The 38th US President Gerald Rudolph Ford: “An American tragedy in which we all have played a part” – “If Lincoln were alive today, he’d be turning over in his grave.” – Gerald R. Ford.
Born in 1913 in Omaha, Nebraska, he studied law at Yale and during the Second World War he served in the US Navy. He became a member of the House of Representatives for the Republican Party from 1949 to 1973. By 1965 he became the minority leader.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RCczaSKs9Y&feature=player_detailpage ( Lyndon Johnson tapes: Gerald Ford on Warren Commission)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eZfS-oly10&feature=player_detailpage (Gerald Ford confirms CIA involvement in the JFK assassination)
He was appointed Vice-President under President Richard Nixon after the resignation of Spiro Agnew in 1973. When President Richard Nixon resigned over the Watergate scandal Gerald Ford became the new President, obviously as such without electoral mandate. He was pushed to this highest office in the US without knowing at the time of becoming Vice President that this would be his fate in the future. He took this office on his shoulders with the responsibilities neither he nor his wife really wanted, but obviously he did it and got a lot of praise. His controversial decision to give Richard Nixon a full pardon and as such avoiding any further Watergate investigations, besides the problems in the US economy at the time, contributed generally to a low-level popularity. The further details will be discussed later in this article.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_r2T9IlXYUM&feature=player_detailpage (Gerald Ford’s testimony on the Pardon of Richard Nixon – Part 10)
US Congress during his Presidency was dominated by the Democratic Party, and both his external and domestic policy plan’s were rejected. He served only 2 years as US President and during the 1976 Presidential elections he was defeated by Jimmy Carter.
One of his publications after his Presidency was “Humor and the Presidency” in 1987. In his memoirs just before his death he revealed that the CIA was involved in the assassination on President John F Kennedy. Speaking in retrospect, his first publication dit fit him quite well as he had a friendly sense of humor and note that he was generally well liked, regardless his controversial decision to give Richard Nixon a full Presidential pardon for what he inflicted during his years in the White house.
Interestingly he did receive for this “Presidential Nixon Pardon” ‘The Profile in Courage Award” at the Kennedy Library in Boston in May 2001. Why this is so interesting will be revealed later in this article as it will be clear that the perceptions on this Presidential Pardon are different, or at least valued differently.
Gerald Ford took over as the 38th US President after serving under Nixon since the 12th of October 1973 as his Vice President. The former Vice-President at the time Spiro Agnew resigned on the 10th of October as due to proven corruption and Nixon asked both Congress and Hoover (FBI Chief) for advise about the succession of Vice President Agnew.
Gerald Ford had an impressive background with both good relations within the CIA and the FBI. Only 10 years before he served within the Warren Commission. The Warren Commission initiated under President Johnson had the purpose to reach a conclusion on those involved in the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. As most of us know in retrospect, – the purpose of the Warren Commission was to suppress the truth on the JFK assassination. Ford was once called “the CIA man” in Congress.
Only one month into his Presidency, Ford pardoned Richard Nixon completely avoiding as such further investigations into the Watergate scandal. Some assumed this was an act of courage whilst others criticised Ford for doing this. What we know is that he took this decision within the first 100 days in office without – reportedly – consultation with any of his staff or other advisers.
Was the background of this decision a real act of moral courage or was there more to this decision? He made the decision reportedly on his own, based on his knowledge and his own assessment of the situation.
Let’s go back to Gerald Ford’s role in the Warren Commission. Ford always defended the lone gunman theory within the identified cause of death by the Warren Commission. He had excellent relations with the FBI Chief Hoover at the time. Deliberately and against all usual protocol he did help FBI Chief Hoover by providing him all the in’s and out’s of the Warren Commission in private and “confidential”, as such allowing Hoover to keep an eye on those members who would perhaps not follow Allen Dulles verdict on the “lone gunman theory”. There were clearly 2 members of the Warren Commission having some reservations on both the process and the verdict and even though not all evidence reached the Warren Commission (Allen Dulles was in a place to avoid at least some part to reach the Commission), it was clear from the beginning that the CIA played a most controversial role. Some people within the Warren Commission knew more than others and Gerald Ford (“the CIA man in Congress”) together with the FBI Chief Hoover was in full agreement that the truth should never allowed to become public. The truth was that it was an inside job from the CIA, authorised by the highest levels of the Executive branch of the US Government. Hence the lone gunman theory was supposed to be the only possible allowed verdict for both the US and Congress. A hard lie to be swallowed. However Gerald Ford went on national television to defend the findings of the Warren Commission in a convincing way.
