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JFK Conspiracy Theory Revisited

In response to an uproar caused by a History Channel documentary that claimed President Lyndon Johnson was involved in the Kennedy assassination, the network will air a challenge to that program by a panel of three historians.

The special, airing 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday, is called "The Guilty Men: An Historical Review."

The one-hour program is meant to rebut last November's broadcast of "The Guilty Men," which was based in part on a book published in 2003 by Barr McClellan, who claims the law firm he quit a quarter-century ago was involved in convoluted plots that link Johnson to at least 11 deaths, including President Kennedy's.

The historians re-examining the allegations are author Robert Dallek, considered an authority on the presidency; Stanley Kutler, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin and a leading authority on 20th century American political and constitutional history; and Thomas Sugrue, an author and teacher at the University of Pennsylvania.

Former CNN newsman Frank Sesno serves as moderator of the broadcast, which will air unedited by the History Channel, the network announced Friday.

No preview of the program would be available, the network said.

The Warren Commission concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole assassin involved in Kennedy's death in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, but conspiracy theorists continue to advance alternative plots.

While the three historians acknowledge lingering public doubts about the Warren Commission's findings, they dispute as unfounded the theory that President Johnson was involved. Johnson was Kennedy's vice president at the time of the assassination.

The historians along with other scholars were highly critical of "The Guilty Men" and of the History Channel's decision to air it last fall. Former aides to Johnson, along with former presidents Ford and Carter and President Johnson's widow, Lady Bird Johnson, sought an independent probe of the claims.

The network apologized on Friday to its viewers as well as to Mrs. Johnson and her family for the program. It said will no longer be aired or made available on home video.

"We have a great responsibility and this time we did not live up to it," said Dan Davids, History Channel executive vice president. "We hold ourselves accountable. As we have said before, nothing is more important to us than the accuracy of our programming and the integrity of our network."

By Frazier Moore

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