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Yesterday we looked at how the Zapruder film cast serious doubts about whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. Today we'll examine the theories that the Central Intelligence Agency had a role in the deed, as many people believe. While the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald was the assassin and that he acted alone, Oswald's subsequent murder by night club owner Jack Ruby before he could have his trial left a cloud of suspicion over that conclusion. Discrepancies arising out of the Warren Commission have led to a variety of theories about how and why Kennedy was assassinated, and about the likelihood of a conspiracy. In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded that Oswald assassinated Kennedy, but that a second gunman besides Oswald probably also fired at Kennedy.

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In 1966, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison began an investigation into the assassination. Garrison's investigation led him to conclude that a group of right-wing extremists were involved with elements of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Garrison concluded that businessman Clay Shaw, head of the International Trade Mart in New Orleans, was part of the conspiracy. On March 1, 1967, Garrison arrested and charged Shaw with conspiring to assassinate President Kennedy. In the course of that investigation, evidence came to light suggesting that Shaw was linked to the CIA through his involvement in the Centro Mondiale Commerciale, a subsidiary of the trade organization Permindex in which Shaw was a board member. The CMC was said to be a front organization developed by the CIA for transferring funds to Italy for "illegal political-espionage activities." An Italian newspaper Paese Sera reported that the CMC had attempted to depose French President Charles de Gaulle in the early 1960s, and made other allegations about individuals it said were connected to Permindex. It was Paese Sera's allegations connecting Shaw to the CIA were what led to Garrison to implicate the CIA in a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy.

On January 29, 1969, Clay Shaw was brought to trial on charges of being part of a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy, and the jury found him not guilty. But despite the jury verdict, Garrison maintained the belief that anti-Communist and anti-Castro extremists in the CIA plotted the assassination of Kennedy to maintain tension with the Soviet Union and Cuba, and to prevent a United States withdrawal from Vietnam. In the book JFK and the Unspeakable, author James Douglass alleged that the CIA, acting upon the orders of conspirators with the "military industrial complex", killed Kennedy and in the process set up Lee Harvey Oswald as a patsy. Douglass stated that Kennedy was killed because he was turning away from the Cold War and pursuing paths of nuclear disarmament, rapprochement with Fidel Castro, and withdrawal from the war in Vietnam.

In 1977, the FBI released 40,000 files pertaining to the assassination of Kennedy, including an April 3, 1967 memorandum from Deputy Director Cartha DeLoach to Associate Director Clyde Tolson concerning CIA plots to kill Fidel Castro. According to DeLoach, an aide to President Lyndon Johnson named Marvin Watson "stated that the President had told him, in an off moment, that he was now convinced there was a plot in connection with the assassination. Watson stated the President felt that the CIA had had something to do with this plot."

Gaeton Fonzi was hired as a researcher in 1975 by the Church Committee and by the House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1977. At the HSCA, Fonzi focused on the anti-Castro Cuban exile groups, and the links that these groups had with the CIA and the Mafia. Fonzi obtained testimony from Cuban exile Antonio Veciana that Veciana had witnessed his CIA contact conferring with Lee Harvey Oswald. Independent journalist Anthony Summers spoke with a man named Oscar Contreras, a law student at National University in Mexico City, who said that someone calling himself Lee Harvey Oswald struck up a conversation with him inside a university cafeteria, in the fall of 1963. Contreras described "Oswald" as "over thirty, light-haired and fairly short" — a description that did not fit the real Oswald. Fonzi thought it improbable that the real Oswald would at random start a conversation regarding his difficulties in obtaining a Cuban visa with Contreras, a man who belonged to a pro-Castro student group and had contacts in the Cuban embassy in Mexico City.

Fonzi theorized that there was an Oswald impersonator in Mexico City, directed by the CIA, during the period that the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald himself had visited the city. Fonzi's belief was strengthened by statements from other witnesses. On September 27, 1963, and again a week later, a man identifying himself as Oswald visited the Cuban embassy in Mexico City. Consular Eusebio Azcue told Anthony Summers that the real Oswald "in no way resembled" the "Oswald" to whom he had spoken to at length. Embassy employee Sylvia Duran also told Summers that the real Oswald she eventually saw on film "is not like the man I saw here in Mexico City." On October 1, the CIA recorded two tapped telephone calls to the Soviet embassy by a man identified as Oswald. The CIA transcriber noted that "Oswald" spoke in "broken Russian", while the real Oswald was fluent in Russian. On October 10, 1963, the CIA issued a teletype to the FBI, the State Department and the Navy, regarding Oswald's visits to Mexico City. The teletype was accompanied by a photo of a man identified as Oswald who in fact looked nothing like him.

On November 23, 1963, the day after the assassination of President Kennedy, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's stated in a memo:

The Central Intelligence Agency advised that on October 1st, 1963, an extremely sensitive source had reported that an individual identifying himself as Lee Oswald contacted the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City inquiring as to any messages. Special agents of this Bureau, who have conversed with Oswald in Dallas, Texas, have observed photographs of the individual referred to above and have listened to a recording of his voice. These special agents are of the opinion that the referred-to individual was not Lee Harvey Oswald."JOHNSON: "Have you established any more about the [Oswald] visit to the Soviet Embassy in Mexico in September?"

HOOVER: "No, there's one angle that's very confusing for this reason. We have up here the tape and the photograph of the man at the Soviet Embassy, using Oswald's name. That picture and the tape do not correspond to this man's voice, nor to his appearance. In other words, it appears that there was a second person who was at the Soviet Embassy."

Fonzi concluded it was unlikely that the CIA would legitimately not be able to produce a single photograph of the real Oswald as part of the documentation of his trip to Mexico City, given that Oswald had made five separate visits to the Soviet and Cuban embassies according to the Warren Commission, locations where the CIA maintained surveillance cameras.

Three men were photographed by several Dallas-area newspapers under police escort near the Texas School Book Depository shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy. These men became known as the "three tramps". They were detained and questioned briefly by the Dallas police. E. Howard Hunt is alleged by some to be the oldest of the tramps. Hunt was a CIA station chief in Mexico City and was involved in the Bay of Pigs Invasion. He later worked as one of President Richard Nixon's White House Plumbers. Others believe that one of the tramps is Chauncey Holt, who claimed to have been a double agent for the CIA and the Mafia, and claimed that his assignment in Dallas was to provide fake Secret Service credentials to people in the vicinity. Dallas police officer Joe Smith and Army veteran Gordon Arnold have claimed to have met a man on or near the grassy knoll who showed them credentials identifying him as a Secret Service agent.

Frank Sturgis is thought to be the tall tramp. Sturgis was also involved both in the Bay of Pigs invasion and in the Watergate burglary. Marita Lorenz, with whom Sturgis had a relationship. Lorenz claimed that Sturgis told her that he had participated in a JFK assassination plot., an allegation that Sturgis later denied. In an interview with Steve Dunleavy of the New York Post, Sturgis said that he believed communist agents had pressured Lorenz into making the accusations against him.

The House Select Committee on Assassinations had forensic anthropologists study the photographic evidence. The committee claimed that its analysis ruled out E. Howard Hunt, Frank Sturgis, Dan Carswell, Fred Lee Chapman, and other suspects. Records released by the Dallas Police Department in 1989 identified the three men as Gus Abrams, Harold Doyle, and John Gedney. In 1975, Hunt testified before the United States President's Commission on CIA activities within the United States that he was in Washington, D.C. on the day of the assassination. This testimony was confirmed by Hunt's family and a home employee of the Hunts.

In August 2003, while in failing health, Hunt allegedly confessed to his son of his knowledge of a conspiracy in the JFK assassination. However, Hunt's health improved and he went on to live four more years. Shortly before Hunt's death in 2007, he authored an autobiography which implicated Lyndon B. Johnson in the assassination, suggesting that Johnson had orchestrated the killing with the help of CIA agents who had been angered by Kennedy's actions as president. After Hunt's death, his sons, Saint John Hunt and David Hunt, stated that their father had recorded several claims about himself and others being involved in a conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. In the April 5, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone, Saint John Hunt alleged that his father had implicated a number of individuals in the assassination, including Lyndon Johnson, Cord Meyer, David Phillips, Frank Sturgis, David Morales, Antonio Veciana, William Harvey, and Lucien Sarti.

