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tv   After Words  CSPAN  November 24, 2013 9:00pm-10:01pm EST

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she placed her hand up against her chest and she came back to class and said students i have terrible news. president kennedy has been shot but he's stil he is still alive. take out your rosaries and we will pray. rosaries were standard operating equipment so we took out our rosaries and we were holding each bead for dear life and i don't know maybe 20 minutes later or so she had to go out and thinthe hallway and came bad she didn't have to tell us
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anything. she was crying and we knew. >> do you remember that weekend at all? >> guest: i remember everything about it. we were all upset. and i went to my walkers. a good friend of mine because the next week was thanksgiving and the odd thing you have to be at catholic school at the time to understand but i remember seeing to my friend he was the only catholic elected president and he didn't live to finish out his term and that's the way that we looked at it back then. i was seven when he ran for president and i was so excited. it was the eighth sacramento bee for john f. kennedy and i passed out literature in my neighborhood. i remembered a woman slamming the door and saying i don't support a papist. i didn't know what that was that
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it was a big deal to us. there was a lot of anti-catholic prejudice. >> host: i was seven at the time that i have a vivid memory of our principal walking into our second grade classroom in new york and telling us. the only two things i remembered that is after i got home standing on the coffee table and my father holding me while i was crying. and then the drums and then the sunday coming home from church and turning on the tv watching oswald being shot. what got you interested in politics? >> guest: john f. kennedy. that's one reason i did the book. i've always had it in the back of my mind that i wanted to write about this once i have the resources. we were doing a big project. you gave an academic another year and he's going to have another 100 pages. but we are doing an online
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course that is free to anyone that wants to sign up on the platform. we are giving exposure special mobile app that's going to have the new information and data that we have compiled about the assassination and that's going to be available. >> host: just about the assassination or his entire life -- >> guest: go. the whole presidency, the assassination and the legacy. that's what we try to do is trace john f. kennedy through his nine successors. legacy is a kind of life after death. >> host: sure. how long have you been teaching at uva? >> guest: as a teacher since 78 and i went as an undergraduate. i used to have lunch with thomas jefferson. [laughter] that's what my students think. >> host: outside of presidency is coming to is your favorite historian? >> guest: of ipod, there are so many of them. i'm going to mention on the kennedy side, bob dallek.
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he did a terrific job. >> host: the most balance. i agree with that. >> guest: its fact based. i don't think in the end people that write books that are a little too misty eyed. i don't think they are contributing to what people need to know about historical figures. >> host: he wasn't going too far but he got it just right. >> guest: i agree. >> host: what makes a good historian? >> guest: iem and politics and into this as a political book but i think whether you are giving political history, regular history, political science you have to be able to detach yourself to a certain degree. your own personal feelings. >> guest: everybody has opinions. we all come with batteries and opinions attached but they are a dime a dozen. everybody has one on everything.
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so i think it's important to be fact-based and it's important to uncover new facts that have been ignored or of skewered in the past. that's what we try to do in the kennedy half of the century. >> host: why did you write this but? >> guest: we were coming up to the anniversary of the assassination and given the age of my generation and older it's not going to be too long before there are not many people around who remember personally the kennedy administration this 50th anniversary is a great opportunity to clear away some of the myths that we seem to developer of john f. kennedy come his assassination in followed. >> host: one of the things that you sifted through so many of the different theories and examine them without prejudice.
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that's what i like about the book. what did you discover in writing the kennedy half century that hasn't been known in the last 50 years or since the warren commission or the house investigation. >> guest: we discovered a number of things. on his presidency people miss remember kennedy with bobby in his later years and of course ted kennedy the liberal line of the senate. jack kennedy was the most conservative of his brothers and administration was fairly conservative. that's the presidency part. on the assassination part we wanted to make a contribution and we wanted it to be based on the scientific method. again, not only does everybody has an opinion everybody has a theory. there are a million theories.
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when you read a theory and someone's opinion about the assassination. in the vast majority of cases it is no. >> host: that's interesting you say what a holdup in the court of law. there has only been the one trial that is jim morris and the publicity stunt. so, historians have to deal with other ways to enforce intellectual law that no one is going to be tried or convicted. but do historians have an obligation to police or the ther historians are about history? >> guest: to a certain degree. you police the bad history with good history because in the end i think the marketplace responds to the fact-based analysis.