If the broader involvement of the Executive branch would be public knowledge with the people who had knowledge of the pending events on the 22nd of November 1963, this would have cause the most dramatic Constitutional crisis ever in US history at the time. The US would not accept one of its most popular Presidents being killed with gross government involvement. With Ford’s insight in the CIA and his “absolute pardon” for Richard Nixon, he wanted to avoid further damaging investigations in which the CIA would be exposed. Even 10 years after the Warren Commission report.
The point is that the “Watergate” burglars played a role in the Kennedy assassination as well and the CIA played a role in the Watergate break in as it was assumed that the Democratic Party had access to some top-secret documents and photographs related to the JFK assassination. Especially imaging from a police helicopter would slash the Lee Harvey Oswald theory on his involvement, besides the fact the latter fully revealed Zapruder film ruled out the lone gunman theory. The Watergate burglary took place on the 28th of May and the 17th of June 1972.
Nixon used the provisions of the 25th Amendment to nominate Gerald Ford as his new Vice President. The FBI facilitated payments meanwhile to the burglars via “the Committee to Reelect President Nixon” in 1972. H. W. Bush (the later President) was the head of this Committee and claimed until the last Nixon tapes being released that Richard Nixon was innocent. The question as well is whether the later President H.W. Bush was completely honest in his assessment of President Nixon being innocent at the time, as history shows in its facts and documentation that H.W. Bush had more background information about the JFK assassination and those who were involved.
FBI Chief Edward Hoover died meanwhile on the 2nd of May 1972. The acting Head of the FBI then L Patrick Gray was ordered to save the situation for Nixon and had to destroy evidence from the safe of Howard Hunt on his assignments and working schedule for the CIA. Hunt was both involved in Watergate and the assassination of JFK. Because of this destruction of evidence after taking those documents from Howard Hunt’s safe, L Patrick Gray had to resign from the FBI. E Howard Hunt then made claims at the White House as he wanted to avoid conviction, but after the suspicious death of his wife he did plead guilty to the Watergate burglary, being concerned about the rest of his family.
Coming back on history: with Gerald Ford’s background in the Warren Commission’s corruption of evidence of the JFK assassination, FBI Chief Hoover advised Nixon that after the corruption scandal with his first Vice President Spiro Agnew, Gerald Ford would be his best option if his own Presidency would come into danger. With Gerald Ford perhaps being the next President, any secrets of widespread involvement in the JFK murder would be kept secret, including the involvement of the CIA. If Gerald Ford would decide to pursue matters further with “Watergate” (both FBI Chief Hoover and Nixon were fully aware of this, the CIA included) it would both expose Gerald Ford himself to his controversial involvement in the Warren Commission, besides this it would expose Nixon, Hoover, the CIA and the systems of the Executive powers. They all had most positive relations with Gerald Ford, who once said that he had no real enemies. Gerald Ford’s assessment was correct, he had no real enemies as he never caused any real controversy apart from the “Nixon-pardon”.
Indeed, with Gerald Ford in the White House the establishment would be secured that the status quo on the most vital Government secrets would stay the same. It would not be the best reflection on the US and the world if it would prove that the highest government levels for various reasons were involved in this crime. Whilst Gerald Ford had no real enemies, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had a number of enemies as he was quite outspoken on significant issues in the US at the time. The same applies to his younger brother Robert Francis Kennedy.
