Thursday, March 06, 2008

Kennedy's Assassin: The Lonely Gunman

Also read: New Evidence in the Kennedy Assassination




INTRODUCTION

I have spent most of my life, and certainly all of my adulthood, believing that the Kennedy assassination was perpetrated by multiple gunmen, all acting as part of a larger conspiracy. This belief was reinforced into absolute certainty by Oliver Stone’s 1991 film “JFK,” which seemed to prove outright that Lee Harvey Oswald could not have been acting alone. Indeed, that film made such an impact on our popular culture, it would seem most people today have perspectives on the assassination colored by that movie – even those who never saw it – because the ideas presented in the film seeped into and saturated society-at-large. This is evidenced by an ABC News poll in 2004 showing that 70% of Americans still believe there was a broad conspiracy surrounding the assassination, against only 22% believing that Oswald acted alone. 68% believe there was an official government cover-up. Additionally, 51% are convinced there were multiple gunmen in the plaza that day, and – perhaps most amazing of all – 7% think Oswald was not involved at all!

But does the available evidence support these contentions? After a lifetime of casual historical interest in this subject, I have recently delved deeply into the facts of the case. As a result, I have changed my opinions entirely: I am now utterly convinced that Oswald was, in fact, acting alone.

BACKGROUND

In case anyone does not know much about the facts and theories of the Kennedy assassination, I will provide a brief overview.

Kennedy was shot on Friday, November 22nd, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. In the car that day were two secret service agents – one driving and one in the front passenger seat – Kennedy and his wife in the backseat, and Texas Governor John Connolly and his wife in two jump seats between the secret service agents and the Kennedys. Connolly was sitting right in front of Kennedy, and both were on the right side of the car. The motorcade was passing through an area of downtown Dallas called Dealey Plaza, which housed, among other things, the Texas School Book Depository. It was from the 6th floor window that Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy. Oswald had been an employee at the Depository.


Dealey Plaza. The Texas School Book Depository is the large building
at the top center. The people on the sidewalk are standing at the base
of the "grassy knoll," right at the spot where Kennedy was shot.


Warren Commission photograph taken from Oswald's nest, looking
out toward where Kennedy was shot. Oswald had used the boxes in the
foreground to steady his weapon.

The Warren Commission – the government committee slated to investigate the assassination – determined that Oswald had acted alone and not part of a conspiracy, and that he had fired three shots. The first, they contended, had missed, but had likely ricocheted off a nearby curb and manhole, causing a piece of concrete to fly and wound a bystander. The second hit Kennedy in the back and passed through him to wound Connolly in the chest, wrist, and thigh. The third hit Kennedy in the head, and was the killing shot. There are a number of videos and photographs of the assassination, but the most notable is one taken from the nearby “grassy knoll” by Abraham Zapruder, which shows in close detail the moment of the assassination. The grassy knoll was situated on the right side of Kennedy’s vehicle.

Oswald was arrested only hours after the murder, and was charged not only with Kennedy’s murder, but also the murder of a Dallas policeman named J.D. Tippit who had stopped to question him on the street. He was held and interrogated for two days, and while being taken out through the basement of police headquarters for transfer to the county jail on Sunday, November 24th, he was shot and killed by a man in the crowd named Jack Ruby. Because television crews were there, his murder was broadcast live on national television.

CONSPIRACY SCENARIOS

There are a number of conspiracy theories that people have postulated in regards to Kennedy’s assassination, ranging from involvement by Lyndon Johnson, to involvement by the FBI, CIA, and the Federal Reserve. These, however, are born primarily of people’s creative imagination, and have no basis in evidence whatsoever. In my opinion, the theories that warrant legitimate investigation are the Mafia conspiracy theory, and the Soviet/Cuban/KGB conspiracy theory.

THE MAFIA CONSPIRACY

This theory suggests that the Mafia was behind Kennedy’s murder and that they used Jack Ruby – a man with known Mafia connections – to silence Lee Harvey Oswald. The Mafia’s motivation is apparent: the Kennedy administration had dramatically stepped up action against mob bosses. Prior to that time, the Mafia had managed to largely escape prosecution, but under Kennedy, all that changed. As Attorney General, Kennedy’s own brother, Robert, was given the task of ending organized crime. Under the Kennedy administration, Mafia prosecutions increased by an astounding 1200% over the Eisenhower administration that had preceded it. As Tony Soprano might have said, the Mafia had good reasons for wanting to whack JFK.

As mentioned above, a key aspect of this theory was Jack Ruby’s shocking murder of Lee Harvey Oswald two days after the assassination.

JACK RUBY

Jack Ruby was a prominent Dallas nightclub owner with known connections to the Mafia.


Jack Ruby with some of his dancers.

According to personal accounts from people who knew and worked with him, he had a vicious and violent temper – a temper that could be set off in an instant. One moment, he could be laughing with a patron, and the next he could be grabbing the guy by the collar and throwing him out the door. He was a classic Type-A personality and was widely known to carry a concealed weapon. Significantly, he was also very patriotic, absolutely loved Kennedy, and was distraught to the point of crying when the assassination occurred. In the Warren Commission interviews, Ruby broke down in tears on at least one occasion when discussing the disrespectful way Kennedy had been killed: “Here is a man that fought in every battle, went to every country, and had to come back to his own country to be shot in the back.”

In a recent interview on a Kennedy assassination documentary, one of Ruby’s former dancers testified that on the day of the assassination, Ruby was extremely upset, talking over and over again about “those poor kids” (referring to Kennedy’s children), and saying that if he got the chance, he was going to “kill the son of a bitch” who had done this to the president he loved.

Because Ruby’s nightclub was a popular spot for local Dallas cops, Ruby was quite well-known by the Dallas police, and despite his Mafia ties, he apparently had a good reputation among them. For this reason, he had easy access to police headquarters when Oswald was paraded through. Photographs show that he was present when Oswald was brought through headquarters the first time following his arrest. If Ruby were being paid by the Mafia to silence Oswald, one would have to wonder why he failed to do it right then. Otherwise he might have missed his only chance.

Ruby was evidently so distraught by the assassination that he closed his nightclub all weekend. According to friends and employees, he spent most of the weekend mourning and brooding in his house. On Sunday morning, one of his dancers called to ask if he would wire her some money so she could pay her rent. He agreed, leaving his house sometime in the late morning, and taking one of his dogs with him in the car. If you planned on heading out to whack a possible squealer in front of every police officer in Dallas, would you take your dog with you?

Ruby proceeded to the local telegraph office, where he wired $25 to his employee, recorded on a slip stamped with the time of 11:17 a.m. Conveniently, police headquarters was right around the corner.

Ruby left the telegraph office and headed over to headquarters, presumably to see what he could find out about the ongoing investigation. Oswald had been interrogated that morning and was supposed to have been transferred around 10:00 a.m. However, the interrogation lasted longer than expected (something Ruby could not possibly have known), and afterward, Oswald asked if he could go change clothes prior to being transferred by car to the county jail. For this reason, and as fate would have it, he was brought through the basement of police headquarters at 11:21 a.m., about one minute after Jack Ruby walked up to the gathering of reporters.

If you have ever seen the famous photograph of the moment of Oswald’s murder, you probably are familiar with the police detective – named Jim Leavelle – in the white suit and white Stetson who was handcuffed to Oswald’s right arm, escorting him. He is still alive and has recently been interviewed about the events of that morning.

As the pair came through the door, Leavelle said that he joked with Oswald about someone shooting him. (Paraphrasing): “If someone decides to shoot you,” Leavelle told Oswald, “I hope they’re as good a shot as you are.” The implication, of course, was that Leavelle hoped he did not accidentally get shot himself. Leavelle said that Oswald chuckled at this. It was at that very moment, while Oswald was chuckling at the joke, that Ruby first saw him.


Oswald's murder. Detective Jim Leavelle is at left.

From here, you can connect the dots of the evidence. Ruby, distraught over the murder of a beloved president, widely known to be a gun carrier, and widely known to have an explosive and violent temper, grew enraged at seeing Oswald – the murderer of the president – laughing. He, of course, could not have known why Oswald was laughing. To him it would simply have appeared that Oswald had murdered Kennedy and did not have a care in the world about it. For this reason, Ruby pulled his gun, stepped forward, and shot Oswald in a moment of blind rage.

Ruby, of course, spent the rest of his life in jail, and insisted to his dying day that he had not been paid by anyone to kill Oswald. In interviews with the Warren Commission, Ruby stated that he had seen a newspaper article on that Sunday morning suggesting that Kennedy’s wife would have to attend the trial of Oswald. This upset him, as he felt it was adding insult to injury for Mrs. Kennedy. He went on to say: “…I got so carried away…No one else requested me to do anything. I never spoke to anyone about attempting to do anything. No subversive organization gave me any idea. No underworld person made any effort to contact me. It all happened that Sunday morning.” Later in the same testimony, Ruby said: “…I just was carried away emotionally…I had the gun in my right hip pocket, and impulsively, if that is the correct word here, I saw him [Oswald], and that is all I can say. And I didn’t care what happened to me.”

Was he lying to the Commission? I will answer that question with another question: What reason could Ruby have had – incarcerated for life as he was and facing the death penalty – to stay silent, if indeed he had been paid? Even his rabbi, with whom he spoke many times in confidence, testified that Ruby insisted, even in private consultations with a trusted religious advisor, that he acted completely on his own.

With these things in mind, one must ask several other questions. If Ruby was being paid to silence Oswald, who was being paid to silence Ruby? The very idea seems ridiculous. It would create an unending series of necessary “whacks” in order to silence each successive assassin. Furthermore, if Ruby was being paid to kill Oswald, why would he do it in such a way as to ensure beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was going to get caught? If you were being paid to assassinate somebody, would you do it in the middle of police headquarters, with dozens of law enforcement officers all around you, as well as cameras and reporters? To suggest that Ruby premeditated this murder, in this fashion, would be to say that Ruby was willing to give up all his success, all his fortune, and, in fact, his entire life, in order to silence Oswald. Such a suggestion, of course, is patently ridiculous. No Mafia organization could have given him sufficient motivation to do what he did.

All things considered, it seems evident that Ruby acted in a moment of blind rage based on circumstances that could not have been predicted, and that the murder was not in any way a premeditated “hit” purchased by some larger conspiring organization. Ruby’s own brother, who is still alive, has testified to the same thing. Jack Ruby killed Oswald in a moment of fury, because he hated the man who had murdered his beloved president and he wanted to keep Mrs. Kennedy from having to endure Oswald’s trial.

THE MAFIA CONNECTION DEBUNKED

With Jack Ruby’s personal motives quite clear, the Mafia connection already begins to wilt. But the case against the Mafia goes even farther than that. In the mid-1970’s, the Kennedy assassination was investigated by a Congressional committee, due to popular demand for answers. This board ultimately determined that a second shooter was probable, and that a conspiracy seemed likely. Robert Blakey, chief counsel and staff director of the committee, testified that he personally felt the Mafia was probably involved.

