A Review of Phil Shenon’s “A Cruel and Shocking Act” and Anthony Summer’s “Not In Your Lifetime”

Phil Shenon was a reporter for the New York Times. He wrote “The Commission, The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Commission.” That was a helpful bit of writing that missed the rather enormously much larger historical reality that Cheney and Rumsfeld were complicit in the 9/11 attacks and responsible for their success. Shenon’s most recent work on the JFK assassination performs an almost identical function. In this case, the point missed has to do with the becoming-unmistakable fact that Lyndon Johnson’s fingerprints are all over the crime.

Given Shenon’s praise for DeLillo’s “Libra”, we can’t say he still thinks Oswald acted alone as, presumably based on the content found there, his former confreres at the NYT do, but he leaves out so many important pieces of information, also relegating his DeLillo reference to the “acknowledgments” section of the book, that he almost allows the reader to come to whatever conclusion they are predisposed toward. But with all of the scholarship that has passed over the dam or under the bridge at this point, his book seems subversive to accepted history, the NYT to the contrary notwithstanding.

I will mention just a few of the matters that Shenon finds unworthy.

1. Oswald’s words, “I’m a patsy,” cannot be found anywhere in the work, which is important because the Warren Commission, if we are to believe Shenon’s history, did not assume their truth for any purpose. Had they done so, the work of trying to fit the round peg of the “single bullet” theory, into the square hole of “everything else known” would not have consumed so much time and intellectual effort. The idea that criminal suspects categorically lie unless they are confessing has no place in the search for truth.
2. Dr. Charles Crenshaw was one of the surgeons who attended JFK, but he is not alone in declaring the wound in the front of the neck an entrance wound, thereby establishing the fact of a conspiracy. Medical records recording conclusions by emergency room doctors and nurses alike, say precisely the same thing. In connection with this information it is helpful to know that distinguishing between an entrance and an exit wound is one of the simpler determinations that medical examiners make in the bulk of instances where there is a question. An entrance wound is small and clean with the margins relatively precise. An exit wound is a mess. Had the wound in the front of the neck been an exit wound, likely no further cutting would have been necessary in order to complete the tracheotomy except exposing the windpipe, if that was necessary.
3. Mary Moormon took a polaroid picture of the presidential limousine with the grassy knoll in the background right as the shots are being fired. The naked eye is pretty much useless for the pertinent purposes, but there was the expenditure of considerable sums of money, and conclusions as a result of those efforts, that made their way onto television to the effect that behind the picket fence on the grassy knoll in the photograph is something consistent with the head of a man and an elongated object, none of which appear in other subsequent photographs of the same spot. That is important corroboration of another piece of evidence establishing a second shooter on the grassy knoll, in this case an eye and ear witness to the shot and extremely important information about what took place, and who was at the grassy knoll just before bullets flew.
Visible with the naked eye in the same Moormon picture is Gordon Arnold, a young military man on leave who described a rifle shot and bullet whizzing past his ear from behind him. Moreover, when asked about what he saw in 1977 or so, he described an encounter near the spot where his observations were made with a man claiming to be, and showing the identification of, a secret service agent. The problem with the “Oswald as lone gunman” theory is that the Warren Commission established without question that there were no real secret service agents on the grassy knoll at the time. Now I am sure, if I repesented someone at the trial of this case, I would think up something to say in an attempt to discredit what is contained in these paragraphs, but Mr. Shenon is not in that position. He can’t just leave out vital pieces of evidence that get in the way of what he is trying to do. Not honestly, anyway.
4. There have now been many books written about why it should be believed that LBJ was a prime mover in the conspiracy. I will boil it down in what follows. Billy Sol Estes was a Johnson man who made a very big name in the early 60’s as the subject of scandal connected to LBJ having to do with cotton futures and the like. There was very much money involved, and he was being investigated by Henry Marshall of the Texas Department of Agriculture. All of the evidence demands the conclusion that Marshall was murdered by Malcolm Wallace, another Johnson man, but the local Medical Examiner decided it was suicide in spite of the multiple blunt trauma and gunshot wounds. That’s the way things were in Texas back then, and no one would know that better than LBJ and Mac Wallace as their relationship flourished after Wallace was convicted of first degree murder in 1947 and got probation.
Estes was prosecuted for various corrupt criminal acts, but he kept his mouth shut about LBJ until 1984 when he was released from prison, and the former president was dead. At that point, he was taken before the Robertson County Grand Jury and testified that LBJ had ordered the murder of not just Henry Marshall, but also John F. Kennedy. All kinds of things can be said about how much faith one should put in the word, under oath or not, of Billy Sol Estes, but there is corroboration for his testimony that simply cannot be overlooked, honestly, at least.
In 1998 one of the fingerprints found on one of the boxes that comprised the sniper’s nest on the 6th floor of the School Book Depository was examined by a fingerprint examiner who has as much experience in the field as it is possible to have. He identified the print as belonging to …Malcolm Wallace, long since dead himself in the event anyone is interested.
Lastly, there has always been the testimony of police motorcycle riders attached to the motorcade and driving next to LBJ’s car, who said that Johnson was ducking down before any shooting took place, but now an analysis has been done of a photograph taken by a man named Altgens at the time of the first shot, looking back into Dealey Plaza from the Stemmons Freeway overpass. It very clearly depicts the limousine’s driver and Secret Service Agent Youngblood in the front seat, and Senator Ralph Yarborough and Lady Bird Johnson in the back seat. LBJ is nowhere to be seen, entirely consistent with the motorcycle policemen’s statements and a frightening foreknowledge of the grizzly shooting on the part of one of history’s most complex, ambitious, power-driven, sick political figures to have ever carved his name into the consciousness of a nation.
One simply cannot claim to write some sort of definitive book about the Kennedy Assassination while leaving out what appears in the paragraphs above, honestly, at least.

I hadn’t intended to include a review of Anthony Summers’ work, “Not in Your Lifetime”, but now, having read it, I can’t think of a good reason to lay off. Mr. Summers and Mr. Shenon happen to have something in common. They have both had occasion to take up the events of 9/11 in a serious way, Summers, along with his wife Robbyn Swan, in “The Eleventh Day”. The ways in which all of these accomplished writers failed the world with regard to 9/11, I will detail elsewhere. For the purposes before me now, it should simply be kept in mind that while they have all made a substantial contribution to understanding the attacks of 9/11, the evidence which establishes the complicity of the likes of Cheney and Rumsfeld is mostly not mentioned, or if it is, the references shy away from the horrifying verity of their guilt.

Summers did most of his work about the JFK assassination in the late 70’s reporting on the Assassinations Committee’s work and it’s failures. The book was called “Conspiracy” when it came out then. He says it has been updated recently, which means that all of the scholarship which produced the knowledge set out above concerning LBJ’s involvement and Shenon’s failure to mention it, was available to Summers. The same words at the end written about Shenon apply equally to Summers.

Summers is described as a Pulitzer Prize finalist so I guess he didn’t win. Shenon’s book on 9/11 was a best-seller. These are two big names in the field of journalism. The quantity of material on JFK’s murder is vast, but many of the books currently available have the notion of LBJ’s complicity in their titles. Even though I think the case is very strong indeed at this point, I suppose it is permissable to see things another way and, given the uncertainties that some may perceive, give LBJ some sort of pass. What I cannot understand, except in association with surmises of the very darkest nature, is the absence of even a word of mention concerning the oh-so-troublesome evidence.

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