Lectures given for Dealey Plaza, UK, Canterbury, Kent, UK. April 26th and April 27th, 2014. Canterbury Christ Church University.
By Joan Mellen
For those who may be new to the Mac Wallace/Lyndon Johnson scenario, Mac Wallace was a young Texan who has been linked to a series of murders of witnesses to the scams and schemes of a Texas con man named Billie Sol Estes. These crimes implicated Lyndon Johnson as a U.S. Senator, as a Vice-President, and then as President of the United States. According to the urban legend that grew up around Mac Wallace, and that was based entirely upon the accusations of Estes, Mac Wallace has come down in history, if he has, as a hit man in the pay and service of Lyndon Johnson.
According to this scenario, Mac Wallace murdered between eight and seventeen people, culminating, for some, in the assassination of President Kennedy. What we can state as fact is that Mac Wallace committed one murder for which he was tried and convicted of murder with malice, what in places other than Texas was called “murder in the first degree.”
Allow me to add immediately that Billie Sol Estes, a fast talking Bible toting, schemer who made a fortune before he lost everything, was a liar, exaggerator and bragger, by his own admission. Estes used these terms testifying before a jury before he was consigned to federal prison for the second of two stints as an inmate. I must also add that there is evidence that Estes himself was involved in one or more of the murders of which he accused Mac Wallace of having committed. I interviewed Estes at his home in Granbury, Texas, and several times on the telephone as well.
Like several of Johnson’s protégé’s, including John Connally, Mac Wallace had been president of the student body at the University of Texas. This was a position that almost amounted to state political office. Mac Wallace first met Lyndon Johnson when Mac was president of the student body at the University of Texas. The perfidies of Box 13 and Johnson’s fraudulent entrance into the United States Senate – about which I found new evidence – was four years away. Johnson was an ambitious Congressman, who had lost an election to the United States Senate in 1941 and was awaiting his next opportunity, when Mac Wallace invited him to come to the University of Texas to speak before the student body. Mac Wallace wrote to Lyndon Johnson’s lawyer, Edward Clark, about Johnson’s possibly “speaking to a gathering of our campus citizens.”
When Johnson sent in the title of his presentation, “Current Trends In Government and Politics,” bland, innocuous, and dull, Mac suggested that the focus be changed to “the significance of the happenings rather than the happenings themselves.”
“We would like to know what we may expect to see happening in the future,” Mac added, instructing the Congressman on how best to reach the astute University of Texas audience. This was before the firing of Homer Rainey, the president of the university, by a McCarthy-supporting board of trustees who sheltered under the umbrella of a reactionary governor named Coke Stevenson. The University of Texas was among the best schools in the United States. Robert A. Caro, Lyndon Johnson’s biographer, in his volume about the 1948 election, has Coke Stevenson completely wrong: Stevenson was no pipe-smoking, John Wayne imitating progressive, but a racist and friend to the most right-wing elements in the state.
In his letter to Ed Clark, Mac Wallace suggests that “Mr. Johnson,” he does not say Congressman, he is not impressed by titles, “send us a supply of his campaign literature so that we may distribute it around the audience before the speech.” This, Mac notes, would “furnish fuel for the questions during the forum period following the speech.” Here we see a young man who is efficient, politically minded, focused and competent. The date is July 6, 1944 and it is Mac Wallace who is recruiting Lyndon Johnson, rather than the other way around.
Being President of the student body of the University of Texas would turn out to be the high point of Mac Wallace’s life. He had enlisted in the United States Marines right after high school. That he was an excellent student did not translate into his being able to afford even to attend the state university, the University of Texas at Austin. The year was 1939 and he traveled to New Orleans with the permission of his parents to join the Marines. When he reinjured his back on which he had already had a spinal fusion following a football injury, he was discharged.
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Mac Wallace made a strong effort to re-enlist, but was turned down for medical reasons. He appealed the decision, and was turned down again. He paid his own way at the University of Texas, working full-time throughout his years there, and still managed to be an A student. He also participated in every extracurricular activity available, culminating in his being elected to be president of the student body.
