Final note: Until recently, Bush had nothing more to say about his whereabouts the day of the assassination than that he doesn’t remember where he was. That in itself is extraordinarily incriminating. Everyone who was alive at the time remembers where they were on 9-11, and on the day Kennedy was murdered. But, saying that he doesn’t remember, however improbable, is at least consistent with Bush’s autobiography, which mentions nothing.
Lately, however, perhaps at least partly in response to my work, Bush and Co. have concocted a story that he was speaking in Tyler, Texas to the Rotary Club. The vice-president of the Rotary Club, Aubrey Irby, says that Bush was speaking when the bellhop came over and told him, that Kennedy was dead*1. Mr. Irby passed the information on to Mr. Wendell Cherry, who passed it on to Bush; who stopped his speech. Irby says that Bush explained that he thought a political speech, under the circumstances, was inappropriate; and then he sat down. As a would-be alibi proving Bush’s innocence, there are at least three huge problems with this story.
The first is that it is inconceivable that Bush would not have remembered such an event; or that he would have left it out of his autobiography, since it shows what a fine and respectful fellow he is. If he didn’t remember it sooner, or include it in his autobiography, it’s clearly because it never happened.
The second huge problem with this story is that it couldn’t possibly have happened; that is, it is made impossible by Bush’s original alibi, his phone call to the FBI, as you’ll see:
The witness who tells this story, Aubrey Irby, says that Bush excused himself and sat down. It doesn’t say that he rushed out of the room in a frantic search for a phone. The problem is that Walter Cronkite’s announcement to the world that Kennedy was dead came at 1:38.
Certainly, no one was listening to Walter Cronkite in the same room in which Bush was speaking. Therefore we can be sure that this bellhop, who told Irby that Kennedy was dead, was in another room. The bellhop had to make the decision that he had heard enough of the news to leave off listening to the news. This is no small point. Texas governor Connally was severely wounded. Lyndon Johnson was reportedly wounded. There was much other news to be confirmed. At some point, then, the bellhop decided to stop listening and go make an announcement. There’s no reason to think Irby would be the first person he would tell. But at some point he went to the room where Bush was speaking and informed Mr. Irby that the president was dead. This walk to find Irby took time, of course. Mr. Irby had to receive the information, and then he had to decide to inform Mr. Wendell Cherry, the president of the Kiwanis. Mr. Cherry had to decide that he should interrupt Bush’s speech; Mr. Cherry had to then walk over to Bush and tell him the news.
Bush had to decide what to say; and he had to say it. And, according to the only witness, Mr. Irby, Bush “then sat down”. Somehow, when he was finished sitting, without attracting Mr. Irby’s attention, Bush had to seek and find a phone. This would have been a hotel phone, so he would likely have had to go through the hotel switchboard to get an outside line. Do you suppose the switchboard was busy after the announcement of the President’s death? It’s a good guess. In Washington D.C. so many people rushed to make a phone call that the phone system went down. In any case, once he got through to the hotel operator and got an outside line, Bush then had to call information and get the number of the FBI. After getting through to information, and getting the number, he then had to call the FBI; and penetrate their switchboard, which was, no doubt, very busy; and he had to locate an agent, on what must have been the busiest day in the history of the Dallas bureau. How many minutes do you suppose that would take? Twenty seems a fair guess, though it seems implausible that a civilian could even get through, given all the official police business going on at the time. We know that the Dallas FBI was all over the murder scene, confiscating camera film and intimidating witnesses; so it’s hard to imagine how Bush, an hour after the shooting, was able to reach an agent at all. Given the “sitting” that Mr. Irby observed Bush doing, for all this to have transpired in 45 minutes would be tidy work. But Bush had to do all of this, as the FBI memo states, by 1:45, seven minutes after the news of Kennedy’s death first went out; which is blatantly impossible.
The third problem is this question of why Bush would feel that it was necessary to concoct such a story at all? Why does he have to tell us this lie? Why does he have to get others, like Irby, to lie for him? The irony is that the harder he tries to make himself appear innocent, by lying, the more evidence he gives us of his guilt.