It is significant that the “Football” was separated from President Reagan at the time of the attempted assassination on March 31, 1981 at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC. The officer carrying the bag is clearly visible in news footage of the shooting. He falls to the ground at the first sound of gunfire, several yards behind Reagan, and then gets up once the shooting stops and runs away from the President and the scene.
He does not return for hours, and then in the company of a Secret Service agent who is demanding an activation card for the device from Reagan’s wallet, already in the possession of FBI agents who were collecting evidence at GWU Hospital, where Reagan was recovering. The FBI agent called his superior, Director William Sessions, who was in the White House Situation Room. An argument had been going on there for some time between forces loyal to Reagan and those loyal to then-Vice-President George Bush. General Alexander Haig was frantically trying to activate a command and control device there.
Sessions instructed the FBI agent not to give up the card and wallet and Haig emerged from the situation to tell the press, “Gentleman, I am in charge here until the Vice-President returns,” usurping the succession rules of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, but doubtless following the more recent rules of Continuity of Government planning. Haig had, just six days before, been replaced as head of Emergency Management for the White House by VP Bush.
In 2001, on 9/11, his son, then-President Bush was aboard Air Force One following the attacks, and complained on Sixty Minutes on the first anniversary, that his secure communication phone to all government agencies and command centers went dead for a period of two hours, forcing them to land at a military installation for him to have command control over the emergency.
Similarly, the secure Federal Exchange lines at the Pentagon, to all other agencies, went dead at 1:30 pm EST on November 22, 1963 for several hours, the exact moment of the assassination in Dallas (12:30 pm CST.
The Bagman’s “Doomsday Football” – a Zero-Halliburton
by Bill Kelly
Thursday, May 31, 2012
In the immediate aftermath of the assassination of President Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, the heir to the power of the presidency, communicated by telephone with three people – Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Judge Sarah Hughes and his personal tax attorney J. Waddy Bullion. He called RFK to get the exact wording of the oath of office, Sarah Hughes to get her to come to Love Field to administer the oath and with Bullion he talked about the need to change his stock portfolio, expressing particular concern about his Halliburton stock.
Russ Baker, in “Family of Secrets,” (p. 132), reports that “Pat Holloway, former attorney for both Poppy Bush and Jack Crichton, recounted to me an incident involving LBJ that had greatly disturbed him. This was around 1 P.M. on November 22, 1963, just as Kennedy was being pronounced dead…The switchboard operator excitedly noted that she was patching the vice president through from Parkland Hospital to Holloway’s boss, firm senior partner Waddy Bullion, who was LBJ’s personal tax lawyer. The operator invited Holloway to listen in. LBJ was talking ‘not about conspiracy or about the tragedy,’ Holloway recalled, ‘I heard him say, ‘Oh, I got to get rid of my goddamn Halliburton stock.’”
Baker also notes that, “Halliburton was also deeply involved in defense contracting, through its subsidiary Brown and Root (Later Kellog Brown & Root KBR) the politically wired Texas engineering firm. Brown and Root had taken a giant leap into military contracting when Lyndon Johnson, its political protégé, became president.” Both G. R. and R.O. Brown were on the Halliburton board, as was John Connolly, who was wounded in the fuselage of bullets that killed Kennedy.
Some have considered it peculiar that one thing Johnson did not do once he assumed the presidency, at least on the public record, was to inquire about the national security status, the military posture or the possibility that the nation would be attacked, or was under attack by foreign enemies.
In fact, the new President had twice left behind the military aide with the “black bag” containing secure communication and nuclear attack codes. The “bagman” had been left behind in the motorcade when LBJ was rushed to Parkland Hospital and then again when the new president quickly and secretly left the hospital for Air Force One. While the man with the nuclear codes did catch up to LBJ and remained nearby, he was generally ignored during the crisis.
In his book “The Day Kennedy was Shot,” Jim Bishop relates how Gearhart became “separated from the VIP portion of the motorcade as it raced to Parkland and after arriving he did not know where the President was nor whom he was. The Secret Service kept him away from the booth where LBJ had been placed and that Johnson and Gearhart had been separated again, when LBJ raced to Love Field.”
Tagging along almost unnoticed on the trip to Love Field, Gearhart had to force his way onto a policeman’s lap to keep up with the president.
The “bagman” was Ira Gearhart, a military officer who carried a metal suitcase that contained the codes and ciphers the President needed to communicate with military commanders and foreign leaders or to order a nuclear strike. Gearhart had to remember the combination for the safety lock that opened the bag, and was to stay near the President at all times.
In “The Death of a President,” William Manchester wrote, “Warrant Officer Ira D. Gearhart, or Shadow, had been assigned the most sinister task in the Presidential party. No one called him by his Christian name, his surname, or even by his code name. He was the ‘man with the satchel,’ or, more starkly, ‘the bagman’. The bag (also known as ‘the black bag’ and ‘the football’) was a thirty-pound metal suitcase with an intricate combination lock. Within were various Strangelove packets, each bearing wax seals and the signatures of the Joint Chiefs. Inside one were cryptic numbers which would permit the President to set up a crude hot line to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the President of France on four minutes’ notice. A second provided the codes that would launch a nuclear attack. The rest contained pages of close text enlivened by gaudy color cartoons. They looked like comic books — horror comics, really, because they had been carefully designed so that anyone of Kennedy’s three military aides could quickly tell him how many million casualties would result from Retaliation Able, Retaliation Baker, Retaliation Charlie, etc. Taz Shepard had prepared these doomsday books. No one liked to think about them, much less talk about them, and on trips the man with the football was treated as a pariah.”