This belief, however, is suspect considering that the committee’s own Mafia expert – brought in to investigate possible Mafia ties – said there was absolutely no evidence whatsoever of any Mafia connections! This expert has said in recent interviews that he investigated every known Mafia boss who was in business at the time of the assassination, and could find no evidence of any connection to any of their groups. Furthermore, this expert stated that in all the years since the assassination, with all the countless Mafioso who have been paid to turn state’s evidence and testify against their leaders for various crimes, there has never been any connection to anything relating to Kennedy’s assassination.

The conclusion is clear – there is simply no reliable evidence to suggest the Mafia had anything to do with Jack Ruby’s murder of Oswald, or with the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

THE SOVIET CONNECTION

Communism, and specifically the Communist overthrow of Cuba in 1959, was one of the Achilles’ heals of the Kennedy administration. It was widely suspected (and later known) that the CIA was attempting to infiltrate Cuba and assassinate Castro. The U.S. had secretly masterminded the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961, where Cuban insurgents had attempted to overthrow Castro, and the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred just a year later, when the Soviet Union aimed missiles in Cuba toward the United States. At one point, several months before the assassination, Castro had even been quoted as saying that anyone who would attempt to assassinate him should be fearful for his own life instead. Lyndon Johnson, Kennedy’s vice-president and the man who became president upon Kennedy’s death, apparently believed this theory himself. On a tape recording made at some point during his presidency, Johnson was heard to say: “Kennedy was trying to kill Castro. Castro got him first.”

The problem with such an argument is this: masterminding Kennedy’s assassination would have been political suicide for Castro, and despite his many failings, one positive thing that can be said of Castro is that he was a savvy and shrewd politician. It seems unlikely he would have jeopardized his power by arranging the assassination of the United States president.

But that is subjective. What evidence can be found to support a connection between Communism, Castro, and Kennedy’s death?

The answer is none.

Like the Mafia connection, there is simply no reliable evidence to suggest any involvement by Castro or the KGB. The “evidence” of Castro’s involvement is purely speculative and circumstantial. The expert slated by Congress in the 1970’s to investigate this avenue met personally with Castro, interviewed ex-KGB officers, and investigated pro-Soviet groups in Mexico City – a place where Oswald had visited just a month or two before the assassination, apparently attempting to defect to Cuba – and he found no evidence of any connection to any of these groups.

Additionally, the KGB agent who worked Oswald’s case when he immigrated to the Soviet Union in the early 1960’s is still alive and has recently been interviewed. This man, who is still, to this day, living in the U.S. under an assumed name, testified that the KGB had believed Oswald to be crazy, and would never have chosen him as an assassin. In fact, the KGB initially rejected Oswald’s request to immigrate, but only later changed its mind. The KGB, in fact, had suspected Oswald – a former Marine who had learned Russian in the Marine Corps – of working for the U.S.

Additionally, as with the Mafia connection, in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union, with the release of millions of secret documents, and with the stories and anecdotes of former KGB agents and other Soviet insiders, there has never been a single shred of evidence come to light suggesting any tie with the Soviet Union or Cuba to Kennedy’s murder.

THE HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON ASSASSINATIONS

As mentioned earlier, popular demand led to the formation of a government committee to re-open the Kennedy investigation in the 1970’s. The HSCA, as it came to be known, investigated not only the assassination of Kennedy, but also Martin Luther King, Jr. They spent four years looking into all the various conspiracy theories, viewing the films, analyzing evidence, and taking interviews. In 1978, they were just a few weeks away from issuing a report that more or less vindicated the original government report by the Warren Commission suggesting that Oswald acted alone. None of their investigations found evidence of any connection to Cuba, the KGB, the Mafia, the CIA, or the FBI. However, at the last minute, a new piece of evidence came into the picture which changed their assessment of a lone gunman entirely.

THE DICTABELT RECORDING

Much less known than the various video films of Kennedy on the day of the assassination was an audio recording made by a policeman’s motorcycle Dictabelt during the assassination. The Dictabelt was simply a recording device used by police officers in the days before dashboard-mounted video cameras. The audio feed from an officer’s Dictabelt went directly to police headquarters, where it was recorded.

At the time of the HSCA’s report, new scientific analyses by prominent audiologists from the City University of New York had suggested that this little known recording proved that four shots were fired in Dealey Plaza that day, not three as the Warren Commission had stated. It is an established fact that only three cartridges were found in Oswald’s nest, and forensic tests on his rifle corroborated that it had only been fired three times. So where did this fourth shot come from? The recording in question had been triggered inadvertently by a police officer just two minutes before the murder, and according to these scientists, it provided acoustic evidence that three shots were fired from the direction of the Texas School Book Depository, and one shot was fired from the direction of the now infamous “grassy knoll” in front of Kennedy’s car. The audiologists said the probability, based on the recording, of a fourth shot from the grassy knoll was “95%.”

The key to the analysis, however, was an assertion that the recording had come from the motorcycle of Officer H.B. McClain, and that McClain had been in Dealey Plaza, turning the corner from Houston Street to Elm Street right in front of the Texas School Book Depository at the time of the shots. McClain, however, said that he had, in fact, been a block away at the time of the shots, and therefore could not have been in the right spot to make the analysis work.

Despite this, the committee was convinced by the scientific analysis of the audio recording. They changed their report, and while they ruled out any conspiracies involving the KGB, Soviet Union, organized crime, and a number of others, their report suggested that there were four shots, not three, and that the fourth shot came from the grassy knoll, but missed. They agreed, then, that Oswald’s shots alone had killed Kennedy and wounded Governor Connolly. However, the presence of a second shooter implied a conspiracy, so while they ruled out all the traditional conspiracy theories, they argued that Oswald was not working alone.

It is important to keep in mind that despite this new assertion that there had been multiple shooters, including one on the grassy knoll, 99 out of the 104 “ear witnesses” to the direction of the gunfire testified that the shots they heard all came from one spot. Over half of those witnesses marked that one spot as the Texas School Book Depository, including both Governor and Mrs. Connolly, and both secret service agents in Kennedy’s car. Only five ear witnesses testified to hearing gunshots coming from two locations, as asserted by the Dictabelt scientists.

Of the few people who were on the grassy knoll at the time of the assassination, none testified to hearing shots from that area, and none testified to seeing anyone fleeing from the area. In fact, the only three ear witnesses on the grassy knoll all agreed that the shots they heard came from the Texas School Book Depository – and they would have been in the best position to determine if a shot had come from right behind them. Abraham Zapruder and his secretary Marilyn Sitzman were standing on a retaining wall on the grassy knoll, filming the motorcade as it passed. Sitzman was one of those who testified about gunshots, and she summed it up best: “The blast of a high-powered rifle [from the grassy knoll] would have blown me off that wall.”

Finally, even though there was some discrepancy as to the direction of the shots, it was nearly universally agreed by all ear witnesses that only three shots were fired. A total of 178 people testified to hearing gunshots that day (of those, only the aforementioned 104 testified about the direction). Of the 178 ear witnesses, 132 reported exactly three shots, and another 24 reported hearing only one or two shots. That means 88% of the ear witnesses agreed that no more than three shots were fired. Of the remaining 22 testimonies, nearly half could not identify how many shots they heard. Only 6 of the 178 ear witnesses – less than 4% – claimed to have heard four shots.

THE DICTABELT RECORDING DEBUNKED

In recent years, new analyses of the recording, as well as a complete computer simulation of the assassination, has satisfactorily put to rest the evidence from the Dictabelt recording.

A review by the National Academy of Sciences in 1982 was the first analysis to cast doubt on the HSCA’s findings. Their conclusion was based on the fact that the words “Hold everything secure” can be heard on the tape right at the same time that the supposed gunshots were being fired. Those words, however, were known to have been uttered by Dallas Sheriff Bill Decker over 2-way radio about a minute after the assassination had occurred. Thus, the sounds that the audiologists interpreted as gunshots could not have been gunshots because they occurred a minute too late.

Later analyses by various groups have found that the methods used by the HSCA’s scientists were fundamentally flawed for a variety of technical reasons, relating mostly to impulse patterns.

Finally, new computer simulations show that H.B. McClain was, in fact, not at the corner of Houston and Elm, as the HSCA’s experts said. Dale Myers, a computer animator, spent over ten years analyzing the various videos and photographs of the assassination, and programming his findings, frame-by-frame, into a complete computer simulation. This simulation allows the viewer to see the assassination, all of Dealey Plaza, and all of the people and vehicles that were in Dealey Plaza that day, from any angle. His work was broadcast on a 2003 ABC News documentary on the assassination, which he later won an Emmy for.

Using this simulation, H.B. McClain’s position at the moment of the assassination can be accurately determined. As such, the simulation shows McClain to be exactly where he testified he had been – one block away from the Texas School Book Depository, at the intersection of Houston Street and Main Street. This means that he was not in the area where the HSCA’s experts said he needed to be for the analysis to be accurate.


Dealey Plaza, annotated. McClain was at the corner of Houston and Main
when the shots were fired, too far away for his Dictabelt to have recorded
the sounds.

During the 1978 investigation, Mark Weiss – one of the committee’s audiologists – was asked if the location of McClain’s vehicle was vital to the analysis. He responded as follows: “It is an essential component of it because if you do not put the motorcycle in the place that it is…you do not get a good, tight pattern that compares very well with the observed impulses on the police tape recording.”

The conclusion seems clear: the one piece of evidence given by the HSCA to support a theory of multiple gunmen has been proven unreliable. In the end, it is most likely that the Dictabelt recording, in fact, originated from a police officer who was not even in Dealey Plaza, and the “impulse” patterns heard on the recording were not gunshots at all.

“JFK” AND THE MAGIC BULLET

If the HSCA’s multiple gunmen conclusion in 1978 was not enough to encourage conspiracy theorists, Oliver Stone’s 1991 movie “JFK” certainly worked wonders on fueling their theories surrounding Kennedy’s murder. Stone admitted to using “dramatic license” in the film, but upon investigation, this seems a dreadful understatement.

First, the characterization is misleading. The main character, played by Kevin Costner, is based on a New Orleans district attorney named Jim Garrison, who decided on his own to investigate the assassination in the late 1960’s. He eventually arresting a local businessman named Clay Shaw and charging him with conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy. Shaw was played by Tommy Lee Jones in the film.

In the movie, Jim Garrison is depicted as a hero. He is the great American lawyer refusing to bow to an obvious government cover-up, and he is a loveable, warm family man, intent on bringing the truth to light.

Unfortunately, the reality was apparently quite different. Co-workers and acquaintances knew Jim Garrison as controlling, manipulative, obsessive, cruel, and narrow-minded. Garrison had been relieved of active duty in the National Guard in the 1950’s with one doctor stating that he had “severe and disabling psychoneuroses” and was considered totally incapacitated for military service and “moderately incapacitated in civilian adaptability.” Additionally, he had a reputation for arresting people first and asking questions later; critics pointed to the fact that suspects he arrested frequently had their charges dropped and were later released. He also had a tendency to make public statements against groups of people (the state legislature, for instance) without any supporting evidence. He was unanimously censured by the state legislature of Louisiana in the 1960’s for suggesting they were all taking bribes. He also suggested the state parole board was taking bribes, and once arrested nine police officers for police brutality, but was forced to release them two weeks later with practically no evidence. He was personally charged and convicted of misdemeanor criminal defamation in 1963 when he falsely accused a panel of judges of racketeering and conspiring against him after a dispute over his budget.

