Like many in my generation, I grew up trusting the government. I believed it stood for what America stood for – freedom, free markets, justice for all. I also grew up inspired by former president John F. Kennedy – who advanced these distinctly American ideals in a way no president has done since.
At the time I didn’t know Kennedy had an economic record that would put most modern-day “Republicans” to shame.
But I’ll be writing much more about that in another post …
This post is about what happened to Kennedy on November 22, 1963 – and how it continues to impact this country.
As a young man, I studied the Kennedy assassination – reading books like William Manchester’s The Death Of A President, a highly sanitized version of this historic event first published in 1967.
I also watched Oliver Stone’s 1991 movie JFK – and read with interest the mainstream media’s assaults on its veracity.
To be clear, I do not accept Stone’s movie as fact. I think JFK – like its protagonist Jim Garrison – takes reckless liberties with the truth. For example one of the movie’s most memorable scenes – in which Garrison travels to Washington, D.C. to meet with a mysterious “black ops” agent named “X” – is pure fiction. Not only did Stone create a composite character, but many of the statements he attributed to this character are flat out falsehoods.
But while JFK wildly misses the mark on historical accuracy – and in fact probably harms the credibility of “conspiracy theorists” with some of its more bizarre claims – it nails the true culprit for the assassination (as well as the motive for the crime).
“That’s the real question, isn’t it? Why?” Stone’s ‘X’ character says. “The how and the who is just scenery for the public. Oswald, Ruby, Cuba, the Mafia. Keeps ’em guessing like some kind of parlor game, prevents ’em from asking the most important question, why? Why was Kennedy killed? Who benefited? Who has the power to cover it up?”
It doesn’t matter how many shots were fired at Kennedy’s motorcade as it made its way through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas on that gorgeous fall afternoon. It doesn’t matter where those shots came from – or in what timing or sequence. It doesn’t even really matter who pulled the trigger. Those questions have – for decades – been precisely what ‘X’ said they would be, a “parlor game.”
Millions of Americans play the game, too. In fact it’s become almost a national obsession ever since the official narrative – that communist Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy – was obliterated by the famous home movie shot by Dallas dressmaker Abraham Zapruder.
“I’m telling you right straight out, that if you are at all sensitive, if you’re at all queasy – then don’t watch this film. Just … put on the late night movie because this is, um, very heavy,” ABC’s Good Night America host Geraldo Rivera said prior to showing the Zapruder film for the first time on television.
Nearly forty years after Rivera first issued it, that warning still applies …
(Click to play)
After the Zapruder film, all bets were off …
On the fiftieth anniversary of Kennedy’s death, you can find “ironclad” evidence confirming and debunking innumerable JFK conspiracy theories – and specific assassination narratives. There are exhaustive analyses (and re-analyses) of video, audio, eyewitness, ballistic, forensic, autopsy and other forms of evidence – reaching wildly divergent conclusions. There are elaborate stories about the planning and cover-up of each of these theories. And numerous individuals have been accused of firing the bullet that blew Kennedy’s head apart.
One book – written by the only sharpshooter who was able to duplicate the feats ascribed to Oswald by the Warren Commission – concludes Kennedy was accidentally shot from behind by a Secret Service agent named George Hickey. Another theory holds that William Greer – the Secret Service agent driving Kennedy’s limousine – shot him on purpose from the front.
A multitude of other books put forward a multitude of other theories – including one in which some sort of exploding projectile was launched from a “camera gun” after Kennedy had been immobilized by a poison dart launched from an umbrella.
In fact it’s gotten to the point where it’s hard to find a spot in Dealey Plaza that isn’t a suspected point of origin for the fatal bullet.
The Kennedy assassination has become the ultimate rabbit hole – a search for specific truths which will never be found. It’s also become a distraction from the fundamental truth staring all of us in the face.
And what is this fundamental truth? That in some form or fashion unlikely to ever be exposed, Kennedy was killed by his own government for pursuing policies counter to its most powerful established interests – most notably an attempt to end the Cold War and the global interventionist foreign policy associated with it.
The proof? It’s in the parlor game itself … well, that and the government’s comical explanation for what happened in Dealey Plaza (and its ongoing efforts to destroy, suppress and shield evidence and information related to the assassination).
I’m under no illusions about the ridiculousness of many JFK conspiracy theories – just as I am under no illusions as to the fallibility of Kennedy himself (on numerous fronts). But while conspiracy theorists swing and miss (wildly) on things like bullet trajectories and possible perpetrators – they have done us a valuable service by helping debunk the government fiction that one “lone nut commie” killed Kennedy.
They did …
Will Folks is the founding editor of FITSNews.com.
You do have to wonder, why are documents still classified about this? How long does the government have to keep things under wraps? This happened quite a long time ago.
I was under the impression they wer declassified after 50 years…but maybe it was 100.
My suspicion is that they explored a number of leads from the CIA that came from sources that had national security implications. For instance, one of the main theories is that the assassin (whether you accept Oswald as a lone shooter or not) was working for the Cubans. If we had CIA sources in Castro’s administration who provided intel on that topic and are still alive, it would probably be a bad idea to release that information while the source and/or Castros are still kicking around.
