Every element of this game is based on actual events and political realities as they existed between 1963-1973. In painstaking detail, this game teaches players how Lyndon Baines Johnson assumed power by coup and in doing so, examines the national consequences of JFK’s assassination 40 plus years later.
This open source game, brought to you by the makers of Political Doublespeak Translator Pro, will be released under a Creative Commons license, meaning no money will be accepted for it. The aim is to educate Americans, not profit from their grief. Here’s a walk-through….
It’s 1963… the US is in the birthing pains of an explosive civil rights movement. You are the Vice
President of the United States and are to be dropped from the ticket, leaving you open to prosecution for mob ties (the Billy Sol Estes Affair) and the murder of a federal agent in ’61, Henry Marshall, for which you stand to indicted. Note the Wikipedia entry on Billy Sol Estes:
In the late 1950s, the United States Department of Agriculture began controlling the price of cotton, specifying quotas to farmers. The limited productionhurt Estes’ businesses. He responded by expanding into cotton production himself. Over the next few years he developed a massive fraud, claiming to grow and store cotton that never existed, then using the cotton as collateral for bank loans. During this same period he became involved in Texas Democratic state politics and made political contributions to U.S. Senator and later Vice President of the United States Lyndon Johnson.
On June 3, 1961, Estes’ local contact at the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, Henry Marshall, was found dead in his car with five gunshot wounds on a remote part of his own ranch. Justice of the Peace Lee Farmer attributed Marshall’s death to carbon monoxide poisoning brought about from a hose attached to the exhaust pipe of his car. The body was buried without an autopsy. The suicide verdict was later overturned..
On April 4, 1962, Estes’ accountant, George Krutilek, was found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning. Krutilek had been questioned by the FBI about Estes the day before.
As a result of these deaths and an investigation into his business practices, on April 5, 1962, Estes and several business associates were indicted by a federal grand jury on fifty-seven counts of fraud. Estes was accused of swindling investors, banks and the federal government of at least $24 million. through false agricultural subsidy claims on cotton production and the use of non-existent supplies of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer as collateral for loans. He was eventually found guilty of additional federal charges and sentenced to fifteen years in prison.
Two of Estes’ associates, Harold Orr and Coleman Wade, were also indicted but died of carbon monoxide poisoning (apparent suicides) before they went to trial. Estes was found guilty of fraud and sentenced to eight years in prison. Howard Pratt, manager of a Chicago fertilizer supply company, was also found dead in his car from an apparent carbon monoxide poisoning. There was also a half bottle of liquor in his car; however, after testing, no alcohol was present in Howard’s body.
The high-profile case generated extensive national press coverage and was the first topic of President John F. Kennedy‘s press conference on May 17, 1962. As a result of the financial and political scandal, Kennedy apparently began to consider dropping Johnson as his running mate in the 1964 election.
As Johnson, you rationalize that the end justifies the means. To become president, and enact the Great Society you envision, you see the murder of political opponents as a necessary evil. This is such a dick character flaw your very surname becomes slang for giant penis. (When you hear someone refer to his tool as a “Johnson” you now know where the term came from.)
Motive: Your only hope of avoiding trial, let alone political survival, is to kill the president by using his segregationist political enemies to do the dirty work for you.
Means: The mob wants Kennedy’s head for his attack on the Mafia, as do several high-level CIA operatives who had formed ties with them since World War II’s OSS (Office of Strategic Services), particularly during the attempts to assassinate Cuba’s Fidel Castro in Operation Mongoose in preparation for the doomed Bay of Pigs invasion. Right-wing Klan-linked elements in the armed forces and intelligence services already have a plan, the most notorious being Operation Northwoods. A patsy would be employed, and the assassination would be blamed on Castro.
Opportunity: As for the segregationists in the deep south and the Klan, President John F. Kennedy is detested and threatened for his Catholicism,
(2) and his stand on civil rights,
(3) particularly after sending federal troops to the University of Alabama in a stand-off with Gov. George Wallace. The Klan threats to is life begin in earnest thenceforth. The South considered this an act of war.