This paints a picture of an obsessively paranoid lawyer with delusions of his own power; a man who was not afraid to step far outside the boundaries of the law to make a case. This could not have been more strongly illustrated in his arrest of Clay Shaw. Shaw was a businessman in New Orleans, and Garrison found a witness – a man with a checkered past who was a known drug user – who claimed to have seen Shaw in a meeting with Oswald and several others, discussing killing Kennedy. The man’s story was not consistent, however, and this inconsistent story from an unreliable witness was practically the only evidence Garrison had against Shaw. It took the jury exactly 54 minutes to acquit him.

Other lies abound in the movie, most notably the famous argument about the “Magic Bullet.” This theory, pushed into the public consciousness by the movie, argues that for Kennedy and Connolly to have been struck by the same bullet – as the Warren Commission and the lone gunman theorists suggest – the bullet would have needed to change direction several times in midair. The famous scene has Kevin Costner showing how the bullet would have veered to the left, then to the right, then downward, then upward, etc.


Kevin Costner as Jim Garrison explaining the Magic
Bullet theory.

The point of this argument was that Connolly and Kennedy were wounded by separate bullets, coming from two different directions – thus, two gunmen.

The Magic Bullet theory seemed so well-argued in the movie that most people accepted it outright. It was made even more amenable by the fact that Connolly himself, along with his wife, had insisted that the bullet that struck him was different than the bullets that struck Kennedy. The Connolly’s agreed that only three shots were fired, and that Oswald was acting alone, but they insisted that the first shot hit Kennedy, the second hit Connolly, and the third hit Kennedy again. An Associated Press photographer, Ike Altgens, who captured the moment of Kennedy’s first wound in a famous still image, claimed that he snapped his picture at the moment he heard the first shot. He claimed, however, to have heard only two shots, with the second shot being the one that hit Kennedy in the head. It would seem clear to me that he simply did not hear the actual first shot.


Altgens' photograph, which he says was taken just after the first shot,
but before any subsequent shots. Note that the crowd has no idea anything
has happened yet. Kennedy is behind the rear-view mirror, clutching his
throat, with Jaqueline's white-gloved hand on his arm. Connolly (turned
sideways) is also already reacting to being hit. The man in the front
passenger seat is glancing in the rear-view mirror. Note the motorcycle
officer looking over his shoulder, having clearly heard the shots.

Regardless, the Emmy-winning computer simulation mentioned earlier proves that not only is the Magic Bullet theory a lot of hocus pocus, but that the Connollys’ and Altgens' recollection of events is simply not accurate.

THE MAGIC BULLET THEORY DEBUNKED


A careful, frame-by-frame viewing of the Zapruder film shows that Connolly and Kennedy both reacted in almost the same instant to being shot.


Zapruder Film, the instant after the second shot was fired. Note that
Connolly has already reacted to being hit, clearly by the same bullet
that struck Kennedy.


A moment later. This frame from the Zapruder film was
made at approximately the same instant that the Altgens
photograph, shown above, was snapped. Notice that Mrs.
Kennedy's face is not yet revealing any surprise or fear,
but Govenor Connolly is already reacting in pain to the
gunshot wound.

Connolly testified that he heard the first shot, and recognized it immediately as a shot from a high-powered rifle (many other ear witnesses mistook the first shot for a firecracker). He testified that he was looking to his left when he heard the first shot, then immediately turned to his right, to the direction from where he heard the shot originate. He believed Kennedy had been hit by this shot, though he admitted that he could not see Kennedy at this point. As he turned to his right, he heard the second shot, and immediately realized he was hit. His wife testified that she heard the first shot, saw Kennedy react, then heard the second shot and saw her husband react, at which point she pulled him into her lap and did not look back at Kennedy again.


Zapruder film, about a second before the fatal head shot. Everything
has happened so fast that the driver (head turned) is just noticing that
something is wrong.

As noted above, the Zapruder film, while bearing out the testimony of Governor Connolly in regards to his movements and reactions, does not bear out the testimony of his wife. Mrs. Connolly said Kennedy reacted to the first shot by grabbing his throat, then the second shot hit her husband and he reacted. The film proves this was not the case. In the film, you can see Connolly looking to his left just seconds before the first shot, then the first shot presumably occurs and he turns very quickly to his right. As of this moment, Kennedy is still waving and has clearly not been hit yet. So the first shot would appear, in fact, to have missed. A second or two later, as Connolly is still turning to his right and apparently trying to see if Kennedy is okay, Kennedy suddenly reaches up with balled fists towards his throat. At that same instant, Connolly seems to react, and a screen shot from the Zapruder film, enhanced by modern technology, seems to show a ballooning in his shirt in the exact spot where the bullet was known to have exited Connolly’s chest. All this supports a single bullet theory.

The final destruction of the Magic Bullet theory comes when all of this is put into the computer simulation. The Magic Bullet theory was based on the belief that the trajectory could not have been right for the bullet to pass cleanly through Kennedy and into Connolly, and that some of Connolly’s wounds, therefore, must have come from a different shooter. In “JFK,” when Kevin Costner is showing all the twists and turns the bullet would have needed to take, he gets three important facts wrong.


A diagram of the Magic Bullet Theory as presented in "JFK."

First, in the movie’s reenactment, Connolly was seated directly in front of Kennedy. In fact, the jump seat Connolly was in was six inches off center from Kennedy’s seat, meaning that Connolly was six inches toward Kennedy’s left, not directly in front of him. Furthermore, the jump seat was lower than the seat Kennedy was in, so while the movie reenactment had Connolly and Kennedy sitting at the same height, Connolly was in reality three inches below Kennedy. Finally, and most importantly, the movie reenactment had Connolly facing forward with his shoulders square at the moment of impact. The Zapruder film, and Connolly’s own testimony, prove that Connolly was in fact turned to his right, not sitting with his back to Kennedy, at the time of the wounding shot.

Programming all these facts into the computer simulation allows the viewer to follow the trajectory of the bullet from gun to target. Taking into account the aim of the rifle, the distance and power of the rifle, the exact location of the car, the exact location of the men within the car, and the exact body positions of the men at the moment of impact, and programming all these things into the computer so that the event can be viewed from any angle, it becomes apparent that, in fact, a single bullet would have had a clear and straight path to cause the wounds found in Kennedy and Connolly.


Computer simulation of the second shot. Note the position
Connolly is in when the shot hits, giving a perfect trajectory,
and ruining any Magic Bullet theories.

Yes, the bullet would have passed through several layers of clothing as well as lots of skin, tissue, and bone, but a bullet fired from the kind of gun Oswald was shooting could very easily have passed through all those things. It was not a pop gun he was shooting, but a high-powered rifle, and from a relatively short distance.

With the Dictabelt recording and Magic Bullet theory adequately debunked, and adding in the ear witness accounts regarding the number and direction of gunshots, the evidence for a second gunman in Dealey Plaza that day is essentially nonexistent.

LEE HARVEY OSWALD

We have taken a long look at all the weaknesses in the various conspiracy theories and popular depictions of Kennedy’s assassination. Now it is important to look at the one figure we know was involved, and see if the evidence suggests that he might have been capable of hatching and pulling off the assassination on his own.

Oswald was born in New Orleans in 1939. According to people who knew him, including his own brother who is still alive, Oswald was a very troubled and mentally disturbed individual. His natural father died two months before he was born, and his mother was described as emotionally volatile and domineering. The family moved around a lot, and Oswald had lived in twenty-two different homes and attended twelve different schools by the time he was eighteen. He also spent over a year in an orphanage when his mother was unable to care for the kids. He was known as a loner, was described as someone who had delusions of his own immortal importance in the world, and seemed frustrated that the world did not seem to recognize his magnitude.

At fourteen, after a series of problems at a school he attended in New York City, including an incident where he threatened his stepbrother’s wife with a knife, a psychiatrist noted that he had a vivid fantasy life and tried to compensate for his own shortcomings and personal frustrations with ideas of his own omnipotence and power. He was diagnosed as being passive-aggressive and having schizoid tendencies. Further psychiatric intervention was recommended, but his mother decided around that same time to move back to New Orleans, and the counseling was never completed.

Oswald dropped out of school in the 9th grade, and by the age of sixteen had become an ardent Marxist and Socialist. Despite this, he wanted to follow in his older brother’s footsteps and join the Marine Corps – he idolized his older brother, and he likely thought the Marine Corps would be a free ticket to get out from underneath his mother’s tyrannical rule.

He joined the Marines at age seventeen and was trained as a sharpshooter. Despite the assertion in “JFK” that Oswald was only an “average” shot, this is simply not the case. Those who knew him during his tenure with the Marines described him as an excellent sharpshooter, and this is further evidenced by the existing records of his scores during target practice. Those records show that he routinely reached scores as high as 48 out of 50 and 49 out of 50 on long range rifle shooting – that is, from 200 yards. By way of comparison, the distance from his nest in the Texas School Book Depository to Kennedy’s car was less than 100 yards. Additionally, while in the Marine Corps, he qualified in separate tests first as a marksman, and then as a sharpshooter.
Despite this, his feelings of ostracism only deepened in the Marine Corps. Because of his small stature, he had a hard time garnering any respect, and his increasingly outspoken views on Socialism caused his fellow corpsmen to nickname him “Oswaldskovich.” For various offenses he was court-martialed twice, was demoted in rank, and even spent time in the brig.

In 1959, he was discharged from the Marines, went home for three days, and then immediately left the United States planning to immigrate to Russia. He had begun learning Russian while in the Marine Corps, and when he arrived in Moscow saying he wanted to denounce his citizenship in the U.S. and become a Russian, it caused somewhat of a stir, publicly. He was interviewed by Russian news outlets, and the KGB had a file on him. They initially feared he might be an American spy. After recognizing that he was mentally unstable, had a bad record, and would serve no real use to the Soviet Union, his request for citizenship was denied. Distraught at having to return to America, he made a superficial suicide attempt, but it was enough for Russian authorities to keep him around longer, under psychiatric evaluation. Eventually, although the KGB investigators advised against it, the Soviets allowed him to stay.

He was sent to Minsk, where he lived and worked for the next three years or so.


Lee Harvey Oswald as he looked during his
stay in the Soviet Union.

He married a Russian woman named Marina Prusakova, and they had a child together.


Oswald's wife, Marina.

However, he eventually grew disillusioned with life in the Soviet Union, and finally returned to the United States in the summer of 1962. This actually gained him a small amount of national attention at the time, as he was a former Marine who had defected to the Soviet Union and then returned home. His brother and mother were living in Dallas at the time, so he moved there with his Russian wife and young son.