Fonzi and others believe that CIA operative David Morales was involved in the Kennedy assassination. Morales' friend, Ruben Carbajal, claimed that in 1973 Morales stated that "Kennedy had been responsible for him having to watch all the men he recruited and trained get wiped out. Well, we took care of that SOB, didn't we?" Morales had openly expressed deep anger toward the Kennedys for what he saw as their betrayal during the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

Many conspiracy theorists have argued that Oswald's pro-Communist behavior may have been a carefully planned ruse by U.S. intelligence agencies to infiltrate left-wing organizations in the United States and to conduct counterintelligence operations. Oswald himself claimed to be innocent, denying all charges and even declaring to reporters that he was "just a patsy". He also insisted that the photos of him with a rifle had been faked, an assertion contradicted by statements made by his wife, Marina (who claimed to have taken the photos), and the analysis of FBI photographic experts. Some FBI employees had made statements indicating that Oswald was indeed a paid informant, but FBI agent James P. Hosty reported that his office's interactions with Oswald were limited to dealing with Oswald's complaints about being harassed by the Bureau for being a communist sympathizer. In the weeks before the assassination Oswald made a personal visit to the FBI's Dallas branch office with a hand-delivered letter, but, Hosty destroyed the letter by order of J. Gordon Shanklin, his supervisor.

Some researchers have alleged that Oswald was an active agent of the Central Intelligence Agency, noting his attempt to defect to Russia, and subsequently being able to return without difficulty. Oswald was even able to receive a repatriation loan from the State Department. A former roommate of Oswald, James Botelho (who would later become a California judge) stated in an interview with Mark Lane that he believed that Oswald was involved in an intelligence assignment in Russia. Oswald's mother, Marguerite, often insisted that her son was recruited by an agency of the U.S. Government and sent to Russia. Jim Garrison also held the opinion that Oswald was most likely a CIA agent who had been drawn into the plot to be used as a scapegoat. Senator Richard Schweiker, a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said of Oswald that "everywhere you look with him, there're fingerprints of intelligence". In 1978, former CIA paymaster and accountant James Wilcott testified before the HSCA, stating that Lee Harvey Oswald was a "known agent" of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Some conspiracy theorists have alleged a plot involving elements of the Mafia, the CIA and the anti-Castro Cubans, including Anthony Summers, who relies on government documents which show that, beginning in 1960, these groups had worked together in assassination attempts against Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Author Ruben Castaneda concluded: "Based on the evidence, it is likely that JFK was killed by a coalition of anti-Castro Cubans, the Mob, and elements of the CIA." In his book, They Killed Our President, former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura also concluded: "John F. Kennedy was murdered by a conspiracy involving disgruntled CIA agents, anti-Castro Cubans, and members of the Mafia, all of whom were extremely angry at what they viewed as Kennedy's appeasement policies toward Communist Cuba and the Soviet Union."
When the Warren Commission released its final 888 page report on September 24, 1964 on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, among the conclusions reached by the commission, were the following:

1. The shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally were fired from the sixth-floor window at the southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository.
7. The shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally were fired by Lee Harvey Oswald.
10. The Commission has found no evidence that either Lee Harvey Oswald or Jack Ruby was part of any conspiracy, domestic or foreign, to assassinate President Kennedy.
11. The Commission has found no evidence of conspiracy, subversion, or disloyalty to the U.S. Government by any Federal, State, or local official.


The conclusion that Oswald acted alone, or that the shots were fired only from one location have been hotly contested in the decades that have intervened, and even today, many people doubt this conclusion. Perhaps the strongest piece of evidence casting doubt on this conclusion is what has become known as "The Zapruder Film.

The Zapruder Film is a silent 8mm color motion picture sequence shot by Abraham Zapruder with a Bell & Howell home-movie camera. Zapruder filmed the scene as President John F. Kennedy's motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. The film captured the assassination of the President. It was not the only film of the shooting, but is is recognized as being the most complete. It gives a relatively clear view from an slightly elevated position on the side from which the president's fatal head wound is visible. It is one of the most studied pieces of film in history and since 1994, the footage has been preserved in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress

Abraham Zapruder was a Ukrainian born American clothing manufacturer whose office was on the fourth floor of the Dal-Tex Building, across the street from the Texas School Book Depository. Zapruder was an fan of President Kennedy and was a Democrat. He had originally planned to film the motorcade carrying President Kennedy through downtown Dallas on November 22, but he decided not to do so because it had been raining that morning. When he arrived at work that morning without his camera, Zapruder's assistant insisted that he bring it from home before coming in to work because the rain had stopped.


Zapruder's movie camera was an 8 mm Bell & Howell Zoomatic Director Series Model 414 PD. It was considered to be the top-of-the-line when it was purchased in 1962. Zapruder had planned to film the motorcade from his office window but he later decided to choose a more optimal spot in Dealey Plaza where the motorcade would be passing. He chose to film on top of a 4-foot concrete abutment which extends from a retaining wall that was part of the John Neely Bryan concrete pergola on the grassy knoll north of Elm Street, in Dealey Plaza. He filmed from the time the presidential limousine turned onto Elm Street for a total of 26.6 seconds, exposing 486 frames of standard 8 mm Kodachrome II safety film, running at an average of 18.3 frames/second.

Following the assassination, Secret Service agent Forrest Sorrels promised Zapruder that the film would only be used for an official investigation. The two men went to develop the footage as soon as possible. A local television station WFAA had equipment that was not compatible with the format, so Eastman Kodak's Dallas film processing facility developed the film and Jamieson Film Company produced three copies. Zapruder gave two of the copies to Sorrels and they were sent to Washington. The original film was retained by Zapruder, in addition to one of the copies.

A bidding war began for the film and on the morning of November 23, Life magazine purchased it for $150,000 ($1,330,000 in 2023 dollars). In his 2001 book Tell Me A Story, CBS producer Don Hewitt said that he told Rather to go to Zapruder's home to "sock him in the jaw", take the film, copy it, then return it and let the network's lawyers deal with the consequences. Hewitt wrote that he soon after realized how wrong this would be and he immediately called Rather back to countermand the order. Rather later claimed that this story was not true.

Frame 313 of the film captures the fatal shot to the President's head. Zapruder insisted that frame 313 be excluded from publication. The November 29, 1963 issue of Life published about 30 frames of the Zapruder film in black and white. Frames were also published in color in the December 6, 1963 special "John F. Kennedy Memorial Edition", and in issues dated October 2, 1964 (a special article on the film and the Warren Commission report), November 25, 1966, and November 24, 1967.

At least 32 people in Dealey Plaza known to have made film or still photographs at or around the time of the shooting. The Zapruder film frames that were used by the Warren Commission were published in black and white as Commission Exhibit 885 in volume XVIII of the Hearings and Exhibits. Life magazine brought the original to Washington in February for the Commission's viewing, and also made color 35mm slide enlargements from the relevant frames of the original film for the FBI. From those slides, the FBI made a series of black-and-white prints, which were given to the commission for its use.

In October 1964, the U.S. Government Printing Office released 26 volumes of testimony and evidence compiled by the Warren Commission. Volume 18 of the commission's hearings reproduced 158 frames from the Zapruder film in black and white. However, frames 208–211 were missing, a splice was visible in frames 207 and 212, frames 314 and 315 were switched around, and frame 284 was a repeat of 283. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover claimed that frames 314 and 315 had been swapped due to a printing error, and that that error did not exist in the original Warren Commission exhibits.

Before the 1969 trial of Clay Shaw, a businessman from New Orleans, for conspiracy in connection with the assassination, a copy of the film made several generations from the original was subpoenaed from Time Inc. in 1967 by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison for use at Shaw's grand jury hearing. Garrison unsuccessfully subpoenaed the original film in 1968. The courtroom showings of Garrison's copy in 1969 were the first time it had been shown in public as a film. Garrison allowed copies of the film to be made. Zapruder's film was aired as part of a Los Angeles area television newscast on February 14, 1969.