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and people recognize prejudice or a lack of bias to compare the two. you have to leave it to the marketplace. in the first amendment everyone is entitled to say what they want certainly about the murder of a president with what we want to do is to focus on the key piece of evidence, and of course first -- postcode that was 1,975,000 this edition started coming out organized and 76 and recorded in 79 and the reason this happened was because the commission had become enormously unpopular as the commission. it had a political timetable. president johnson wanted it out of the way before the key parts of the general election of 64 and j. edgar hoover the fbi
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director had already decided within 24 hours of the assassination that also walled was the lone gunmen for many various reasons. that is what they wanted the commission to define. and the warre by warren commissn certainly didn't go to all of the trails while they were hot. that was i think the greatest weakness. they didn't know they were also being lied to. it's clear that the cia didn't tell them the truth about if following oswald or about the assassination plot against castro. the fbi and the cia never told their commission about the arrangements with the mafia. there were so many things that they didn't know. and they rushed to a conclusion. craig, what shocked me was 50 years after the warren commission, i could go to dallas, which i did come and interview people who were right in the daily class of the that e strong opinions and who saw
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things who were never, ever interviewed by the commission. it could happen because the commission was rushed and already knew what its conclusion was going to be. they simply disallowed information that contradicted it and i found pieces that don't fit. as i said i not been in the code particularly conspiracy oriented by thought it was my obligation to point out people the pieces that do not fit into the commission report -- a good example. when president kennedy was shot at 12:30 p.m. dallas time november 22nd 1963 with one of minute, several dallas police officers ran up and why? because many people were pointing it at least some source of the gunfire. the first officer a fellow named john marshall smith had his gun dropped and instead he encountered a man who was asked who he was and he presented the
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secret service credentials. smith was familiar with the credentials. two other officers reported the same. apparently there was more than one with the secret service credentials u upon the grassy knoll. there was just one problem. the secret service and the warren commission and everyone else that looked at it had identified the location of every single seat at servic service ot the time. no one was in the daily plaza. they went to the hospital with the president and vice president with johnson. who were these people with secret service credentials that no one can identify. i don't have an answer. but i explained it and people can make up their own minds about is the commission. >> host: even if they are not explained, if it was explained what it change anything at all were what it still be that
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oswald acted alone? >> guest: but suppose they were pretending to be secret service officers. why were they at the top of the grassy knoll? this would add some hard evidence to the belief that perhaps other people were involved and that perhaps there was a second shooter behind the picket fence. i am convinced if there were a second shooter behind the picket fence, he either didn't fight your war he missed and entirely because the bullet trajectory clearly goes to the window on the sixth floor where someone fired and i believe the overwhelming amount of evidence of lee harvey oswald. they were on the shotgun and boxes and lots of other things. he clearly thought that rifle. think about this. the president of the united states was killed with a 19-dollar rifle.
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i did a little research and actually considered to be a fairly good rifle, the conspiracy theorists suggest that it was a very bad rifle but it was actually considered to be above average. the scope was off and people question whether oswald could have done it but if he practiced, he could have made that calculation in his head. it's possible that it was. when people visit the daily plaza, and i encourage them to go to the fifth floor museum. they've done a wonderful job of trying to preserve what happened that day and doubtless try to tear down. it would have been a terrible idea. the people on the sixth floor museum had done a wonderful job. but when you go there the first thing everyone says is it is such a small compact seat.