Friends of the couple (who were mostly Russian immigrants) noted that Oswald was known to abuse his wife, and they frequently tried to talk her into leaving him. In July of 1962, about a month after returning from Russia, Oswald got a job with a welding company, but quit after three months. In October he began working for a typesetting firm. His time there was noted by conflict with other employees and marked inefficiency. He also appears to have used the company machines to produce fake identification papers for himself, using the alias “Alek James Hidell.” In April of 1963, after six months with the typesetting firm, he was terminated.

AN ASSASSINATION “TRIAL-RUN”

Just one day before his termination, the series of photographs that have become famous as the “backyard photos” were taken by Oswald’s wife in the backyard of their home.


One of the "backyard photos." Marxist newspapers
are in Oswald's hand, and the revolver he later used
to murder J.D. Tippet with is at his side.

The photographs show Oswald posing with a new rifle, which he was clearly proud to have purchased. He had bought it through a mail-order company in Chicago, using his alias, and had it mailed to his Dallas post office box.


Oswald's mail order rifle.

In some of the pictures, Oswald is seen to be holding a pair of Marxist newspapers. He is also wearing a pistol in a hip holster. On one of the photographs, the caption “Hunter of fascists – ha ha ha!!” is written on the back in Russian.

These photographs (and particularly the anti-fascist caption) are important not only because they show Oswald holding the rifle that he eventually used to assassinate Kennedy with, but also because ten days later, on April 10, 1963, Oswald appears to have made his first legitimate attempt at assassinating someone.

Edwin Walker was a former U.S. army general who had been relieved of his duties by the Kennedy administration because he was found passing out right-wing literature to his soldiers.


General Edwin Walker

He was an outspoken anti-Communist and segregationist, and had taken an active role in resistance to the integration of the University of Mississippi in 1962. He had been arrested for his role in that action, but the charges were dropped – an event that caused front page news. Walker had also run for the governor’s seat of Texas – a seat won by John Connolly. According to Oswald’s wife in the interviews with the Warren Commission, Oswald had considered Walker to be the leader of a “fascist organization.”

Seven days after Walker gave a speech wherein he called for the U.S. to “liquidate the scourge that has descended upon the island of Cuba,” Oswald purchased his mail-order rifle.

At some point in March of 1963, Oswald “staked out” Walker’s home, going so far as to take pictures of it – pictures that were later found among his belongings. These photographs, incidentally, were taken with the same camera that took the “backyard photos” of Oswald with his rifle. The Warren Commission also discovered that he left a note to his wife in Russian giving her a set of instructions to follow if he should be arrested or otherwise disappear.

Oswald carried out the attempt on April 10th, but failed. His bullet struck the window frame and was deflected, hitting Walker – who was sitting at his desk – in the arm. At the time, the attempted murder was an unsolved case and the police had no suspects. Oswald’s involvement was not discovered until after his own death later that year, when the note to his wife, and the pictures of Walker’s house, were discovered. At that time, his wife admitted that Oswald had told her about his involvement, but only after the attempt.

OSWALD IN NEW ORLEANS AND MEXICO CITY

Shortly after his failed assassination attempt on Walker, Oswald left Dallas for New Orleans, and got another job, this time as a machinery worker with a coffee maker manufacturing company. He was fired, again, from this job after only a short time, for inefficiency. While in New Orleans with his wife, and apparently incapable of being content no matter where he went, he began discussing the possibility of going back to the Soviet Union.

Around this same time, Oswald got involved with a pro-Castro organization, and set up his own New Orleans chapter – membership one. He spent time passing out literature and fliers with his alias (“A.J. Hidell”) listed as chapter president.

In August, Oswald was arrested after an altercation with an anti-Castro group who confronted him while he was passing out literature. He was arrested and spent a day in jail.


Mug shot of Oswald following his arrest in New Orleans.

The incident gained him some notoriety, however, and he was interviewed by a local journalist, and later was featured in a series of radio “debates” with some of the anti-Castro faction he had originally been arrested with.

It was during this time in New Orleans that attorney Jim Garrison of “JFK” fame later linked Oswald to Clay Shaw and several other alleged “conspirators.” However, as already illustrated, the testimonies linking Oswald with these people were inconsistent and uncorroborated, and none of the witnesses who testified to these things ever told the Warren Commission during the initial investigation.

In September of 1963, Oswald sent his wife back to Dallas, but instead of going with her, he traveled to Mexico City. According to witnesses on his bus, he openly admitted that he was hoping to travel to Cuba by way of Mexico. Once in Mexico City, he visited the Cuban embassy, asking for permission to travel to Havana, telling them he wanted to visit Cuba before returning to the Soviet Union. The Cuban embassy in Mexico City was not forthcoming, however, and Oswald went back to Dallas on October 3rd.

THE WINDS OF BLIND FATE
After getting back to Dallas, Oswald found yet another job, this time at the Texas School Book Depository, filling book orders. During this time, Oswald was living in Dallas in a rooming house, and his wife was living with friends in nearby Irving, Texas. In late October, his wife gave birth to their second child. By this time, the FBI had already begun to take notice of Oswald and his wife, and actually visited the home where his wife was staying on two separate occasions in early November of 1963.

As the winds of fate would have it, the Dallas newspaper carried a story on November 16th, 1963, saying that President Kennedy would be coming through downtown Dallas on November 22nd. On November 19th, the entire route of the president’s motorcade was mapped out in the newspaper, revealing that the motorcade would be driving right past the Texas School Book Depository.

On November 21st, Oswald asked a co-worker to give him a ride to Irving, telling the co-worker he needed to pick up some curtain rods from his wife’s home. He left $170 for his wife, along with his wedding ring, and returned with the co-worker to Dallas, toting a long paper bag. He took this paper bag with him to work on the morning of November 22nd. The last confirmed citing any co-worker had of him on that fateful day was about thirty-five minutes prior to the assassination, on the sixth floor.

After the assassination, Oswald quickly fled his nest, leaving the gun behind, and was next seen on the 2nd floor lunch area with a bottle of Coke in his hand. There, he was confronted by a police officer, but was allowed to pass because his supervisor assured the officer that he was an employee. Oswald immediately left the building, which was perhaps unfortunate for him, because he proved to be the only employee missing during a headcount a short time later. Bulletins were immediately put out around the city with his description. After leaving the building, he went back to his rooming house, where he changed clothes and left in a hurry.

He was next seen about a mile away, when he was confronted by police officer J.D. Tippit, who apparently recognized his description and pulled his squad car up to the sidewalk to question him. As Tippit got out of his car, Oswald shot and killed him with the revolver he had been wearing in the “backyard photos.” A number of people witnessed the murder. Oswald fled the scene, and ducked into a nearby movie theater, where his suspicious manner was immediately noticed. Police were called, and Oswald was arrested after a scuffle inside the theater.


Possibly the only color photo ever taken of Oswald during his
life. This was taken at police headquarters on November 23rd,
1963. Note the scratch on his head and the black eye from his
scuffle with police in the Texas Theater.


The seat Oswald was sitting in when he was arrested at the Texas Theater.

CONCLUSION

I have strayed a bit in giving details of Oswald’s actions prior to and after the assassination, but the overall picture that one gets when looking at Oswald’s life is that of a highly-disturbed neurotic with delusions of his own importance in world history. In fact, this picture fits perfectly with the common image of any assassin – someone who believes that they will gain the notoriety they deserve if they can only succeed in killing someone powerful and famous. One is reminded of John Hinckley who attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan, believing it would impress his favorite actress (Jodie Foster) enough that she would fall in love with him.

Oswald was a troubled youth. He was diagnosed as a teenager as having schizoid tendencies. He had problems in school. He could not hold down a job and was routinely fired for poor performance and aggressive behavior. In the Marines, he lost his rank due to his emotional problems and spent time in the brig. He was known to abuse his wife physically and emotionally. He was a loner and a drifter. He was an avowed Marxist and immigrated to Russia, but then later became disillusioned with the U.S.S.R., and returned to the States. Yet within a year, he was already making plans to go back to Russia. While it is uncertain exactly when Oswald first began having ideations about assassinating someone powerful, it is clear that he had picked a target by the early part of 1963. He purchased the gun he needed to do the job, staked out the spot, and then carried out the attempt. He failed, but he had crossed a psychological line.

After more trouble with the law, and more disillusionment throughout 1963 for Oswald, the winds of fate blew the President of the United States in an open-air car right past the building where this attempted murderer and trained sharpshooter just happened to have gotten a job a month earlier. If someone – for instance, during his time in New Orleans or Mexico City – had been conspiring with Oswald to assassinate the president, they could not possibly have foreseen such a circumstance. What are the chances that Oswald and others would conspire to kill the president, and then voila, a month later, the president just happens to drive right past the place where Oswald worked in downtown Dallas? The chances against such a coincidence are astronomically low.

It seems clear that Oswald, upon learning that the president – unbelievably – was going to be driving right past his place of employment, saw the opportunity to pull off what he had failed to pull of with General Edwin Walker. After a lifetime of disappointment and disillusionment, what else was going to give him the fame and notoriety that he so clearly felt he deserved?

Oswald had the personality, the means, and the motive to assassinate Kennedy. The vast majority of ear witnesses heard three or fewer shots, and more than half of those people said the shots came solely from the Texas School Book Depository, including two employees who were on the 5th floor right beneath Oswald. Three cartridges were found in Oswald’s nest, and the gun was shown to have fired only three shots. No one on the grassy knoll heard any shots, or saw any fleeing gunmen, in that vicinity. New computer simulations prove that all the wounds suffered by the occupants of Kennedy’s car could have legitimately come from the Texas School Book Depository, effectively destroying the Magic Bullet theory. Those same models show that there was enough time in between shots for a marksman to legitimately cock and re-fire the rifle three times. Conspiracy theories tying in the Mafia, Jack Ruby, Cuba, and the KGB have no basis in fact and cannot be supported by any reliable evidence, despite years of trying. Dictabelt evidence suggesting four shots were fired has been proven unreliable and inaccurate.

Taken together with everything else, it seems abundantly clear that the original Warren Commission investigation was right all along – there was one gunman, it was Lee Harvey Oswald, he was shooting from the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository, he fired three shots, the first shot almost certainly missed, but likely ricocheted to cause injury to a bystander, the second shot hit Kennedy, passed through him, and hit Connolly, and the third shot hit Kennedy in the head and killed him. There is simply no other reliable evidence to suggest any other scenario.

The case, in my book, is closed.


* I have intentionally omitted references in this article because this format is not conducive to footnotes. However, to ensure that I do not step on any virtual toes, let me state that the following includes all of my sources for the information I espoused in this article:

1) My own personal knowledge of the subject, based on years of casual reading, television viewing, and studying on the topic;
2) A 2003 ABC News documentary (replayed on The History Channel) arguing for a lone gunman, and including interviews with numerous people associated with the case, as well as all the computer simulations and Dictabelt evidence that I mentioned;
3) The Warren Commission Reports, as published on www.history-matters.com; and
4) Wikipedia; I also cite by reference any of the sources cited on Wikipedia’s numerous entries on the subject.

22 comments:

Kitten Bitch said...

Several things:

Communism was just a red herring. :)

What was Abe Zapruder up to with his secretary exactly?????