On March 6, 1975, on the ABC late-night television show Good Night America (hosted by Geraldo Rivera), assassination researchers Robert Groden and Dick Gregory presented the first-ever US network television showing of the Zapruder film. The public's response and outrage to that television ultimately led to the Church Committee Investigation on Intelligence Activities by the United States, and resulted in the House Select Committee on Assassinations investigation.

In April 1975, as part of a settlement of a royalties suit between Time Inc. and Zapruder's heirs arising from the ABC showing, Time Inc. sold the film's initial rendition and its copyright back to the Zapruder family for the sum of $1. Time Inc. wanted to donate the film to the U.S. government. The Zapruder family originally refused to consent, but in 1978, the family transferred the film to the National Archives and Records Administration for appropriate preservation and safe-keeping, while still retaining ownership of the film and its copyright. Director Oliver Stone paid over $85,000 to the Zapruder family for use of the Zapruder film in his motion picture JFK (1991).

Between November 1963 and January 1964, the FBI examined a copy of the Zapruder film, noting that the camera recorded at an average of 18.3 frames per second. It is not clear from the film itself as to when the first and second shots occurred. The film clearly shows that by frame 225 the President is reacting to his throat wound, although no wound or blood is seen on either President Kennedy or Governor Connally prior to frame 313.

The Zapruder film shows the Presidential motorcade led by two open-top limousines proceeding at a stately pace through a street lined with people. It shows the black Lincoln Continental with JFK and his wife, Jackie waving to onlookers as the motorcade heads for what was known locally as “the triple underpass.” As the motorcade approaches, the film shows JFK’s car emerge from behind a sign that had been temporarily blocking the view. Suddenly, JFK clutches his throat. His wife Jackie leans over to attend to him. An instant later, in Frame 313, it looks like a lightning bolt strikes JFK’s head. We see it blown up and thrown back. Mrs. Kennedy frantically crawls over the rear seat of the open car and climbs onto its rear deck grasping at something that has been described as a piece of her husband’s shattered skull.

Conspiracy theorists argue that the sudden force which violently pushes the President's head backward is strong and compelling evidence that the force which caused this originated from a different direction from the Texas School Book Depository, one from somewhere in front of the vehicle. They argue that this strongly contradicts the conclusion that Oswald acted alone, and that there was at least one other shooter, one who delivered the fatal shot that killed the President. They say that this conclusion matches reports from many persons present on that day who directed police and other authorities in a different direction, to the famous "grassy knoll" in front of where the motorcade was at the time.

In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations agreed to publish a report from Warren Commission critic Robert Groden, in which he named other suspected firing points in Dealey Plaza, including the Grassy Knoll. Investigator Josiah Thompson concluded that the shots fired at the motorcade came from three locations: the Texas School Book Depository, the Grassy Knoll, and the Dal-Tex Building. The grassy knoll was identified by most witnesses as the area from where shots were fired. In March 1965, Harold Feldman wrote that there were 121 witnesses to the assassination listed in the Warren Report, 51 of whom indicated that the shots that killed Kennedy came from the grassy knoll, while 32 said the shots originated from the Texas School Book Depository. In 1967, Josiah Thompson examined the statements of 64 witnesses and concluded that 33 of them thought that the shots emanated from the grassy knoll.

Below is a YouTube video of the Zapruder film. TRIGGER WARNING: it contains violent and disturbing imagery. Please don't watch this if you are concerned that it will offend you or cause a traumatic response or reaction.

The Zapruder film remains as the strongest piece of evidence for those who dispute the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Literally hundreds of books have been written on the subject, and it will continue to be one of Presidential history's most hotly disputed subjects.
According to the official version, John Wilkes Booth, the man who murdered Abraham Lincoln, was killed on April 26, 1865. Shortly before dawn that day, the soldiers who had been on his trail finally caught up with Booth and David Herold, who were hiding in Richard H. Garrett's tobacco barn, about two miles south of Port Royal, Virginia. Herold surrendered to the soldiers, but Booth refused to do so. Soldiers then set the barn on fire. As Booth moved about inside the blazing barn, Sergeant Boston Corbett shot him, according to Corbett's later account. Corbett said that he fired at Booth because Booth had raised his pistol to shoot at Corbett and the others. But Corbett's commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Everton Conger, reported to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, that Corbett shot Booth "without order, pretext or excuse." He recommended that Corbett be punished for disobeying orders to take Booth alive.

Booth was fatally wounded in the neck. He was dragged from the barn to the porch of Garrett's farmhouse, where he died three hours later. Booth was 26 years old. The bullet had pierced three vertebrae and partially severed his spinal cord, paralyzing him. Dramatic to the end, Booth is said to have whispered "Tell my mother I died for my country." He then asked the soldiers to raise his hands to his face so that he could see them. Booth then is said to have uttered his last words, "Useless, useless," before he died as dawn was breaking, from asphyxiation as a result of his wounds. In Booth's pockets soldiers found a compass, a candle, pictures of five women (actresses Alice Grey, Helen Western, Effie Germon, Fannie Brown, and Booth's fiancée Lucy Hale). In the diary he had written of Lincoln's death: "Our country owed all her troubles to him, and God simply made me the instrument of his punishment."

But some conspiracy theorists doubt this account. They believe that John Wilkes Booth actually escaped capture following his assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and that the man killed at Garrett's Farm near Port Royal, Virginia was not Booth. That theory has been dismissed by most historians as the product of overactive imaginations. It is fueled in part from the fact that Secretary of War Edwin Stanton had ordered that a single photograph be taken of Booth’s corpse. On April 27, 1865, records state that famed Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner and his assistant Timothy O’Sullivan took the picture. But the picture hasn't been seen since according to Smithsonian Magazine, and its whereabouts are unknown.

This isn't too surprising however, as many believe that Stanton wanted to control the number of photographs of Booth’s body so he would not be a martyr or lionized. But the absence of the image has stoked the fires of conspiracy theories claiming that Lincoln’s assassin was not dead after all. Conspiracy theories, as has been seen, are not something of recent invention.

In 1907, Finis L. Bates authored a book entitled "Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth" in which he contended that someone who looked like Booth was mistakenly killed at the Garrett farm while Booth eluded his pursuers. According to Bates, Booth had assumed the pseudonym "John St. Helen" and later settled on the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas, before moving once again, to Granbury, Texas. According to Bates' book, St. Helen/Booth fell gravely ill and made a deathbed confession as to his supposed true identity. The man then recovered and fled, eventually committing suicide in 1903 in Enid, Oklahoma, under the alias "David E. George". By 1913, over 70,000 copies of the book had been sold, and Bates exhibited St. Helen's mummified body in carnival sideshows.

In response to Bates' claim, in 1913 the Maryland Historical Society published an account authored by Baltimore mayor William M. Pegram, who claimed that he had viewed Booth's remains upon the casket's arrival at the Weaver funeral home in Baltimore on February 18, 1869, for burial at Green Mount Cemetery. Pegram, who had known Booth very will, since a young man, submitted a sworn statement that the body which he had seen in 1869 was actually Booth's. Others also positively identified this body as Booth at the funeral home, including Booth's mother, brother, and sister, along with his dentist and other Baltimore acquaintances.

The rumor spread by Bates was revived in the 1920s when a corpse was exhibited on a national tour by a carnival promoter and advertised as the "Man Who Shot Lincoln". According to a 1938 article in the Saturday Evening Post, the exhibitor said that he obtained St. Helen's corpse from Bates' widow.

In 1977, a book entitled The Lincoln Conspiracy by David W. Balsiger and Charles E. Sellier, Jr. contended that there was a government plot to conceal Booth's escape. The book sold more than one million copies and was made into a feature film called The Lincoln Conspiracy, which was theatrically released later that year.

In 1998 another book, The Curse of Cain: The Untold Story of John Wilkes Booth contended that Booth had escaped, sought refuge in Japan, and eventually returned to the United States. In 1994 two historians, as well as several of Booth's descendants, sought a court order for the exhumation of Booth's body at Green Mount Cemetery. The applicants hoped to prove or disprove the many theories concerning Booth's supposed escape. But the application was denied by Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld the ruling.

In December 2010, descendants of Edwin Booth reported that they obtained permission to exhume Booth's body to obtain DNA samples to compare with a sample of his brother John's DNA. The family hoped to obtain samples of John Wilkes's DNA from remains such as vertebrae stored at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Maryland. This application was also denied.