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such an enormous event that changed america happened and people expect it to be kind of like times square. it is a tiny little area. i would have a hard time hitting a water bucket 20 feet away. i think almost anybody under certain conditions existing on november 22 might have been able to hit it hard. it was moving at about 11 miles per hour. this was not all that difficult a shot. also, oswald was a better shot than he's given credit for. he isn't a great marksman by any means but you have to take all that into account, but again i have to be very critical. i've outlined about many ways they have failed in the kennedy half-century. it's embarrassing. what really is the most irritating is the american public would have waited any
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amount of time for a good investigation to have spent any amount of money for the warren commission to do its job if it had done the job thorough and well and in 1953 and 54 we wouldn't have had 50 years of pure cynicism, much of it generated by the results of the kennedy assassination. >> host: it has been 50 years of cynicism and things undermined in the confidence in the u.s. government i think you write it but if it goes to the warren commission and the ability to do things into the government defeated the empire of japan and not the government and they built the system the government was putting them into space and the government generally did solve the great depression, but at least a miliary did it and gave people hope. so there was good evidence in the time from 1787 up until 1963. the government generally worked to the benefit of the american
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people and this is the first time so the question is that if you could go back to the daily plaza and you could be there a half hour of time, even dallas time november 22, 1963 and you had a 35-millimeter camera, and you could position yourself in a place to come up with a photograph where would you put yourself and why? i would have loved to have been there enough that you can change history but to see what happened. first i would have positioned myself right across from also old's window. he was visible for some time before he moved back into position. so i would have wanted to identify that it was oswald in the window at the end of the building. but i would have had plenty of time than to go to the grassy
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area to see whether anyone was shooting from there. i am convinced -- >> host: there were a live oak trees and there was a fence. in that area across the road would you have a vision of where the badge man or whatever they called it the other shooter might have been? >> guest: had even focused on data. the reason no one got a good look at what was there is because actually all eyes were focused on the president and first lady so it was impossible for people to see that they were not looking directly, but it wasn't a shooter on the overpass or from the text building, but from those who were --
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>> guest: they are absurd as george h. w. bush was outside of the school book there were websites devoted to that. it's ridiculous. >> host: there was a conspiracy to the lincoln government and they were all quickly apprehended and tried to convict area but justice was generally served. with garfield mckinley, they were not lone assassins but the country moved on. why have so many conspiracy theorists -- it can't just be the war. is it something deeper about the moral imbalance of the ultimate winner that on kennedy hero, rich, handsome, president of the united states being told by this
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lonely loser? >> guest: it's more of the balance people can't deal with. that might be part of it. there are many reasons. you mentioned lincoln. don't forget. truman. that was a good experience. they tried to kill him at the warehouse. blair house. we still have conspiracy. i guess you could say part of it is americans don't accept the official word without questioning. that's in our nature and it's in our history and in the first amendment. but the other part of this is again, the commission did a poor job and it didn't answer a lot of questions. second, there was an imbalance between the most powerful person in the world at the peak of the power and the peak of america's power being eliminated by a loner. i think that he was actually very bright, but he was clearly
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disturbed. he had a very unusual life. the imbalance there is just enormous and you have to imagine that life makes sense, so live it, and can life make sense when this powerful 35th president of the united states can be eliminated like someone like lee harvey oswald was a lucky shot? so all of those are reasons why he ended the various things have emerged. we were being lied to about what the cia was doing and the fbi was doing and what the government was doing and at the kennedy administration. lyndon johnson himself commented publicly after his white house years that the president kennedy and the administration were running a murder inc. and the caribbean with castro and other leaders accountable world. >> host: why was kennedy and
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texas? >> guest: it's very clear he was trying to help the texas democratic party reunite. there have been a split between the liberals and the conservatives best represented. on the conservative side by governor john connally. lyndon johnson was kind of in the middle, and he was trying inttoput the party back togethe. >> host: he was a protége and close member. >> guest: kennedy's presidency is only understood well in the electoral context that you would understand well. kennedy had been elected by a smidgen. 118,000 especially on the official record. texas, tiny number of votes. a few tens of thousands in the large texas electorate. kennedy during his whole term