It never happened before that a US President was assassinated by a miliary related Agency of the US Government with authority from major powers within this government. The reasons for this assassination would be much revealing for the nature and standards of this US Government, hence regardless the implications all efforts being in place to suppress the truth with all possible and available means. Besides this, from one thing other issues may evolve. It never happened either that a Senator from New York being succesful in the run up to Presidential elections, with a good sense of social justice and strong anti-war sentiments, would be assassinated by the same background powers who were in this case responsible for the death of his older brother, – the late 35th US President.
If Watergate would be reopened Howard Hunt’s case would be likely first investigated. If he would tell everything he knew, including all the connections he had with people connected to “The Bay of Pig crisis”, the CIA and others, – the JFK assassination would likely be far more important then the real Watergate burglary itself. The RFK assassination could be well involved in this as well.
Gerald Ford was fully aware of the potential implications as he was already a compromised person before he even became Vice President. Whilst in function as US President stating to the public that “The long national nightmare is over” and that “Our Constitution works” he was simply not telling the truth. The nightmare was not over and other Presidents after John F Kennedy would make matters even worse, in different areas of secrecy being required and cover up’s being considered “normal” now from the perception of various governments
Gerald Ford simply compromised himself (again actually) to prevent the national nightmare from 1963 and those who were involved to be exposed (through all pending hearings). This was the reason for the Nixon pardon, as “Watergate” would otherwise open “a can of worms”.
Obviously Gerald Ford protected with this the many who were involved, and even perhaps not knowing this Howard Hunt’s life, though the last was not really a priority. If it would come either to further court or Senate hearings, most likely Hunt would be assassinated by the CIA beforehand. This happened with a number of witnesses before. The suspicious death of Hunt’s wife was for Hunt himself a warning not to take matters further. Gerald Ford knew about the danger of Hunt going to speak in court if so required. Hunt knew too much and was far too much involved.
Rather than that it proved the Constitution did work, it proved that the Constitution did not work. It does raise the question on which principles did Gerald Ford publicly show that the Constitution did work. Which principles did he defend? If some speak about the courage of Gerald Ford when he gave Nixon full pardon, as such preventing that a more evil truth would become public (the evil of a corrupt government system involved in the JFK assassination), the question is then how to define this courage. It does raise the question as well what sort of Constitution did work. Needless to say that this was not the US Constitution, neither was it the Constitution of people seeking more honesty in government policy.
Time after time US Presidents would compromise the same US Constitution and mislead the public on the most significant issues of their time with backdoor dealings neither being justified nor lawful, and Congress being a lame duck, not having the political ability or determination to solve matters for once and for all.
Democracy for the US proved to be a charming Government with neither however too much substance nor integrity among the few who were able to manipulate the opinions of the many, as part of the authority and the powers they were entrusted based on the same US Constitution. The last so often being compromised by people trying even to manipulate this Constitution for their own secret endeavours. The way to Justice is long with many obstacles on the road and in US history many of such obstacles neglected, which made that the power of Democracy and the intend of the US Constitution suffered.
James Madison, the 4th US President, would have raised the same concerns if he was able to watch only once more over the ongoing Government corruption. Ford was part of this, whatever he did good, – he was part of the cover up in the JFK assassination. Part of the cover up to protect Nixon to leave the past to the past. President Ford’s own press secretary resigned after his “Nixon – pardon”.
People in the US who fled to Canada to avoid fighting in the Vietnam war as an act of conscious were either prosecuted or only got a conditional pardon. People with little or no conscious in the JFK assassination walked free, as much as possible protected. Witnessed were killed, evidence was disrupted and compromised. Prosecution was prevented by the highest officials in Government even 10 years after the JFK assassination. Ford was part of this from the beginning. He knew it was a Coupe d’Etat and he knew who were behind it and as US President he could have made a different choice at the beginning of his Presidency, but he could not do it as too many others were involved and he did not know what it would do to the future in general, and his future as well.
