May 25, 2023

30. JFK and the Lone Star

30. JFK and the Lone Star

President John F Kennedy arrived in Dallas, Texas, on November 22nd, 1963, appearing to be in good health; almost exactly three hours later, he left the city in a casket.  Those two facts are the only things most Americans agree upon concerning that tragic weekend. If you think you know who was responsible, you’re in for a surprise. History matures over time. New witnesses come out of the woodwork as the veil of secrecy is steadily lifted. Sara and Katanna found those witnesses - and recorded their testimonies.

I had a fascinating conversation with Katanna and Sara, whose passion for seeking the truth was infectious.  They have painstakingly reconstructed the events of 22nd November 1963 through the eyes of over 200 witnesses whom they personally interviewed over 7 years. I believe their book, “The Lone Star Speaks”, will leave you with little doubt of a new truth.  And if you believe in democracy and the institutions that safeguard it, your resolve will be tested to the limit.

The Lone Star Speaks

Check out The Lone Star Speaks here.

Last week's episode
[Episode 29] – Freeing the Voice of Your Soul - “Opera singing is a civilised version of what you were doing when you were a baby. We scream like a little baby. That's what opera singing is all about.” Simona Mango did clarify that you have to scream the right notes of course! Simona reveals the secrets of being an opera singer, overcoming stage fright and what to do if you forget your lines.  She also explains her unique perspective as an opera singer to help others “free the voice of their soul” as a life coach.

Next week's episode
[Episode 31] - Jazz for Peace - Jazz musician Rick DellaRatta witnessed the 9/11 attacks from a rooftop in New York City. While watching the unfolding tragedy in front of him, he was inspired to write a poem which later became known as "Jazz for Peace”. Rick didn’t realise it at the time, but Jazz for Peace would become a worldwide movement promoting peace, garnering international recognition and support, most notably from Barack Obama and the United Nations who acknowledged its impact.  Rick shares memories of this extraordinary journey.

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[00:00:00] Katanna and Sara: President John F. Kennedy arrived in Dallas, Texas on November 22nd 1963 appearing to be in good health. Almost exactly three hours later he left the city in a casket. Those two facts are [00:00:20] about the only things that most Americans agree upon concerning that tragic weekend. [00:00:40] [00:01:00]


[00:01:09] Steve: The John Kennedy assassination in 1963 has remained one of the great historical whodunnits, and a source of endless curiosity and [00:01:20] debate. Back in 2012, two colleagues at a small community college in Texas, a teacher and a director of the language hub there, decided to attend a conference in Dallas marking the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination. Unknown to them at the [00:01:40] time. It was a trip that was to change the course of their lives. I caught up with Katanna Zachry, born in Texas and 11 years old in 1963, so the Kennedy assassination was the first historical event she remembers, and Sara Peterson, whose senior thesis in college was on the [00:02:00] Kennedy assassination. So what happened as a result of attending this conference?

[00:02:06] Katanna and Sara: Well I think once we attended that conference and had hours to talk as we drove back and forth, Texas is a big state do you remember, we realized we'd both been collecting data and information and doing [00:02:20] research just because we were fascinated by the subject. And when we eventually made a presentation at our college people began telling us, You have fascinating story here, why don't you write a book?" Well, people kept finding us with more stories and more stories eventually it [00:02:40] became obvious these were stories other people hadn't heard, why not write a book?

[00:02:44] Steve: Of course there have been hundreds of books, articles, commentaries, written about the Kennedy assassination. Why did you feel there was room for another one?

[00:02:52] Katanna and Sara: We wanted to do something different. We didn't wanna build off of someone else's thesis. We wanted to [00:03:00] use primary sources because we are in the education field. We had no idea we would be going and listening to witnesses all over the country. It was a big project.

[00:03:15] Steve: Katanna and Sara were about to find out that things [00:03:20] were definitely not as they'd seemed before they started. Even some of the conspiracy theories looked a little dated. By tracking down over 200 witnesses to the event, some of whose stories had been misrepresented or misreported, and some who'd never dared tell their stories before, they'd [00:03:40] unwittingly opened up a new chapter in the evolution of the history of the JFK assassination story. Some of what you are about to hear will sound fanciful, unbelievable. But the book that emerged, The Lone Star Speaks, will leave you in little doubt of a new truth. And if you [00:04:00] believe in democracy and the institutions that safeguard it, your resolve will be tested to the limit.