Recently, in an April 15, 2019 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer written by Edward Colimore, the author alleged that facial-recognition software had performed an analysis of the faces of John Wilkes Booth with that of the man known as David George. According to the article, in less than a minute, results came back that showed a strong possibility that the photographs were of the same man. The article acknowledged that these results are not as definitive as DNA results, but facial recognition is used by law enforcement agencies and has some credibility. The test results support the contention that Booth lived 38 years more after Lincoln's assassination as St. Helen and George.

After researchers obtained the best images available, they were fed into a high-resolution scanner. According to those performing the test, George’s photo was nearly a perfect match with Booth’s, within the top 1 percent of those bearing similar facial features, according to researchers who worked with the creator of the New York Police Department’s first dedicated facial-recognition unit. St. Helen’s photograph was damaged and had to be repaired for the test. The experiment was used for a feature episode of a television show on the Discovery Channel.

The new technology is not foolproof, and as Rob D’Ovidio, associate professor of criminology and justice studies at Drexel University, states, "the evidence needs to be strong if you’re going to rewrite history.” Facial characteristics are not as compelling evidence as DNA or even a fingerprint. Much depends on the quality of the photos and if the photos are of questionable quality, the results will also be questionable.
Although he had been a career soldier for much of his adult life, towards the end of his Presidency, Dwight Eisenhower developed a mistrust for those whose financial interests were tied to national defense spending. On January 17, 1961, Eisenhower addressed the nation on television for his farewell address. In the speech, he warned Americans to be on guard against what he called "the Military Industrial Complex". In the speech Eisenhower also expressed concerns about the dangers of massive spending generally, especially deficit spending, as well as about Federal influence on scholars, and about a "technological elite".


When he delivered this speech, Eisenhower had served two full terms as President and was the first president to be term-limited. He had presided over a period of considerable economic expansion, as well as over the growing Cold War. Three of his national budgets had been balanced, but spending pressures mounted, especially from the Department of Defense. His farewell speech followed the election of John F. Kennedy. It was a time of significant transition as the oldest American president in a century was about to hand the reins of power to the youngest man ever elected president. Eisenhower was concerned about Kennedy's lack of experience and his susceptibility to being influenced by his generals. Sometime in 1959, Eisenhower had decided to make a final statement as he left public life.

In the speech Eisenhower expressed concern over a lack of planning for the future. In the speech he told Americans that they "must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow."

Eisenhower warned the nation about the potentially harmful and corrupting influence of what he termed the "military-industrial complex". He said:

"Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense. We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security alone more than the net income of all United States corporations. Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence, economic, political, even spiritual, is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

Here is a brief excerpt from that speech, along with some comments by historian Michael Beschloss:

Eisenhower also said that "the prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocation, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded... [I]n holding scientific discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."

Eisenhower's speech is remembered primarily for its reference to the military-industrial complex. The phrase gained increased usage during the Vietnam era and man have expressed the opinion that a number of the fears raised in his speech have come true. An excellent 2005 documentary directed by Eugene Jarecki entitled Why We Fight follows up on the remarkable foresight that Eisenhower showed in giving this warning. Eisenhower's granddaughter Susan appears prominently in the film.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, total world spending on military expenses in 2018 was $1.822 trillion. 36% of this total, roughly $649 billion, was spent by the United States. The privatization of the production and invention of military technology has led to a complicated relationship with significant research and development of many technologies. In 2011, the United States spent more on its military than the next 13 nations combined. Today the U.S. federal government is spending about $1 trillion annually on defense-related purposes.
Warren G. Harding is one of four presidents to die in office of natural causes. Or was he? Conspiracy theorists surmise that Harding was actually murdered and that his murder was covered up. This theory has been promoted by a number of sources, including a disreputable former FBI agent named Gaston Means, who wrote a book about his "investigation" into the alleged conspiracy.


In June of 1923, President Warren G. Harding set out on a cross-country "Voyage of Understanding", a kind of national dog-and-pony show in which Harding hoped to showcase his policies and escape the stench of scandal back home. Rumors of a number of scandals within Harding's administration were just coming to the surface, and while Harding was never directly implicated in them, at the time of his western trip, he was certainly aware of them. He asked his Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover, “If you knew of a great scandal in our administration, would you for the good of the country and the party expose it publicly or would you bury it?” Hoover recommended that Harding expose the scandal, stating that at least Harding could get credit for doing the honorable thing. But Harding never got the chance to take that advice.

Harding's political advisers had given him a physically demanding schedule, even though he had ordered it to be cut back. He gave speeches in Kansas City, in Hutchinson, Kansas, in Denver, and in many other stops along the tour. He visited Yellowstone and Zion National Parks, and dedicated a monument on the Oregon Trail. On July 5, Harding embarked on USS Henderson in Washington state. He became the first president to visit Alaska, stopping at Seward to take the Alaska Central Railway to McKinley Park and Fairbanks.

On the way back, Harding's ship stopped at Vancouver Harbor on July 26, where Harding became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Canada. He was greeted dock-side by the Premier of British Columbia and the Mayor of Vancouver. Thousands lined the streets of Vancouver to watch as the motorcade of dignitaries moved through the city to Stanley Park, where Harding spoke to an audience estimated at over 40,000. In his speech he proclaimed, "You are not only our neighbor, but a very good neighbor, and we rejoice in your advancement and admire your independence no less sincerely than we value your friendship." Harding also played golf at a Vancouver golf course, but completed only six holes before becoming too tired to continue.

From Vancouver, Harding went to Seattle and then to San Francisco, arriving at the Palace Hotel on July 29th, where it is believed that he developed pneumonia. His public events were cancelled. By the afternoon of August 2, he appeared to be recovering. That evening, around 7:30 pm, while Florence Harding was reading a flattering article to the president from The Saturday Evening Post titled "A Calm Review of a Calm Man", he began twisting convulsively and collapsed. Doctors attempted stimulants, but were unable to revive him. Harding died at the age of 57. His death was initially attributed to a cerebral hemorrhage, but it was most likely the result a heart attack.

Naval physicians surmised that he had suffered a heart attack. However, this diagnosis was not made by Dr. Charles Sawyer, the Surgeon General, who was traveling with the presidential party. Sawyer recommended to Mrs. Harding that an autopsy be performed to determine the actual cause of death, but Mrs. Harding refused permission for the autopsy. Her refusal brought out the conspiracy theorists of the day, leading to speculation that the President had been the victim of a plot.

Harding was succeeded by Vice President Calvin Coolidge, who was sworn in by his father, a justice of the peace, in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. Harding's body was returned to Washington, where it was placed in the East Room of the White House pending a state funeral at the United States Capitol. White House employees at the time were quoted as saying that the night before the funeral, they heard Mrs. Harding speak for more than an hour to her dead husband. One of the most controversial remarks attributed to Mrs. Harding at the time was: "They can't hurt you now, Warren."


Harding was entombed in the receiving vault of the Marion Cemetery, Marion, Ohio, in August 1923. Following Mrs. Harding's death on November 21, 1924, she too was temporarily buried next to her husband. Both bodies were moved in December 1927 to the newly completed Harding Memorial in Marion, which was dedicated by President Herbert Hoover in 1931.

In 1930, a former private investigator with a sketchy reputation named Gaston Means wrote an exploitative book, called The Strange Death of President Harding. In the book, Means suggested that many people had a motive to murder the President, including Mrs. Harding. Means claimed that Mrs. Harding poisoned the President. But Means lacked the pedigree of a reliable informant. He was a convicted perjurer who had corruptly used his office as an FBI agent, selling his services to local Washington bootleggers during Prohibition.

In 1924, following Harding's death, Congress held hearings on the Justice Department's role in failing to oversee their Prohibition duties under the Volstead Act. Means testified against former Attorney General Daugherty. In his testimony he admitted to handling bribes for senior officials in the former Harding Administration. The congressional investigation revealed evidence of Means' role in the issuance of Prohibition-era liquor permits. Means was indicted for perjury and tried before a jury. In his testimony, Means accused both Harding and Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon as being part of a cover-up. The jury did not believe him. Means was found guilty of perjury and sentenced to two years in federal prison.