For my final paper in high school, I wrote a detailed analysis of why there had to have been multiple shooters in the Kennedy Assasination. A big part of my argument was based on the evidence of the dictabelt recording.

This would have been in 1990.

Eight years after you say this evidence began to be debunkt.

Clearly, I was a sloppy researcher.

But I got an A, so clearly my Advanced Composition teacher sucked as much as I did.

NEWMAN! Funny that he was in that movie when the best episode of Seinfeld EVER involved the Magic Lugie and the Second Spitter!

And lastly, finally an essay that I can really get into! No offense but all the religious topics leave me a bit bored after a while. You should vary things more often!

orchards said...

in light of all presently available information this defense of the warren commission report is utterly ridiculous and insulting to the intelligence of anyone caring to read it, but if it helps you sleep better to believe and promote such drivel more power to you.

Scott said...

Actually, my sleep is not generally affected one way or the other in regards to whether Oswald shot Kennedy alone or whether there was a whole batallion of assassins. But thanks for sharing your opinion!

I don't have any need to believe in one theory over another; I simply followed the evidence where it led when I was writing this article, and the evidence led me to change my mind about conspiracies. In fact, since I wrote this article, I have seen a second documentary on Kennedy's assassination which solidified my beliefs even more that Oswald was acting totally alone.

orchards said...

there's a fine line, or perhaps no line at all, between official "evidence" and "propaganda" in this case.

but if you want to uncritically embrace the Official Story as being authoritative, choosing to willfully ignore voluminous contrary evidence, testimony, and numerous glaring inconsistencies strongly suggesting the warren commission report is a patently false and politically motivated disinformation fantasy, certainly you're free to it.

to an informed observer this comes across more as an attempt to resolve the uncomfortable cognitive dissonance that inevitably arises when we compare the official story with overwhelming evidence to it's contrary.

it's difficult for many americans to accept elements of their own government could have been complicit in such a crime, but that doesn't mean it wasn't the case. and citing official evidence as proof the official evidence is valid is a self-referential, valueless method of argument.

but i'm glad you're not losing sleep over it in any case, and please do make sure to enjoy your day.

Scott said...

I'm not going to rehash my arguments since I've done that at length in the referenced article.

As it is, I have, in fact, looked long and hard at the wealth of evidence denying the Warren Commission's report, and I have found it lacking.

I get your point about citing official evidence as proof of the official evidence, but in fact I did not do that in this article. Instead I compared the official story to the conspiracy theory evidence, and found the official story to be much stronger.

As is the case with so many things, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and I have not seen that among the various conspiracy theories. I tend to abide by the scientific principle that says the simplest answer is usually the right one.

Scott said...

Orchard, if there is a particular conspiracy theory that you believe is strong, I'd love for you to share it, or lead me to a place where I can read about it.

orchards said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
orchards said...

[edited]

i'll do it, but please give me a few days to put together a concise argument as i'm a bit busy over the next day or two. certainly i can't claim to have figured it all out, but do feel very strongly that amongst all the disinformation and outlandish rubbish floating around there's also enough worthy evidence to damningly incriminate the CIA, to suggest LBJ at the very least had foreknowledge, and to raise serious questions about j. edgar hoover's loyalties as guardian of nearly all the physical evidence referred to in the warren commission report.

crime scene dissections and forensic details aside, the most important questions are these : if not a lone nut, then why? what kind of political atmosphere existed in elite circles that would have allowed this to transpire and remain obscured all these years? why the rigidly enduring cover-up?

an honest and open search for those answers might upset the circumstances of people who remain in positions of authority even today, and would shed undesired light on the post-WWII ascendancy of non-governmental centers of influence that directly shape federal priorities and foreign policies, in 2009 more than ever. one thing to keep in mind is that the jfk assassination isn't just some historically distant event bearing no relevance to contemporary governance, rather it set the stage for many political careers and national defense policies that have since unfolded. it's perhaps deeply disturbing to consider this, but as citizens in a democratic society that theoretically places high value on truth and justice, we ought not look away in discomfort or be satisfied with inadequate explanations that don't really match the evidence.

until further reply, i wish you a very happy time and good health.

orchards said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
orchards said...

[ links all ran together, so i added line breaks and re-submitted ]

let me preface this by saying that though i initially arrived at your blog randomly via stumbleupon, i've taken some time to peruse the articles and found the contents to be very well structured, full of admirable intent, spiritually inspirational, and intellectually rigorous. the vision of christianity in practice you profess is surely as jesus would have it and i wish you success in your efforts to spread a teaching of love and compassion. by contrast, the information i present to you now is very dark, but knowledge is power and i feel it's critical for us to have the best information possible as we seek to positively transform our society.

this post is VERY long, but i hope you'll give these thoughts regarding the JFK assassination due consideration and apply the full force of your independent intellect to see whether or not they hold merit.

i doubt there exists in modern history another unsolved crime over which so much intentionally misleading disinformation has been disseminated. for every claim or item of evidence there are various counter-claims, cross-claims, or debunkings, which are themselves subsequently debunked. one of the primary tactics of organized counter-intelligence programs is to promote a contradictory mix of truth, lies, partial truths, and outlandish fabrications implicating anyone and everyone such that determining what information is valid or not becomes difficult. one of the key arguments used against the idea of a broad conspiracy to assassinate JFK is "if all those people were involved, someone would've talked by now" well, the fact is, people HAVE talked, they've just been ignored by the press and seen their testimony lost in a deluge of propaganda and disinformation.

and as previously stated, i don't claim to know who ordered JFK's death, but here is some evidence that in my mind deserves consideration in an search for answers.

-------------------------
BROADER CONTEXT
-------------------------

before getting into specifics about the assassination itself, it would be relevant to consider more widely the political circumstances into which the kennedy administration was born :

- post-WWII america. a country that had just achieved total victory over it's adversaries in large part through a truly stupendous coordinated effort to produce armaments in a quantity and on a nuclear scale never before witnessed in history.

- the war's ferocity and extended duration fundamentally altered the relationship between government and industry, intertwining them in ways previously unimaginable and blurring the lines between private enterprise and public interest as staff and policy visions passed freely between overlapping public and privates spheres of influence.

- the CIA was formed out of the wartime OSS, but the role of the agency in peacetime affairs was ill-defined and few observers understood it's secretive internal culture. without any constitutionally established oversight or explicit superior authority the CIA quickly evolved into a dangerously self-entitled autonomous wing of the government that often made (and continues to make ) it's own policies and alliances irrespective of official positions.

- there was broad consensus among military and industrial elites that major conflict with the soviet union was inevitable, and that america ought to capitalize on it's decisive superiority of arms to destroy the soviet threat and seize a dominant position in world affairs through the imposition of martial strength, all in the interest of safeguarding democracy of course.

consider eisenhower's final presidential address to the american public, in which he went to great lengths to warn about the democracy-threatening rise of the military industrial complex.

eisenhower's farewell address video
eisenhower was an intelligent man uniquely qualified to comment on matters of war, peace, and governance, here are some relevant quotes :

- "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

- "I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it."

- "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. "

- "How far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without? "

- "Only Americans can hurt America."

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WHY :
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the stolen election : richard nixon was eisenhower's vice president and widely regarded as the natural choice for the next president until a charismatic young senator named john f. kennedy stepped into the race and stole the election through mafia assisted voter fraud in chicago ( widely acknowledged by serious historians ). kennedy's victory disrupted the plans of anyone expecting business as usual to continue under nixon, and kennedy was not as connected to the web of military industry and intelligence services as nixon had been.

the bay of pigs : the botched bay of pigs invasion is often cited as a key failure of kennedy's administration. actually the bay of pigs was planned by the CIA during the eisenhower administration and kennedy allowed it to proceed only after receiving false assurances the invasion could succeed without overt support from the air force or uniformed military. it's been widely suggested this was a plan to instigate broader conflict with the soviet union, with the joint chiefs of staff and intelligence agencies assuming the inexperienced president would cave in to pressure and deploy the air force rather than accept defeat. but when kennedy in fact refused to escalate the situation out of reluctance to instigate an open war, it was perceived as an inexcusable betrayal by members of the CIA and an act of cowardly treason by military expansionists ( who were in the majority in those days, and still are ). kennedy never regained the trust or respect of his national defense apparatus and thenceforth became increasingly isolated within his own government, a circumstance that remains little understood by most americans. he was furious about the deceptions he'd been fed by the CIA and vowed to disband the agency.

allen dulles : after the bay of pigs kennedy fired CIA director allen dulles, who had been the head of the agency since 1947. this action was widely resented within the CIA. amazingly, allen dulles was later appointed to the warren commission by LBJ, and is widely credited as the main architect of the report. ( dulles is actually a highly interesting character whose various, nefarious exploits are too numerous to list here, but i invite you to explore his history and be sure to remember wikipedia isn't by any means immune from efforts to fictionalize / misrepresent history for political reasons. )

kennedy's relationship with nikita kruschev : kruschev and kennedy met personally only once, at the vienna conference in 1961, during which it was generally perceived kennedy had been intimidated by the soviet leader. however unbeknownst to nearly all at the time, kennedy had also taken the initiative to suggest an informal, direct dialogue between himself and kruschev outside official channels of government communication, which would provide the two leaders an opportunity to work directly with one another to resolve problems that might otherwise prove difficult to address due to the aggressive and highly politicized cold war stances of their respective defense establishments. kruschev took kennedy up on the offer and the two began to exchange private, closely guarded correspondence through letters carried back and forth by trusted agents. when this fact became known in privileged circles it was considered an act of high treason and an immediate threat to the national security of the united states.

the cuban missile crisis : during the tense 13 day standoff the world was brought to the brink of total nuclear war between the USA and the soviet union. military advisors on both sides pressed strongly for vicious pre-emptive attacks to seize the moment and neutralize the enemy, pressure that was resisted by both kennedy and kruschev because both recognized it as total insanity that would result in the deaths of untold millions and poison the planet. owing to their direct, personal relationship the two shared mutual good faith in each other and strove to restrain pro-war elements in their respective governments. eventually kruschev folded and the crisis resolved before the outbreak of war. despite having prevailed, kennedy's reluctance to aggressively attack the soviet union was regarded as a sign of weakness and a disadvantageously lost opportunity by many within the military and industrial elite.

peace : kennedy later gave a speech at american university on the topic of world peace, explicitly outlining a vision of the world in which mutual respect and disarmament could end the cold war and usher in a new era of prosperity and cultural advancement on all sides. military advisors and intelligence services were not pre-notified of the speech or given an opportunity to suggest changes, as is the general policy with major presidential speeches, and this was seen as a unilateral action on kennedy's behalf that once again betrayed the profitable interests of the american military state and demonstrated he was determined to exercise decisive leadership in formulating a peaceful foreign policy vision for the USA, despite vehement opposition from within his own administration.

the federal reserve : this could be a whole other discussion, but suffice to say the"federal" reserve bank isn't actually federal at all, but an entirely private entity that has insinuated itself into the governance of this nation in ways that are definitely not addressed or authorized in the constitution ( a solid book about this )
shareholders of the federal reserve are some of the richest and most politically / economically powerful people on the planet ( rockefeller, dupont, rothschild, bush, ect ), and truly vast private fortunes are generated at taxpayer expense. many of the families and individuals invested in the federal reserve are also heavily invested in the armaments industries previously discussed. ever notice how we don't actually use "dollars" but rather "federal reserve notes"? this is patently unconstitutional and in the summer of 1963 kennedy signed a little known executive order ( # 11110 ) authorizing the treasury department to circulate about 4.3 billion dollars worth of actual dollars, undermining the pernicious influence and wealth of the federal reserve. strangely enough, directly after the assassination all those dollars were recalled and immediately replaced with federal reserve notes.

mafia prosecutions : the mafia helped elect JFK, so of course they were highly incensed when attorney general robert kennedy began to harass and pursue them with such seriousness. from a mafia perspective, the kennedys acted as ungrateful backstabbers and this caused a lot of anti-kennedy hatred to blossom in underworld circles.

the oil depletion allowance : kennedy expressed an intention to end the oil depletion allowance, essentially a government tax giveaway worth vast sums of money every year for owners and shareholders of texas based oil companies. of course, the kennedy hating billionaires running such companies (h.l.hunt, clint murchison ) were much opposed to this. coincidentally, j. edgar hoover enjoyed a very friendly relationship with murchison, often vacationing on his properties and accepting financial favors.

drug use and adultry : JFK was almost constantly high on various painkillers, ostensibly due to painful back injuries from his naval service and subsequent operations. he was also a shameless womanizer who conducted many unconcealed affairs during his time at the white house.

