It’s really easy go off course quickly in an investigation of you don’t set the right focus – and it’s especially easy to lose focus by getting diverted by the wrong words.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I think that certain of the current Russian investigations are being undermined by people tossing around the term “collusion”.  Basically collusion implies conspiracy and it also implies secret agreements, and knowledge of cooperation in illegal or deceitful activities.


While it’s not impossible that Donald Trump or certain of his associates knowingly conspired with individuals working for or in league with Russian intelligence – or even Putin’s personal financial/governance network –  that might have had nothing to do with the 2016 election at all, relating to contacts which began much earlier. You can imagine a dialog about making it easier to do business if American foreign policy was more positive towards Russia, or later on putting it in terms of pragmatism and the removal of certain sanctions. And Manafort worked as a consultant for individuals wishing to shape the Ukrainian elections, it’s almost impossible to think that similar discussions of American politics and popular opinions never came up.


Beyond that, if the Russian FSB were involved – along with experienced Russian political action and psyops officers – you can imagine the verbiage in any dialog would have become quite convoluted.  Reportedly Putin is a master of the same techniques used by Cold War era CIA directors who got people to conduct operations up to and including assassination without ever giving a specific verbal order, much less putting it in writing. The people who work for Putin have become very good “guessers”, the ones who didn’t fell out of power, lost their positions or are no longer with us.


What the FBI and Congressional committees should be focused on is Russian covert political action, exposing current practices and waking everyone up to the fact that it never stopped at the end of the Cold War and restarted with a vengeance circa 2008.  If “collusion” falls out of the investigation, people need to go to jail but that’s a secondary issue.  If not, it will just show that the Russian practices are far more effective and far more dangerous.


So what does that have to do with “cover-up”, well recently I got into a dialog with a fellow researcher on the use of that term.  Traditionally it’s been applied to the JFK assassination in terms of an operation carried out after the murder to cover up a conspiracy. Peter Dale Scott brought forth the concept of a two phase operation, Phase 1 involving a plan to blame the act on Castro/Cuba and Phase 2 to cover up the evidence of a conspiracy and substitute a lone nut.  The interesting thing is that many researchers have the same plotters involved in both phases…which makes absolutely no sense (to me at least). And I think the use of the word “cover-up” really defocuses our research and investigation – since it also implies the people who doing it actually have some idea what they are covering-up and continued to work for decades to suppress that knowledge.


As a counter I would offer an alternative – a three stage scenario in which first the plotters attempt to shape the assassination in order to point towards Castro, using Oswald’s prior associations as a tool. To some extent that worked, you can see it in some newspaper headlines the next morning. That was followed by a bandwagon effect with Cuban exiles jumping in and trying to enhance that story line in the days and weeks that followed. So for simplicities sake let’s just call the first phase the “plot”.


And then, as my friend Bill Kelly writes, there was the second phase, which followed a “tipping point”.  That point can actually be identified, it’s the point at which LBJ calls Hoover that evening and asks him to take over the investigation and at the same time has Cliff Carter calling key people in Dallas and Texas and ordering them to shut up about conspiracy, change their legal charges on Oswald and just focus on Oswald as a lone nut.  Now DPD was slow to get that storyline, they kept investigating and pulling people in all night – but then they were just behind the curve.  What Johnson chose to do, for whatever reason, was to abort any investigation of conspiracy, not cover it up per se but simply abort it ever being developed – or at least officially documented.  Which correctly let to a raft of suspicions and a descent by all parties involved into phase 3 – denial.

Perhaps there are better words but I’m stuck with Plot/Abort/Denial…surely somebody must have a better suggestion.  Think about it…


About Larry Hancock

Larry Hancock is a leading historian-researcher in the JFK assassination. Co-author with Connie Kritzberg of November Patriots and author of the 2003 research analysis publication titled also Someone Would Have Talked. In addition, Hancock has published several document collections addressing the 112th Army Intelligence Group, John Martino, and Richard Case Nagell. In 2000, Hancock received the prestigious Mary Ferrell New Frontier Award for the contribution of new evidence in the Kennedy assassination case. In 2001, he was also awarded the Mary Ferrell Legacy Award for his contributions of documents released under the JFK Act.

5 responses »

  1. Debra Conway says:


    Sent from my iPad


  2. Greg Kooyman says:

    Excellent analysis Larry. I love your parallels to the current events.

    • Thanks for the kind words Greg and Deb. I do find that things really pop out when you look at the broader picture – that happened for me in moving on to the MLK and RFK assassinations/investigations and especially in Surprise Attack where I could compare Johnson’s responses during three different crises.

      This summer will see the appearance of yet one more study where I take a look at some 40 years of history in an effort to see the bigger picture, hopefully we will be announcing that new book by the end of this month.

  3. Anthony M says:

    Yes, I agree with your phases.
    One question that is still unclear is if LBJ’s ‘close down’ of any conspiracy angles was a totally distinct separate set of actions to phase 1 or if this was always the plan? In other words were the anti-Castro elements conned and manipulated from the start or outmanoeuvred later on?
    I don’t have a firm opinion. Phase 1 seems relatively weak and LBJ’s reaction extremely quick to me, but they could be separate sets of actions.

    • Ah, if I only I could answer both questions in total confidence… I waffle on just that point in SWHT but in studying Johnson’s other actions under crisis in the Tonkin Gulf incident and the Pueblo Incident I find that he very quickly reached decisions – always the wrong ones – and did so without consulting anyone in particular. His gut reaction was to quickly act in whatever fashion he felt was most suited to his immediate political well being. That is something that is hard to see just looking at Nov. 22.

      While I still feel he may have had some sort of vague warning or suggestion in regard to something happening to JFK he clearly was not prepared for what happened in Dallas and did seriously go into a panic. Given how quickly the containment calls from Cliff Carter to Texas began my sense is that Johnson acted largely in terms of his own best interests because a meaningful response might quickly spin out of his control. He did exactly the same thing with the Pueblo crisis, and should have been impeached over that…I feel strongly about that.

      So yes, I see him as generally disconnected from the plot…regardless of any guilty knowledge, certainly his actions quashed the Cuban frame aspect of it.

      As to the plot, I can tell you that in later years Martino and others felt they had been led astray and promised more than was delivered and may simply have been used. I think that is probably accurate, they provided a smokescreen but the real core mission was killing JFK. If they had taken the fall for that…too bad but the mission succeeded. I do believe there may have been elements of a much more solid Cuba frame in play involving Oswald but his reaction, the Tippet incident and his capture aborted that as well. Martino himself said the whole thing went off the rails with Oswald’s capture. As I’ve noted before we can only reverse engineer the full plot only so far given that we only know what happened, not the full plan.

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