The remaining records are currently slated to be released by 2017 unless the president intervenes.
This article is fascinating in a lot of ways. It at least is consistent with my theory, in that there was a ton of cross chatter about what Cuban intel various sources possessed regarding any Cuban link to the assassination. It appears the earliest classification was aimed at covering up CIA incompetence, not a deliberate plot. The records act required alot of that to be disclosed, but obviously some information has been withheld. I suspect the theory I offered is as good an explanation as any – it may be that there is still some living source that needs to be protected.
The theories are certainly interesting to consider, but ultimately fall apart.
The book that drove this home the best for me was the autobiography of Bill Carter. He is a fascinating guy who was in the Secret Service at the time, was an investigator for the Warren Commission and later became a connected lawyer who represented the Rolling Stones and other famous clients. He really drove home how much the agents loved Kennedy. They did not feel that way for guys like Johnson (who Carter clearly loathed, as he voted by absentee ballot from the campaign trail for Goldwater despite being a lifelong Democrat) or Nixon. Carter even blames their closeness to Kennedy as a factor affecting their judgment and putting him at greater risk of assassination.* They were devastated by the assassination. Carter says he cannot even talk about it to this day without tearing up. Yet the theorists require these same people to have been complicit in killing and/or covering up the killing of their idol. It just makes no sense.
* For instance, there were platforms on the back of the limo for 2 agents to ride along on the president’s car. Kennedy did not like them there, since they might block someone’s view. The agents backed down and rode in the follow up car. If they had been on the car, they likely would have obstructed Oswald’s view. As Carter says, presidents like Nixon did not get the same deference from the agents.
The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees in every object only the traits which favor that theory. ~ Thomas Jefferson
Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead. ~ Benjamin Franklin
Folks were dropping like flies afterwards…just sayin’….
Have you been to Dealey Plaza? It’d be like picking off Gamecocks on the football field from the press box. None of these three shots were “long range shots”. A 12 year old boy who grew up on a farm could have picked Kennedy off.
“Still got the shovel”
LBJ killed him in cahoots with the mob, CIA & FBI. JFK simply pissed off too many people and Bobby knew it was LBJ and was off’d for the same reasons. It was a coup.
The main reason for so many conspiratorial theories (yours included) is that people find it difficult to accept that a loner, a failure, an insignificant nothing like Oswald, who had no apparent political bias or agenda, was able to murder a President who had brought such grace, humor, style , hope, and pride to the American people. We need some reason, some explanation, some accounting, for such a tragic loss. And there is none.
For TBG, at least, there is also the fact, that Oswald, a Marine, defected to the USSR and then *redefected*, with his Russian wife, to the USA. [How many people have done that!] Then without a known source of income makes some *interesting* travels (N’awlins, Mexico City), winds up at the TBD and makes (depending on who you believe) an impressive to impossible series of shots, to kill Kennedy.
Then after being arrested he doesn’t shout out “Workers of the World, Unite!” or “Cuba Libre!” or anything …but, instead says “I’m a patsy.” [TBG believes him.]
Then there is the whole Jack Ruby thing.
TBG believes that whoever was behind it wanted LBJ in as POTUS. If this had happened in any other country it would have (rightly) been recognized as a cop d’eat by everyone from the getgo
I think the most obvious answer is probably the correct one – Oswald was a nut who hated this country and had been trying to emigrate to Cuba without success. He took out the president, who was responsible for the Bay of Pigs and generally hostile to the Cuban regime, either just on general principle or because he hoped it might grease the skids for him to get a visa.
Bill Carter’s book sets out a pretty convincing case that Oswald was just a loser who had failed at everything he ever tried. He could not defect effectively.* He was a violent man who regularly beat his wife, from whom he was estranged at the time of the assassination. So like many assassins/mass shooters, he had fantasies about showing how important he was and getting the attention of those who generally ignored or laughed at him. Remember he tried to kill Edwin Walker, head of the John Birch Society and thus a rabid anti-Communist, shortly before the assassination. Shooting the president did not exactly come out of nowhere for this guy. Although it was a very impulsive decision. He appears to have learned about the motorcade route from the paper, and he made a special trip to where his wife was staying to get his gun (which required him to find a ride to work the next morning). He had just been there on a regular weekend visit (before the route was published), and if he was part of some planned out assassination plot he would have just gotten it then to avoid the suspicious 2nd trip.**
*The Russians apparently did not trust him at all. they parked him at a factory in the middle of nowhere, so he became disillusioned with Soviet Communism and thought he might do better in the workers paradise known as Cuba.
** This is the other main flaw in the conspiracy theories where Oswald was not acting alone, that they rely on a loser like Oswald to be a key figure in a vast conspiracy involving some of the most highly trained, disciplined people in the world. Unless his lifetime of being a loser was all a brilliant act staged by the government.
