Tag Archives: President Kennedy

The John F. Kennedy Assassination Documents

Like many individuals, I have spent a considerable amount of time studying the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I was thrilled when I heard that President Trump was going to release the secret files that have been sealed since 1963. I was hoping the truth would finally come out. Well, a large number of files were released last week. However, a few were still held back to be reviewed by national security personnel. That was disappointing but understandable—maybe. Supposedly, the redacting of documents was only to remove the names of all individuals still living.

It has been my long-held opinion that the Warren Commission was made up of officials with their own agendas; thus, information was overlooked and they arrived at their single gunman theory. Many still believe their conclusion: that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman who miraculously used an old Carcano (an Italian bolt action rifle) to fire three shots in under six seconds; the first of Oswald’s bullets was a through and through on the President’s neck; the second shot hit the curb to the left of the limousine and then the third shot—you know, the magic bullet— killed the President and wounded Governor Connelly. To believe this conclusion, Oswald was either the most skilled of shooters or the luckiest. I have watched a few documentaries where highly skilled marksman made these three shots in under six seconds and hit the 22 MPH moving target. This was to make the Oswald assassination story believable. Think about that.  However, all available information concerning Oswald’s shooting skills reveal he was not that good of a marksman. Did he sandbag when he was tested in the military? Did the Cubans or the Soviets or the Mexicans or our own CIA “train him up” when he was supposedly working with them? It doesn’t seem plausible.

Sadly, everyone with an agenda tends to look at the dreadful day with their respective slant on the facts. Admittedly, I am one of those individuals. I believe there was a conspiracy to assassinate the President. And, by definition, a conspiracy means there were at least two—probably more—individuals involved in the crime.

I have been to Dallas and I have walked around Dealey Plaza to see first-hand where the assassination took place. I can tell you, the area gives off an eerie vibe. I have read witness statements taken by the Dallas police and detectives. Many of these individuals were never questioned again by any other agency, nor was there any follow-up on their original statements. I believe there were more than one gunman at the scene. Now, I am not saying all the gunmen present took shots. The weakness of my conspiracy theory is that the conspiracy itself had to have very few co-conspirers, because it’s hard to believe everyone involved would have stayed silent after such a heinous act—especially after much time has passed.

Frankly, I was hoping the release of the documents would put “a bow on the package” of whatever really happened that day. But I don’t think that will happen. Earlier this week, I listened to an interview of FBI Special Agent Don Adams, who investigated Joseph Adams Milteer, who had made threats against the President. Milteer was interviewed on November 9, thirteen days before the assassination. Special Agent Adams claimed that after he filed his official report, his superiors asked him not to speak about some of the things he’d learned. Additionally, they ordered him to alter some of his original report. Adams believed that Milteer either knew about the assassination plot or was one of the co-conspirators, and that Oswald was set up to take the blame. Moreover, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover dictated a memo on November 24, 1963, saying: “The thing I am concerned about, and so is Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.” Hoover wanted the American public to believe Oswald acted alone.

Stories or interviews like those lead me to believe that the release of these files will do little to resolve the controversy. Some will review these new files and draw different conclusions. However, many on either side of this argument will not be swayed. Why, you ask? Because it appears that many of the real facts were either never written or were later altered, and are now buried in time. Will the American public believe that documents were not destroyed or altered? Some will say yes, many will not. All the release will do is create a conspiracy within a conspiracy.

The Diem Presidency (1960-1962)

Ngo Dinh Diem was elected president of South Vietnam because of his vision for growing the country’s economy and protecting its population. With the United States’ financial assistance, Diem industrialized several regions within the country. He came from one of the elite families of Indochina, he was educated in British Malaya, and, before going into politics, he considered going into the priesthood. His presidency was greatly influenced by his strong religious beliefs. Initially, his social reform was structured around Catholic and Confucian beliefs, such as closing brothels and opium dens, some of which ran contrary to long-practiced standards. He made divorce and abortion illegal. With this growth came the establishment of respectable universities within South Vietnam. He also promised land reform, since much of the country’s property was held by a small minority, predominately Catholic families. Moreover, the Catholic Church was the largest landowner in South Vietnam.

There was a dark side to what appeared to be positive developments. While implementing his plans for social and economic change, he was also consolidating his power against the other warlords and their families throughout South Vietnam. By 1960, the Diem Presidency and his political party, Can Lao, were on shaky ground due to his provocation of the predominately Buddhist population. Diem selected mostly Catholics to political appointments. Even in the military, Catholics climbed the promotion ladder faster than Buddhist officers. President Diem also jailed approximately 40,000 political prisoners. Additionally, his special police force, run by his ruthless brother Nhu, killed an estimated 12,000 opponents to his policies. 