In his book “Apocalypse Soon” former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara wrote, “The concept of the Football came about in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis. President John F. Kennedy was concerned that some Soviet commander in Cuba might launch their missiles without authorization from Moscow. After the crisis, Kennedy ordered a review of the U.S. Nuclear Command and Control system. The result was the highly classified National Security Action Memorandum that created the Football. It has been suggested that the nickname Football was derived from an attack plan codenamed Drop-Kick.”
“The playbook is said to contain 75 pages of options, to be used against four primary groups: Russian nuclear forces; conventional military forces; military and political leadership and economic/industrial targets. The options are further divided into Major Attack Options (MAOs), Selected Attack Options (SAOs), and Limited Attack Options (LAOs). With the SATCOM radio and handset, the president can contact the National Command Authority (NCA) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). To make rapid comprehension of the materials easier, the options are described in a heavily summarized format and depicted using simple images. The Football also contains the locations of various bunkers and airborne command-post aircraft, procedures for communicating over civilian networks, and other information useful in a nuclear-emergency situation.”
“The ‘Nuclear Football,’ otherwise known as the President’s Emergency Satchel, is a specially-outfitted, black-colored briefcase used by President of the United States to authorize the use of nuclear weapons. While its exact contents and operation are highly classified, several sources have provided details of the bag. It is presumed to hold a secure SATCOM radio and handset, the daily nuclear launch codes known as the ‘Gold Codes,’ and the President’s Decision Book—the ‘nuclear playbook’ that the President would rely on should a decision to use nuclear weapons be made, based on the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP). The National Security Agency updates the Gold Codes daily.”
“The Football is carried by one of the rotating Presidential Aides (one from each of the five service branches), who occasionally is physically attached to the briefcase. This person is a commissioned officer in the U.S. military, pay-grade O-4 or above, who has undergone the nation’s most rigorous background check (Yankee White). These officers are required to keep the Football within ready access of the President at all times. Consequently, an aide, Football in hand, is always either standing/walking near the President or riding in Air Force One/Marine One/Motorcade with him.”
As McNamara describes it, “The case itself is a metallic, possibly bullet-proof, modified Zero-Halliburton briefcase which is carried inside of a leather “jacket”. The entire package weights approximately 40 pounds (18 kg). A small antenna, presumably for the SATCOM radio, protrudes from the bag near the handle. Contrary to popular belief, the ‘football/ is not handcuffed to aides. Rather, carriers employ a black cable that loops around the handle of the bag and the wrist of the aide.”
“Zero-Halliburton” is the name of the company that manufactured the case, which brings us back to the Halliburton company and LBJ’s phone call to his tax attorney J. Waddy Bullion, concerning his Halliburton stock.
In “From Russia With Love,” a spy thriller novel read by both President Kennedy and his alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, Ian Fleming has his secret agent 007 utilize a custom attaché case that included a concealed dagger, a sniper’s rifle that broke down and fit into the stock and a special latch that exploded if not opened correctly, which seems to have been inspired by the Halliburton case.
According to the official Zero-Halliburton web site: “In 1938, Earle P. Halliburton, a globetrotting businessman, commissioned a team of aircraft engineers to build him cases that could withstand the rough terrain of the Texas oilfields in the back of his truck. The original aluminum case was born, becoming the very definition of protection and ruggedness in business and travel cases. Every effort has been made ensure that only the finest material, the most advanced techniques, and the most precise crafting are employed to make each and every case. That heritage continues today.”
On April 24, 1999, President Bill Clinton left NATO’s 50th anniversary summit, being held at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C.. The carrier and the football were left behind. The aide walked the half-mile back to the White House alone. The integrity of the football and the state of the officer were intact. Similar incidents have occurred with Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush.
A specially modified Zero-Halliburton case was used to carry the special communications and nuclear attack codes by the president’s military aid Ira Gearhart on November 22, 1963.
Around 1 PM on November 22, 1963, within a half hour of becoming president with the death of JFK, one of the first things President Johnson does is call his tax attorney J. W. Bullion to ask about his Halliburton stock.
According to “A Money Tree Grows in Texas,” (p. 100), a $1,000 investment in Halliburton in 1948 when the company was originally available to the public would be worth $19,700.00 in 1968.
The corporate headquarters for Halliburton was listed as 3211 Southland Center, Dallas, Texas, where the Dallas Sheraton was located, the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) had set up their base station and where “Maurice Bishop” had met Lee Harvey Oswald and Anthony Veciana in the lobby in the summer of 1963.
On the board of directors of Halliburton were John B. Connally, who was wounded at Dealey Plaza, and G. R. and R.O. Brown of Brown Brothers, Brown & Root.
In his book “Family of Secrets,” Russ Baker also reports that (p. 131-132), “Meanwhile, the Kennedy assassination had put into the White House Lyndon Baines Johnson, who had a long-standing but little-known relationship with the Bush family. This dates back at least to 1953, when Prescott Bush joined Johnson in the U.S. Senate…That same year, Poppy Bush started Zapata Petroleum with Hugh and William Liedtke, who as law students at the University of Texas several years earlier, had rented LBJ’s guesthouse. Later, Bush became close with LBJ’s chief financers, George and Herman Brown, the founders of the construction giant Brown and Root (which later became part of Halliburton).
After helping establish the Continuity of Government (COG) plans in the 1980s and serving as Vice President, Cheney left government and became head of Halliburton.