Wednesday, 11 January 2012



My flight to Washington was proof of the miracles of the Jet Age. I was greeted at the White House, not by the President but by his Press Secretary, Pierre Salinger, and by the Chairman of his Party, Larry O’Brian. They invited me to sit down and then let me in on my purpose.
“People tried to kill our President, and we don’t know who they are or why they did it. But it looks like a broad conspiracy. The way to unravel it is to find out who Lee Harvey Oswald is.”
“Don’t you know who he is?”
“That’s just it,” said Salinger. “He’s really nobody or lots of people. He joins the Marines, learns Russian and defects. We don’t believe that’s possible. Then the Russians house him in Minsk, a highly sensitive military city. We don’t understand it. Then they let him emigrate to America with his wife, Marina, the niece of a top KGB commissar.”

“And it gets stranger,” added O’Brian. “He sets up a committee for Fair Play For Cuba in the same building as a CIA anti-Castro storefront. They had to be in contact with him. We have to know, who is he and what was he doing in Dealey Plaza? We know this much…he wasn’t shooting anybody. We checked his Marines’ record. He couldn’t hit a barn with a baseball.”

“So how do I fit in?” I asked.
“You are going to have to testify against him,” said O’Brian. “Marina refuses to believe her husband was involved but you are implicating him. She has agreed to speak to you hoping you’ll forget you saw him with the cardboard box.”
“What do I ask her?”
“You’ll be briefed. It’s only a few days’ work, then you’ll get down to speechwriting and image boosting for five more years, I expect.”

I wasn’t certain I wasn’t being used. But this obviously was important work, and my President personally asked me to take on the assignment. What greater honor is there? At supper I met him. Brother Robert joined us after the meal for coffee and conversation. It was a dream, really, sitting with the two most charismatic figures in America. Both as brimming with youth and attractiveness even at close quarters. The President’s hair, I noticed, was turning grey, yet his demeanor underaged his looks by twenty years.
“Bob, Mr. Mandel is quite charming. He’ll be a fine addition to our team.”
“And do you, Mr. Mandel,” said Bobby, “approve of your first assignment?”
“It sounds very important?”

“It’s vital,” answered the Attorney General. “Somebody, or some group attacked our whole system of democracy. We have to find out who they are or they’ll try it again.”
“But why Marina?” I asked.
“Because,” continued Bobby, “Her husband isn’t saying anything. And there’s reason to believe he doesn’t know anything. Yet what are the odds of such a character just being in Dealey Plaza? Not likely, I’m afraid.”
“Norman,” added the President, “If you find something interesting, you’ve done a great service. That will be two I’ll owe you. I repay my debts, Norman.”

I phoned Marilyn and told her I was coming back for a few days to lease my apartment and prepare to move to Washington. She met me at Dallas Airport, and we drove back in her late model Studebaker. She seemed cheerful and asked what the President was like and how I felt meeting him. I tried to act inconspicuously, but perhaps she detected some new reticence to communicate on my part. What if she found out I was seeing Marina Oswald? Would she understand that it was in the line of duty or misinterpret the whole thing? I would see her when I could, but Marina was the real reason I was in Dallas.

12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

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