In late 1944, Mac Wallace suffered one of life’s blows from which you would expect a promising young man to recover, but he did not. He lost the love of his life, his college sweetheart, who chose to marry another man, a medical student. She came from a prominent family out of Beaumont, Texas, and although she admired Mac’s father, A. J. Wallace, a building contractor, the Wallace’s were not of the same social class, at the same level of respectability. She loved Mac Wallace more – she admitted to that to me – but she married his rival. Mac immediately resigned from the presidency of the University of Texas and, without graduating, moved to New York City. He attempted to build a career in academe, but could not do so.
In 1949, having fallen on hard times, Wallace, at Johnson’s invitation, had gone to work at the Department of Agriculture. Having married a woman he knew for about two weeks, and whom he did not love, he engaged in a love affair with Lyndon Johnson’s sister Josefa. Josefa, in turn, took as one of her many lovers a would-be actor and golf pro named John Douglas Kinser.
To round out this soap opera, Kinser engaged in a sexual affair with Wallace’s promiscuous wife, Mary Andre. Wallace then – in the interim before he moved on to a job at the State Department, which he had secured – drove back to Austin where he shot Kinser in cold blood: at point blank range. He was convicted by an Austin jury, a jury that was corrupted, so that although he was convicted of murder with malice, what we call first degree murder, the same jury voted to suspend his sentence, and he walked out of the courtroom on that February day in 1952 without having to serve a day in jail.
Wallace was interesting to me because almost immediately he gained employment at two aviation companies, one in Oklahoma and the other in Dallas. This was TEMCO, a company of defense contractor David Harold (D.H.) Byrd. To work for such a company, you needed a security clearance at the level of SECRET. Somehow, despite his having been convicted of capital murder, Wallace obtained that clearance. According to the received wisdom on this subject, Wallace, in thrall to Johnson, murdered the Estes witnesses as payback for Johnson’s patronage.
I thought I might write about Mac Wallace when I heard – –that the files of a former Dallas police intelligence officer named John Fraser Harrison, known to one and all by the letter “J,” had copies of the files of an Office of Naval Intelligence investigation of Wallace. (It turned out there were at least five such investigations by naval intelligence).
I had never seen any book about the Kennedy assassination that drew on classified Office of Naval intelligence documents. We have many FBI files, and CIA has shared some of its treasure trove, although there is much that we haven’t seen. In particular, I learned last month that Cuban intelligence, the DGI, had sent people to New Orleans to investigate Jim Garrison’s investigation and that the file of that investigation was in the hands of CIA, although no copy has been released to the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.
When CIA reluctantly released Fabian Escalante’s 201 file to Jeremy Gunn at the ARRB, he had to return it and it disappeared into the jaws of the Agency once more. Gunn was among the people who refused to grant me an interview for “A Farewell to Justice”; he wrote a particularly nasty letter about how he was consigned to secrecy and so couldn’t say a word.
The Mac Wallace ONI investigations by the Navy had not been analyzed or discussed in their entirety and in the context of his life and history, and this seemed a very rich opportunity for a historian. According to what I was being told, these Navy files proved that Wallace had been enlisted as a hit man in a chain of murders of which Lyndon Johnson was the sponsor.
They revealed the power of Lyndon Johnson even as a vice-president. Johnson protégé Mac Wallace, a convicted murderer, could work for a Texas defense contractor, D. H. Byrd – and gain that security clearance at the level of SECRET- and there was nothing the Office of Naval Intelligence could do about it. Byrd, famously, owned the building that housed the Texas School Book Depository, making the Mac Wallace story also a Kennedy assassination story.
Before long I heard that Mac Wallace’s fingerprint matched an unidentified print collected by the FBI from the sixth floor of the School Book Depository at the time of the assassination and presently residing in the National Archives among its Warren Commission exhibits. If Wallace worked for Johnson, if Wallace was one of the young University of Texas graduates whom Johnson gathered under the umbrella of his perfidies, maybe Johnson himself could be demonstrated to have been the sponsor of the Kennedy assassination!
