President Ford spoke of a JFK plot, says former French president

Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford (left) looks on as Chief Justice Earl Warren presents the Commission’s report to President Lyndon Johnson

It was a private moment between two aspiring statesmen.

On the evening of May 19, 1976, President Valery Giscard d’Estaing of France visited President Gerald Ford in Washington. Giscard, a calculating centrist, had come for a state visit. Ford, the former Michigan congressman, had succeeded the disgraced Richard Nixon. Both men were new to their high offices.

In the limousine ride to the state banquet at George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon, Giscard asked Ford about a sensitive issue: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy 13 years before.

‘Here is an indiscrete question, Giscard said, “You were with the Warren Commission. What was your take?’

Ford, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives in 1963, served on the Warren Commission, which investigated Kennedy;s assassination and concluded there was no conspiracy.

Valery Giscard D'Estaing

Former French president Valery Giscard D’Estaing

Publicly, Ford defended the lone gunman finding. Privately, he offered a different opinion, according to Giscard.

‘It is not satisfactory,” Ford replied according to Giscard. “We first concluded that it was not an isolated crime, it was something organized. We were sure that it was organized. But we were unable to find out by who it was organized’

Giscard told the same story to Le Parisien magazine in 2013.

He said Ford told him, “We came to the conclusion that this assassination had been prepared. There was a conspiracy. But we were not able to identify which organization had sponsored it. ”

Ford’s Edit

Such a comment, if Ford actually made it, would be out of character. Publicly, Ford adamantly rejected the idea that Kennedy had been killed by a conspiracy. He said the suggestion was “communist propaganda.”

During the Commission’s investigation, Ford was eager to disprove any suggestion of a conspiracy, perhaps too eager. When a draft of the Commission’s report described the location of one of Kennedy’s wounds, Ford suggested change the initial description of the bullet wound in Kennedy’s back to place it higher up in his body, according to the Washington Post.

Ford’s changes had the effect of buttressing the so-called “single bullet theory: Commission’s controversial claim that a single bullet wounded by JFK in the back, emerged from his throat and then caused five wounds in Texas Governor John Connally.

The Commission’s staff, relying on drawing made from autopsy photographs, wrote “A bullet had entered his back at a point slightly above the shoulder to the right of the spine.”

Back or Neck?

Ford proposed changing the sentence to, “A bullet had entered the back of his neck at a point to the right of the spine.”

By locating the entrance wound in the back of the neck, Ford made it more plausible for the Commission to claim that the bullet exited Kennedy’s throat.

The Commission accepted his change with a slight modification: “A bullet had entered the base of the back of his neck and slightly to the right of his spine.”

That conclusion–which Connally himself rejected–was key to the Commission’s lone gunman findings. It was forensically weak, as Conally’s testimony and Ford’s editorial intervention demonstrated.

[The British web site 22November1963 has a lucid and fair assessment of the single-bullet theory, which concludes it is not credible.]

Pardon?

Perhaps Giscard simply misunderstood what Ford said. As Giscard showed in a 2016 appearance, his command of the language is decent but he is not entirely comfortable speaking English.

In the preface to a 2007 book on the Warren Commission, Ford left open the possibility of conspiracy. He acknowledged that the CIA had concealed relevant evidence from JFK investigators about its plots to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 1963

“Given the new facts, could there have been a conspiracy?” Ford wrote. “Conceivably. But no verified evidence to date shows a link to, or any direct involvement by, any government agency, federal employees, or subversive group.”

Ford died in 2007.

Giscard, who served as French president from 1974 to 1981, is still alive and living in France. He concluded that JFK was killed by his enemies.

“So, there was an organization — undisclosed to this day –- who hated or feared President Kennedy and who decided to eliminate him,” Giscard said. “It’s my conviction”.

H/T Philippe Cassard

 

5 comments

  1. ed connor says:

    The British website provides a concise explanation and refutation of Specter’s single bullet theory, but one more point should be added:
    A bullet exiting JFK’s throat at the midline, above the Adam’s apple, would necessarily involve damage to the bony architecture of the cervical spine. There is no way to get there otherwise.
    JFK’s cervical x-rays were normal.
    Connally, as he and his wife always maintained, was struck by a separate bullet.Watch the Zapruder film and you will see him react far later than the president. The “lapel flap” is a concoction from Lattimer, Bugliosi, Myers and their ilk.

  2. Bill Banks says:

    Your reservations about Giscard’s English are a useful caveat. The aside with Ford probably aided sales of the book. Here is a snippet from Giscard’s Wikipedia entry:

    “In 1982, along with his friend Gerald Ford, he co-founded the annual AEI World Forum. He took part, with a prominent role, in the annual Bilderberg private conference. He has also served on the Trilateral Commission after being president, writing papers with Henry Kissinger.”

    The Wiki piece also discusses Giscard’s foreign policy doings in a separate section. I am doubtful that Dick Chaney would have been agreeable to the whole of them.

    —————–

    I know nothing of anatomy or forensic pathology. However, that a spy service, “professional assassins,” or the like would shoot from two (or more) directions to blame a single patsy… Let alone that he was captured alive.

  3. Ernest Sharpe says:

    This falls in the category of those oddities that are too good to be true but hard to dismiss out of hand, such as the time Jimmy Carter saw a UFO. Nothing sounds less like Ford but why should Giscard make it up? Assuming for the moment that he did not misunderstand, I can think of one possible explanation. The fact that Giscard asked the question reveals his bias. Ford likely sensed this. Perhaps he wanted to build a rapport and felt Giscard would take a “lone nut” reply as a perfunctory political lie. So he gave Giscard what he thought the Frenchman wanted to hear, but deliberately vague and abbreviated. The consequences would be small. Giscard would likely honor Ford’s “candor” and if he didn’t, it could be chalked up to the language issue. Viva le boo-boo!

  4. Eddy says:

    Putting aside Giscard’s potential inability to fully articulate in English it appears plausible and fascinating that Ford expressed doubt about the WC conclusions. His view fits very neatly with the idea that Ford, like other Warren Commissioners was persuaded that the Lone Gunman conclusion was essential for the Nation.

    Level one disinformation is ‘Oswald did it alone’. Level two disinformation is ‘we have doubts but will never get to the bottom of it'(Ford). Level three is ‘the CIA were forced into a benign cover-up’ by circumstances. Level four (all disinformation levels up to four are universally accepted, including by the CIA) There was a rogue group, loosely affiliated to the CIA/organised/Cuban dissidents who assassinated Kennedy.

    I am yet to discern Level 5 of the disinformation trail. Perhaps there isn’t a level 5?

  5. ger says:

    Nonetheless, Ford’s quote would be consistent – for why would an intelligence agency leave an evidentiary trail for ANYONE to be able to follow to fruition;

    As Lyman Kirkpatrick often stated: “The ideal covert operation is secret from inception to eternity.”

    Moreover, Angleton once stated that a covert operation should indicate that “anything is possible, but nothing is known with certainty.”

    There is afterall a theory that the gov’t. cannot tell the populace who killed JFK b/c they do not themselves know.

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