In his book, The Strange Death of President Harding, published in 1930, means alleged that Harding had been consciously complicit in all of the major scandals of his administration. In the book, Means claimed that the President had been murdered by his wife, First Lady Florence Harding, with assistance from the couple's personal physician, Charles E. Sawyer. Mrs. Harding's alleged motivation was that she had become aware of her husband's corruption and marital infidelity and wanted to protect his reputation.

In 1933, a counter-exposé published in Liberty Magazine, claimed that the book was a hoax. Mae Dixon Thacker said that she had ghostwritten the book for Means and that Means had cheated her out of her share of the profits. Means himself later admitted that the book was untrue according to another questionable source, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. That didn't present Means from collecting and keeping all of his royalties

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Any credibility that Means had was eroded further following the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby in 1932. Means was contacted by the Washington socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean, owner of the Hope Diamond, who asked him to use his connections in the East Coast underworld to assist in the recovery of the Lindbergh child. Means claimed that he knew the whereabouts of the victim and offered his services as a go-between. He asked for $100,000 to pass on to the kidnappers. McLean sent the money to Means, who kept the cash for himself. A co-confederate of his fed McLean false details and Means later came to McLean at her home again and said he needed an additional $4,000 to pay the expenses of the kidnappers. She gave him the money once again. Means met McLean in a southern resort, promising to deliver the baby. He showed up with a man he introduced as the "King of the Kidnappers", who told her how and when the baby would be delivered. When the missing baby did not show up, Means demanded another $35,000. Failing to raise it, the heiress demanded all the money back. Means said he he would do so. He later pretended that he had given the money to a messenger to deliver to her. McLean called the police, Means was captured, and later found guilty of grand larceny. He was sentenced to serve 15 years in a federal penitentiary but the money was never recovered. Means died in 1938 while serving his sentence at the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas.
The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (also known as the Southeast Asia Resolution)was a joint resolution that the United States Congress passed on August 7, 1964. It was a response to what was known as the the "Gulf of Tonkin incident" in which it was alleged that North Vietnamese ships had fired on an American Ship, the USS Maddox. It was of historical significance because it gave President Lyndon B. Johnson authorization, without a formal declaration of war by Congress, to use conventional military force in Southeast Asia. The resolution authorized the President to do whatever necessary in order to assist "any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty". This included involving armed forces. The Johnson administration subsequently relied upon the resolution to begin its rapid escalation of U.S. military involvement in South Vietnam and open warfare between North Vietnam and the United States. It was later alleged that the resolution was obtained under false pretenses.


The USS Maddox, a U.S. destroyer, was conducting a patrol in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin on August 2, 1964. It reported being attacked by three North Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats from the 135th Torpedo Squadron. The Maddox fired over 280 5-inch shells and the North Vietnamese boats fired their six torpedoes followed by machine-gun fire. The combatants then commenced going their separate ways, when the three torpedo boats were then attacked by four USN F-8 Crusader jet fighter bombers from the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga. The Crusaders scored hits on all three torpedo boats with their 20-mm cannons, damaging all three boats.

Two days later on August 4, the Maddox and the destroyer Turner Joy both reported to be under attack again, by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Hanoi subsequently insisted that it had not launched a second attack. Subsequent investigation has cast doubt on whether there was in fact any second attack. Nevertheless, President Johnson ordered the launching of retaliatory air strikes (Operation Pierce Arrow) on the bases of the North Vietnamese torpedo boats.

Johnson announced, in a television address to the American public that evening, that U.S. naval forces had been attacked by the North Vietnamese. Johnson requested approval of a resolution "expressing the unity and determination of the United States in supporting freedom and in protecting peace in southeast Asia". He asked for a resolution that expressed support "for all necessary action to protect our Armed Forces". He told his audience that "the United States will seeks no wider war". It was an election year and Johnson was running to win the presidency in his own right. (He had become president following the assassination of John F. Kennedy). Johnson was accused of being weak in the fight against communist aggression by his opponent, Republican Senator Barry Goldwater. In his speech, Johnson said that the resolution would send a message to hostile nations that the United States was determined "to continue to protect its national interests".

On August 6, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara testified before a joint session of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees. He stated that the Maddox had been "carrying out a routine mission of the type we carry out all over the world at all times". McNamara denied that it had been in any way involved in South Vietnamese patrol boat raids on the offshore islands of Hon Me and Hon Nieu on the nights of July 30 and July 31. He misled the Senate. Although the island raids were separate from the mission of the Maddox, the ship had been a part of a program of clandestine attacks on North Vietnamese installations called Operation Plan 34A. These operations were carried out by U.S.-trained South Vietnamese commandos under the control of a special operations unit of the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam called the Studies and Operations Group.

After fewer than nine hours of committee deliberation and floor debate, Congress voted, on August 10, 1964, on a joint resolution authorizing the president "to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty requesting assistance in defense of its freedom". The unanimous affirmative vote in the House of Representatives was 416–0. The Senate conferred its approval by a vote of 88–2. Democratic Senators Wayne Morse of Oregon and Ernest Gruening of Alaska cast the only nay votes. Senator Morse predicted "I believe this resolution to be a historic mistake."

An later investigation by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee revealed that the Maddox had been on an electronic intelligence collection mission off the North Vietnamese coast. It also learned that the U.S. Naval Communication Center in the Philippine Islands, in reviewing ships' messages, had questioned whether any second attack had actually occurred. In 2005, an internal National Security Agency historical study was declassified. That report concluded that the Maddox had engaged the North Vietnamese Navy on August 2, but that there may not even have been any North Vietnamese Naval vessels present during the engagement of August 4. The report stated: "It is not simply that there is a different story as to what happened; it is that no attack happened that night."

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Although the Senate Foreign Relations Committee discovered that Johnson may have gone to war under false pretenses, it never called the President to account. The administration of President Richard Nixon, which took office in January 1969, opposed repeal of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

Mounting public opinion against the war eventually led to the repeal of the resolution, which was attached to the Foreign Military Sales Act that Nixon signed in January 1971. Congress passed the War Powers Resolution in 1973, over Nixon's veto. The War Powers Resolution, which is still in effect, sets forth certain requirements for the President to consult with Congress in regard to decisions that engage U.S. forces in hostilities or imminent hostilities.

Remembering Lyndon Johnson

On January 22, 1973 (50 years ago today), Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th President of the United States died at his ranch near Stonewall, Texas at the age of 64 from a massive heart attack. Johnson had previously served as the 37th Vice President of the United States and he is one of only four people who served in all four elected federal offices of Representative, Senator, Vice President, and President. (Can you guess who the other three are?)

Lyndon Johnson was born in Stonewall on August 27, 1908. His father Samuel Ealy Johnson Jr. was a Democrat Texas Congressman and his son, the future president, also served as a United States Representative from 1937 to 1949 and as a Senator from 1949 to 1961. Johnson served six years as United States Senate Majority Leader, two as Senate Minority Leader and two as Senate Majority Whip. His prowess in brokering deals earned him the nickname "Master of the Senate". Johnson unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for President in 1960, and was then asked by John F. Kennedy to be his running mate for the 1960 presidential election. After their election, Johnson became President following President Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963. He completed Kennedy's term and was elected President in his own right, winning by a large margin over Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election.

Johnson's presidency was marked both with great success and great failure. He was responsible for designing the "Great Society" legislation that included laws that expanded civil rights, supported public broadcasting, created Medicare and Medicaid, aided environmental protection, education, the arts, urban and rural development. He declared "war on poverty", an initiative which helped millions of Americans rise above the poverty line during Johnson's presidency. Civil rights bills signed by Johnson banned racial discrimination in public facilities, interstate commerce, the workplace, and housing, and a powerful voting rights act guaranteed full voting rights for citizens of all races. With the passage of the sweeping Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the country's immigration system was reformed and all national origins quotas were removed. Johnson was known for his domineering personality. His methods of persuasion were known as the "Johnson treatment" through which he used various methods to convince powerful politicians to advance legislation that Johnson favored.