John Simkin here at the Education Forum raised an eyebrow. Since Wallace was identified with Johnson, would Johnson be so dumb as to have sent him to Dealey Plaza, for whatever purpose, thereby implicating himself? Would Johnson have dared take such a risk? Simkin was then dismissed as a party pooper and his caution ignored. This wasn’t fun at all, the cold hand of logic applied to what was otherwise a sexy story.
I’d like to say a few words about that Office of Naval Intelligence file. Certainly it’s unique. I’d never seen an internal naval intelligence file like this, especially one that begins in 1951 and continues all the way to 1964. Most years the Navy reinvestigated Mac Wallace, checking to see whether he in fact still occupied the position he held, first at TEMCO, and then after he moved to California at Ling Electronics in 1961. With each investigation, the Navy recommended that Mac Wallace’s security clearance at the level of SECRET be revoked and denied.
The grounds on which this recommendation was made don’t take us very far in examining Mac Wallace’s relationship with Lyndon Johnson or the connection of either of them to the Kennedy assassination. The Navy investigators objected to Mac Wallace on two grounds. One was that he was a sexual pervert. Examined, that meant that he and his wife Andre committed acts of oral sex. Since there was evidence that she had engaged in lesbian relationships, perhaps he was a homosexual. In those years, that was the other meaning of “sexual pervert.”
The other ground the Navy pursued for declaring Mac Wallace a security risk was that he was a political subversive. Several of the Navy’s investigations note that Wallace had been acquainted with two Communists. One was his classmate Elgin Williams, who was, indeed, a Communist and a Marxist, but whose views Mac Wallace did not share. The other was his friend Stuart Chamberlin, whom Mac Wallace did see frequently.
Finally, an arbiter for the military aptly named “Charles Wise” came in to help the Navy in its assessment of Mac Wallace. Wise stated that it was not for the U.S. military to pass judgment on what went on in people’s marriages. Further, there was no evidence that Mac Wallace was a Communist, Marxist or subversive.
The FBI did two security investigations on Mac Wallace. One was when he was leading demonstrations protesting the trustees’ firing of University of Texas president, Homer Rainey. The other was when Mac was hired by the Department of Agriculture and, like every other federal employee, was subjected to a security investigation. Both times the Bureau concluded that Mac Wallace was not a Communist. Charles Wise noticed that Mac Wallace omitted from his annual personnel security questionnaire his arrests for drunken driving and public intoxication. This was unfortunate but it did not make him a security risk. (Mac Wallace was a functioning but serious alcoholic for most of his life).
Still, Wise did not want to butt heads with the Navy unnecessarily. Because the Office of Naval Intelligence was so adamant, Wise recommended that Mac Wallace’s security clearance be lowered. In 1964, his clearance was lowered from SECRET to CONFIDENTIAL. In practice, this meant that Wallace’s security clearance disappeared. For the sensitive work he did at Ling, including work with a linear particle accelerator (shades of the murder of Mary Sherman in New Orleans!) CONFIDENTIAL meant that he had no clearance at all. Whatever his relationship with Lyndon Johnson, Johnson did nothing to intervene and help him, and his status at Ling was forever jeopardized.
Where Mac had been traveling to Stanford to work on the linear particle accelerator, he now was removed permanently from that project. When Mac Wallace’s college sweetheart visited San Francisco, he wanted to take her up to Stanford to show her the linear particle accelerator, but couldn’t. The year was 1965 and it was the last time they saw each other.
The most recent incarnation of the “Lyndon Johnson was the sole sponsor of the Kennedy assassination” scenario, (assisted by his factotum Cliff Carter and/or his lawyer Ed Clark) is the book by Roger Stone. It’s called “The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ” and the cover features a photograph of a standing Lyndon Johnson. Stone’s follows a decade of books and videos positing the same “theory,” if we can call it that.
You know these books: one was by Barr McClellan, who, misusing Norman Mailer’s term “faction,” so confounds fantasy and fiction with reality that he offers Mac Wallace’s thoughts when he woke up on the morning of the assassination and knew what he had to do. (“Faction” requires that at least some of the material be factual). McClellan also creates a relationship between Mac Wallace and Lee Oswald, who surely, McClellan says, were kindred spirits. Wallace recruited Oswald, McClellan tells us. Weren’t they both Marxists?