The Lone Star Speaks

[00:04:07] Katanna and Sara: "Just as in the days of old, we still have magicians and sorcerers. They simply have new names - politicians and bureaucrats".[00:04:20]

[00:04:20] Steve: Thank you Sara. And so starts The Lone Star Speaks. So the heartbeat of the book is born out of the voices of the 200 witnesses that you interviewed. One thing that I particularly liked was the way one individual's experience of that day and of the time corroborated with another completely [00:04:40] unconnected individual's experience. With so much fake news about these days, I'm sure that was invaluable to you.

[00:04:47] Katanna and Sara: One of the best pieces of evidence you can come up with is someone who describes exactly what someone else described, but neither one of them knew they were standing near each other on that particular day. [00:05:00] It's almost more valuable than some of the news reporters that we got because we found out later they'd been forced to change their articles to fit the official story.

What happened that day? - the official version

[00:05:13] Steve: Now, I want to dig into some of this new testimony. But first, let's do a quick reminder of the [00:05:20] most widely accepted interpretation of what happened in Dallas that day. Kennedy was visiting Dallas, essentially to garner votes for the upcoming 1964 elections. Sarah, why don't you kick us off?

JFK and Jackie Kennedy

[00:05:34] Katanna and Sara: The official report is that John F Kennedy arrived at Love Field [00:05:40] on November 22nd 1963 to be in a motorcade through Dallas. The motorcade took him through the city and ended up going through an area of Dallas called Dealey Plaza. From there it was to [00:06:00] go to the Trade Mart. When he hit Dealey Plaza in that motorcade, shots were fired. He was hit. They rushed him to Parkland Hospital where he was declared dead.[00:06:20]

[00:06:20] Steve: And what time was that?

[00:06:22] Katanna and Sara: It was about one o'clock because they waited to get a priest there and as the Doctor's told each other later, he was basically dead on arrival (...right), but they did everything they could because he was the president.

[00:06:35] Steve: So let's continue the official storyline a little further. [00:06:40] Tell me about Lee Harvey Oswald.

Lee Harvey Oswald

[00:06:42] Katanna and Sara: Lee Harvey Oswald was a Marine. Supposedly he left the American soil and went to Russia and defected. He then declared he wanted to come back to the United States, which he [00:07:00] did, and he found various jobs in Dallas, one being at the Texas School Book Depository Building from which they said the assassin fired and killed President Kennedy. Within an hour Lee Harvey Oswald was [00:07:20] arrested in Oak Cliff.

[00:07:22] Steve: It was a very quick arrest, wasn't it? On what grounds did they arrest Oswald?

[00:07:28] Katanna and Sara: The excuse they used for arresting him, besides the fact that he worked in that building, was that he supposedly was the only employee who left the building.[00:07:40] When they did a roll call, he was the only one whose name, who didn't answer to his name.

[00:07:45] Steve: Was that it?

[00:07:46] Katanna and Sara: When they were looking for the suspect for the assassination of Kennedy, there was a police officer that was killed in Oak Cliff and that's what they tied Oswald to [00:08:00] and brought him in and then they decided they were going to put both murders on him; the assassination of Tippett and John F Kennedy and tie them together, and that he would be called the Lone Nut Killer.

[00:08:18] Steve: And as we'll see in a [00:08:20] moment, the new evidence that you've brought to life through the witnesses you've interviewed, whose stories in many cases have never been heard before, makes this arrest look a little flaky to say the least. Okay. Let's finish off the storyline as it stands. Tell me about Jack Ruby.

Jack Ruby

[00:08:38] Katanna and Sara: He was the owner of a [00:08:40] Carousel Club which was basically a strip club - not something Dallas was particularly proud of. When he was a youngster, like junior high sixth grade, his first job was working for Al Capone. Now if you don't think that is mob connection? [00:09:00] That runs thick through good old Ruby's blood.