On the negative side of his legacy, Johnson escalated American involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave Johnson the authority to use any degree of military force in Southeast Asia without having to ask for an official declaration of war. The number of American military personnel in Vietnam increased dramatically on his watch, from 16,000 advisors/soldiers in 1963 to 550,000 combat troops in early 1968. As American casualties soared and the peace process bogged down, Johnson's popularity rapidly diminished. White House protesters chanted "hey hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" Massive bombing campaigns targeting North Vietnamese cities were ordered, and millions of gallons of the herbicide Agent Orange were sprayed on Vietnamese land. Despite the growing number of American troops and the sustained bombing, the war showed no signs of ending and the public became increasingly skeptical of the administration's optimistic claims that victory was close at hand. Growing unease with the war generated a large, angry antiwar movement based especially on university campuses in the U.S. and abroad. Johnson faced further troubles when summer riots broke out in most major cities after 1965, and crime rates soared. These problems caused a split in the Democratic Party. Johnson's poor showing in the 1968 New Hampshire primary prompted him to end his bid for reelection. Republican Richard Nixon was elected to succeed him.

After leaving the presidency in January 1969, Johnson went home to his ranch in Stonewall, Texas. Assisted by his former aid and speech writer Harry J. Middleton, he wrote two books: The Choices We Face, and also his memoirs entitled The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency 1963-1969, published in 1971. Also in 1971, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum opened near the campus of The University of Texas at Austin. He donated his Texas ranch in his will to the public to form the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, with the provision in the will that the ranch "remain a working ranch and not become a sterile relic of the past".

Johnson worried that his successor was being pressured into removing U.S. forces too quickly, before the South Vietnamese were really able to defend themselves. During the 1972 presidential election, Johnson endorsed Democratic presidential nominee George S. McGovern, a Senator from South Dakota, although McGovern had long opposed Johnson's foreign and defense policies. Privately McGovern's nomination and presidential platform disappointed him. Johnson believed that Richard Nixon could be defeated "if only the Democrats don't go too far left." He thought that Edmund Muskie would be more likely to defeat Nixon, but he declined an invitation to try to stop McGovern.

In March 1970, Johnson was hospitalized at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, after suffering an attack of angina. His weight had risen to about 235 pounds and he was urged to lose weight. In April 1972, Johnson suffered a massive heart attack while visiting his daughter, Lynda, in Charlottesville, Virginia. He required a portable oxygen tank beside his bed, which he periodically used during the day when needed. He continued to smoke heavily, and, although placed on a low-calorie, low-cholesterol diet, often ignored it. He also suffered from diverticulosis. Heart specialist Dr. Michael DeBakey, concluded that Johnson's heart condition presented too great a risk for any sort of surgery.

Johnson died at his ranch at 3:39 p.m. CST on January 22, 1973, at the age of 64, from a massive heart attack. His death occurred just two days after the end of what would have been his final term in office had he successfully won reelection in 1968. He had suffered his first heart attack in July 1955 and suffered a second one in April 1972, but had been unable to quit smoking after he left the Oval Office in 1969. He was found dead by Secret Service agents, in his bed, with a telephone receiver in his hand. Shortly after Johnson's death, his press secretary Tom Johnson (no relation) telephoned iconic CBC news anchor Walter Cronkite, who was live on the air with the CBS Evening News. A report on Vietnam was cut abruptly while Cronkite was still on the line, so he could break the news to the nation.
The last year of Harry Truman's Presidency was a very difficult one. Despite his miraculous victory in 1948, he knew that he wasn't going to pull off that feat in the next election. By July of 1952, Truman had opted not to run for President again, even though he could have. His approval ratings were almost at their lowest point, and an election campaign was on in which it was almost a foregone conclusion that popular General Dwight Eisenhower would defeat the Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson. On top of all of his other problems, the last thing Truman needed was to have UFOs buzzing the Capitol. Whether or not actual UFOs flew over Washington DC or there was some other more rational explanation, it is clear from contemporary news reports that on July 19, 1952, many citizens of Washington DC saw something that looked a lot like UFOs flying over the Capitol.

Five years earlier, at a press conference held on July 10, 1947, Truman had scoffed at the idea of "flying saucers." He had this exchange with a reporter:

Q. Mr. President, have you seen any flying saucers ?

THE PRESIDENT. Only in the newspapers. [Laughter]

Q. Any explanations of them from over here?

THE PRESIDENT. Only the explanations I have seen in the newspapers. Did you ever hear of the moon hoax ?

It was during the final days of Truman's watch that the nation's capitol was the sight of a well documented incident involving unidentified flying objects. At 11:40 p.m. on Saturday, July 19, 1952, Edward Nugent, an air traffic controller at Washington National Airport (now known as Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport), spotted seven objects on his radar that he couldn't identify. The objects were located 15 miles south-southwest of the city in a part of the sky where there were no known aircraft in the area. The objects were not following any established flight paths. Nugent's superior, Harry Barnes, a senior air-traffic controller at the airport, watched the objects on Nugent's radarscope. Nugent described what he was seeing thusly: "We knew immediately that a very strange situation existed, their movements were completely radical compared to those of ordinary aircraft." Barnes had two controllers check Nugent's radar and they found that it was working normally.

Barnes then called National Airport's radar-equipped control tower and he learned that the controllers there also had unidentified blips on their radar screen. One of the controllers said that he had seen "a bright light hovering in the sky" which "took off, zooming away at incredible speed."

The objects moved over the White House and the United States Capitol. At this point, Barnes called Andrews Air Force Base, which is located 10 miles from National Airport. Andrews reported that they had no unusual objects on their radar, but moments later an airman called the base's control tower to report the sighting of a strange object. Airman William Brady, who was in the tower, reported seeing an "object which appeared to be like an orange ball of fire, trailing a tail, unlike anything I had ever seen before." Brady tried to alert the other personnel in the tower, but as he was doing this, he reported that the strange object "took off at an unbelievable speed."

Elsewhere in the District, on one of National Airport's runways, a Capital Airlines pilot named S.C. Pierman was waiting in the cockpit of his DC-4 for permission to take off. He spotted what he first believed to be a meteor. Learning that the control tower's radar had detected unknown objects closing in on his position, Pierman then observed six objects, which he described as "white, tailless, fast-moving lights". He observed them for a period of 14 minutes while he was in radio contact with Harry Barnes. According to Barnes, "each sighting coincided with a pip we could see near his plane. When he reported that the light streaked off at a high speed, it disappeared on our scope."

Meanwhile, at Andrews Air Force Base, the control tower there was tracking what were unknown objects. Some speculated that these were simply stars or meteors, but Staff Sgt. Charles Davenport observed an orange-red light to the south. According to Sgt. Davenport, the light "would appear to stand still, then make an abrupt change in direction and altitude." He said that this happened several times. Both radar centers at National Airport and the radar at Andrews Air Force Base were tracking an object hovering over a radio beacon, and the object vanished in all three radar centers at the same time.

At 3 a.m., two United States Air Force F-94 Starfire jet fighters from New Castle Air Force Base in Delaware arrived over Washington. It was at this time that all of the objects vanished from the radar at National Airport. Strangely, when the jets ran low on fuel and left, the objects returned. Barnes theorized that "the UFOs were monitoring radio traffic and behaving accordingly." The objects were last detected by radar at 5:30 a.m.

These sightings made front-page headlines in newspapers around the nation. One headline from the Cedar Rapids Gazette read "SAUCERS SWARM OVER CAPITAL". At the time, USAF Captain Edward J. Ruppelt was the supervisor of the Air Force's Project Blue Book, tasked with the investigation of UFO sightings. Ruppelt happened to be in Washington at the time, but did not learn about the sightings until Monday, July 21, when he read the headlines in a local newspaper. His efforts to get to the Pentagon to gather information were frustrated by his inability to get a staff car so he could travel around Washington to investigate the sightings. He was told that he could rent a taxicab with his own money by was frustrated by the lack of cooperation from the senior brass. He left Washington and flew back to Blue Book's headquarters at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

At 8:15 p.m. on Saturday, July 26, 1952, a pilot and stewardess on a National Airlines flight into Washington observed some lights above their plane. Within minutes, both radar centers at National Airport, and the radar at Andrews Air Force Base, were tracking more unknown objects. USAF master sergeant Charles E. Cummings saw the objects at Andrews, and later said, "these lights did not have the characteristics of shooting stars," adding, "they traveled faster than any shooting star I have ever seen."