It helps not to know the fundamentals. McClellan could easily have done the research that would have told him that Mac Wallace had never been a Marxist of any stripe. As for Oswald, had McClellan familiarized with the good research of many historians looking into the assassination, had he read Don DeLillo’s brilliant novel, “Libra,” he would have realized that Oswald was a low level intelligence operative, and that, as Jim Garrison discovered, not only was he not a “lone assassin,” but he was rarely alone.
Oswald’s companions in Louisiana were members of the INS, FBI and U.S. Customs (Orestes Pena emphasized that, from firsthand observation) as well as CIA contract sources like Clay Shaw and David Ferrie. Another was Thomas Edward Beckham, about whom I present some new observations in the Updated edition of “A Farewell to Justice.” I’m reminded of that 1992 document from CIA’s History Review Group that asserts that Clay Shaw was a “highly paid CIA contract source,” which we discussed yesterday.
Oswald’s FBI handler in New Orleans was Warren de Brueys, who died a few months ago. Mr. de Brueys was very accommodating to researchers, and if people didn’t go to see him, it was because they didn’t want to know what he had to tell them. We know that J. Walton Moore, who ran the CIA field office in Dallas sent that man for hire George de Mohrenschildt to “keep tabs” on Oswald, de Mohrenschildt’s locution.
There are other “LBJ and LBJ alone did it” books. Tom Bowden, who used to run a conspiracy museum in Dealey Plaza, stated on a video produced by a Frenchman named William Reymonde that the Kennedy assassination was an example of “Texas justice” and that only Texans were involved. Other books include one by Phil Nelson; that fantasy called The Men On The Sixth Floor which features a Chickasaw Indian named Loy Factor; a video by Lyle Sardie called LBJ: A Closer Look which gives us Factor in the flesh; and a legendary unpublished manuscript by an amateur named Stephen Pegues which makes many charges about the TEXAS MAFIA, but offers no substantive probative evidence of their direct connection with LBJ.
Because it enjoys an underground reputation – it was said that Billie Sol Estes himself owned the copyright – I read the Pegues manuscript several times. Its assertions about Lyndon Johnson’s Mafia connections fall more into the category of opinion and speculation than evidence. This is not to exonerate Lyndon Johnson, who was the most successful thief, embezzler, and blackmailer – as well as murderer – than anyone who has occupied the office of the presidency.
Stephen Pegues worked closely with Billie Sol Estes and his manuscript makes a considerable effort to present Billie Sol Estes as a good-hearted honest man whose accusations against Mac Wallace we should believe because Pegues tells us to. The manuscript is laden with profanity as if the aggressiveness of the language was being put to work to prove, by some sleight of hand, the truth of the author’s assertions. It has not been published since Pegues’ death not because its evidence is so startling and so subversive as because the writing is abysmal. I had J Harrison’s copy of the manuscript and there wasn’t a single end note or source note. J’s skeptical annotations appear in pencil on the margins.
Speaking this year at the Miami bookstore, Books & Books, which was broadcast in the U.S. on C-Span’s Book TV, Stone referred to Mac Wallace without ambiguity as “the assassin.” From the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, Stone asserts, Mac Wallace shot President Kennedy. Wasn’t his fingerprint found up there? Wasn’t that print identified as his beyond a shadow of a doubt?
Here I’m going to follow the advice of Jim Garrison, advice that he had for Bobby Kennedy and that he would have offered Kennedy should he have been willing to grant a meeting to the district attorney of Orleans Parish. They actually met once, when Garrison was first elected district attorney of Orleans Parish in 1962. Chep Morrison, former mayor of New Orleans, and a Garrison supporter, had been appointed to head the Organization of American States by President Kennedy. Morrison invited Jim Garrison to Washington, D.C. to meet the President of the United States.
Garrison never met John F. Kennedy because he overslept, having been out overnight with his blonde of the moment, nicknamed “scrambled eggs.” Instead, Garrison met the Attorney General, who was furious with Garrison for having stood up his brother. Bobby, his sleeves rolled up, his feet up on his desk, kept Garrison waiting. He gave the new district attorney short shrift.