The 1961 inauguration of United States President John F. Kennedy brought a fresh set of eyes to Southeast Asia in general and Vietnam in particular. President Eisenhower had been willing to fight communist advances at every single doorstep. Kennedy defeated Eisenhower’s Vice President Richard Nixon by running on a change in policy with more emphasis on economic growth at home along with more social reform.

Kennedy was a young, inexperienced politician who brought a considerable number of fresh faces into his administration. Kennedy felt compelled to move forward with several foreign operations, since they were already developed so far  he had no choice. One of the those was the Bay of Pigs, which failed miserably due in part to his Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s last-minute decision. But that development caused Kennedy to quickly stop and review many of Eisenhower’s programs—specifically, the US involvement in South Vietnam and the CIA. Kennedy removed Allen Dulles as head of the CIA and appointed John McCone, an industrialist with no government experience. However, in a surprising move, he appointed Edward Lansdale, who had run OPERATION MONGOOSE, the Cuban debacle, to a special position in the Department of Defense to assist with South Vietnam. Why, you ask? Because Lansdale had spent time in Vietnam in the 1950s and was very close to President Diem. Kennedy needed insight and experience. He had begun to wonder about the stability of the Diem Presidency and the military role the United States served in that country. Kennedy was under pressure from all sides to make something positive come from situations that had only negative options.  First, the military wanted to increase its role in South Vietnam, yet retired General Douglas MacArthur told Kennedy that Vietnam was no place for ground troops. Next, Kennedy had concerns about Diem but was unable to come up with a suitable replacement who would be willing to work with the United States. And third, there was political pressure for the Free World to confront the Communist World at every opportunity. Kennedy, a Democrat, did not want to be lumped in with Democratic President Harry Truman, who was perceived to have mishandled the Korean War. Kennedy believed there had to be a resolution for South Vietnam or it would be used against him in the 1964 re-election campaign.

Just after Kennedy was elected, an attempted military coup on Diem failed. On December 20, 1960, the North Vietnamese government, lead by Ho Chi Minh and Le Duan, saw these internal divisions within South Vietnam, coupled with the military coup, as a sign of weakness. They formed the National Liberation Front (NLF), or, more commonly called the Viet Cong.

President Diem attempted to counter the renewed Viet Cong activity with another program called the Strategic Hamlet Program, which was designed to move individuals from smaller, unprotected villages into newly constructed “hamlets” complete with housing, schools, wells, and a watchtower. Additionally, the US supplied weapons, via the South Vietnamese Army, to the people in the hamlets to aid in their protection. The program was designed to protect the population from harassment by the Viet Cong. Yet, many of the villagers resented being moved from their homes, including some who had occupied their land for many years. Moreover, many of the displaced citizens were farmers, not fighters, so they allowed the US weapons to fall into the hands of the Viet Cong. The irony of moving the population around was that 75% of the land was still owned by 15% of the population, mostly Catholics.

As unrest grew among the population, Diem started cracking down on the Buddhist Monks, whom he believed had turned political and were keeping the population upset. This served only to make Diem even more unpopular. In February 1962, there was another military coup when the Air Force bombed the Presidential Palace. Again, they failed.

This is where my novel series begins. My series will cover many of the events of the recent Vietnam Documentary presented by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. However, my novels also deal with key elements of the Vietnam Conflict that were not addressed within this well-done documentary, such as the role of the CIA and illicit drugs.

I want to show my readers the real history behind the Vietnam Conflict, not just what we were taught in school.

Do you have any special insights into what really happened? If so, please drop me an email or leave a comment. I would love to chat with you.

Blaze Starr, One of a Kind Lady

This is not an obituary for Blaze Starr. On June 15, 2015, Fannie Belle Fleming passed away in Wilsondale, West Virginia. Why did the death of Fannie Belle Fleming, aka Blaze Starr, an elderly lady from Wayne County, West Virginia, catch my attention?

I am writing a series of books on the Vietnam Conflict; how and why it started, through how and why it ended. My first book begins just before the escalation of the Vietnam Conflict in early 1963. It focuses on the coup and death of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, followed immediately by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. So what is the connection? While reading DailyMail.com, a headline caught my attention: “Famed burlesque dancer Blaze Starr who said she slept with JFK and whose affair with a Governor was turned into a film starring Paul Newman dies aged 83.”

Fannie Belle Fleming , a buxom, fiery redhead, left her home in West Virginia and traveled to Washington DC seeking work. Soon she became a burlesque dancer (the term of the day for a stripper), using the stage name Blaze Starr, while working in a club in Baltimore, MD. Blaze Starr became famous, or should we say infamous, because of her affair with Louisiana Governor Earl K. Long. There was much more to her story, however. What caught my attention in the title of the article was her claim of having a sexual encounter with John F. Kennedy, before he became President. I investigated further. This was one more woman to add to my research of the late President Kennedy. His affairs with women were much, much more prevalent than I previously thought; ranging from Hollywood stars to foreign harlots.