Gerald Ford did promote Donald Rumsfeld (to be discussed later again) to help him to set the priorities for his Presidential direction. Rumsfeld became the President’s right hand. If we look at history how matters evolved with Rumsfeld even coming up again in the last Bush Administration, and in various Republican Administrations before, – this choice was not the best choice. However Gerald Ford could perhaps not know this at the time. Henry Kissinger stayed on in Ford’s foreign policy team and they worked in good coöperation.
Donald Kendell , President of Pepsi – Cola, was considered to be “the eyes and ears” of the CIA in Cuba. The day before the JFK assassination he was meeting with Nixon. The Watergate burglars were tied up with both the Kennedy assassination and the Bay of Pigs. At least one of the Watergate burglars was on the CIA payroll on the 17th of June 1972 (Eugenio Martinez). The other Watergate conspirators included ex- FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy, ex – CIA agents james McCord and E. Howard Hunt, Bernard Barker, Frank Sturgis and Virggilo Gonzales. Hunt being deeply involved in the Bay of Pigs operations retired later from the CIA . Ford knew this. He became even the Covert Operations Chief for President Nixon. Several reports do show that Hunt was in Dallas on the 22nd of November 1963 when JFK was assassinated. Marita Lorenz testified under oath that she observed him paying off an assassination team in Dallas the night before the JFK murder.
Obviously Nixon was most concerned when Hunt’s involvement with Watergate (with the others) would came to light, with the previous connections he had. Nixon’s aide John Ehrlichman was instructed by Nixon to order the acting FBI Director to remove 6 written files from Hunt’s personal safe. Gray did as he was told and burnt those files in his fireplace. He took the brunt for it and had to resign, which reflects how well the buffer systems in the White House do work as the issue was not further investigated. John Dean, council to the President, shredded Hunt’s operational diary. The latest Nixon tapes are studded with deletions, especially discussions about Hunt, the Bay of Pigs and JFK. In May 1972 Nixon disclosed on tape to his 2 top aides that the Warren Commission was “the greatest hoax that has ever been perpetuated.” Vice-President Ford was fully aware at the time as both he and Nixon had various background information on the JFK assassination. Hunt later did admit on CIA involvement in the JFK assassination and he fingered CIA officers Cord Meyer, David Phillips, William Harvey and David Morales.
Like former US President Eisenhower and Truman warned for the military establishment, – Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs crisis did do the same. He did treat them with courtesy and respect, but he was extremely on his guard as he realised that those “groups” had their own strong agenda, not refraining from misleading a US President if it would suit this agenda. No US President in the US since JFK took those lessons seriously on board. No legislative powers even in the US took this seriously on board as if they would have done so the previous Administration would have been impeached over the 9/11 drama’s.
A US President needs to be strong enough to rule both the CIA and the Pentagon. Most Presidents after JFK were too much compromised themselves already that rather ruling those Agencies, they became more or less puppets and allowed the Agencies to engage in activities out of all normal proportions. The last without investigations in retrospect as they were somehow able to keep Congress out of the picture.
As reflected in part in chapter 4 of these series, in retrospect there is evidence that Nixon originated the Cuban (Bay of Pigs) invasion under Eisenhower, hence his close links with those people who felt betrayed by JFK as part of JFK’s refusal not to back up this invasion with further military support from the air (once Kennedy discovered that CIA information was not correct at the time). Hence as well Nixon’s close links with both this people and the CIA, including both LBJ and including his old friend: the notorious FBI Chief Hoover.
Obviously there is far more to both the lives of Nixon and Ford during their Presidencies and afterwards, but also before they became US President. Whilst Nixon was at times very unpredictable, Ford was fairly balanced and actually quite pleasant. Despite not winning the elections in 1974 he took over the Presidency of Richard Nixon at a turbulent time and there have been much positives as well.
If you ask me whether he was a good man, I don’t hesitate to think that Gerald Ford had a better character than Richard Nixon or Johnson. People make failures in their lives, and so be it. The measure of this man is larger than what he did wrong or tried to hide, but if the question is whether he did violate justice at the time (or violate the US Constitution), the answer is 100% in the affirmative: yes, he did!
