Albert Thomas (April 12, 1898 - February 15, 1966) is not exactly a household name, but he carved out a place in political trivia as the man who winked at Lyndon Johnson aboard Air Force 1 just after he had taken the oath of office. We believe that Thomas was an accessory to the murder of President John F Kennedy.
Thomas represented Texas’ 8th Congressional district from 1937 to 1966, a district in the metro Houston area. He had become a powerful Congressman assuming the position of Chairman of the House Appropriation Committee’s sub-committee on defense appropriations, a role which enabled him to steer the Manned Spacecraft Center to Houston.
Thomas was a man whom Kennedy needed to court because his support was required to advance his program of space exploration, an important plank in his presidential campaign. Thus when the subject of traveling to Houston came up, word was put out that Thomas was singing his swan song due to the ravages of cancer. His supporters organized a party to honor him, and it was a homage which the president could not afford to miss on both political and public relations grounds.
The men who were guiding the president to Texas needed this hook to guarantee that he would be in Dallas when they wanted him. The men were Lyndon Johnson and John Connally both of whom handled the details of positioning Kennedy exactly where they wanted him in Texas for the CIA kill teams. Connally played hardball with the president’s advisors who endured his insulting and arrogant manner of manhandling them, threatening at one point that he would not participate in the visit if his demands for the selection of Friday’s luncheon site were not met.
When Johnson was on Air Force 1 taking the oath of office after participating in the murder of his boss, Thomas was there to give him a wink after the proceedings concluded. The unspoken message was that they had succeeded in their coup and that Johnson was advancing according to plan.
This gesture was unknown for years until David Lifton published it in his book Best Evidence. Lifton accidentally received the photo from the Lyndon Johnson Library which unwittingly released the image taken by Cecil Stoughton. In a subsequent interview with Lifton, Stoughton expressed shock that he had the photo as Stoughton thought it had been buried in government files.
The Johnson library subsequently “lost” the negative which has not been seen since. The “loss” of the negative was damage control because the wink indeed revealed a story of two collaborators in the murder. The Library would have no other reason to “lose” the negative.
As for Thomas’ illness, he was indeed ill but managed to server more than 2 more years before dying. He played the pity card for all it was worth in seducing Kennedy to Texas just as Johnson maneuvered it through Connally.
In all fairness, we should note that one Kennedy advisor testified before the Warren Commission that Kennedy was fond of the Congressman, so may have been happy to attend the testimonial dinner in the Congressman’s honor. Our suspicion is that the admiration was not mutual.
Inside the ARRB (volume 5), Douglas Horne, 2009
Copyright 2013 Tony Bonn. All rights reserved.