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Showing posts with label JFK. Show all posts
Showing posts with label JFK. Show all posts

October 8, 2018

JFK: After the Shot

When Air Force One's crew Learned of the Kennedy assassination, They refused to put his body in the cargo hold and modified the plane with a hacksaw to be able to take the coffin in the cabin.

The position of the Dallas police was that it was the law that the body could not leave city limits.

The position of the federal government was that, since Attorney General Bobby Kennedy was officially the highest ranking law officer in the U.S., then he could overrule them.

I Am Not A Lawyer, but if Lee Harvey Oswald had gone to trial, this all could have been an important point -- the Law is supposed to keep all evidence under its direct control and not let anyone or anything tamper with it.

The book "Best Evidence" by David Lifton has a theory that was good at keeping me up at night.

Note that they refused to take the casket in the cargo hold. What could happen if it was up in the cabin? Lifton describes the surgery that could be done on the body during the flight back to D.C. that would make it look like the exact opposite of what happened.

They could take a body that had been shot from the front and make it look like it had been shot from the back. Then at the autopsy in D.C. there would be no question of multiple shooters on a grassy knoll. One shooter in the Texas School Book Depository would be the conclusion.

If the body had stayed in the hands of the Dallas police, there would be safeguards against that happening.

A crime has occurred. A man has been murdered in Dallas City limits, Dallas PD has jurisdiction. A federal official in line of duty is murdered, FBI has jurisdiction.

How this gets settled out, is normally a matter of priority.

The FBI will typically take the murder jacket but the locals will run the autopsy and report because it's easier.

i'd have to talk with the Local ME's see if the FBI even runs their own coroners. The only ME's I know of in the federal system are typically Military.

I imagine the proper approach would be to run the autopsy at Parkland or at the Dallas Coroners office, with FBI/Secret service as recipients of chain of evidence, and Dallas PD as witnesses.

That would mean leaving JFKs corpse in Dallas for a day, and LBJ flying to DC. But nobody was thinking very clearly.

LBJ needed to take AF-1 to DC immediately, and a USAF Cargo jet needed to take JFKs body back to DC later.

I don't exactly blame a whole lot of people for being upset and making bad decisions. They were humans in a terrible minute.

The autopsy is one of the main reasons there is such confusion and controversy about the Assassination. Partially because it was so farcically done.

The two pathologists who performed it had never done a single gunshot wound autopsy in their entire careers. They never spoke to the doctors at Parkland Hospital (who’s recollections of Kennedy’s wounds are different to what the autopsy concluded), the original autopsy report was burnt, and then a new one was made from the doctors memory. The locations of none of jfk’s wounds are known with any precision. The back wound, for example, was not measured against a standard anatomical feature, and was photographed with the body in a distorted position. The fundamental question, of whether or not the back and throat wounds were caused by the same bullet, could have been answered by dissecting the wounds and the connecting tissue, but the pathologists were ordered not to do this according to sworn testimony.

IIRC he was in the hospital dying and the local police & authorities wanted to take possession of the body as he had died in Texas, and the shooter had committed murder in Texas. They would have then performed an autopsy on the body of the president, kept him in their freezer until the investigation was complete, etc., before releasing it to the family for burial.

USSS said nope, and were basically willing to draw their weapons and defend the body of the president with force. The local cops didn't want to get down like that, so they let them take possession of the body and put it on a plane back to DC.

Not 100% sure if it was a federal crime to kill the president at that time or not, i.e., it Lee Harvey Oswald may not have been guilty of a federal crime so it was unclear who had "jurisdiction" of the investigation.

Aircraft structural mechanic here. We seal any parts that get attached to the skin and fasteners that go through the skin and load any possibly leaky areas with sealant. When we're done with major work we do a pressurization test where we pressurize the whole plane and see how bad it leaks. We're allowed a certain tolerance like 1psi in 15 mins for example so the leaking is pretty miniscule and the way the pressurization system works more than makes up for that small bit of leakage. Unfortunately there's pretty much no way to entirely seal a 150+ foot-long airplane with millions of rivets and screws going through it.

The coffin is typically taken out in order with the other items, but is also ceremoniously escorted by military personnel to its final destination. They fly with them and ride with them to the final resting location. On occasion they will also be one of the military members to do the final salute and assist with the folding of the flag and delivery of it to the family.

Source: Was present at a funeral as a kid and asked one of the soldier there.