LBJ : lyndon baines johnson's political career was undoubtedly built on unscrupulous dealings and numerous murders, including that of his own sister. he was a violently ambitious opportunist of the worst kind who resented kennedy very strongly for relegating him to ceremonial duties as vice president when he had previously enjoyed enormous power as senior democratic leader of the senate. that the two men hated each other was widely known in washington, and it was no secret LBJ coveted the presidency. all indications are kennedy intended to drop LBJ from the 1964 ticket, and LBJ was on the verge of being criminally indicted in a highly damaging scandal involving billie sol estes. this combination of events would have effectively ended johnson's political career had not fate intervened in dallas.

= all of which is to say that in the summer of 1963, while JFK was very popular among the general populace, he was widely despised and variously regarded within elite circles as a class traitor, weak military leader, degenerate drug addict, dangerous national security liability, and an immediate obstacle to the fulfillment of presidential ambition. in this hostile atmosphere assassination plots could have been prepared without undue fear of exposure or serious official inquiry afterwards. if so many influential people wanted kennedy dead for individual reasons, it's not outlandish to think all would be pleased to go along with any official explanation that avoided implicating themselves, whether they were actively involved in the planning or not.

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HOW
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first of all, i feel your understanding of lee harvey oswald is much clouded by establishment disinformation, please consider this link, from PBS Frontline :
frontline on lee harvey oswald
secondly, asserting that kennedy's fatal headwound was administered from the 6th floor window of the schoolbook depository building simply doesn't account for overwhelming testimony and physical evidence to the contrary:

- doctors and nurses at parkland hospital who observed JFK's corpse almost uniformly describe the wound as a massive hole in the back of his head, as well as asserting that the neck wound certainly appeared to be one of entry rather than exit.
- video testimonies about the wound
- in films and images of the assassination jacqueline climbs out on the rear of the presidential limousine in a frantic attempt to retrieve a piece of JFK's skull that had blown out the back of his head. this was stated by ms. kennedy and corroborated by secret service agent clint hill, who climbed onto the rear of the car and subsequently shielded the first couple with his body.
- the dallas police department motorcycle officer following to the left rear of the presidential limousine stated that the windshield of his motorcycle was covered in blood and brain matter after the shooting.
- blood, brains, and bits of skull were found in the median of dealy plaza, to the rear and left of JFK's position at the time of the shooting.

and then there's the zapruder film, discussion of which more aptly belongs in the cover-up section below.

you stated in your article that most witnesses heard 3 shots or less, but that isn't really the case, in fact many witnessed reported more than 3. abraham zapruder said it seemed "like they were ganging up on him". i invite you to consider the trustworthiness of your information source on that point. also consider that the majority of the crowd in dealy plaza and police officers on the scene believed shots came from the grassy knoll, explaining why they rushed to that area after the shooting. witness statements to this effect were simply ignored by the warren commission ( some video testimonies below )

perhaps we don't yet know who ultimately gave the order to have kennedy killed, but it's clear some people knew about it beforehand. according to longtime LBJ mistress madeline brown ( whose shocking statements about LBJ's involvement in the assassination have been totally ignored by the media ), on the night of november 21st LBJ met with prominent texas oilmen, FBI director j. edgar hoover, and richard nixon, among others, at the dallas mansion of oil billionaire clint murchison. when LBJ emerged from the meeting he angrily told brown that "after tomorrow those god damned kennedys will never embarrass me again - that's no threat, that's a promise", repeating the same words angrily the next morning over the telephone. LBJ and JFK had a violent argument on the morning of the 22nd over seating arrangements for the dallas motorcade. LBJ wanted texas governor john connelly to ride with him and senator ralph yarborough to ride with kennedy. ralph yarborough was a hated political enemy of LBJ's whose riding with the president would have elevated his prestige over that of governor john connally, who was one of LBJ's close associates. there's plenty more to implicate johnson, but rather than restate it here i'll refer you to these internet resources :

here's an interesting documentary produced for the history channel and aired exactly once before an immediate and harsh condemnation from various quarters in the political establishment forced the station to formally apologize and state that it would never be shown again or offered for sale. luckily, this video has escaped to the internet. ( i don't personally believe LBJ was the ultimate instigator of the assassination plot or feel that this theory adequately accounts for the entire circumstances of what happened, but certainly it demonstrates LBJ's dishonesty / political opportunism and indicates he and his associates were beyond a doubt dubiously mixed up in things. )
the men who killed kennedy - the guilty men
a text presentation of this information
here are three more interesting videos which have received strangely little press attention :
jack ruby - "it was johnson"
jack ruby speaks
jack ruby's letter from prison
sadly, some members of the secret service appear to have been complicit in these events as well, under whose authority we can only guess :
secret service standdown
inadequate protection in dallas
by the way, the mayor of dallas at the time was the brother of charles cabell, whom kennedy had fired from the CIA along with allen dulles after the bay of pigs invasion. charles cabell had a virulent hatred for kennedy and considered him a traitor.

--------------
COVER-UP
--------------

some witness testimony that didn't make it into the warren commission report :
james leon simmons
lee h. bowers jr.
william newman
richard c. dodd
dealey plaza witnesses
( there's plenty more on youtube if that's not enough )

roger craig testimony
after oswald was shot LBJ personally contacted parkland hospital in an attempt to have doctors extract a deathbed confession, which he later denied :
video
the zapruder film gives the appearance that the presidential limousine's speed was steady throughout the assassination, despite witnesses describing it as having slowed down dramatically when the shooting began, accelerating again after the fatal shot. here's a video that makes a strong argument the zapruder film has been extensively altered :
zapruder analysis
gerald ford's role in the warren commission :
link
link
why didn't the media try harder to uncover the truth? a little bit about CIA project mockingbird :
project mockingbird
for example, some interesting commentary on the zapruder film from dan rather :
dan rather starts career with huge error
there's an unusually high number of suspicious deaths among people purported to have possessed sensitive information about the assassination, including roger craig from above :
suspicious deaths
here's a link to a significant documentary relying entirely on archival footage to demonstrate the press was complicit / manipulated into presenting numerous mistruths about the assassination to the public. for some reason the filmmaker decided to add a background soundtrack of synthesizer soundscapes and use garish color filter effects on some background imagery. this might be considered curious aesthetic judgement or a demonstration of disregard for journalistic convention, but if you look beyond these distractions and focus on the archival footage presented, it is surely compelling and speaks for itself.
evidence of revision
-----------------
PERSPECTIVE
-----------------

i VERY!!! strongly encourage you to listen to this interview with catholic theologian, peace activist, and writer jim douglas, the author of the first book below. he also briefly discusses the MLK assassination and shares some incredible information that remains unreported by the media :
jim douglas interview
for further insight you might check out these books, or at the least read the user reviews on these amazon listings :

JFK - why he died and why it matters
someone would have talked
Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America
-----------------
CONCLUSION
-----------------

so after all that, do we know "who killed JFK?"

- not really, not yet.

but in any case i think we probably have enough information to conclude lee harvey oswald wasn't solely responsible.

Scott said...

Well, you've made a reasonably strong argument, Orchards, and I appreciate you taking the time.

A few things I wanted to comment on individually. (I'll quote the part I'm commenting on first, then put my comment.)

"- the CIA was formed out of the wartime OSS, but the role of the agency in peacetime affairs was ill-defined and few observers understood it's secretive internal culture. without any constitutionally established oversight or explicit superior authority the CIA quickly evolved into a dangerously self-entitled autonomous wing of the government that often made (and continues to make ) it's own policies and alliances irrespective of official positions."

This, of course, is a very common assumption about the CIA. It's "common knowledge," after all, that the CIA does whatever it wants and is basically autonomous. But despite being commonly believed, do we actually *know* this to be true?

"first of all, i feel your understanding of lee harvey oswald is much clouded by establishment disinformation, please consider this link, from PBS Frontline"

A very powerful argument here, for sure. This is the first I've heard of this, and certainly seems to implicate that something was going on. However, it's only circumstantial evidence.

"- doctors and nurses at parkland hospital who observed JFK's corpse almost uniformly describe the wound as a massive hole in the back of his head, as well as asserting that the neck wound certainly appeared to be one of entry rather than exit."

This is definitely one of the "unexplained" issues for those who, like me, believe in a lone gunman. These are issues I was aware of when writing my original article. Issues like the bullet on the stretcher are problems as well. It's hard to know exactly what was going on in that hospital after Kennedy arrived. I agree that after watching this video, it seems difficult to deny that Kennedy's head wound was in the back, not the front. And of course, if that's true, there's no way the bullet came from behind.

The problem, however, is that on the autopsy photo showing Kennedy from the front, with a big right rear head wound, there doesn't appear to be any entry wound. Where did the bullet enter? By this theory, the bullet entered, presumably, the forehead and exited the right rear.

Of course, that totally throws out any grassy knoll theory. A grassy knoll shot would have put the head wound on the *left* rear of Kennedy's head. For the blow out wound to be on the right rear, as the doctors say it was, the shot would have needed to come from the front and left of Kennedy - meaning from the interstate bridge or some other landmark in front of Kennedy. The entry wound, therefore, would have needed to be in Kennedy's left foreheard or thereabouts.

The problem is, from the autopsy photos, there appears to be no forehead wound at all. And it is significant that none of the doctors, apparently, testified as to where the entry wound was. It would appear that by their accounts, the only wound was the big one at the rear of Kennedy's head.

I have seen a very well laid out documentary that recreates all the angles, heights, hills, valleys, and contours of Dealy Plaza in a shooting range. An exact replica mock-up of Kennedy's car was used, with high-tech dummies used in place of real people, seated in the exact locations and body positions at the moment of the killing shot, as testified to in not only the Zapruder film, but other photographs and films as well.

