4 – Lyndon B. Johnson Ordered the Killing
I would say that this is one of the most shocking conspiracy theories, but those familiar with the case know that it isn’t. An author named Phillip F. Nelson even wrote a book about it titled ‘LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination.’ Nelson claimed that Johnson was manic-depressive and his aides knew he struggled with bipolar disorder. Indeed, the book is a hatchet job on Johnson who apparently murdered several people that ‘got in his way.’
Regarding the assassination, Johnson ensured that the hard evidence found in the limousine and on Kennedy’s body was wiped clean. Nelson suggested that Johnson was caught in a web of legal and political problems that would not only see him removed from the vice presidency, but also thrown in jail. As a result, the only way to save his political career and even his liberty was to assassinate the current President and assume the mantle. With the help of the Cuban exile community, the Mafia, intelligence community renegades and international assassins, he formulated a plan. Nelson also asserted that J. Edgar Hoover was involved because he was worried about being removed from his position should Kennedy be re-elected.
Regarding the assassination itself, Johnson and his team chose Dealey Plaza as the ideal location because it could house several snipers. While Kennedy was allegedly contemplating removing American forces from Vietnam in 1965 after re-election, Johnson was happy to allow the U.S. to continue the war. Nelson even claims that the famous Zapruder movie was altered to show that the President was only shot twice from behind. After the murder, Johnson interfered with the autopsy and ensured vital evidence was destroyed.
ABC broadcasted tapes recorded months after the President’s death in which his wife, Jacqueline, revealed her belief that Kennedy was murdered by Johnson with the aid of Texan tycoons.
Madeline Brown, who claimed to have had an affair with Johnson, said that LBJ attended a party with Hoover and several other individuals on November 21, 1963, the night before the shooting. Brown said that Johnson whispered something shocking in her ear; that after tomorrow, the Kennedys would never embarrass him again. He also said it was a promise, not a threat.
Holes in the Theory
Many historians have a less than complimentary attitude towards Johnson who has been described as ‘power hungry’; the kind of man who would do anything to get what he wanted. He desperately wanted to become President, but the Civil Rights issue meant it would be tough for a Southerner like Johnson to take the main seat in the Oval Office.
Johnson allegedly helped Kennedy win the crucial state of Texas in the 1960 election in exchange for the vice-presidency. Now he was one step away from the Presidency; it was a matter of getting rid of Kennedy and assuming the mantle. It is clear that Johnson had motive and perhaps even opportunity but did he order the assassination?
The testimony of Madeline Brown is roundly dismissed by experts because she was a ‘crackpot’ as Johnson wasn’t even at the meeting she spoke about. Others suggest that the notion of LBJ masterminding a plot against Kennedy was a fiction created by Texans who disliked Johnson because he was a crook. While some aspects of Nelson’s book (and other books written on the topic) are compelling, a lot of it is pure guesswork, supposition and possibly even fantasy.
If it was an elaborate conspiracy hatched by Johnson which apparently involved dozens of people, what is the likelihood of there being no leaks over 50 years on?