- President Kennedy’s 1963 Civil Rights Address
Level 1: Befriend the President’s Deadliest Enemies
You make secret alliances with the deadliest enemies of the president: ultra right-wing segregationists in Washington DC (which includes the KKK), and the FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, who was also to be fired in ’64. As Vice President, you also have certain powers to assist your endeavor: you can summon friends in the CIA and ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence), and when you do, you can recruit disgruntled, rogue CIA agents fired after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, intelligence assets with deep ties to the Mafia. The Mafia, incidentally, is now under attack by Attorney General Robert Kennedy, as are CIA operatives with ties to the same.
You will need support from all of the president’s enemies should the coup proceed as planned. Your private lawyer advises you also have to have a patsy ready upon assuming power, someone to be arrested immediately to give you time to destroy evidence and divert attention from yourself. The New Orleans plan for a motorcade assassination was actually based on one formulated for another target, Castro, but now an attempt will be made to do this in Dallas. The plan, (1) as described in Miami surveillance tapes of Klansman Joseph Milteer on Nov. 9, 1963; calls for, and depends upon a successor allied with the coup plotters whom can immediately assume presidential powers. Only you, as the Vice-President, can do that.
You accept this role, and coincidentally, your Secret Service code name on November 22, 1963, is “Volunteer”. Your challenge is to create a plausible assassin. You can frame a CIA double-agent who has just returned from Russia, or choose from any number of “lone nut” scenarios. If you cannot make the correct secret alliances or create a plausible patsy, you lose the game..
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November 9th, 1963, Joseph Milteer boasts of a right-wing plot to kill Kennedy in Dallas in a clip recorded by the Miami police department. By November 17, 1963, the FBI had began dispatching telexes to field offices to warn of a right-wing militant plot to kill Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
As you can hear in the audio clip, Miami police recorded an FBI informant who discussed the assassination with Milteer. Milteer stated that President Kennedy would be assassinated in a few days, shot from an office building with a high powered rifle. When told there would be plenty of bodyguards, he said it would make it easier, and that was indeed the case. With a chilling foreknowledge of what was to come, he notes that they’d arrest someone within an hour after the assassination.
On November 24, 1963, two days after the assassination, Milteer related that they would not have to worry about Lee Harvey Oswald getting caught because he “doesn’t know anything” and that the “right wing” is in the clear. He also stated that that “The patriots have outsmarted the communists and had infiltrated the communist group in order that they (communists) could carry out the plan without the right wingers becoming involved.”
Level 2: Convince a Suspicious President to Walk into Your Ambush
You have to convince the president to visit your home state, where you can control the local authorities in Dallas which are then Klan-run, and lead him into an ambush without killing your friend, whom Kennedy has seated in front of him because he’s suspicious of your motives and is aware of Klan death threats as he goes into Texas You must convince him to go to Dallas by presenting a myriad of arguments, or lose the game.
Level 3: Divert Attention from Yourself
You have to divert attention from yourself since it is immediately suspected you were involved in the plot. You have a choice of newspapers, (1) television networks, and magazine sympathetic to your plight that will demonize anyone who questions your integrity. Since the patsy will get a trial, you realize you have to silence him before that happens, because there is no way the evidence against him could convict him. This part of the game is timed.
Only you could directly control both intelligence agencies and you had a motive. On November 25th, 1963, three days after the assassination you will be calling Joseph Alsop of the Washington Post vehemently arguing against calls for an independent investigative committee in the Kennedy assassination.
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On November 25th, 1963, three days after the assassination Johnson was calling Joseph Alsop of the Washington Post vehemently arguing against calls for an independent investigative committee in the Kennedy assassination, one called for by President Kennedy’s brother, U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
Robert F. Kennedy was the United States Attorney General at the time, and he wanted an independent committee to investigate the killing of his brother. Johnson did everything he could to prevent RFK from getting that independent committee and succeeded in his battle with the Justice Department, giving us the Warren Commission whose members he hand picked. Pretty odd, no? What was Johnson afraid of? Maybe it was the fact President Kennedy had already decided Johnson would not be on the ticket in 1964, effectively ending his career in politics, so it was clear that with JFK gone Johnson would have much to gain: namely, the Presidency. As such, because Johnson did have a motive, it made sense to have an independent committee RFK asked for.