A marksman tested the various angles, and showed pretty convincingly what physics already tells us, that a shot from the grassy knoll would have blown out Kennedy's left rear skull.

As for the other locations - the triple underpass and the fence across the plaza on main street - the marksmen tested these angles and found that no clear shot would have been possible from those locations at the instant of the assassination.

That left only the 6th floor, which proved to put a small bullet wound in the right rear of Kennedy's skull, and a large exit wound above his temple.

Now, taking that objective evidence, I compare it first to the doctor's reports. They said there was a large gaping wound at the right rear of the skull, and this is evidenced by autopsy photos. No entry wound is talked about by these doctors, and no entry wound is seen on the autopsy photos.

Next, I look to the Zapruder film. Whether it has been doctored or not to change the speed of the car (something I'm not yet convinced of), no one contends that the killing shot seen on the film is not the actual killing shot. When you look at the kill shot on the film, it basically looks like a large sudden blow out right along Kennedy's ear. It almost looks like its in Kennedy's cheek, although I think that's just the effect of a slow frame camera filming an instantaneous explosion of brain, blood, tissue and bone. To me, it looks mostly like the big gaping explosive wound was right above Kennedy's ear, in the temporal bone area.

Taking all these things together, it seems most likely to me that Oswald shot from the 6th floor, the bullet entered the right rear of Kennedy's skull, and exited near the ear on the right side of Kennedy's skull. It followed this angle through the skull because of the position Kennedy's head was in (bowed to the left) when the shot hit. The reason the doctors seem to have seen only a large gaping hole at the back of the skull is because the wound no doubt worsened between the killing and the arrival at the hospital, with Kennedy slumping into his wife's lap, and she perhaps messing with his head, and who knows what else occuring as the body was taken out of the limo, etc. More tissue and bone may have chipped off, effectively leaving a gaping wound from the ear back to the original entry wound, therefore masking the entry wound and leaving the impression of one big gaping wound along the rear right skull - which is exactly what the doctors testify to seeing.

"sadly, some members of the secret service appear to have been complicit in these events as well, under whose authority we can only guess"

I've seen this video and heard it discussed before. I can't, at the moment, remember what the official story about this incident is, but at the time I remember thinking that it sounded reasonable. However, it certainly helps add to the wealth of circumstantial evidence for a conspiracy theory.

In the end, that's what it really comes down to for me. As you have probably been able to tell by reading other posts of mine, I tend to be an analyst. I follow the Socratic method of "following the evidence where it leads." I try to keep personal bias out of my investigations (as much as possible, anyway). The problem with Kennedy's assassination is that the only evidence in favor of a conspiracy is all circumstantial. And any judge can tell you that you can't convict someone (in this case, an unamed conspiracy group) based on circumstantial evidence.

The objective evidence, on the other hand, points pretty strongly to Oswald working alone. As an investigator, I can really only evaluate the objective evidence that is available. In this particular case, the objective evidence points strongly to Oswald being the lone gunman. There may be other objective evidence out there that contradicts that, but I have not really seen any, so I can only go by what is available.

Now, I know you argue that the objective evidence is tainted because it's all been geared to make it look like Oswald was acting alone. That's really a completely different investigation all together - a much more difficult one, especially for an amatuer investigator like me.

I will admit, and would have even before your comments, that the lone gunman theory leaves some unanswered questions. Where did the bullet come from that was found on the hospital gurney where Kennedy was laying, and where is it now, and what does it signify? Why do the do the autopsy photos, X-rays, and artist depictions of the autopsy photos all differ? Why do the doctors all say there was a massive head wound at the rear, but the official story is that the wound was at the front? And finally, and perhaps most significatly, what about the amazingly bad luck that put Kennedy in Dealy Plaza that day?

It's this last point that causes me the most trouble. If one assumes a lone gunman and no conspiracy, one has to accept several things. First, you have a man with the psychological profile of an assassin. This man is militarily trained as a sharp-shooter. This man has already attempted to assassinate one major political figure. This man gets a job at a company in Dalls in October of 1963. Just a few weeks later, voila, it is revealed that the president of the U.S. is coming in an open-air car through Dallas, *right past* the building where this man *just* got hired a few weeks earlier.

That's an extraordinarily unlikely coincidence. In my article, however, I argued that it was the "winds of fate." Kennedy was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Oswald found out about it, and hatched his plan. Kennedy had some extraordinary bad luck. While this isn't totally convincing, I think it's at least possible. After all, things like that have happened before. In 1914, Franz Ferdinand of Austria was in Sarajevo visiting a local dignitary. He was supposed to take a secret route away from the man's house. This route, however, was known by an assassins group, and there were assassins posted there. However, the motorcade was running late, and ended up taking a completely different route, which was decided on the spot, presumably at the whim of the driver. One of the assassins, believing he had missed his opportunity, was walking home. By sheer bad luck, the motorcade drove right past him, he fired his shots, and Ferdinand was killed and WWI started a few weeks later.

So the "winds of fate" certainly can blow in extraordinary and unexpected ways sometimes.

In the end, your evidence has persuaded me that my original investigation may not have been thorough enough, and I may have relied too heavily on "official" evidence.

I still believe, however, that Oswald was the only gunman. The objective evidence I've seen (such as the recreations with the marksmen), convinces me that there was only one shooter, and it was Oswald, and he was shooting from the 6th floor. The evidence to the contrary is almost totally circumstantial, and the objective quality of the evidence for a lone gunman seems almost incontrovertible.

Your argument, however, has caused me to become "agnostic" again about whether there was a conspiracy behind Oswald's actions. At this point, I'm back to saying that I'm just not sure. There's certainly more to the conspiracy theories than I had given credence to in the past, but that's primarily because I was concerned with the lone gunman vs. multiple gunmen issue. And as I said, even if Oswald was the only gunman, that doesn't mean there wasn't a conspiracy.

orchards said...

i'm not sure how important this issue is to you, so i'm not sure how much further to take my argument, but i believe it can be rather conclusively demonstrated the autopsy photos are outright fakes and that a shot from the grassy knoll is indeed feasible in terms of matching up with descriptions of jfk's head wound advanced by everyone except the warren commission. if you're interested to continue the conversation just let me know and i'll provide information / links.

ultimately, the greater issue for me isn't about ballistics, forensics, forgeries, ect. it doesn't really matter who pulled the trigger or where they were standing at the time. the fact that the official story simply isn't adequate to account for the experiences and recollections of nearly everyone with any firsthand involvement in this is well established. what matters, and what i find most troubling, is the collective unwillingness to deal with self-evident yet unpleasant truths and their broader implications. the fact is our own government has been very routinely lying to us with great audacity for some time now, for reasons we would rather not think about or take any personal responsibility for. you seem a person greatly concerned with people's personal sense of truth and being genuine about the way we live our lives, and i think dealing honestly with the facts of the JFK assassination is definitely a related matter. if we would live honest, open lives of compassion and love, we have to fully recognize our own mistakes and work to correct them, it would do no good if instead we told ourselves silly little stories that obscured our deficiencies and allowed us to continue ignoring fundamental problems. if we pushed our fears and anxieties out of conscious awareness they would still exist and become even more powerful because we weren't recognizing their role in our decision making. to me, our collective unwillingness to hold our government and press accountable for deceptions like the JFK cover-up is a way of avoiding any personal responsibility for our own contribution to these problems. our government is a projection of ourselves, so of course we don't want to believe that elements of it are wicked and prone to monumental dishonesty, but embracing falsehoods and closing our eyes doesn't change anything, it only disempowers us to take steps to correct our mistakes and become a better people. so i see this very much as an issue of psychological self honesty and recognizing our individual responsibility in supporting the kind of system that would spend billions bombing innocent people across the world to protect corporate profits, while openly lying about it. if we're willing to believe oswald shot jfk, despite our own misgivings, then we'll also be willing to believe whatever other lies they tell us to falsely justify evil acts being committed in our names. and it will be that much easier for us to lie to ourselves about ourselves as well, because we will have created a place in our minds where unpleasant truths we'd rather not deal with can reside undisturbed. how can we ever come fully to terms with ourselves and live honestly unless we're willing to look unflinchingly at the real circumstances in which we live? this is very much a spiritual issue in my opinion.

Scott said...

Sorry for the late reply, Orchards.

I see where you are coming from about how a willingness to accept lies from a government relates to a much deeper willingness to lie to ourselves in order to cover up uncomfortable truths.

I certainly would like to know the "truth" about what happened in Dealey Plaza, but I am not as convinced as you are that the government has all the answers and is simply lying about it. Government conspiracy theories that I have studied (such as the 9/11 theories out there) have not been convincing to me. The same is true for JFK. Lots of circumstantial evidence, yes. But very little objective evidence.

Like you, I am very wary of a government that routinely lies to its contstituents in order to maintain its own power and pursue its own goals. But I'm not as convinced as you are that this is, and has been, taking place on a widespread basis in the U.S. government. I don't doubt for a second that the government lies to people. But I haven't seen anything convincing to make me believe that it is taking place on a huge scale in order to carry out secret power and money agendas, etc.

Just by way of example, I have read and studied and listened to arguments quite a bit about 9/11 conspiracy theories. With everything I've read and seen and listened to, I haven't heard anything that convinces me that 9/11 was anything other than an unfortunate event carried out by terrorists, and not financed or backed or approved of or facilitated by the U.S. government. You may disagree with that, of course.