Just suppose that an entity [start ‘Church Lady” voice] like…hmmmm…I don’t know…like maybe…Who could it be?…maybeeee…the CIA!!!, [end Church Lady voice] wanted him in the USSR, then out of the USSR and then involved in a plot to kill Kennedy, then…Oswald’s got more “win” than Charlie Sheen.
Everything we know about the CIA in that time screams incompetence. I suppose it is possible they perfectly crafted this abused and abusive loser into Jason Bourne. I’m skeptical. If there was any CIA cover up, it was how inept it was in monitoring a known threat like Oswald.
Oswald was the only man ‘behind’ the assassination.If there’d been a ‘conspiracy’,he wouldn’t have been involved.
9″ and CL, for the sake of argument, TBG is willing to stipulate that you are correct about LHO.
Now…Please explain Jack Ruby.
He shot LHO.
LHO shot JFK.
LHO shot JFK
*TBG assumes you don’t get this question often …
That’s it.People buy into conspiracy theories because it gives them a sense of control over things that make no sense.
TBG just finds too many things about the “official version” that don’t make sense. While TBG can accept that Oswald made the shots (Hey, the bullets had to land somewhere.), and that many of the eyewitness reports and such are contradictory (Fog of War)…. combine these with Jack Ruby, as well as Oswald’s travel history and it makes the “official version” unpalatable.
Bugliosi: Ruby literally idolized John F. Kennedy. His psychiatrist said Ruby loved this man. He thought he was the greatest man in history. He took Kennedy’s death very, very hard. He cried throughout the assassination weekend. His sister Eva used to live in LA and, she said that her brother Jack, quote: “Cried harder when Kennedy died than when ma and pa died.” He took the death very hard.
Ruby [also] thought that he was going to become a big hero because everyone hated Oswald. He was the typical avenger, [and] was fearful that somehow Oswald conceivably could get off.
He thought he was going to be a hero. He tried to get an agent from his jail cell. He thought there was going to be a big book and a movie about him because he viewed what he did as a heroic deed. He thought he would just get a slap on the wrist, and in a short time he would be back at the Carousel club greeting people from around the world wanting to shake the hand of the man who killed the man who killed president.
I have been rolling my eyes at the wave of new books trying to cash in on the anniversary, but according to this there may be some new information supporting the conclusion that Oswald acted because of his anger over attempts to kill Castro.
Shifty also has doubts about Oswald being the lone conspirator because of unanswered questions which will be presented to you later when time is available. These come about because of various peculiarities which I have not studied.
Although a work of fiction,the best book/movie on the JFK assassination (IMO) is ‘Libra’ by Don DeLillo.
(‘Gillon’ is exactly right)
Though TBG would be hard-pressed to call it non-fiction, he rather liked JFK and the Unspeakable : Why he Died and Why It Matters.
Anyone here read Bugliosi’s book?
The Bugliosi is excellent but difficult to read.Here’s a Cliff Notes version:
Thanks for the “Cliff Notes”. TBG doesn’t think his ADHD would have allowed him to plough through all 1600 pages of …
*spots something shiny & wanders away from keyboard*
Here’s a HQ ‘close-up version:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iU83R7rpXQY
The Warren Commission got it right. The conspiracy the scrutinyories all fall apart under scrutiny.
I think it was Greer, the driver. But like Sic said, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the reason why. Because some lone gunman hates his country? Or because Kennedy obstructed the plans of those who think they run the world?
You do realize men never walked on the moon,right?
I still think that we are missing one of the most obvious facts about the trapuder film, the head goes back from an explosive force from the front of the forehead.
This site just lost a little bit more credibility (I know, insert your own joke here, yet here we all are commenting…)
I will not go into all of the psychology behind conspiracy theorists and why it’s so easy to fall into that trap. I will not begin a fruitless (and probably endless) debate about why large conspiracies never hold together (especially for 50 years). I will not do 500 words on basic investigative theory, which has proven countless times that once the inquiry has gathered the information the most obvious theory is, statistically, almost always the right one. I (stupidly) began one of these rabbithole debates with a 9/11 “truther” when he saw my intelligence community stuff hanging on my office “love me” wall. Six months later I literally had to threaten him to make him stop emailing and calling with new “evidence.” We may never know exactly what happened, because humans never can, but it is VERY likely pretty damn close to the official narrative.
This site just lost a little bit more credibility…
Damn nigh impossible.
A post on chemtrails might do it.
Bugliosi: This silly Oliver Stone came up with ten groups that had a motive and he’s got all ten groups involved in the assassination. I go into great depth for the first time on the movie, and show what he said, and then show he committed cinematic murder. His movie is one continuous lie. I should amend that by saying he did have the correct date, location, and victims, but other than that, it was one continuous lie, and yet millions saw his movie and walked out thinking that there was a vast conspiracy.
To show you how unfair he was in the presentation of the evidence. I mentioned fifty-three separate pieces of evidence pointing irresistibly to the guilt of Oswald, and Oliver Stone in his three hour and eight minute movie could not put in one of those fifty-three pieces. I guess poor Oliver just didn’t have enough time to do that.