News Archive - Mar 2008
Forty Years Since LBJ Announced He Would Not Run
Mar 31, 2008: Forty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson stunned the nation with his announcement that he would not seek re-election for the Presidency. James R. Jones, his former appointments secretary, attributes the decision to the need to conclude the Vietnam War without distraction. Johnson indeed took steps in that direction, including scheduling 1968 peace talks with North Vietnam, talks which may have been scuttled in secret by Republican candidate Richard Nixon. Another factor in LBJ's decision may have been Robert Kennedy's entrance into the race 14 days earlier, following Eugene McCarthy's strong showing in New Hampshire. RFK's 85-day candidacy ended when he was assassinated in Los Angeles just after declaring victory in the important California primary.
Wecht Jury May Split Verdict
Mar 27, 2008: After deliberating for more than a week, the jury in the trial of outspoken forensic scientist Dr. Cyril Wecht has been unable to reach a verdict. A story in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette quotes jurors as asking the judge: "Out of the 41 counts, if any one or more count the jury cannot come to unanimous agreement on, does that constitute a hung jury?" The judge's answer was no, that the jury may return a verdict on some counts and be unable to reach agreement on others. The jury has been dismissed for the week and will return for further deliberation on Tuesday, April 1.
New JFK Assassination Books in March
Mar 14, 2008: March has brought a new crop of books, including Jefferson Morley's biography of CIA Station Chief Win Scott, entitled Our Man in Mexico. David Kaiser, historian and author of book on the Vietnam War called American Tragedy, has a new book entitled The Road to Dallas, which focuses on the evidence of an assassination plot involving organized crime and Cuban exiles. Another new book, entitled The Echo from Dealey Plaza, is written by Abraham Bolden, the first black presidential Secret Service agent. Bolden was arrested in May 1964 on counterfeit charges, but protested that he was being framed to keep him from telling the Warren Commission about lax Secret Service behavior. Bolden also told the HSCA about a 4-man team planning to kill JFK in Chicago. See an article by Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann for more on Bolden's story.
Defense Calls No Witnesses in Wecht Case
Mar 12, 2008: The defense rested in the Cyril Wecht trial without calling Dr. Wecht or indeed any witnesses at all, according to a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Legal observers were divided on the move. Pittsburgh attorney Stanton Levinson was quoted as saying: "I think that puts them in the position to argue that the case the government presented was very weak and required no response on the part of the defense, that Dr. Wecht entered a plea of not guilty, and that's sufficient." Others called it a bold move but wondered if the jury might question why no rebuttal witnesses were offered. Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday, March 17.
Wecht Trial in its Sixth Week
Mar 10, 2008: The trial of prominent forensic scientist and Warren Commission critic is in its sixth week. Dr. Wecht is charged with 41 counts of fraud and theft, related to alleged misuse of the coroner's office. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has continuing stories on the trial where the prosecution of Wecht on 41 counts of alleged fraud and misuse of the coroner's office has had its ups and downs. Some stories from the past week's sessions:
- Mar 3: Feds keep focus on unclaimed cadavers
- Mar 4: Trial explores ex-coroner's cadaver deal with Carlow
- Mar 5: Defense says Wecht had jurisdiction over unclaimed bodies
- Mar 6: Wecht lawyers take knife to cadaver claims
- Mar 6: Carlow's ex-leader says no deal for lab
- Mar 7: Former Carlow president denies Wecht deal existed
- Mar 10: Carlow official grilled about cadavers
Judge Tunheim Urges Dallas D.A. to Donate Materials to Archives
Mar 3, 2008: Judge John R. Tunheim, former chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board (pictured at left), is urging Dallas D.A. Craig Watkins to turn over recently-disclosed JFK materials to the National Archives, according to an AP story. In a letter to Watkins, Tunheim wrote that the National Archives JFK Collection "is a treasure trove of information, preserved under ideal conditions and accessible to the public." However, Watkins told the Dallas Morning News that "This is where I live, this is where it happened, and I think it would be good for tourism and good for the local economy to keep the documents at The Sixth Floor Museum." No final decision has been made. In the 1990s, the ARRB declassified millions of pages of files from various government agencies and private citizens, but the existence of the Dallas documents was not disclosed to the Board.