Marrs also suspects that Johnson had some role in the assassination, but disallows the idea that he was the source of it, saying, to wit: “most serious students of the assassination cannot discount the idea that Johnson, in some way, played a role in the Dallas tragedy…. But did Johnsoh really have enough power to initiate the assassination and force literally dozens of government officials and agents to lie and cover up that fact? Probably not.” But the last words of the book are these: “One can almost hear the sad spirit of John F. Kennedy whispering from Dealey Plaza: Et tu, Lyndon?” The Devil in the Details As with any widely-ramifying murder, the substance of this subject is in the details; to experience Marrs’ book you must read it. Here I shall limit myself, for examples of the details which Marrs has recounted, to a few matters of primary importance in themselves and of particular interest to Texans. Being the Democratic U.S. senator from Texas, Ralph Yarborough was riding in the presidential motorcade in the limousine with Vice President Johnson and .Mrs. Johnson. In an interview with Mans \(and in others with me, backed up Kenneth O’Donnell and others who said the car bearing the Kennedys and John Connally paused after the firing began that its rear brake lights blinked on that it slowed, agonizingly slowed, perhaps to a stop, and did not accelerate until after Kennedy’s head was blown off. You will recall the tale of the heroism of Secret Service agent Rufus Youngblood. Riding in the front seat of the Johnson-Yarborough car, Help the Hungry taking calls for the Share Our Surplus, Hunters for the Hungry and Summer Food Service , Programs. The hotline, under the auspices of the Texas Association of Community Action Agencies, is designed to: Helii farmers and other producers distribute surplus food to emergency assistance programs; Increase the amount of food available for the hungry in Texas, particularly in underserved rural communities; Network the activities of emergency food distribution agencies throughout Texas. The hotline has answered numerous calls for the Hunters for the Hungry program, a cooperative effort of deer hunters, meat processors, Second Harvest Food Banks and the End Hunger Network to allow hunters to donate legally harvested deer to the needy. Youngblood said, “I stepped over into the back seat and sat on top of the Vice President,” protecting him from the gunfire. President Johnson told the Warren Commission: “Agent Youngblood turned in a flash, immediately after the first explosion…. I was pushed down by Agent Youngblood…. He vaulted over the back seat and sat on me. I was bent over under the weight of Agent Youngblood’s body, toward Mrs. Johnson and Senator Yarborough.” Johnson wrote later: “Agent Youngblood’s quick reaction was as brave an act as I have ever seen anyone perform.” “It just didn’t happen,” Yarborough told a small car. Johnson was a big man, tall. His knees were up against his chin as it was. There was no room for that to happen.” Johnson and Youngblood both ducked down, Ylrborough said, and Youngblood never left the front seat. Think this over. Meditate on it, a long time. Yarborough also said that Youngblood had held a small walkie-talkie over the back of the car’s seat and that Youngblood and Johnson had both put their ears to it. “They had it turned down real low,” he told Marrs. “I couldn’t hear what they were listening to.” Mans does not say when Yarborough said this was occurring, but the senator told me it was happening as they were being driven along before the shooting began. One must conclude from Yarborough’s further remarks that his testimony was not welcome at the Warren Commission. The United States senator from Texas from 1957 to 1971, Yarborough told Mans that in the summer of 1964: “After I wrote them [the Warren Commission], you see, a couple of fellows came to see me. They walked in like they were a couple of deputy sheriffs and I was a bank robber. I didn’t like their attitude. As a senator, I felt insulted. They went off and wrote up something and brought it back for me to sign. But I refused. I threw it in the drawer and let it lay there for weeks. And they had on there the last sentence which stated, ‘This is all I know about the assassination.’ They wanted me to sign this thing, then say this is all I know. Of course, I would never have signed it. “Finally, after some weeks, they began to bug me. ‘You’re holding this up, you’re holding this up;’ they said, demanding that I sign the report. So I typed one up myself and put basically what I told you about how the cars all stopped. I put in there, ‘I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but for the protection of future presidents, they should be trained to take off when a shot is fired.’ I sent that over.” Marrs added: “Yarborough also was shocked to find that all vital assassination information was sent to President Johnson before it ever went to the Warren Commission or even Attorney General Robert Kennedy.” In the Dallas News the morning after the historic murder of John Kennedy, Dallas DA Henry Wade was quoted stating that preliminary reports indicated that more than one person were involved in the shooting. But Wade then immediately reversed himself and \(obviously the press that the still-living Oswald did it alone. Why? Years later Wade was quoted as stating: “Cliff Carter, President Johnson’s aide, called me three times from the White House that Friday night. He said that President Johnson felt any word of a conspiracy some plot by foreign nations to kill President Kennedy would shake our nation to its foundations…. Washington’s word to me was that it would hurt foreign relations if I alleged a conspiracy whether I could prove it or not, I would just charge Oswald with plain murder and go for the death penalty. So I went down to the Police Department at City Hall to see Captain Fritz to make sure the Dallas police didn’t involve any foreign country in the assassination.” Citing work by the late Bernard Fensterwald, Mans also informs us that in an internal Warren Commission memorandum on Feb. 17, 1964, Melvin Eisenberg recorded that Earl Warren had told his fellow commissioners, regarding how he had been “pressured” to accept the chairmanship by President Johnson, that: “The President stated that … some rumors went so far as attributing the assassination to a faction within the government wishing the presidency assumed by President Johnson. Others, if not quenched, could conceivably lead the country into a war…. He placed emphasis on the quenching of rumors and precluding further speculation.” Footnotes Lacking Throughout Marrs’ book, however, there is a serious and pervasive problem: the question of the quality of the evidence. I realize that Marrs teaches a course on the assassination at the University of Texas at Arlington. Nevertheless, his footnoting of his book is lamentably insufficient. This is a strange lapse indeed in a work which is meant to be an authoritative distillation of the antecedent assassination books, because the authenticity, the reliability, of this fact, and this one, and that one, and that one over there, is the very heart of the matter, and the only way for a reader to judge the facts is by knowing their sources and \(tracing “In a work such as this,” Marrs states under “Sources and Notes,” “extensive footnoting within the text can often impede the flow of ideas, reducing comprehension.” That is nonsense. Small numbers in a text -leading to reference notes which state the source of a proffered fact facilitate the flow of ideas by enabling skeptical readers \(and on this subject, 20 DECEMBER 27, 1991
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