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worried about that reelection. it didn't matter that things were good. he remembered how close it had been and he needed texas and that's why he was there. >> host: i want to go back because i didn't give enough time to the discovery i want to get back to that. the entire basis as i recall of the house investigation of 1979 is that there was a microphone that was stuck of a dallas police officer recording the event, and this recording was saved but lost in history for a time and they claimed that it was four shots and because of the time that oswald of five year did was an possible of that eating to half seconds. that was as it was called the house investigation says that
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there was a probable conspiracy. what have you discovered to reviews that? we had blown their conclusion apart and remember while the committee was formed it was because three quarters of the public didn't believe the commission. by the way, the commission for this shows three quarters of the american public today doesn't believe the commission. nothing has changed. but essentially, congressmen are getting complaints from their constituents demanding after the revelations that came with watergate and the committee about the cia what really happened. we don't believe the conditions of the house of representatives formed a select committee and the house special can be on assassinations and they worked from 76 until 79 on this subject and others. they looked into other assassinations as well. in the case of john kennedy
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committee had been preparing to endorse the basic conclusions of the warren commission. after having interviewed people, the commission didn't get to. after having investigated trails, the commission didn't go down. then, towards the very end, they heard about this so-called dicta belt come at a recording that was done at police headquarters, the head of the dispatch office that is still living. a very interesting guy that was a sheriff in dallas for many years after. he deserves a lot of credit for helping to preserve these developed. they started about 9:45 in the morning before air force one landed. they stopped, at least the ones we have after about 3:40. one is air force one and air force two and the plane had left the field at the end of that terrible day. well, there are a whole bunch of them and we managed to get all of them out of the national
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archives. we have subjected them through some of the best sound analysts in the world. we subjected them to tasks that have never been done before from the lines of dialogue and in fact he got a transcript of 30,000 words from the dicta belt of that today and have enhanced the sound quality all of which were going to release on an app. the key dicta belt was recording at the police headquarters at 12:30 on november 22. the committee had some sound analysts at the time using accepted method for 1979, not to criticize them. they came back and said we find for impulses in the 12:30 times
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when oown of gunfire. for impulses that are clearly to a 95% probability of gunfire. four gunshots as you said correctly means a conspiracy. because literally every one -- no one can change -- exactly. it's not possible to do for shots so they could only squeeze off the four shots. the fourth gunshots means that there is a conspiracy and debated other tests shooting in the sandbags and they determined that the noise most likely was from the grassy knoll picket fence area so they all seem to fit together. then the national academy of sciences did a study why are these impulses any different than the ones we find on the dicta belt over here. but they couldn't prove anything and they said this needs more research. we question it but we don't know the results. there was another study in 2002 that reinforced the house select
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committee on the assassinations conclusions and increase the probability to 96%. that's where we took it. once people read what we have in the century, once they view the entire report by our team, which we are going to put on the website for the kennedy and in this mobile app everyone will see the truth and here's the truth, there is no gunfire at all on that dicta belt. it turns out those for impulses are no different than a dozen other impulses that were virtually the same time. what were the impulses? we think they were the rattling of the microphone on the motorcycle. and where was the police handled the motorcycle? the select committee said that police and was named hb mclean and he was right they are just a few yards, handful of yards finds the presidential limousine. the gunfire was lowered so it
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could be recorded. he always denied that he had a microphone. the police dispatcher always denied that it was him very they were absolutely right. we have identified the policeman. his name is willie and he is deceased now. but we have traced his movements. we traced the fact that he believed he had a stuck microphone. and he had gotten a substitute motorcycle that david had problems with a stuck microphone and he was at the trademark two and a half miles from the plaza where president kennedy was going to deliver the luncheon address and tragically it was an address that was never delivered. he is sitting on the trademark right on the dicta belt recording. you can hear suddenly the sounds of sirens and clearly a great commotion as something growers by at high speed. we check the records. jim has been in dallas.
