Thursday, March 21, 2013


March 21, 2013


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy in an evening news conference* 50 years ago today, March 21, 1963, was asked about Senator Clifford Case's** proposal that a watchdog committee be created but before the newsman could finish his question, JFK interrupted by saying..."to watch the congressmen and senators? Well, that will be fine if they feel they should be watched."

*This 52nd JFK news conference was held beginning at 6 p.m. Eastern time in the State Department auditorium.

The reporter, who was asking a follow-up question, never got a chance to finish the follow-up as the President called upon another reporter after his premature answer.

The initial question was addressing the President's opinion on the fairness of dispensation of "big defense contracts."

The question came in the wake of the TFX*** jet fighter controversy.

                            F-111 Aardvark
           494th Tactical Fighter Squadron
       Photo by SS D. S. Nolan, USAF (1986)

JFK said that it was his belief that defense contracts were "let fairly," although he did admit that the contracts were very competitive due to the thousands of people & jobs involved.

Later in the same conference, JFK was asked what role he had played in the TFX contract.

The President said that he had no role....

"This was completely (in the hands of) the Defense Department."

**Clifford P. Case (1904-1982) was a Republican Senator of New Jersey from 1955 to 1979.  He was a graduate of Rutgers & Columbia Law School.  He had one of the most liberal voting records among Republican senators & co-sponsored legislation in 1973 to stop US military involvement in Southeast Asia.

Senator Clifford P. Case
New Jersey (R)

***TFX, Tactical Fighter Experimental, was produced by General Dynamics in Fort Worth, Texas.  GD won the US government contract in 1962 over Boeing, Lockheed, McDonnell, North American & Republic.

Its 1st flight was on Dec 21, 1964 & the fighter was introduced into service in July 1967.

563 fighters were built at a cost of $10 million per aircraft.  It was labeled the F-111 Aardvark.

JFK talked about the TFX in his last speech in Ft. Worth, TX on the morning of Nov 22, 1963.  He said...

"In the not too distant future a new Fort Worth product...the TFX...will serve the forces of freedom & will be the #1 airplane in the world today."

General Dynamics is the 4th largest defense contractor in the world.  It is headquartered in West Falls Church, Virginia.