You also have to set up a phony commission to bring plausibility to the “lone nut” theory. The man you choose to lead this commission is a Klan leader from California. Your challenge is to protect the Klan element in the assassination while condemning them publicly, appearing fair and racially sensitive. When the physical evidence and dozens of witness defy the argument that only one gunman fired, you have to get a spin master to make your case plausible. Enter Arlen Specter. He’s a Jew, so any appearance of bias towards the Klan will appear non-existent. However, Specter, like Warren, LBJ, Gerald Ford, and Hoover, is also Scottish Rite; and he knows that though not all the Scottish Rite approves of the Klan, the fact remains that the SR created the KKK and even put a Klansman on the Supreme Court in 1939.As such, if he goes after them, he goes after himself and those who promised to advance his political career. Your challenge is to look at Specter in the eyes, without instinctively punching his lights out: if you do, your penalty is that he will get another newspaper to release his version of events. This is also the bloodiest part of the game, because you have to kill witnesses and there are many. If your hit men kill the wrong one, you lose the game.
As such, if he goes after Klan segregationists, he goes after himself and those who promised to advance his political career. Your challenge is to look at Specter in the eyes, without instinctively punching his lights out: if you do, your penalty is that he will get another newspaper to release his version of events. This is also the bloodiest part of the game, because you have to kill witnesses and there are many. If your hit men kill the wrong one, you lose the game. What was the real-life basis for this level? In a television interview, A Current Affair, the mistress of Lyndon Johnson, Madeleine Brown, described the meeting of 21st November, 1963, when she was at the home of Clint Murchison. Others at the meeting included Harold L. Hunt, J. Edgar Hoover, Clyde Tolson, John J. McCloy and Richard Nixon. At the end of the evening Lyndon B. Johnson arrived… “Tension filled the room upon his arrival. The group immediately went behind closed doors. A short time later Lyndon, anxious and red-faced, reappeared… Squeezing my hand so hard, it felt crushed from the pressure, he spoke with a grating whisper, a quiet growl, into my ear, not a love message, but one I’ll always remember: “After tomorrow those goddamn Kennedys will never embarrass me again – that’s no threat – that’s a promise.”. It’s important to note that John J. McCloy was a member of the now discredited Warren Commission which “investigated” the assassination, appointed by none other than Johnson. Nixon himself was in Dallas on the day of the assassination
Level 5: Stay in Office
Your challenge is to stay in office. It’s 1967. The Garrison Trial in New Orleans is bringing national attention to your role in the Kennedy assassination in a clever and deliberately roundabout way. Though not naming you directly, Jim Garrison introduces evidence that condemns you as he tries Clay Shaw for conspiracy, and Americans witness the Zapruder film (1) for the first time. Even members of the Warren Commission, particularly Hale Boggs, begin to question Johnson’s role in the assassination.
By the time Garrison started to present his case, Hale Boggs, a member of the Warren Commission, suspected President Johnson was personally involved in the assassination as an accessory after the fact, as it was clear the FBI and CIA immediately began destroying evidence and withholding it from the Warren Commission itself from day one.
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1967. Ramsey Clarke and Johnson discuss the Jim Garrison case, i.e. Warren Commission member Hale Boggs noting that “Johnson could be found in it some place” in regards to the Kennedy assassination.
Johnson had been following the Garrison case from the very beginning. Above is a conversation he had with Attorney General Ramsey Clark regarding the trial, the media’s “jaundiced eye”, and Hale Boggs’ belief that not only was the assassination a conspiracy, but that “Johnson could be found in it some place…”
At that point Johnson asked “Is uh, who did Hale tell this to? …Did Hale tell the district attorney down there that I could be found in it some place?”
Ramsey gives him a name, but it is very difficult to discern due to the poor quality of the tape. As was the case with the constant surveillance of Jim Garrison and any public figure who questioned the lone assassin theory or the integrity of the Magic Bullet Theory, he added that the “FBI had lots of eyes and ears with a fellow like Hale Boggs.” That the FBI would be investigating a member of the Warren Commission which was tasked with discovering the truth about the assassination was telling in and of itself.