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there were no other siren activated vehicles in dallas at the time. they have to report to the police department. that was the presidential limousine and the accompanied police cars going at 80 miles per hour to try to get president kennedy to parkland hospital. there was a cop right there. you can't record gunshots two and a half miles away on a little receiver that is the same as a telephone receiver. that is how weak it is. there are no gunshots on the dicta belt. it's not the rosetta stone that is so often claimed that it was. it will not provide the answers to the assassination. but what it does provide is it is a black box for the crash that occurred on november 22. it's living history. you can go through and hear air force one landing and there's the first couple in the crowd crushing at this corner and we have to move them back here. something has happened in the
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motorcade. get the sheriff and deputies into the yard. the president is going to parkland hospital. and the officer rushes to parkland and says the president got his head blown off and that is when we first realized where the police first realized that it was over and then the police chief tells the officer when they ask no i don't believe the president is going to be coming for that address at lunch. this goes all the way through until air force one left. it covers the return. so it is a black box for this horrible day in history so they are useful even though they do not solve the assassination puzzle. >> host: he had gone through other motorcades in various cities. was there anything distinct and different about this motorcade
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or as you talk about it wasn't what looked prove even if it had been on it may have deflected, we will never know. but the mythology is that it was bulletproof but it was just a shield of the weather. >> guest: that is exactly right. >> host: but was the secret service contingent list this day, was the route more questionable say if he had gone to atlanta or cleveland or other places? was there anything out of the ordinary in terms of the behavior as the police or the secret service or anybody that is involved in the motorcade preparations and executions than other places? >> guest: that is a critical question and the answer is no. back in those days the thin blue line protecting the president was much thinner than anyone recognized. guess how many secret service agents were with president
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kennedy in that motorcade passing 200,000 unscreened people with hundreds of open windows and buildings right above kennedy where anyone could have taken a shot, how many? twelve. twelve. >> host: there were 28 agents who traveled. >> guest: 26. some were back in the field office in dallas and others traveled with him on air force one. >> host: that's right. but you're talking about 12. i made a controversy or give it another. we backed it up with a special film be created using all of the videotape and film here in the white house years. when people see the film just going to be on the website, they are going to be shocked because it is so unlike today. this president in particular loved to plunge into crowds and they would frequently envelope him.
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anyone could have gotten into. he was assassinated in 1960 as the president elect in palm beach. he had major plots broken up that we knew about him the presidency in chicago and miami right before dallas. there were others that we do not have all the details of outcome and my team found two in chicago right before the election where men with guns who are following kennedy trying to get closer to him were tackled by the police and arrested and people had forgotten all of this. but kennedy was to mix with the crowd and even worse with that he was doing what he felt a president should do but from a security standpoint, it was a disaster waiting to happen. craig, we have film of president kennedy a broad and at home fror my old at the time standing in the limousine. and even easier target than in dallas on november 22. my conclusion -- it was probably
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good for his back but it was a miracle that he had made it to november 22. and my conclusion is given what was going to happen in the 60s, all of the social turmoil and the fact that they have always attracted an unusual number of haters it would have been larger. it was almost inevitable he was going to be at least an attempt was going to be made directly if not a successful assassination. and we have learned from it obviously but we didn't learn enough committed we that we had two close calls with gerald ford as you have written in your book where you wrote about a campaign which you followed very closely he was nearly killed in 1981. >> host: he had gotten numerous assassination threats -- >> guest: they all do. >> host: how do we compare? we have had 44 presidents ford of them assassinated in office. how does that compare to other
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republics flex less than 10%, but we have more than most republics at least to the extent we know. a lot of this is never revealed. think of the ones killed in office and not the attempts. >> guest: you have to look at the close call. in the years prior we had to take heed roosevelt shot as he was running for the second term and in an instant almost everybody is forgotten. herbert hoover came near to death traveling in south america. revolutionary group. >> host: and franklin roosevelt came -- >> guest: he came within inches killed the mayor of chicago saved by 8 inches. so you send four presidents just prior to kennedy. yet if he were to ask the secret service on november 21, 1963, they would have said we have a perfect record which they did. they started guarding president after he was assassinated on air
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force one. right after the assassination of the secret service agent who had been guarding kennedy and was pounding on the wall inside of the plane saying that we never lost a president before. how could this happen we never lost a president before. and it was the belief that it couldn't happen that encouraged it to happen. >> host: have you ever applied it to the campaign forecast what the outcome would have been? >> guest: we covered at great length. >> host: the question in illinois and upstate because the cost of most behavior by the republicans in downstate illinois was mayor daley in chicago and then in texas and other places. but what you have forecast him
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as a winner? >> guest: he should have won by a larger margin because his economic factors more than anything else. it was catholicism. that was about religion. all those issues be discussed have almost nothing to do with the results. 80% of catholics voted for kennedy and the protestants voted for nixon but you ask for factors. i have to tell you something. the more i look at this, the more i think sean trinity has most recently made the argument as some others have kennedy lost the popular vote. forget about voter fraud. the power that be if 1960 did have a great favor. they added in the alabama democratic electoral vote for the electors. when kennedy wasn't even on the ballot. if you subtract those coming kennedy lost the popular vote can extend.