Some of President Kennedy’s various dalliances caused concern within the FBI and the CIA, as they wondered if he was potentially breaching national security. At some point during my research, I became overwhelmed by Kennedy’s extra-marital relationships. Which of the many affairs should I include in my story, and which should leave out? I didn’t want the focus to be on the President’s flings, but on his role in the Vietnam Conflict. Yet, might one have influenced the other?WP_20150308_001

In my soon-to-be-released historical thriller, I focused on only one of the women; otherwise, the many affairs would have distracted from the plot and objective of my series of books, which is to focus on how Vietnam became a conflict without a focused mission.

According to Blaze Starr, she met Massachusetts Congressman Kennedy in 1954, after he was married to Jacqueline. He liked to frequent her burlesque shows in a Maryland club. Then one night, after her relationship started with Governor Long, he brought Starr to the Roosevelt Hotel. There he introduced John Kennedy and Jacqueline. Both Starr and Kennedy acted as though they had never met. Starr claims that Jacqueline left, and Earl was someplace else when she and Kennedy slipped into a closet and had a quickie. Starr claimed to have several “meet and greets” with John Kennedy; however, the most interesting of their encounters was one that didn’t take place. . . .

Blaze Starr went to the White House in October 1962. She was going to have a liaison with Kennedy in the Lincoln Room, when the Cuban Missile Crisis began. She had to leave before there were any launches. Starr blamed Khrushchev for interrupting her fling!

One important thing was never written about Blaze Starr: she never forgot where she came from or how she grew up. A local West Virginian told me that, on many a Christmas, Starr would return to Southern West Virginia, go to the local hardware store (essentially a general store), buy a pickup truckload of toys, and distribute them to underprivileged children in the area. When Blaze was no longer able to show off her wares, she began a second career as a stonecutter, selling small jewels. When she retired, she returned to the small town in West Virginia where she grew up, which is where she died.

Vietnam Conflict’s Turning Point

My research into writing the series of books on the Vietnam Conflict has uncovered many facts that are not taught in school. I grew up while Conflict was building, and I have been interested in Vietnam from the beginning, because it was weaving itself into the very fabric of our society. Then several years ago, I was driving behind a car with a sticker on it that read, “When I Left Vietnam, We Were Winning! This sticker opened my eyes to how our proud servicemen felt who served in that far-away land, despite being sent on a mission without an objective. Those who served honorably and proudly never received their due gratitude from our country.

The year 1963 was the tipping point in the Vietnam Conflict; specifically, the murders of President Diem and President Kennedy. The removal of these two leaders resulted in an acceleration of the conflict. It is not a highly publicized fact, but President Kennedy was against putting large numbers of ground troops in Vietnam. He had wrestled with this decision for the first two years of his administration, while slightly increasing the number of “advisors” in South Vietnam and working with the South Vietnamese Army. The President had several conversations with retired Five Star General Douglas MacArthur, who knew the Pacific and Southeast Asia about as well as anyone alive. MacArthur advised President Kennedy that it was not a war conducive to ground troops. Late in 1963, President Kennedy started decreasing the number of troops in Vietnam. His actions should not be misinterpreted; he believed he could come up with a plan that would meet his objective of winning the Vietnam Conflict. His actions were not well received by the war hawks in his cabinet, at the Pentagon, or in the Military Industrial Complex. Based on the advice of MacArthur and other key advisors, Kennedy believed the conflict could be won by working with the South Vietnamese Army, utilizing Elite Forces’ surgical strikes, in conjunction with air and naval support. Silhouette fedora

The civilian government of South Vietnam at that time was run by President Ngo Dinh Diem. He was an enigma. He was a Catholic in a predominately Buddhist Country. From the beginning, there was almost constant conflict between the president, his family, and the Buddhists. Quickly, these conflicts accelerated to become a huge distraction that took their country’s focus from their real enemies, the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese. To present both sides of the argument, the South Vietnamese Army was not a very good fighting-army, and they were inferior to the Communist North Vietnamese Army, which was trained and funded by the Soviet Union and the Communist Red Chinese.

My first book in the series, PAWNS – MAGIC BULLET, details the murders of Diem and Kennedy, covering how this all played out and not only changed the way the Vietnam Conflict unfolded, but that it was the beginning of the change of an entire society. It is my opinion, based on years of research, that the murders of these two presidents were related. What are your thoughts?