In her review of David Talbot’s new book,The Devil’s Chessboard (“Checkmate on The Devils Chessboard”, Consortium NewsOctober 27, 2015), Lisa Pease provides a succinct summary of Talbot’s impressive work. With one notable exception, she has nothing but praise for his seminal research. That exception relates to his reference to E. Howard Hunt’s “final confession” identifying LBJ as the top of the chain of command that brought about the death of JFK, which is not congruent with the conventional wisdom she and her fellow “researchers” have been so anxious to avoid.
Her review isolates that premise as follows:
While Talbot has the facts right in the broad strokes, if not all the small details, his focus was, in my opinion, a tad misplaced in spots. For example, he appears to believe E. Howard Hunt’s deathbed “confession,” which many in the research community do not.
Hunt, a career intelligence officer who became infamous as a leader of Nixon’s Watergate burglary team, implicated President Lyndon B. Johnson in the plot to kill Kennedy, which has never made sense to me. If LBJ was so ruthless that he killed his way to the presidency, why did he decide not to run again in 1968? Historically, when people have killed their way to the throne, they do not voluntarily abdicate it.
But E. Howard Hunt was far from alone in fingering LBJ as “the pivotal player” or, as I prefer to cite him, “the mastermind”. Madeleine Duncan Brown, Billy Sol Estes, Barr McClellan, and no less than Jack Ruby were strongly of that opinion, where Ruby told reporters dogging him during his appearance before Earl Warren that the motives of the principals were very tangible and that they should be looking at “the man at the top”.