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if nixon had done one thing, forget about the g8. you could argue that either way. but the effect had worn off by the time of the election, the critical mistake that he made was not getting eisenhower out on the campaign trail earlier. why did that happen? because mimi eisenhower, unbeknownst to president eisenhower had made a call to vice president nixon in the summer saying you know all of the problems, please do not put him to the test. he cannot stand all of this strenuous activity. president nixon was doing her bidding and president eisenhower himself was hurt that he wasn't asked. he wondered why you might not being asked. he didn't know what his wife had done. had he went out on the trail
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that week sure enough, eisenhower who was at 60% popularity pulled nixon up virtually imagine if he had been campaigning for two weeks i think nixon would have won. if kennedy had lost 1960 but wha1960s butwhat he has done? >> guest: i don't like the what if questions. i would think it would be fun. >> guest: it would be fun. he was reelected in 58, so he would have been in until 64 and my guess is that he would have run for the senate. maybe he would have tried again at the end of the tears. wouldn't it have been interesting if the positions have been reversed. i don't want to propose that he would have been assassinated, but lee harvey oswald once told his wife that he was going to
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assassinate vice presidents nixon and on a trip to dallas. isn't that interesting? so, you wonder when he was told about the murder he was really shaken up. they said that maybe it was going through his mind my god that could have been me if i had a few more votes here and there. so it wasn't political. and the same way with hinckley because he had stopped president carter. but there was a political dimension because oswald had always been looking for something and that's what got him into the soviet union and it's what got him into so many of these groups that he was in once he got back to the united states and that is the story of itself once he pro- castro or was he working with the fbi in
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new orleans with the anti-castro mr. bannister. >> host: didn't he associate with russians in dallas? >> guest: they kind of adopted oswald because they spoke russian, so it is a lot. >> host: he was what caught 24? >> guest: a lot of weirdness in a short time. >> guest: but it gives a fuel to the conspiracy fire and you can understand why you as and at of legitimate questions about it. >> guest: . >> host: the commission had a lot of doubts about the evidence handle on november 22. a lot of doubts about, many more as you have now proven about the house investigation. but what is your conclusion. take us through that day and what is the harvey oswald thinking of doing and how -- did
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he act a load and was there a magic bullet? >> guest: i don't exclude the possibility that someone excluded oswald or that the secret service credentials story bothers me a great deal and some other things bother me. i outline a number of them in the buck. so i'm not going to say as others have done, case closed. i think it takes too much hubris to do that. >> host: was he saying case closed from the political motivation or that oswald acted alone? >> guest: i think that he was saying that he acted alone and that may be the case but i don't see how anyone -- vince is another one, very impressive book and man, but the that theyt fully address these pieces that don't fit and i just have a more questioning mind about some of
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these things. if you forced me into one camp or another, i would go with oswald acted alone but i'm not confident about it. but i'm confident about is that the commission did a good job and the house select committee on assassinations did a terrible job so we have these investigations and it's 50 years on and there is only one prediction i can make to you. our children, grandchildren, students, their children, they are all going to be watching documentaries about the conspiracy theories involving the kennedy assassination even with the release of the material in the archives. we hope that comes out in october 17. it's going to be up to the president to decide whether the cia gets to keep secret or redacted its remaining documents that haven't been released, and that is many thousands of pages relating to the kennedy assassination. i want to see what's in there
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area i want to see what remaining pages are from the fbi and others. but let's see the full story before we reach a final conclusion. that is another reason why i don't be leaving case closed. you have to see all the evidence before you can reach the conclusion. >> host: are the archivists allowed to talk about what's in their? >> guest: know they are not and of course they don't know what's in all of those documents. let me give credit -- one wonders whether all of the documents were turned over. this is as a resul the result ot the president george h. w. bush signed on in 1992 right before. i was a direct result of oliver stone's movie jfk. i wanted to give credit to a
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journalist who operates an excellent website and he's focused on cia documents and he came up with one that was really interesting just a month ahead of the assassination and the cia reacting to oswald's visit to mexico city says that oswald is maturing. while he measured right into a presidential assassin and he had practiced trying to assassinate general walker in april of 1963 if only the police forces into the fbi at the time had spent more resources to try to trace back the assassination attempt, he wasn't killed he was only slightly injured with a bullet fired through his house is almost certainly was oswald. he told his wife what he had done in greater detail.