By 9:30 p.m. the radar center was detecting unknown objects in every sector. Some of the objects traveled slowly, at other times they reversed direction and moved across the radarscope at speeds estimated as up to 7,000 mph. At 11:30 p.m., two U.S. Air Force F-94 Starfire jet fighters from New Castle Air Force Base in Delaware arrived over Washington. Captain John McHugo, the flight leader, was vectored towards the radar blips but saw nothing, despite repeated attempts. His wingman, Lieutenant William Patterson, did see four white "glows" and chased them. Patterson said, "I tried to make contact with the bogies below 1,000 feet. I was at my maximum speed. I ceased chasing them because I saw no chance of overtaking them." Patterson told ground control during the incident, "I see them now and they're all around me. What should I do?" No one at ground control could give him any helpful advice.

After midnight on July 27, USAF Major Dewey Fournet, Project Blue Book's liaison at the Pentagon, and Lt. John Holcomb, a United States Navy radar specialist, arrived at the radar center at National Airport. Holcomb had learned from the Washington National Weather Station that a slight temperature inversion was present over the city, but Holcomb opined that the inversion was not "nearly strong enough to explain" what was being seen on the radar scopes. According to Fournet, all of those present in the radar room were convinced that the targets were most likely solid metallic objects. Two more F-94s from New Castle Air Force Base were scrambled during the night. One pilot saw nothing unusual; the other pilot reported seeing a white light which "vanished" when he moved towards it. A number of non-military planes flying into Washington also reported seeing strange glowing objects in places where the radar was getting blips. These sightings and unknown radar returns ended at sunrise.

The sightings of July 26–27 once again made front-page headlines. President Harry Truman to have his air force aide call Ruppelt and ask for an explanation of the sightings and unknown radar returns. Truman listened to the conversation between the two men on a separate phone, but did not ask questions himself. Ruppelt told the president's assistant that the sightings might have been caused by a temperature inversion, in which a layer of warm, moist air covers a layer of cool, dry air closer to the ground. This condition can cause radar signals to bend and give false returns. But Ruppelt said that he had not yet interviewed any of the witnesses or conducted a formal investigation.

The number of sightings over the United States in July of 1952 was said to have alarmed Truman administration. The CIA reacted to the 1952 sightings by forming a special study group within the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) and Office of Current Intelligence (OCI) to review the situation.

The military tried to explain away what has happened. Air Force Major Generals John Samford, USAF Director of Intelligence, and Roger Ramey, USAF Director of Operations, held a press conference at the Pentagon on July 29, 1952, in which Samford told those attending that the visual sightings over Washington could be explained as misidentified aerial phenomena such as stars or meteors. He added that unknown radar targets could be explained by temperature inversion, which was present in the air over Washington on both nights the radar returns were reported. He said that the unknown radar contacts were not caused by solid material objects, and therefore posed no threat to national security. This was said to be the largest Pentagon press conference since World War II.

At the request of the Air Force, the CAA's Technical Development and Evaluation Center did an analysis of the radar sightings. Their conclusion was that "a temperature inversion had been indicated in almost every instance when the unidentified radar targets or visual objects had been reported." Project Blue Book concluded that the unknown Washington radar blips as false images caused by temperature inversion, and the visual sightings as misidentified meteors, stars, and city lights. Privately however, Edward Ruppelt disbelieved this explanation. He later wrote that radar and control tower personnel he spoke to, as well as some Air Force officers, disagreed with the Air Force's explanation. Howard Cocklin told a Washington Post reporter in 2002 that he was still convinced that he saw an object over Washington. He said, "I saw it on the screen and out the window. It was a whitish-blue object. Not a light, a solid form, a saucer-shaped object."

The extremely high numbers of UFO reports in 1952 disturbed both the Air Force and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Both groups were concerned that an enemy nation could deliberately flood the U.S. with false UFO reports, causing mass panic, creating optimal conditions for a surprise attach. On September 24, 1952, the CIA's Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) sent a memorandum to Walter Bedell Smith, the CIA's Director, stating that the situation had national security implications because of its potential to create "mass hysteria and panic." In January 1953, the "Robertson Panel" was created in response. Dr. Howard P. Robertson, a physicist, chaired the panel, which consisted of other prominent scientists. The group spent four days examining the "best" UFO cases collected by Project Blue Book. The panel dismissed nearly all of the UFO cases it examined and concluded that the Air Force and Project Blue Book needed to spend less time analyzing and studying UFO reports and more time publicly debunking them.

Following the panel's recommendation, Project Blue Book decided that it would no longer publicize any UFO case that it had not labeled as "solved".
In the case of Richard Nixon, it in an understatement to say that Nixon's plans to get even with his enemies were just theoretical. Nixon had a real enemies list, and high on that list was a Jack Anderson. Anderson was a newspaper columnist whose column was syndicated by United Features Syndicate. He is considered to be one of the nation's leading investigative journalists of the 20th century and he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 for his investigation of secret American policy decision-making between the United States and Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. He was also probably the journalist most hated by President Richard Nixon. According to testimony given by John Dean, former counsel to the President, Nixon compiled an "Enemies List" and Anderson's name was high on the list.

Nixon's contempt for Anderson dated back to the 1950s when then Senator Nixon was running for Vice-President. Anderson uncovered a secret fund that wealthy backers had set up to financially support Nixon. That discovery led to Nixon’s nationally televised “Checkers” speech. The speech was widely credited with saving Nixon from being dumped as Dwight Eisenhower’s running mate in 1952.

On the eve of the 1960 election, Anderson wrote a story about Vice-President Nixon in which he exposed a loan that billionaire Howard Hughes had made to Nixon's brother Donald that was a secret means of funneling money to Nixon's campaign. During the 1960s, Anderson wrote a series of articles which exposed the corruption of Senator Thomas J. Dodd. In his investigation of Dodd, Anderson had located a memo by an ITT vice-president which contained an admission that the company paid Richard Nixon's 1960 presidential campaign in return for a pledge that Nixon would kill an anti-trust prosecution against ITT.

Nixon was known to hold a grudge and when he became president, members of his administration really went after Anderson. Recordings of Nixon in the oval office contain repeated tirades by the president about all the damaging leaks which fed information to Anderson. A horrified Nixon complained about how Anderson obtained all kinds of embarrassing and classified secrets about the Vietnam War. When the Watergate break-in was before the grand jury, Anderson published verbatim transcripts of the secret Watergate grand jury. Anderson outed Vice President Spiro Agnew's son for being gay.

In one conversation on Jan. 3, 1972, Nixon and Attorney General John Mitchell talked about their determination to criminally prosecute Anderson for publishing classified information. On the tape the two men had the following conversation:

Mitchell: I would just like to get a hold of this Anderson and hang him.
Nixon: God damn it, yes. So listen, the day after the election, win or lose, we’ve got to do something with this son of a bitch.

The tapes reveal that Nixon and his aides were convinced that Anderson, a devout Mormon, was being aided by a Mormon conspiracy inside the government. The believed that Anderson was being fed classified documents by fellow Mormons working for the administration. In a conversation of January 17, 1972, Nixon complained: “Those Mormons in the Indian embassy are really turning out to be a bunch of scabs!”

In another recording, Nixon's Chief of Staff H. R. Bob Haldeman and senior aide Charles Colson discussed concocting some sort of revenge plot against Anderson and his associate Brit Hume. The discussion took place in Nixon's presence, and included a proposal to plant false evidence that Anderson and Hume were gay lovers. Their conversation was as follows:

Haldeman: Don’t we have some spurious stuff that we can give to Jack Anderson?
Colson: We got a whole plot concocted yesterday.
Haldeman: Even if it’s not true, he’ll print it.
Colson: Oh, I got just the scheme for that.
Haldeman: Do we have anything on Hume? I thought there was some taint on him.
Colson: We’re doing a check on him. We don’t have it yet.
Haldeman: “It would be great if we could get him on a homosexual thing.
Nixon: Anderson, I remember from years ago. He’s got a strange, strange habit out of — I think Pearson was too. I think he and Anderson were.

