Sunday, November 3, 2013

Welcome Mr. Kennedy to Dallas... (JFK50 part 3)


On November 22, 1963, the ad shown above ran in the Dallas Morning News.  The ad consists of a list of questions for the president on his foreign policy decisions, and the opening blurb states that Kennedy has "largely ignored" the Constitution.  I won't go into a lengthy digression on international relations in the early sixties, but the not-so-subtle implication of the ad was that Kennedy's foreign policy was harmful to American and, in the opinions of the authors, showed Communist leanings.

The ad was purchased by "The American Fact-Finding Committee," a group that didn't actually exist.  The man listed as chairman, Bernard Weissman, wasn't the chairman of anything, much less a fictional committee.  Mr. Weissman does play an important role in the story of the Kennedy assassination, however, and it is one that is largely overlooked today as it was by the Warren Commission. 

Dallas in 1963:

To say that Dallas was far-far-right in 1963 is such an understatement that it almost qualifies as a lie.  Dallas was the top destination for the ultra-conservatives, the neo-fascists, and actual, honest-to-goodness former Nazis.  To give you an idea of the political climate: UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson was heckled and physically assaulted in Dallas approximately one month before the Kennedy assassination.  The John Birch Society played a role in the incident, and was perhaps stronger in Dallas than anywhere else in the US at the time.  Read this article concerning a 1961 JBS meeting in Dallas and note that the crowd wasn't a politically ignorant rabble, but "the mink-and-ermine crowd."  Scroll down from the linked article to see a piece on General Edwin Walker getting in trouble for distributing JBS literature abroad.  General Walker would continue to butt heads with the Kennedy administration until he was ultimately dismissed, just in time to come home to Dallas and organize the attack on Stevenson via a coalition of the JBS, the Minutemen, and the National Indignation Convention, the latter having been formed by conservatives who felt the JBS was too liberal.

It is with the National Indignation Convention (NIC) that Bernard Weissman comes back into the story.  Weissman's testimony before the Warren Commission begins in Vol V, page 487 and is worth reading in its entirety.  Weissman was a former soldier under the aforementioned General Walker in Munich, where, along with a few of his fellow soldiers, he had formed a group known as Conservatism USA, or CUSA.  Weissman was a low man on the totem pole of the group, and "Bernie" just took orders from Larrie Schmidt.  Schmidt had moved to Dallas after his discharge, and he had big plans for himself and CUSA.  Larrie's plan is detailed by Weissman starting on page 497, but the short version is that CUSA (via Schmidt) was to infiltrate all right-wing political groups, rising up in the ranks, and eventually merging them with CUSA, making it the dominant organization.  Schmidt started with NIC, and was successful.  Schmidt's letters to Weissman detail his progress, and can be found in Vol XVIII beginning on page 836.  Here are some choice exerpts:

"Arrangements are being made for me to meet the heads of the Dallas John Birch, General Walker, and H.L. Hunt, Texas oil millionaire."
"I have already met the top editors of the Dallas Morning News, the country's most conservative newspaper."
"The meeting was at the home of Dr. Robert Morris, President of the Defenders of American Liberty...Present were Mr. George Ward, Detective for Dallas City Police, Mr. Ken Thompson, editorial writer for the Dallas Morning News, Mr. Clyde Moore, former PR man for H.L. Hunt, former UPI writer. (Eight others)."

It was in the meeting detailed above -- attended by members of Dallas' ultra-right and ultra-rich -- that it was suggested that CUSA merge with CIA Agent William F Buckley's Young Americans for Freedom.  Schmidt did exactly that, and instructed Bernie to change all their documentation from CUSA to YAF.

Weissman eventually joined Schmidt in Dallas.  The first order of business for the pair and their cohorts was the placement of the infamous "Welcome Mr. Kennedy" ad.  Hale Boggs asked Weissman who paid for the ad, to which Weissman replied that he knew who he picked the money up from (the John Birch Society), but he was unsure who had actually put up the $1,462, a hefty sum in 1963.  Warren Commission lawyers choose not to delve too deeply into the subject, but Weissman eventually relents to the point that the ad was composed and paid for entirely by the JBS, specifically the oil-rich backers of the JBS.  A few well-known names are thrown around, but as soon as Weissman begins to speculate, one of the two remaining Commission members decides to leave the room.  After the fact, "Bernie" finally realized that his name was placed on the ad because he was Jewish, thus drawing attention away from the notoriously anti-Semitic John Birch Society. 

In fact, the entire incident appears to be a giant misdirection play.  The FBI spent considerable man hours tracking Weissman and his fictional commission down, and there was a strong belief in the initial days after the assassination that the "American Fact-Finding Committee" played some role in JFK's murder. 

Oswald:

By the time Weissman and Schmidt arrived on the scene and began mingling in the world of anti-Communists and oil men, Lee Harvey Oswald was already firmly entrenched in it.  Oswald's reported "best friend" after returning to Dallas/Fort Worth was George de Mohrenschildt, a White Russian petroleum engineer who travelled in the same lofty circles of wealthy oilmen that Larrie Schmidt was worming his way into.  De Mohrenschildt introduced the Oswalds to the tightly-knit White Russian community in Dallas.  Lee, who had defected to Communist Russia less than a decade ago and was allegedly still a Communist, had no problems fitting in with what was one of the most stridently anti-Communist groups in the US.  De Mohrenschildt had been previously investigated by the FBI under suspicion of being a Nazi spy during WWII and had been rejected by the OSS for this reason. De Mohrenschildt gives the longest testimony to the Warren Commission in Vol IX, but no members of the actual Warren Commission itself bothered to attend. 