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>> host: how big was the secret service in terms of the personnel? how many did they have under investigation or surveillance? >> guest: people are going to be amazed to learn that the only people in the finals of the secret service were people who wrote and threatened the president directly of any policemen are investigator will tell you the people who write you don't need to worry about it's the people that don't write that you need to worry about. so, you know -- post coded thatd ever write threatening letters? >> guest: they didn't have a questionable individual on file in dallas. dallas was a hotbed of sentiments and there have been incidences involving at least events in -- dallas in particular you had the incident with at least events in just a couple of months before where he
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was stabbed upon and assaulted. lyndon johnson and lady bird had been attacked right before the election of 1960 and above local newspapers were strongly anti-kennedy. by the way, i came across a wonderful tour guide in dallas who took me to a lot of the behind the scenes places and the former first lady of dallas was very helpful in doing this but took me to all of the hidden places that people don't normally see including the jail cell that is now closed, but at the end of the day, and i quote this in the book, he had done this for years and he was related, he was kind of incest with his and i said here you focus on this for years and years. what do you really think and he said you know, i know everything there is to know about
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november 22, 1963 except for what really happened. that is one of those moments when my eyes open. i will start with what is the legacy of jfk assassinated under mysterious circumstances or was there something more to his presidency and that? >> guest: we traced his life after death through all of his successors. we spend more time on the ban anything including the assassination. and we have asked this question for each successor. how did this president used john f. kennedy to accomplish his own agenda? every single one of the president has used kennedy in one way or another. as you know better than i do
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because of your books on ronald reagan the best use rather than lbj succeeded by kennedy was by ronald reagan who cited the kennedy so often you would have thought that it was his running mate. >> host: they're worth of those overs int and the campaign commercial. featured president kennedy asked when they needed to cut taxes to get the country moving again and those were lead into commercials by the campaign. >> guest: and once he was in he used all of the words about why the across-the-board tax cut that kennedy almost got adopted and he died right before it was scheduled to be voted on. but he used all of the words explaining why there was economic productivity in an across-the-board tax cut and then the anti-communist rhetoric go back to kennedy inaugural address in all of the other speeches that he gave he was criticizing for using the term evil empire.
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>> host: do you agree? >> guest: i do and i also believe that in his last year because of the frightening prospect of nuclear war that he had experienced in document missile crisis that he was looking for ways to make a common cause with the soviets and khrushchev and he was reaching out to the nuclear test ban treaty. that was the accomplishment he was the proudest of. there were other things that he was planning on doing. so, i think that he was moving away from some of that rhetoric coming and of course some conspiracy theorists say that is exactly why he was called in general. i want to take him into a courtroom and have him held up under cross-examination. i have yet to see this.
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>> host: then that begs the question. he like other democrats were haunted by the argument. so, him being in anti-communist and a cold warrior and a strong national defense, he ran on the gap in 1960 and eisenhower wasn't very happy about it is that he committed the first ground troops into southeast asia and that's what it is that kennedy would not have gone into vietnam in the way that lbj did and then extended that he went through and withdrew the forces that would kennedy, what you know about him as an anti-communist and not wanting to lose another country to communism, but he had also gone and jumped into southeast asia with both feet?
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>> guest: i examine that and here's my conclusion, kennedy deserves part of the plane because for vietnam he put a lot of advisers and some troops in their undercover. so he started the trend. but here's why i delete he never would have done what johnson did. johnson got 535,000 troops in the bomb. first of all if there is one word describes president kennedy in office it is cautious. second, you always look to the politicians facing you know this well. what was kennedy's faith? intellectuals from universities, colleges? the first place you get strong opposition to dramatically increase -- >> host: but the crowd and all of them were very skeptical and in 59 and 61 she said he wasn't comfortable with the liberals in the democratic party.