I don’t know if Bobby Kennedy held a grudge based on this trivial incident. I do know that Bobby Kennedy did everything in his power to thwart Jim Garrison’s investigation into the death of his brother. But had he agreed to meet Garrison, Bobby would have been told what Garrison often said when people wondered whether he feared that CIA or anyone else might do him harm: “Tell what you know as soon as you know it.” Make public your findings, so that those who might be inclined to silence you would lose their motive because everything you know is already public information.
John Fraser Harrison decided to pursue the issue of whether the one unidentified fingerprint in the hands of the Warren Commission belonged to Mac Wallace. That Mac Wallace had committed one murder in cold blood – that of John Douglas Kinser- made him vulnerable to such an accusation. That he had been a beneficiary of Lyndon Johnson’s largesse, that he had, indeed, done jobs for Johnson, I didn’t say murders, I said jobs, compounded the presumed felony.
And so J devoted himself to the fingerprint identification. It wasn’t easy for him to obtain the Austin police fingerprints for Mac Wallace; you had to wait 25 years after the death of the person to have access to the prints and even then there was some question about whether you had “standing” to be granted the prints. J was unrelenting, and he obtained a copy of the original fingerprint card that was created when Mac Wallace was arrested for the murder of John Douglas Kinser. It turned out to be a very sloppy print because the Austin police had a habit of not cleaning the apparatus carefully when moving from one suspect to another. It was blurry.
J then obtained a copy of the print in the hands of the National Archives, the unidentified print taken on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. Then he looked for a certified latent print examiner, and found a seasoned examiner, someone well known to the Austin authorities. His name was Nathan Darby, and he had been doing print identifications since World War II.
After working on the identifications, Darby pronounced that he had a match. I think by the time he was done, he had 34 points of match. J then decided to get a second opinion, and found a print examiner named Harold Hofmeister, who verified Darby’s identification. Shortly thereafter, Hofmeister called back and returned the check for $500, which had been issued to him by Barr McClellan. Hofmeister had changed his mind. He didn’t like the fact that he was using Xeroxes. He repudiated his own statement and said that he could not verify that it was a match.
No matter, the Darby identification, accompanied by an affidavit readily available on the internet, was announced as a fait accompli. The Austin police sent this material to the FBI, and after, I believe 18 months, the FBI lab replied that it was not a match. But who believes THEM, right?
The FBI didn’t provide any supporting material and that was pronounced disrespectful to Nathan Darby since it was a protocol of the trade when you go against an expert’s conclusions to present evidence for your decision.
So when McClellan’s book came out, when Phil Nelson’s book came out, the fingerprint identification was treated as gospel. I decided to reinvestigate the fingerprint identification because I was dubious about the accusations of Billie Sol Estes, as were many journalists in 1984 at the time when he made them. Johnson was dead. Mac Wallace was dead. Cliff Carter was dead, as everyone noted. Prior to this, Billie Sol Estes had not named Mac Wallace as someone who was involved in these murders.
Some noted that Estes had confided to a jury before he went to prison for the second time, as I mentioned earlier that he was a liar. That he was now in 1984 under oath testifying before a grand jury wouldn’t confer credibility on the testimony of someone like this.
Estes claimed to have tapes that proved his assertions, but they never became public. After his death, I called his daughter Pam, who had written a book about her father’s travail, and asked her about the tapes. I even offered to pay her, knowing that money had always been an element of the Estes culture. She gave me the cold shoulder. No amount had even been mentioned. Pam Estes added that she was involved in making two documentaries.
With the affidavits of Nathan Darby and Harold Hofmeister in hand, along with Darby’s research files that were in the custody of J Harrison, I found a certified latent print examiner, who had also been a law enforcement officer specializing in crime scene work. Most certified latent print examiners work for police departments, and so are not available to individuals. I was fortunate, and I was doubly fortunate – I went to the best – because this man had been an officer in the organization that certified these examiners. I turned over to him J Harrison’s Nathan Darby files that contained his research, his charts, and charts made over a period of two years. There were tracings. There were charts in red, green and blue. The matches were spelled out.