The Carousel and Vegas Club were closed the weekend after the assassination, but not on the day of the President’s funeral.
The Carousel Club was closed the weekend after the assassination, but not on the day of the President's funeral.

[00:09:04] Steve: And how did he fit in with the official storyline at this point?

[00:09:08] Katanna and Sara: Two days after President Kennedy died, the accused assassin was murdered himself, only in Dallas I suppose could this happen. But he was killed by Jack [00:09:20] Ruby. How he managed to get into the Dallas Police Department's basement which was guarded supposedly very carefully by policeman, is still up for a debate. But regardless, somehow or another he did, and right in front of millions of TV [00:09:40] viewers he shot Lee Harvey Oswald.

[00:09:43] Steve: And what was his motive?

[00:09:46] Katanna and Sara: Well his excuse was he was such a patriot that he didn't want Jackie Kennedy to have to come back and testify at a trial. There was no trial for Oswald because he was dead.

[00:09:59] Steve: [00:10:00] And as a good example of how your witnesses blew apart some of the theories relating to the assassination, you interviewed certain Mafia members of the time who talked about Jack Ruby.

[00:10:15] Katanna and Sara: We also had a mob member named Bernie Simler from Las Vegas [00:10:20] who told us flat out, he said Jack Ruby was ordered to kill Oswald, and he said the reason he was chosen wasn't just because he lives in Dallas. He happened to have cancer according to this Simler, and he said back then cancer was a death sentence. [00:10:40] If he was going to die anyway then he might as well take Oswald out first.

Courtroom for Jack Ruby trial
Courtroom for Jack Ruby trial

So many versions of events

[00:10:45] Steve: And why has it been so difficult to agree on a single version of events?

[00:10:54] Katanna and Sara: Newspaper accounts changed from day to day, meaning that facts were being [00:11:00] changed from day to day. Witnesses later came forward and said, "That's not the story I originally told. They changed it to make it fit the original story." Other people would say, "I was never even interviewed and I was standing right there where the president drove by. I could have told them what [00:11:20] I saw". And then of course the fact that Ruby killed the accused assassin right in front of God and everybody, made everyone wonder, "What on earth is going on?"

[00:11:33] Steve: Now, at the heart of the official version-stroke-coverup, was the statement of how many bullets were actually [00:11:40] fired. Why was understanding how many bullets were fired so important?

Magic Bullet Theory

[00:11:45] Katanna and Sara: You are referring to the "Magic Bullet Theory". The officials really hemmed themselves in when they decided ahead of time that there's one assassin, he only had six seconds to fire, he [00:12:00] had to fire from the sixth floor of the Depository because that's where we can put Oswald. And so how do we make the fact that there were several bullets fired? Well the point was there were several bullets fired, even though we're only going to claim that there were three because that's the only amount [00:12:20] of bullets that Oswald had time to fire, or anyone else at that point, if there was a single gunman.

[00:12:26] Steve: So to fit the official narrative; three bullets, one assassin. But your witness statement suggested something quite different.

[00:12:35] Katanna and Sara: So when you think about Oswald being the single shooter and then you meet [00:12:40] witnesses who were actually there that day on the triple overpass and you hear how what they heard and saw was a shooter on the South Knoll of the plaza which is diagonally across from the School Book Depository and a shooter on the [00:13:00] top of the Dal-Tex, it starts you wondering was this really a crossfire? This was almost like a high noon shooting except we missed it by 30 minutes.

Dealey Plaza - site of JFK assassination

[00:13:11] Steve: Fantastic. Now you talk about this being a three-stage event planning, carrying out and covering up. [00:13:20] In the book, you interview witnesses that give plenty of clues as to the assassins and to the various individuals and institutions who took part in the coverup. But I wanted to focus on the planning. The 'who' laid behind the whole event. Some of these are, Well, whatever..." and some are quite shocking. [00:13:40] So here goes, Sara, why don't you start us off?

