Thursday, January 31, 2013
Curtis LeMay on the Kennedys and the assassination-WOW!!
Frantz : Where were you at the time of the assassination?
LeMay : I was in Washington at the time--the Chief of Staff of the Air Force .
Frantz : You were at work on that particular day?
LeMay : No, I was off some place, at the actual time of the assassination, I was
called back .
Frantz: Yes, what was the situation that you found when you got back to Washington?
Was there a little bit of tenseness or was it pretty well decided that Lee
Harvey Oswald was just after one man?
LeMay: Well there wasn't much of a flap . Everybody was a little concerned that they
didn't know what made the attack, the assassination, so they wanted
everybody present for duty . That's the reason they were called back.
Frantz: Was there any great difference between working on the Joint Chiefs under
Johnson than it had been with Kennedy or did the fact that you had the same
Secretary of Defense insure the continuity?
LeMay : No, I didn't understand exactly what was going on . For several months
before the President was assassinated they were rumors, and then they
got to be a little more than rumors, Vice President Johnson was going to
be dropped for the coming election . And all the Kennedy team was finally
got to openly to giving to the Vice President to the back of their hands,
and it was rather embarrassing for the country around Washington because
it was so apparent . Then bang, all at once he is President .
Frantz : Yes.
LeMay : And I believe all of this hard feeling grew up around the flight from Fort
Worth back was brought on by these people who had really been vulgar in
my opinion and snubbing the Vice President who expected to be stepped on
like the cockroaches they were, and he didn't do it . As a matter of fact
quite the contrary . From all I got the President was extremely polite to
Mrs . Kennedy and the family and bent over backwards to do everything he
could to soften the blow if that is possible . It isn't, but he certainly
was a Southern gentleman in every respect during this period . And I think
this rather surprised these people because they expected the same kind of
treatment that they had given him and he didn't give it to him . Why, I don't
know : I really don't know because well I can understand in having to face
an election and I can understand him being a smart enough politician to
know if he threw out all of the Kennedy crowd and put his in, this might
split the Democratic party at the time in the next election and so forth .
So I can understand him keeping these people around until the election was
over, but then he won the election--he won it with the greatest majority
that any President has ever had, but he still kept these people around .
The same people that had treated him so miserably during this period just
before President Kennedy's assassination .
Frantz : This is curious .
LeMay : Yes . I could never understand, never could figure it out yet . The only
answer I could come up with is that knowing the vindictiveness of these
people, knowing the moral standards of these people, how ruthless that
they were, they must have had some threat over the President that he
knew that they would carry out .
Frantz: Did you get the feeling that he was satisfied with Secretary McNamara's
performance as Defense Secretary?
LeMay : I don't know that I can answer that question . It would seem that if he
wasn't satisfied, why he would have gotten a new one early in the period .
Afterwards I think he was actually dismissed finally . Things got so bad
that he had to get rid of him, but he did it in such a way to make it look
like it was a normal progression .
Frantz: Did you ever get any idea where he stood on this manned-bomber vs . missile
LeMay: Well I don't know that there was a manned-bomber vs . missile controversy,
one being "either," "or ." We never believed that in the Air Force or any
place else . We thought we needed both . We needed both . As a matter of
fact, I get credit for being the big bomber General . Can't see anything
beyond the blinders . When I was in the research and development business
after the war started all in the big missile programs, the Atlas and the
Navaho and the basic facilities that gave us the missiles, we had to have
them, still like we have to have them and that we need both, we need both .
Frantz: There was it seemed to me at this time an outbreak of increased emphasis on
missiles and loss of flexibility of the manned equipment .
LeMay : It became apparent to me that McNamara's goal was to try to build a strategic
force that was equal to the Russian force . Sort of dragged his feet until
the Russians built up to what we were equal . These men believed that if
we were equal in strength then there wouldn't be any war . Well this is
an indication of how impractical these type of people are . To me this is
the best way of guaranteeing a war because you can only have peace if you
have a mutual respect between people, and if you don't have that and one
is plotting against the other, then eventually when he thinks he can get
away with it, he will come attack you . This has always been true in
history in the past . If they have got something you want and if he thinks
he can get it, he goes and gets it . This is just a human history . Even
if by some miracle you could design these two forces where they would be
equal, will everybody think they are equal? You can't control men's
minds . Then, if by some miracle you can design these tLwo forces, how long
are they going to stay equal? One is an opened society ; the other a closed
society . When is the closed society going to come up with a breakthrough
on some weapon system that will give them a tremendous advantage that you
don't know anything about? You're handicapping the open society by such
an arrangement . So I believe this is what Mr . McNamara was aiming at,
although he would never admit it any place along the line . He wouldn't
admit it now, I am sure, but that was what it was aimed at, and I honestly
believe that he thought about 1000 minuteman missiles would be enough for