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>> guest: but he had really established that an office. and in johnson by contrast was anti-intellectual. he liked the fact that they opposed his policy. and of course it led him to try to win the war that wasn't winnable and he wanted to do it in a big way. john f. kennedy had agreed to a few little pilot programs on the war on poverty the day after the assassination when he hears about what kennedy had done and countermanded incest that's my kind of program. that's the difference between lyndon johnson and john f. kennedy. so, no i don't believe that he would have done what johnson did i-india, although he would have continued some level of involvement. i do not believe for a minute that he was going to withdraw
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all of them. >> host: so he would have done it differently? >> guest: to a different extent using the caution he had gained through the bay of pigs disaster and the triumph in the cuban missile crisis. he learned the hard way on the job and he was an internationally minded person. that's a contrast with johnson he was a domestic publication. kennedy had always been because of his family and his time in britain and world war ii. he was more internationally focused. i think that he understood the world better. >> host: he had a greater respect for the joint chiefs and maybe lbj because lyndon johnson was trying to take things like that. was it macarthur who begged johnson in 1964 don't get
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involved in a land war in southeast asia and johnson didn't listen to him. i always wondered if kennedy would have listened to macarthur to this great respect. >> guest: i went to his funeral. a bobby kennedy showed up and it was in the spring of 64, he died and i saw them on the main street in norfolk virginia and of course the memorial was right there. i know we are running out of time but i just wanted to mention the fact that we have a chapter on each of the nine successors and we have new information that people would never come across, carter for example gave me a long interview and i think that i have been able to identify where the feud between jimmy carter and ted kennedy began its actually in the campaign of 76. the, there is a lot in there and i am proud of that section on the legacy because we took the largest study ever done on the
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former president and focused it on john f. kennedy. i hired peter hart, a turkic job. over 2,000 adult americans said we could do a lot of analysis in the subcategory plus richmond virginia, chicago and los angeles. and we found john f. kennedy with that short presidency is the most admired, liked, respected and popular president of the modern era. a history in who studies the actual record would say, on. 1,038 days. but what was interesting to me is that is the judgment of the american people. we entitled at the people's president and so i think that the readers will be interested to see how can this be viewed and why if the assassination is a big piece of it but was kennedy's image above rhetoric which is still stirring the
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self-deprecating humor, the glamorous nature. >> host: when i listen to it i still get goosebumps when i hear it. you mentioned the president's followings. although having written about ronald reagan i came across the phrase that said that he was the first residents not to be haunted by the ghost of john kennedy. do you agree with that? >> guest: you know this better than i do he wasn't in the democratic party, the republican party. he didn't have to pretend to be the next jfk. each new democratic president had to pretend to be the next jfk running for office and then serving in office. so i think there was a great difference there. as you know well, ronald reagan
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was so shrewd about his cultivation of the entire year kennedy family they probably spent more time in his oval office than they had in anyone else since kennedy's assassination. >> host: he presented the congressional gold medal posthumously to be kennedy, to robert kennedy that carver himself had refused to present and i was told when i was working on the 1980 book by several sources that the entire family voted for him. >> guest: that's interesting. president carter actually told me a story about his speech at the dedication of the john f. kennedy library, and jackie kennedy was very cold to him according to president carter at the event and that is when he first realized that he didn't just have a problem with ted kennedy, he had a problem for
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the entire family and they were a big clan. >> host: what should've the readers come away with your book in just a few seconds? >> guest: i think it's important to realize that a tragedy like the assassination has created more out of the presidency of john f. kennedy and we actually read in the historical record and that is the power of people in a democracy. maybe that is one of the ultimate legacies of john f. kennedy short time in the white house. >> that was "after words," booktv signature program in which authors of the latest nonfiction books are interviewed by journalists, public policy makers, legislators and others familiar with their material. "after words" airs every weekend
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at 10 p.m. on saturday, 12 p.m. and 9 p.m. on sunday and 12 a.m. on the day. you can also watch online. go to and click on the "after words" in the book tv series and the topics list on the upper right side of the pa page. ..


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