The suspects - 1. The Mafia

[00:13:43] Katanna and Sara: Number one - the Mafia. Giancana went to Joe Kennedy and said, "We'll help you put your boy in the White House but, tit for tat, this is what we want". Giancana asked Joe [00:14:00] then that if he did that, was he guaranteed to have the Mafia Prince in the White House that would protect them?

[00:14:11] Steve: Giancana being Sam Giancana, head of the powerful Chicago Mafia at the time. So what happened there?

[00:14:19] Katanna and Sara: [00:14:20] What really happened was Robert Kennedy went after the mafia which broke that agreement.

[00:14:29] Katanna and Sara: Well he was punishing certain members of the Mafia more than others, particularly Carlos Marcello, which is kind of interesting that his final [00:14:40] trip was in Dallas and Carlos Marcello was in charge of the Mafia there.

[00:14:43] Steve: And for clarity, Joe Kennedy was John Kennedy's father and for reasons we won't go into now, was very much beholden to the Mafia at the time. And Robert Kennedy, who was John Kennedy's brother, was the Attorney General i.e., the Head of the Department of [00:15:00] Justice and Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the United States Federal Government. Anyway, suspect number two - Military Intelligence.

The suspects - 2. Military Intelligence

[00:15:12] Katanna and Sara: Their job, the military, is to fight wars. They wanted to [00:15:20] escalate in Vietnam. Kennedy wanted to pull back from Vietnam. So what better way for the military to escalate and put their man in power, which was Johnson, than to assassinate Kennedy?

[00:15:36] Steve: Johnson, of course, being Lyndon Johnson, the next [00:15:40] President of the United States.

[00:15:41] Katanna and Sara: Oh yes. And obviously if you are a professional planning a professional hit, would you choose someone like Oswald, who had barely passed his marksman's test in the Marines, or would you set up a very intricate [00:16:00] plan in which you had sharp shooters in various places, and if one didn't manage to hit the President in the head somebody else would?

[00:16:10] Steve: It reminds me of that lovely piece in the book when one of Oswald's ex-marine colleagues that you interviewed said, "He was so bad at shooting, he quite [00:16:20] often hit our target!"

[00:16:21] Katanna and Sara: Yes yes. That's who I'd want guarding me!

[00:16:30] Steve: Anyway, back to the story. So we have Military Intelligence at number two. Next suspect [00:16:40] please.

The suspects - 3. The CIA

[00:16:42] Katanna and Sara: Okay Number three the CIA. Kennedy made many people mad in the CIA when he said he was, "Gonna splinter it to the winds" and he was going to take apart the CIA.[00:17:00] They were probably all old military intelligence, and that was not gonna happen on their watch.

[00:17:07] Steve: And it gets a bit more complicated, doesn't it? Because you uncovered links between the CIA and the Mafia.

[00:17:13] Katanna and Sara: People like Johnny Roselli and Santo Trafficante, Mafia through and through, [00:17:20] also worked with the CIA. We don't think of our patriotic CIA working with people like Trafficante and Roselli, but we have documents that prove they did. We also found documents where the CIA were requesting people [00:17:40] from the military to work for them because the military trained the sharpshooters. So it was like hand in glove - we need your skills no matter where you come from.

The suspects - 4. Anti-Castro Cubans

[00:17:52] Steve: Now, to introduce suspects No. 4, you briefly need to explain the Bay of Pigs operation in [00:18:00] 1961?

[00:18:00] Katanna and Sara: Oh the Bay of Pigs was... basically America was going to infiltrate Castro's communistic government by using not only the actual Cubans, but also using Americans who we found out were pretending to be Cubans. [00:18:20] So it was actually a battle that took place, but President Kennedy wanted to make sure the world did not perceive us as this great big country that was attacking this poor little island 90 miles from our coast.

[00:18:36] Steve: And so suspects No. 4 were?

[00:18:39] Katanna and Sara: [00:18:40] Anti-Castro Cubans who were so upset with President Kennedy because he had changed the plan for the Bay of Pigs, and to their way of thinking had abandoned them. And some of the witnesses we talked to who were there at the Bay of Pigs said that's exactly [00:19:00] how it felt like, "We were expecting air cover from the United States. President Kennedy pulled out on that". And there were so many people not only killed in battle but captured and tortured later on too. when you add the CIA [00:19:20] who were also involved in the Bay of Pigs and they were angry, because Kennedy publicly took responsibility but privately he blamed the CIA for this. So he had made two more groups of enemies right there.