If Oswald's friendship with the wealthy and worldly de Mohrenshildt wasn't strange enough, consider his relationship with the Paines.  Marina Oswald lived with Michael and Ruth Paine during the period before the assassination, and it was in the Paine's garage that most of the physical evidence against Oswald was obtained -- without a warrant, it should be noted.  The Paines were a part of the ultra-wealthy Cabot-Forbes (as in the magazine) family from the northeast.  Michael was a third-generation Harvard alum, and both he and Ruth were related to members of the OSS and CIA.  This fact goes a long way to explaining their treatment during their respective testimonies -- former OSS/CIA director Allen Dulles made sure to steer the questions away from anything that would reveal the truth about either.  Michael Paine worked at Bell Aerospace working on Department of Defense contracts with a top security clearance.  Bell Aerospace became a major defense contractor after one of Ruth Paine's relatives, Arthur Young, invented the first commercial helicopter.  Paine's boss was former Nazi general and war criminal Walter Dornberger, brought to the States as part of Project Paperclip

So to recap: Oswald was associated with two groups when he returns to Dallas from New Orleans.  On one hand you have George de Mohrenschildt, the White Russians, and the Texas oilmen.  On the other, you have the blue-blood Paines, their ties to intelligence and defense agencies, and former Nazis.  In the middle is Oswald, who we are supposed to believe is a disaffected loner with Communist sympathies.  None of these groups seemed to care about Oswald's alleged Communism, and the fact that an engineer working on Top Secret Dept of Defense contracts was renting a room to a treasonous defector didn't raise any eyebrows either.

Overlapping threads:
  • Project Paperclip Nazis were spared from the trails at Nuremberg and elsewhere by Warren Commission member John J. McCloy in his role as High Commissioner of Germany.  Those not freed by McCloy were freed by Senator Joseph McCarthy.  McCarthy's right-hand man was Robert J. Morris, who lived in Dallas at the time of the assassination and was the host to Larrie Schmidt.
  • In 1956, George de Mohrenschildt was employed by Pantapec Oil Company, owned by William F. Buckley Sr., father of Jr., founder of the YAF.  At the time, the younger Buckley was working under E Howard Hunt in Mexico.
  • Robert J. Morris was on the board of the YAF, along with Senator John Tower.  It would be Tower who would personally waive the immigration restrictions for Marina Oswald to come to America.
  • One of Larrie Schmidt's first recruits to the CUSA cause was Warren Carroll, a former CIA agent.  Carroll was employed by George de Mohrenschildt's friend HL Hunt to write right-wing magazines, radio shows, and TV broadcasts.  There were copies of Carroll's magazines in Jack Ruby's car at the time of his arrest.
  • Bernard Weissman claims to have never met Jack Ruby, but he and Larrie Schmidt's plan involved purchasing a night club as a front for CUSA.  During conspiracy theorist Mark Lane's testimony (Vol II & V), Lane tells of second-hand information he received that Weissman had met with Jack Ruby, Officer JD Tippitt, and "an oil man" prior to the assassination.  This claim is repeated in How Kennedy Was Killed
  • Bernard Weissman lived on Beckley Street, the same one as Oswald at the time of the assassination. 
  • One of the men pointed to as being the backer behind the "Welcome to Dallas" ad was Nelson Bunker Hunt, friend of George de Mohrenschildt and son of HL Hunt.  Nelson Hunt's brother was Lamar Hunt, who met with Jack Ruby on 11/20/63.  Also meeting Lamar Hunt that day was ex-con Eugene Hale Brading/Braden, believed to have shot JFK from the Dal-Tex Building.  Brading (then going by Braden) was questioned by Dallas PD but released because they were unaware of his criminal past due to the name change. 
The War Council:
One of the most hotly-debated aspects of the Kennedy assassination is the party alleged to have taken place on November 21st at the home of Clint Murchison, Jr.  Murchison was the owner of the Dallas Cowboys and his father, Murchison Sr., had bank-rolled Senator Joseph McCarthy and was close friends with J. Edgar Hoover and HL Hunt.  The Murchisons and the Hunts were only one degree removed from Oswald through their relationship with de Mohrenshildt. 

Alleged to be in attendance at this party were Murchison, HL Hunt, J. Edgar Hoover, Hoover's partner Clyde Tolson, John J. McCloy, George Brown (of Brown and Root), Jack Ruby, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon (Nixon was in Dallas during the week of the assassination).  The topic of discussion was the assassination of Kennedy and Hoover, as the leader of the plot, gave the go ahead to proceed as planned.

The source of this story is Madeline Duncan Brown, LBJ's mistress.  Mrs. Brown's credibility has been attacked on several points, but it is seldom mentioned that she wasn't the first person to claim this meeting took place.  Researcher Penn Jones Jr. provides all of the same details that Brown would decades later in his Forgive My Grief Vol III, published in 1969. 

It's worth noting that a similar meeting took place in Texas in 1972 at the home of John Connolly.  Within the following months, the death of J. Edgar Hoover, the attempted assassination of Governor George Wallace, and the Watergate break-in all took place.