It can’t be denied that this was a touchstone of Gerald Ford’s character at the time and that this was not the courage which is prepared to lose everything for higher values and principles being at stake. What was at stake was that the principle of truth was neither allowed nor permitted to show the darkest episode in US political and Constitutional history, and Gerald Ford correctly stated that if Lincoln was alive in those days, he would turn in his grave. He correctly stated on another occasion that he was “not a Lincoln but a Ford.” In other words he was the man who avoided in the most critical time of decision making the moral obligation to stick to the truth and the US Constitution. What could not have been expected anymore from former President L.B. Johnson or Richard M. Nixon has they passed already long before the “point of no return” could have within reach of Gerald Ford. He may have had his reasons, but it was neither an act of courage nor a special service to his country that he acted the way he did in his full Presidential Pardon of Richard Milhous Nixon.
In his memoirs being published just before he died Gerald Ford did admit finally that the CIA was involved in the JFK assassination. Ford may have been however the man who did regret his involvement in the Warren Commission in the way he did, and in his case I do not rule out that this burden from the past was indeed a personal burden for him later in life after his Presidency was finished. However he did not hesitate to accept the “Profile in Courage Award” in 2001 at the JFK library in Boston, which in a way is ironic in retrospect. The examples however of courage as described in JFK’s book “Profiles in courage” are of an entirely different nature than reflected in either LBJ’ s, Nixon’s or Gerald Ford’s life.
Could Gerald Ford have dealt with the matter differently?
Let’s be honest, obviously he was not in the easiest place. It is a matter of choice , character and courage to do so and indeed with his Presidential pardon for Nixon he obstructed justice systems to work as they should do in the US. It would have been a major issue in the US if the Watergate scandal would have revealed the further background and links as being described, but it would have solved the matter for once and for all and if fully investigated (the JFK, RFK and MLK assassinations included). With some of the links to Bush senior on the JFK assassination, there would have been likely neither a W.H. Bush Administration nor a G.W. Bush Administration as the principles of governance being implemented by Congress would have prevented those people to be elected US President, – besides new legislation for the other “operating powers” in the US. The forces for justice did prove neither to be that strong in the US during the years of Gerald Ford in the White House, nor during the Presidential years after President Carter.
Fact is that the CIA has been involved in high-profile assassinations on US citizens and this created a precedent for the powers at the background to change history against the will of the voters and against the intent of the Constitution. Still applies in 2011 that those powers need to be restricted if Congress is ready to deal with this, based on historical review of events.
Generally spoken no justice provided within any Presidential Administration in whatever effort justifies to hide any of the criminal injustice of past Administrations at the level as this occurred, with the secrecy and cover up’s from LBJ until today. If the problem would have been properly tackled and resolved at the time – with still the option today it would have meant progress for the US. Once such dark secrets are allowed to be kept secret in Government systems it creates a precedent for even worse things to be kept secret if secrecy for illegal activities becomes part of “normal procedure” of Government activities. It would seem in the US that when such bad things happen they are put in the freezer of history and classified documents, and secret files are allowed to be opened some 20 to 100 years later, depending how serious the matter was. This is not the way the US will grow as both a Republic and a Democracy!
The real issue is that once gross injustice is allowed to be part of government systems, greater evil will be even allowed to be applied when it suits the Government to find an excuse to go to war, even if the reasons for going to war are fabricated.
Again, WTC 7 full of CIA intelligence and most confidential papers went down during 9/11 as a result of a controlled demolition as reflected by Ted Gunderson (former FBI Chief) and Albert Stubblebine (former Major General of all Military Intelligence). Since the JFK assassination evil systems existing and operating within the Executive branch were allowed to continue its work against the interest of US citizens.