Anyway, thanks for the dialogue on this subject. And yes, if you have the time, I'd like to know about your arguments related to the autopsy photos and the grassy knoll shots, etc.

orchards said...

no problem on the late reply, this response has been similarly delayed on account of general business and a touch of fever.

you're correct that i would disagree with you about government involvement in 9/11, but that's a whole other topic, although certainly related.

just to clarify what we're talking about semantically, i wouldn't say it's really fair to implicate the "US government" in what we're discussing, whether the JFK assassination or 9/11. it must surely be true the near total majority of government employees and bureaucrats are well intentioned people who would never willingly participate in or consent to actions of this sort. so to lay blame on "the government" is too broad to be either accurate or useful.

what we're talking about is cabals of people, some of whom happen to be involved in government. there's a word for when a cabal of individuals use violence or propaganda to seize control of governments without going through the elective process and the word is COUP. so far as my implication that the military industrial complex orchestrates government policy, i'd say that's indeed a situation involving many public servants, but occurring mostly within the executive branch, with some help from key individuals in the legislative branch, the rest of the government stampeded into cooperation through propaganda campaigns based on "economic necessity" or "national security" or various other concepts through which overly militaristic policies are justified.

in the case of the JFK assassination : given the secretive, compartmentalized nature of the CIA, there's no reason why a handful of trusted operatives couldn't have been involved without anyone else even being aware. then you've got j. edgar hoover personally micro-managing through the FBI every aspect of the investigation and article of evidence involved in the case, and you've got the warren commission, the primary purpose of which was to confirm the FBI's findings, not so much to critically evaluate the evidence or explore any alternate possibilities. considering LBJ's likely involvement, how many people is that? at minimum, 10 or 11? so we aren't really talking about a government-wide conspiracy insofar as public servants directly involved in planning and carrying out the assassination itself and ensuing cover-up.

where the net of complicity does get wider is when you begin to consider how the press dutifully parroted the government line and went to great lengths to ignore and suppress public knowledge of evidence to the contrary. this is also a whole other related topic but i would assert the press has never really been "free" as reported in high school history textbooks and other patriotic media, that editorial staff at major news agencies are very much subject to political oversight, that every mainstream news reporter knows there are unspoken, inviolable boundaries to what can be reported, and that careers and lives are at stake.

i'm sure you've heard the saying "history is written by the victors"? even though there may have been many in washington d.c. who had some knowledge or suspicion of what actually transpired, the atmosphere of intimidation would have made them think twice or thrice about saying anything, as it continues to today. this is generally how things work when cabals of violent people with a demonstrated ability to openly commit murder and get away with it are in power.

but as i said before, of course i can't claim to know exactly who is behind the JFK assassination, all we can do is gather evidence, testimony, commentary, and reflection from as many sources as possible and try to understand in general who might have been involved. i must have communicated unclearly if i gave the impression i believe the government has all the answers, certainly there might be a few individuals still around who have a fairly complete knowledge of what went down, but i seriously doubt there are any records of it that haven't been destroyed, so probably the public will never know based on that kind of disclosure.

you've given special weight to the terms "objective" and "circumstantial" in preceding posts, but to be honest i'm having trouble understanding what you mean by them.

if by "objective" you mean "undistorted by emotion or personal bias" i don't think there can be any evidence in this case to which the term accurately applies. perhaps you mean to imply that the 'facts' of the matter as recorded by the warren commission are "objective", but this can only be said if you accept as a precondition that the warren commission was completely uninfluenced by any sort of political agendas or pressures, and that all members had a genuine interest in presenting an accurate case to the american public. as already discussed, allen dulles's involvement and j. edgar hoover's mastery over the considered evidence certainly make this a very difficult conclusion to come to, not to mention the rather numerous personal testimonies that were rejected from inclusion because they contradicted the commission's lone gunman theory. perhaps you meant "officially sanctioned" when you said "objective"? the only 'facts' about the kennedy assassination that can be considered "objective" are that JFK was shot in dealey plaza in dallas, texas around 12:30 on friday nov. 22nd, 1963 while riding in an open motorcade with his wife and texas governor john connally. everything else is contested and surely a matter of subjective perception / personal bias. remember, the warren commission report is a "theory" as well, since none of it can be conclusively proven.

if by "circumstantial" you mean "of, relating to, or dependent on circumstances", then certainly everything in the case falls into that category. or perhaps you mean "of no primary significance; incidental", but if that's the case it's hardly an appropriate adjective to use in describing something like the discrepancy between the official description of JFK head wound and the description given unanimously by first hand witnesses and medical staff at parkland hospital, an incongruity that is surely of primary significance and not incidental at all.

it seems to me what you might have meant was that you're rather inclined to consider the warren commission report as having more intrinsic validity than people's personal recollections, that memory is subject to distortion, and that people easily become emotional when talking about a matter such as this. or perhaps that institutions are intrinsically more trustworthy than individuals? if this is the case i would say consider what motivated various parties to report as they did? although the warren commission might have had any number of inter-related reasons for wanting to present a false history, what possible motivation could all the many individual citizens who have come forward to speak on the matter have had? why would anyone who was in dealey plaza that day falsely claim they witnessed what appeared to be a frontal head shooting, and why would doctors at parkland support that claim with their testimony? you could argue : well, the people who were there must have all been confused about what they saw, but the warren commission somehow got to the bottom of it and came out with the correct evidence, but that would be kind of a strange argument in my opinion, a sort of 1 vs MANY where you favor the 1 over the MANY.

insofar as your assertion that a right-frontal shot would have resulted in the left-rear exit wound, that would only be necessarily true if the bullet travelled through the center of the skull, if it had followed a more shallow trajectory, it could have indeed passed through the right front and exited the right rear as asserted by numerous witnesses.

since you asked for more information about the autopsy coverup, here you go. once again, we're looking at the testimony of individuals who have no vested interest in lying about what they experienced :

an interview with dr. charles crenshaw, attending doctor at parkalnd (video quality is low, but a compelling interview) :
LINK

a researcher describing odd discrepancies in archival stereoscopic imagery from the autopsy, and the recollections of a man who's friend supposedly attended the autopsy as a naval photographer :
LINK

interview with dennis david, bethesda hospital corpsman :
LINK

and here's some interesting info about the friend mr. david references in his statements :
LINK

the clearest and most irrefutable evidence of an autopsy cover-up remains the testimony of nearly all the people who personally witnessed the murder or dealt with it's immediate medical consequences. unless you're willing to discount all of it out of hand, there can be no conclusion except that a coverup has occurred, the two information sets are mutually exclusive. so the question becomes "who do you believe?". the public, individuals with no vested interest in deception, highly trained medical staff, OR a government commission that omitted a great deal of evidence, was of questionable bias, and was very likely subject to intense political pressure to come to the conclusion it did?

it's worth noting that, although also troubled by controversy and contradictions of it's own, the 1979 house select committee on assassinations came to the conclusions that the warren commission hadn't sufficiently investigated the possibility of a conspiracy and that JFK was "probably" killed as a result of conspiracy. so there you have a pretty solid, though cautiously worded refutation of the warren commission report even coming through official channels.

in any case, there's so much (dis)information out there about this from so many sources that a case can be made for almost any theory advanced. what i've presented is what seems most compelling and makes the most sense to me. if you're inclined to disbelieve what my comments have suggested, it's certainly your prerogative and i leave you to it at this point, my case is made about as far as i'd like to make it. i welcome your final comments and thank you for the opportunity to present this information to you, truly it's been an experience that's helped me clarify my own thinking on the matter and i hope at the least interesting for yourself and any readers. my intention was never to try and convince you precisely who killed kennedy, only to present a perspective that the warren commission report and it's supporters are for the most part severely lacking in credibility and of questionable bias, so you damage your own reputation as a critical thinker when you come out strongly in support of it. we may never know the truth, but it's surely more honest to live with that uncertainty than to accept and promote outright falsehoods instead. if i've managed to turn you "oswald-agnostic" again, that's surely a result i believe does credit to us both as intelligent individuals sincerely interested in history and it's interpretations, even it's spiritual significance.

i wish you good health and happiness.

Anonymous said...

Orchard,

You are very articulate and you know how to construct a meaningful argument. But let me ask you and everone else here to please, Please, PLEASE get someone to take a look at your SHIFT Key and get it fixed! Advances in technology will never be an excuse for blatant disregard for the rules of the English language, no matter what the majority may be doing. On the contrary, technology has given all of us an incredible opportunity to actually learn how to write very well! This is because writing skills are developed by WRITING, not by sitting in a writing class! We are ALL writing these days and there is no doubt that those who take the task seriously are becoming much better writers.

Don't let the forces of literary mediocrity ruin your otherwise strong writing skills by skipping something as simple but also as fundamental as correct capitalization! JFK, an extremely literate individual, would have been appalled.

Scott said...

For what it's worth, Orchards, I didn't mind the lack of capitalization :)

Again, you've made some fine and compelling arguments, and I agree with you that the testimony of the doctors from the hospital is incredibly damning. Clearly these doctors had no reason to be lying.

I admit that I certainly didn't give their testimonies and their evidence enough consideration when writing my original essay.

Just to clarify, by "objective" evidence, I'm talking about things that scientific investigation can demonstrate. The number of bullets fired from the gun, the angles and trajectories from the various possible shooting locations, the autopsy, etc. You, however, have pointed out - perhaps correctly - that a lot of this "objective" evidence is suspect simply because it may have been tampered with.

By "circumstantial evidence," I am simply referring to evidence that seems to point in one direction, but which doesn't actually prove anything. For instance, Oswald had lived for a time in the U.S.S.R....therefore the KGB must have been involved. This is circumstantial evidence. Oswald also lived in New York for part of his life, does that mean the NYPD was involved? That's what I mean when I talk about circumstantial evidence. Now, obviously, circumstantial evidence can pile up enough that it becomes fairly reliable. But its hard to convict someone on a circumstantial evidence case.

As I said before, I appreciate your thoughtful arguments, and you have caused me to rethink my conclusions on this case. And here I was all happy and content to finally feel the case was "at rest" :)

Anonymous said...

I used to try and argue with Warren Commission supporters, but I've found that every one I've ever encountered (always online - never have met any in walking-around life) is one of the following:

a) A person with a misguided sense of patriotism, who feels they must believe and defend every official story our government spoon-feeds us

b) A paid shill or disinformation agent (Posner/McAdams)

c) Or someone whose livelihood is tied to maintaining the military-industrial complex status quo and the myths that support it.

Scott said...

Anon:

"B" and "C" certainly are note me...I'm not even 100% certain what you mean by them.

As for "A," that's definitely not me either.

orchards said...

considering the sheer volume of plausibly incomplete pro-warren commission media out there i don't find it at all inconceivable a well intentioned, curious person could become convinced the commission's findings are valid. how many misleading pseudo-scientific documentaries with CGI graphics and massive yet vastly incomplete voluminous books have been disseminated in a (failed) effort to decieve the american public regarding the circumstances of the assassination? highly selective inclusion of evidence and invention / repeating of outright falsehoods can be very effective if your audience doesn't have recourse to other information sources, but luckily the information age has dawned and history can be explored from a variety of perspectives beside the officially established narrative. so for what it's worth scott, i never considered you a disinformation agent, establishment shill, or self-deluded super-patriot.

here are some great, well documented archival resources for anyone wishing to dig further :

http://www.maryferrell.org/wiki/index.php/JFK_Assassination

http://history-matters.com/index.htm

in particular i would direct attention to this database of dealy plaza witness testimony, which seems to pretty clearly indicate shots were fired at JFK from both the school book depository and the grassy knoll vicinity (many reported seeing gunsmoke rising from the knoll, hard to explain as mere echo confusion)

http://www.history-matters.com/analysis/witness/index.htm

and if you're into tragicomic absurdity, be sure to read the witness testimony of Roy Kellerman, a secret service agent riding in the front passenger seat of the presidential limousine. Kellerman and William Greer were very likely complicit in the assassination - by virtue of not taking protective action and actually bringing the vehicle to a near stop until the shooting was satisfactory concluded, respectively. the humorous part is Kellerman's claim that JFK spoke the words "My God, I've been hit!" after initially being shot. to my knowledge he's the only person to ever suggest these as the president's final words, a strangely incriminating discrepancy causing me to wonder if he might've missed his true calling as a hollywood screenwriter.

in any case, best wishes forever.

Scott said...

Nice to see you around again Orchards. And thanks, as always, for the thoughtful commentary.

orchards said...

always a pleasure :) while we're at it, just one more thing:

bush eulogizes ford

Scott said...

Interesting. And Bush, of course, was CIA director under Ford...

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