The escorts and coffin may not be on their last stop or will be picked up by a hearse and local Honor Guard at the tarmac, so things might be delayed. It's also a matter of respect. You aren't asked to do much other than wait for the coffin to be removed and transferred and so the escorts can disembark and salute the fallen service member as they go.

As far as being the last out of the cargo hold, most of the coffins have a space for them to be specifically in the plane or are the last things interred before takeoff, all of this is observed by the escorts and local Honor Guard of the particular location.

As far as I know, civilians are not given the same treatment, but I might be wrong.

Same process is observed for nonviolent passing overseas, but in country, they likely live and will be interred at a location near their current station.

March 14, 2018

How quickly after Kennedy was assassinated was Johnson sworn in? How chaotic was that plane?

deancorll_ • 57 points • 
You can read Robert A. Caro's "The Passage of Power" for a moment-by-moment breakdown of this. It took about two hours after Kennedy was shot for Johnson to be sworn in, and the plane was not particularly chaotic (although it was very hot).
The rough timeline: Kennedy is shot at 12:30pm Dallas time, the motorcade diverts to Parkland Memorial Hospital, where the excellently-named Secret Service Agent Rufus Youngblood sets up LBJ in a hospital room 'cubicle' until more information can be gathered.
At 1:20pm Johnson is told by Kennedy Aide Kenneth O'Donnell that Kennedy has passed. At THIS point, Johnson has become President. He doesn't actually need swearing in. It is a seamless transition of power, although Johnson, as a keen and astute political player, is aware of the visual and theatrical impact necessary to facilitate the transfer of power.
Johnson quickly left the hospital with Rufus Youngblood and other agents under armed guard, Lady Bird Johnson leaving in another car, as the assassination event had not been fully locked down and determined yet. Johnson's one friend in the Kennedy family had always been Jackie, and he quickly arranged for a photo op/swearing in ceremony on the stifling plane, which, lying on the tarmac, did not have the chance to utilize the air conditioning. Johnson, additionally, in an act of almost unconscionable political cruelty, called and asked Bobby Kennedy (whom he loathed), the exact phrasing of the oath of office he would need to take to assume his newly-deceased brother's office.
Johnson, additionally, refused to leave JFK's body and casket were aboard Air Force One. He was quickly in command an found a political ally in Texas, judge Sarah Hughes, to swear him in (a task almost entirely performed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court). Things were somewhat tense, but not chaotic enough for Lyndon Johnson to settle a personal score between himself and Bobby Kennedy, await Jackie Kennedy to stand by his side (and her request that JFKs body get aboard) during the photograph of the swearing in. From actually become president at 1:20 to gathering the necessary people, the former president's body, getting a federal judge, and coordinating a swearing along with a famous photograph, took just under 90 minutes. Caro's book makes it very clear that once he is made aware that Kennedy is dead and that he is president, Johnson is very much in charge, in command, and has very little doubt of the way forward, resulting in very little chaos between the hospital and takeoff, and between takeoff and the rest of the day.
MrDowntown  • 17 points • 
I don't doubt that LBJ was always politically calculating, but I'm not sure how much animus to ascribe to the actions surrounding taking the oath. RFK was Attorney General, so wouldn't his office be the logical one to call for the wording of the oath? Surely LBJ didn't demand that RFK himself read the wording over the phone. And presidential oaths have often been administered by the nearest official. Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in by a district judge; Calvin Coolidge was sworn in by his notary public father.
Is it Caro throwing shade on LBJ for calling RFK and having a local federal judge swear him in, or is that your gloss?
angrynerdist84 • 3 points • 
Johnson should know the exact wording of the oath, considering it is in the constitution and he was in Congress since 1937. If Johnson didn't know where to locate the exact wording then that would call into question his political astuteness. Him asking RFK around 60 minutes after his brother died is at least disrespectful to RFK. There was little need to include RFK, from a legal standpoint, on this.
Johnson insisting on the public transfer of power is not entirely out of left field. This is only a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis after all, and I think that demonstrating to the American public, her allies and certainly the Soviets at this time that someone is in fact legally in charge is prudent and assertive.
MrDowntown  • 4 points • 
There was little need to include RFK, from a legal standpoint, on this.
Not for the wording of the oath, maybe. But Johnson is, as you say, working hard to demonstrate constitutional succession and continuity of government in an uncertain and frightening moment. Both the president and sitting governor had been shot; what might be the larger picture? No one knew. Conferring with the Attorney General on exactly what steps should be taken to effect a proper transfer of power seems to me more prudent than perverse.