Members of the Nixon White House staff decided to strike back. While there is no direct proof expressly implicating Nixon in providing instructions to harm Anderson, White House aide Jeb Magruder told his colleague G. Gordon Liddy that Nixon "would sure like to get rid of that guy." Whether or not Nixon had said this, Liddy took this to be his marching orders. Liddy and fellow White House "plumber" E. Howard Hunt met with a CIA operative to discuss options for Anderson's murder or other demise. These included drugging Anderson with LSD, poisoning his aspirin bottle, and staging a fatal mugging. They also discussed more subtle measures to discredit Anderson. They unsuccessfully tried to plant false evidence, and they also tried to get him drunk before his radio show. None of these tactics worked. Anderson was impeccable in his personal life. He was a father of nine children and a teetotaler.

Liddy and Hunt came up with a plan known as "Operation Mudhen" (apparently a reference to Anderson's being a "muckraker"). A team of CIA agents began to following Anderson when he met with sources. Anderson had his teenage children attack the operatives, who fled as a laughing Anderson took photos of the government spies.

The next part of the Nixon operatives' plan was to have Anderson's partner, Les Whitten, arrested for receiving stolen government documents while he was covering an unrelated story. They used that arrest as cover for subpoening Anderson and Whitten's telephone records, allowing them to trace the two reporters' sources. In retaliation, Anderson met with Senate Majority Whip Robert Byrd and threatened to print a number of disparaging stories about Byrd unless he used his influence to end the prosecution.

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Fortunately for Anderson, the plot to kill him was never put into action. The White House plumbers were given a more pressing mission: breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate hotel, after which Nixon had more pressing matters to deal with.

Anderson was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1986. He died in December of 2005 of complications from the disease.
At the end of the first world war, Woodrow Wilson left the United States to go to France to preside over the Versailles Peace Conference. At the beginning of the conference, his stature as a world statesman was at its peak. But his absence from home and his inability to convince his own nation of the need for the League of Nations took a toll both on his popularity and on his health. It would ultimately make him incapable of carrying out his duties as President. In order to keep Congress and the nation from knowing the full extent of Wilson's incapacity, three persons conspired to hide this secret: Wilson's physician, his chief of staff, and his wife.

Following his attendance at the Paris Peace Conference, Wilson returned home to the United States to campaign for Senate approval of the peace treaty and the League of Nations Covenant. When he was unable to secure enough support in Congress for what he wanted, he decided to appeal to the American people directly. He set off on a nation-wide speaking tour. While speaking in Pueblo, Colorado on September 25, 1919, Wilson suffered a debilitating stroke which left him partly paralyzed.

The stroke ended any chances Wilson had of making the case for the League. The United States never did ratify the Treaty of Versailles nor join the League of Nations, something that had been Wilson's concept. Wilson's health problems were attributed to the physical strain of the public speaking tour he undertook in support of ratification of Treaty of Versailles. In Pueblo, Colorado, on September 25, 1919, he collapsed and never fully recovered from the effects of the stroke he suffered.

On October 2, 1919, while at the White House, Wilson suffered another serious stroke. This one left him paralyzed on his left side, and with only partial vision in the right eye. He was confined to bed for weeks and sequestered from everyone except his wife and physician, Dr. Cary Grayson. For some months he used a wheelchair and later he required use of a cane.

Wilson never publicly admitted his incapacity, not even to his Vice-President Thomas Marshall. His wife Edith and his aide Joe Tumulty obtained the assistance of journalist, Louis Seibold, who presented a false account of an interview he allegedly had with a supposedly health President Woodrow Wilson.

During this time, Edith Wilson served as a sort of de facto acting President. She selected matters for his attention, delegated other duties to his cabinet, and made sure that no one saw him, other than those who were in on the secret. When his health improved somewhat, Wilson temporarily resumed a perfunctory attendance at cabinet meetings, but he participated little, if at all. Edith Wilson took over many routine duties and details of the Executive branch of the government. She decided which matters of state were important enough to bring to the bedridden president.

Edith later wrote:

"I studied every paper sent from the different Secretaries or Senators, and tried to digest and present in tabloid form the things that, despite my vigilance, had to go to the President. I, myself, never made a single decision regarding the disposition of public affairs. The only decision that was mine was what was important and what was not, and the very important decision of when to present matters to my husband."

One Republican senator later quipped that Edith was "the Presidentress who had fulfilled the dream of the suffragettes by changing her title from First Lady to Acting First Man." But in her memoir, appropriately titled "My Memoir", which was published in 1939, she called her role a "stewardship". She insisted that her actions had been taken only because the president's doctors told her to do so for her husband's mental health.

By February 1920, the President's true condition was finally revealed to the public. Many expressed qualms about Wilson's fitness for the presidency. At the time, domestic issues such as strikes, unemployment, inflation and the threat of Communism were all serious matters that required to be dealt with. But no one, including the first lade, the President's physician or anyone else was willing to take responsibility for the certification required by the Constitution of Wilson's "inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office".

When all of this was going on, Wilson's Vice-President was Thomas Marshall. Wilson's closest adviser, Joseph Tumulty, did not believe Marshall was capable of being president. Edith Wilson agreed and the two conspired to to prevent Marshall from assuming the presidency. Edith Wilson disliked Marshall for what she called his "uncouthed" disposition. Tumulty and the First Lady believed that an official communication from Wilson's staff on his condition would allow Marshall to trigger the constitutional mechanism allowing him to become acting president, and made sure no such communication was ever sent.


Eventually Marshall demanded to know Wilson's status. A Baltimore Sun reporter had told Marshall that Wilson was near death, but without an official communication on Wilson's condition, Marshall believed that he could not constitutionally assume the presidency.

On October 5, Secretary of State Robert Lansing proposed that Marshall assume the presidency. Other cabinet secretaries agreed, as did Congressional leaders, including members of both the Democratic and Republican parties who sent private communications to Marshall. But Marshall was cautious about this. He consulted with his wife and his adviser Mark Thistlethwaite, and decided that he could not assume Wilson's duties.

The process for declaring a president incapacitated was unclear at that time. Marshall had hoped that Wilson would voluntarily allow his powers to devolve to the vice president, but that wasn't going to happen, given Wilson's condition and dislike for Marshall. Marshall told the cabinet that the only circumstances in which he would assume the presidency were a joint resolution of Congress calling on him to do so, or an official communication from Wilson.

Marshall tried to meet with Wilson to personally determine his condition, he was unable to do so. He relied on vague updates he received through Wilson's physician. A group of Congressional leaders initiated Marshall's requested joint resolution. But the senators who opposed the League of Nations treaty believed that as president Marshall would make several key concessions that would allow the treaty to win ratification. In order to prevent the treaty's ratification, the anti-League senators blocked the joint resolution.

On December 4, Lansing announced in a Senate committee hearing that no one in the cabinet had spoken with or seen Wilson in over sixty days. The senators supporting Marshall requested that a committee be sent to check on Wilson's condition. The news media called them the "smelling committee". The group discovered Wilson was in very poor health, but seemed to have recovered enough of his faculties to make decisions. Their report ended the need for the joint resolution.

At a Sunday church service in mid-December, a courier brought a message informing him that Wilson had died. Marshall was shocked, and rose to announce the news to the congregation. The ministers held a prayer, the congregation began singing hymns, and many people wept. Marshall and his wife went to the White House, only to learn that he had been the victim of a hoax, and that Wilson was still alive.

Marshall performed a few ceremonial functions for the remainder of Wilson's term, such as hosting foreign dignitaries like Albert I, King of the Belgians, the first European monarch to visit the United States. Edward, Prince of Wales, the future monarch of the United Kingdom, spent two days with Marshall and received a personal tour of Washington from him. But it was First Lady Edith Wilson who performed most routine duties of government by reviewing all of Wilson's communications and deciding what he would be presented with and what she would delegate to others.

The resulting lack of leadership allowed the administration's opponents to prevent ratification of the League of Nations treaty. Marshall personally supported the treaty's adoption, but recommended several changes, including the requirement that all parties to it acknowledge the Monroe Doctrine.

Wilson began to recover by the end of 1919, but he remained secluded for the remainder of his term. He refused to accept changes to the treaty. Marshall was prevented from meeting with Wilson right up until his final day in office.


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