submit body tissue samples for DNA tests aimed at resolving lingering questions about the 1963 assassination, in which Connally was wounded. NARA and the now-defunct Assassination Records Review Board revealed last summer that tests on the fragments would be conducted. Officials said tests were intended to shed light on such issues as whether a previously unknown fourth bullet had been fired at the presidential motorcade.

A NARA statement released today says in part:

Examination of four small pieces of possibly organic material showed that the material consisted of human tissue in varying states of preservation. Samples were taken from each of the four pieces and were submitted to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory for mitochondrial DNA analysis. The initial tests were inconclusive, so additional samples were submitted for analysis. NARA has monitored the testing and awaits the final results of the tests. Results of these tests may be compared to DNA samples from other Warren Commission exhibits.

An assistant to the slain President’s son, John F. Kennedy Jr., says: “He won’t have any reaction. He doesn’t really discuss the assassination at all.” His sister, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, did not respond to a request for comment. Melody Miller, a spokeswoman for Kennedy’s brother, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), says: “It would be premature to consider such a decision before the testing is completed. No request may be forthcoming.” Connally’s brother, Merrill, of Floresville, Texas, says: “This is the first I’ve heard of it, so I haven’t figured out yet whether I’d want to give a sample.” February 27, 1999 Dr. Evalea Glanges dies today. She was on duty at Parkland Hospital the day JFK was assassinated.

n She has remained 100% certain that there was a hole in the windshield of the Presidential limousine at Parkland hospital.

April 2, 1999 The John F. Kennedy Memorial in Dallas is vandalized today, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage to the historic monument. The black and red graffiti, defacing the monument’s interior, may have been done by a hate group because of the images left behind, said Officer Leroy Quigg of the Dallas Police Gang Unit. The vandalism included two lines scrawled along the sides of the walls, a cross, a swastika, initials and a happy face. “All I can say is that I’m heartsick,” said John Nagel, a staff member at the nearby Conspiracy Museum. “The worst part was I had a tour with me and I had to explain to them that it shouldn’t be like this,” he said. The memorial, or cenotaph, sits east of the city’s Old Red Courthouse near Dealey Plaza, and was built in 1970 by Philip Johnson.

It consists of 50-foot-high white concrete walls that surround a square black marble slab bearing the late president’s name. It gets an estimated half-million visitors a year. The cenotaph is jointly owned by the city and the county and is patrolled by county security.

May 6, 1999 Dr. James J. Humes, the pathologist who performed the autopsy on President Kennedy in 1963, dies n at the age of 74. Humes dies from lung cancer in Florida. Humes was chief pathologist at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland when JFK’s body was flown there for an autopsy after the November 22, 1963 assassination in Dallas. His conclusion that two shots hit the president enabled the Warren Commission to construct its one gunman scenario. In March of 1964 Dr. Humes told the Commission that he burned a preliminary draft of his autopsy report on the President. However, in a certificate dated November 24, 1963, Humes stated that he burned “certain preliminary draft notes” and that he “transmitted all other paper related to this report to higher authority.” More recently, he told the Assassination Records Review Board, after what the Board called “persistent questioning,” that he destroyed both his autopsy notes, and the first draft of his report. Humes endorsed the Warren Commission’s lone gunman findings to the end. “He always told people they could read the truth in the Warren Commission report, that there wasn’t any hidden meaning and no hidden agenda and no government cover-up,” said his daughter, Ann Sansbury. But author Harrison Livingstone said that Humes “was being forced, during a coup and overthrow of the administration, to falsify data... there was a big ambush down there.” May 25, 1999 WASHINGTON -- (AP) -- The two sides wrangling over the value of Abraham Zapruder’s historic home movie of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are $29 million apart. The government is offering $1 million while the Zapruder family, which compares the 26-second film to artwork by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh or pop artist Andy Warhol, is asking $30 million. Government appraiser C.C.M. Associates says that without projection, the Zapruder film is a “tiny strip of celluloid tightly wound on a plastic reel.’’ On the other hand, Steve Johnson, an appraiser for the Zapruders who thinks the film is worth more than $33.8 million, says its colors are akin to art. “The colors are beautiful,’’ Johnson writes in his appraisal. “The ever-familiar hues of the tragedy -- the pink of the first lady’s outfit, the red of the wounds, the green of the grass, the bluish-black of the presidential limousine

-- would not have been better if selected by Warhol or (French artist Henri) Matisse.’’ In 1997, the Assassination Records Review Board declared the Zapruder film the permanent possession of the people of the United States, requiring the government to compensate the Zapruders for taking possession of the film. Negotiating a price, however, proved elusive. In October, the two parties summoned arbitrators and agreed on a $30 million ceiling price. Since then, attorneys for the Justice Department and LMH Co., which represents the Zapruder family, have filed a thick stack of briefs. A three-member arbitration panel today began hearing testimony from both sides.



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