It was President Lincoln (a Republican) who warned for allowing the President to go at war for pleasure, however most of the Republican Presidents the last 40 years have been at war as most of those US Presidents had very close links with the CIA , and other organisations not serving the real interests of the US and the world. Obviously people may view this differently but the crux is that if the books would be really opened on the past Bush Administration, and the real facts came to table, including the role of Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, – and if let’s say 9/11 was really allowed to have a full independent investigation without the usual obstructions and tampering of past investigations and evidence not even reaching the table, it would be a mind-blowing event for all those investigators being involved. Not to speak of all the US citizens if they would get an insight on issues which formed the base why this former US President and Rumsfeld and Cheney would potentially go to jail in both Germany and Switzerland if they would visit those countries The situation is of such nature that based on the relatively little information being available, the former US President Bush is already unable to travel to Switzerland without a potential arrest warrant. US citizens may get angry about the fact that a little country in Europe may convict the former US President and put him in a likely well deserved jail if he would go on holiday there, – but let’s be realistic in terms of justice. Does this not tell at least something about the past Administration, being allowed by both the public and Congress to continue to do “the job”? We’ll discuss this later.
The US is nearly bankrupt now, bankrupt of what it robbed from the US itself.
Generally spoken former President Gerald Ford despite his failures to overcome the injustice from the past , did not engage in a new war. He had a stable and pleasant personality and perhaps he has been worried that too much compromising events hitting daylight in the US at once would neither be well swallowed nor well digested. However the events around Bush Cheney and Rumsfeld in all detail being lined up in the scrutiny of justice would be for certain badly swallowed and badly digested as well. And they are all interlinked because the Legislative US Powers did not use its full recourses to regulate the Executive Powers by law and proper law enforcement.
Gerald Ford was restricted by the past by choice. He did not need to do so. He was otherwise a good President, but he would have been a great President if he would have faced this past with dignity and courage, faced this past with the required determination to make sure that “Lincoln would not turn over in his grave” by seeing what happened and what was unresolved, allowing eventually a system of government to help US Presidents going to war – as President Lincoln once said – “For pleasure!”
Significant at President’s Ford credit is that after the findings of the Senate requested Church Committee, he issued Executive order 11905 with guidance and restrictions for various agencies including the clarification of both intelligence authorities and responsibilities. The later President Bush was nominated to be CIA Director (with strong opposition from Senator Frank Church) and got the job to give the CIA a better reputation. He was given 90 days to carry out Executive order 11905, which included a reorganisation and a statement that CIA activities would not be directed against American citizens. The Church Committee investigations included the question whether the CIA was involved in the assassination of domestic officials, including President Kennedy. Those dynamics were positive, but interesting as well for various reasons. President Ford did know of H.W.Bush association with the CIA at the time of the JFK assassination. It seemed a very political partisan choice to select H.W. Bush for this position.
For further insight in Gerald Ford’s Presidency see the recommended links
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8rg9c4pUrg&feature=player_detailpage (Ford – Carter debate excerpt)
Jimmy Carter took over from Gerald Ford in 1977 as the 39th President of the United States. The Watergate scandal was still fresh in the voters mind.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzgB_w1tO5M&feature=player_detailpage (President Ford died – ABC News)
Will be continued>>>>see Part 6
Paul Alexander Wolf
- The steady hand of Gerald Ford (jsonline.com)
- Warren Commission Report: High Level Coverup Of JFK Assassination? (rinf.com)
- SIX JFK SHOOTERS, THREE TIED TO CIA, NAMED – Oswald not among them (veteranstoday.com)
- Report on the Warren Commission (cheapbestessaywriting.wordpress.com)
- SIX JFK SHOOTERS, THREE TIED TO CIA, NAMED – Oswald not among them (stateofglobe.com)
- Hillary Clinton Fired For Lies, Unethical Behavior (tomohalloran.com)
- Roger Stone: Lbj Killed Jfk (shark-tank.net)
- JFK’s court was no Camelot (christiantoday.com)
- Military Law Expert: Obama Should Pardon Snowden (ritholtz.com)
- Turley: Why Barack Obama should pardon Edward Snowden (newsday.com)