The first thing the examiner did was to say that something was missing. He wanted a new photograph of the unidentified print, one made by the FBI. This photograph exists in the National Archives and anyone can obtain one. When the FBI’s photograph came, it was of a very high quality, according to the examiner. He compared that photograph with two other sets of Mac Wallace’s prints. Those two sets matched each other, but neither matched the print that had been lifted at the Texas School Book Depository at the time of the Kennedy assassination.
One day the latent print examiner called me with some other information. He had contacts at the headquarters of the organization that certified examiners and they went into the file of Nathan Darby. They discovered a note in the file. Not only was Nathan Darby not certified when he swore on that affidavit that he was, but there was a note in his file stating that should he request re-certification, that certification would be denied.
In fairness to Nathan Darby, allow me to add that the computer technology of fingerprint identifications has advanced since the late 1990’s when he worked on these prints. If you ask my opinion, I would say that Darby believed that the two sets of prints matched. They do not. Hoffmeister was dubious about those Austin prints and believed that they were poor Xeroxes and he preferred to take back his original identification. In retrospect, his caution turns out to have been well-advised.
If you don’t have the fingerprint, you can’t place Mac Wallace at Dealey Plaza, and if you can’t place Mac Wallace at the scene of the assassination, your best piece of evidence that Lyndon Johnson was behind the assassination disappears. And there is other evidence casting doubt on that fingerprint identification that I’ll convey in my book.
Why do we have this sudden spate of books insisting that Lyndon Johnson was the master mind behind the Kennedy assassination? Why? These books have two elements in common: all of them ignore the evidence developed by Jim Garrison and based on Oswald’s time in Louisiana and all rely on the “evidence” that Mac Wallace was at the Texas School Book Depository on November 22nd, 1963. These books remind me of another spate of books offering a sponsor for the assassination that did not include government agencies. These posited the Mafia as coming up with the plan to assassinate President Kennedy. They began, perhaps, with John Davis’s Mafia Kingfish and proceeded to Robert Blakey’s book that Richard Billings wrote for him, unhappily, Billings told me when I interviewed him. Another example of this genre is a book called Ultimate Sacrifice by Lamar Waldron and Tom Hartmann. There’s an entire dossier pointing out all the errors in that book compiled by one Malcolm Blunt, who is in this room.
Among the assertions posited in several of the Mafia dunnit books is that Carlos Marcello, Mafia don of Louisiana and Texas, was angry at the Kennedy’s because Bobby had him kidnapped off the streets of New Orleans and bundled off to Guatemala without even his toothbrush! Those who put forth this view forget that Bobby Kennedy was not entirely an enemy of the Mafia. During Mongoose, a 1963 effort to rid us once and for all of Fidel Castro, which Bobby pursued with enthusiasm, he had his CIA assistant Charles Ford, aka Charlie Fiscalini, take a trip to Canada to locate organized crime hit men to assist in the assassination of Fidel Castro.
I believe the source, a very indignant CIA officer named Sam Halpern, who was sitting there working on Mongoose, his office near to Bobby Kennedy’s, and observing the whole thing. Halpern was angry because, a loyal officer of CIA, he resented that the Agency was being blamed for what Bobby was doing. Charles Ford happened to remark to Halpern that he was going outside the United States on an assignment for Bobby, which was how the Canada information came out.
I have not yet completed my work on Malcolm Everett Wallace. Nor am I through with Lyndon Johnson and his crimes and misdemeanors. I will say, for now, that they rise to the highest and most vicious crime of which a person may be found guilty, a crime that goes far beyond a simple murder.
This was Lyndon Johnson’s role in the terrible events of June 8, 1967 involving the USS Liberty. They reveal that Johnson, unique among U.S. Presidents, was a war criminal, his personal actions resulting in the deaths of 34 members of the U.S. military. I plan to discuss these events and their implications for how history will be compelled to view this terribly immoral man in my new book about Mac Wallace and Lyndon Johnson.