[00:19:35] Steve: It's complicated, isn't it? So [00:19:40] far we've implicated the Mafia, the CIA, US Military Intelligence and Anti-Castro Cubans. But we've also seen that the Mafia worked with the CIA, the CIA worked with Military Intelligence and the Anti-Castro Cubans worked with the CIA. It's crazy. But with suspect No. [00:20:00] 5 it gets crazier.

Kennedy and Johnson

The suspects - 5. Lyndon Johnson

[00:20:05] Katanna and Sara: Suspect No. 5, believe it or not, is President Lyndon B. Johnson and his associates. Now that's either something that people are totally shocked by or they say, "Amen Amen", because there is some evidence that he had lots of reasons [00:20:20] for wanting Kennedy out of the way.

[00:20:21] Steve: And of course, Lyndon Johnson was the President who was sworn into office on the same day Kennedy was assassinated, aboard Air Force 1 back at Love Field Dallas, with Jackie Kennedy standing alongside him.

[00:20:34] Katanna and Sara: He was involved in some corrupt activities that the newspapers were becoming more and [00:20:40] more aware of. Bobby Kennedy was feeding them information so that they would know about LBJ's corrupt activities. And he suspected, very strongly, that Kennedy was going to ask him to step aside and not be Vice President in the next election. He's been referred to as the mastermind of this assassination [00:21:00] by some people. There's no doubt that he helped cover it up. In Texas Some of the first comments from people were, "Well, Lyndon got what he wanted".

[00:21:09] Steve: It's extraordinary stuff, isn't it? Next up, No. 6, J. Edgar Hoover, Head of the FBI and close friend of [00:21:20] Lyndon Johnson.

The suspects - 6. Hoover

[00:21:21] Katanna and Sara: Hoover in January of 1964 was supposed to step down. His tenure was up. But if he got Kennedy outta the way, because Kennedy was not going to keep [00:21:40] Hoover in that position, and he had his best friend in the White House, then he would be head of the FBI for as long as he wanted. Which is exactly what happened. Yep. Not to mention we have found depositions and... statements made by former FBI agents who [00:22:00] admitted they were pressured into getting witnesses to change their statements.


[00:22:06] Steve: Well, the list went on and on. We talked about other suspects; Ladybird Johnson, Lyndon Johnson's wife. We talked about Texas Oilmen, the Federal Reserve Board and [00:22:20] the Ultra Conservatives. John Kennedy clearly had a lot of enemies who had motive to see him removed. What Katanna and Sara have done is to show that over time history reveals itself layer by layer. They've peeled back many more layers, and their book is an extraordinary weave of [00:22:40] previously unheard individual accounts, which unwittingly support each other, and a quite different narrative to the one most of us would probably recognize. If you want to find out Katanna and Sara's conclusion to it all, then check out their extraordinary book, The Lone Star Speaks. There's a link in the show notes. But what [00:23:00] I would say is that without doubt, collusion played a massive part in this story, and it did so in a way that may make you think twice about the realities that lie behind democracies today. As The Lone Star Speaks, puts it....

The Hand That Signed The Paper

[00:23:16] Katanna and Sara: The poet Dylan Thomas expressed his fear [00:23:20] of autocratic kings and dictators in his poem, 'The Hand That Signed the Paper'. He described how five fingers connected to a single hand controlled the world when it felled a city, taxed the breath, bred a fever and did a king to death. What is more frightening today than [00:23:40] a dictator who can control his dominion with a simple signature, is a group of individuals who leave no paper trail. These individuals do not have the courage to sign an edict. They make their decisions behind closed doors, refuse to allow the publication of anything that might [00:24:00] incriminate them or their associates, surround themselves with plausible deniability and set up others to take the blame.

[00:24:13] Katanna and Sara: The hands of these individuals are more deadly than those who openly [00:24:20] signed death decrees.

 [00:24:40] [00:25:00]