I was 12 years old when JFK was shot down and was watching on live TV when Lee Harvey Oswald was silenced 50 years ago today. In my teens I remember reading some of the early books that questioned the conclusions of the Warren Commission such as “Rush to Judgement” by Mark Lane, “Inquest” by Edward Jay Epstein and “Whitewash” by Harold Weisberg. I guess I’ve been a “conspiracy theorist” ever since.
I manage to keep my obsession with the case under control for most of the year, but every November I am drawn back to re-visit the issue like a moth to a flame. This year being the 50th Anniversary of those events has been even more intense. Although most of my reading and viewing has been on the Internet, I have also purchased and read Mark Lane’s “Last Word: My indictment of the CIA in the Murder of JFK” and am part way through James Douglass’s “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why he died and why it matters.”
If you watch or read any of the Main Stream Media (including Fox), you will notice that the theory that Oswald was the lone shooter is now presented as unquestioned fact. I even heard a Fox News reporter say the other night that, “No serious historian questions that Oswald acted alone.” Oh really?
I guess that could be true, but only in the sense that it is said that “History is written by the victors,” although perhaps William F. Buckley version that, “History is the polemics of the victors” is more apt. So who were the victors? Or as they said in Rome, Cui Bono?
A short list of those who benefited from the elimination of our 35th President would include our 36th President who was facing political and legal extinction because of the Bobby Baker & Billy Sol Estes scandals, the CIA which Kennedy had threatened to splinter into 1,000 pieces after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the Military Industrial Complex who got their War in Vietnam which Kennedy was backing away from, the Texan Oil Men who got to keep their Oil Depletion Allowance that JFK was trying to take away, the Federal Reserve bankers who Kennedy was trying to push out of the currency business, the Mafia who had been double crossed and attacked by Attorney General Bobby Kennedy after they had helped his brother steal the 1960 election, Israel which got its atomic bomb that JFK was blocking, Republicans such as Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush all of whom got to be President after the premature end of the Kennedy dynasty, and you can even throw in the racists who were opposed to Kennedy’s support for the civil rights movement, although that didn’t work out so great for them when LBJ pushed through the Civil Rights Act.
With the list of enemies that JFK and Bobby had managed to accumulate in just three years in office, the question is more who didn’t have a motive to kill him! On the top of that list I would put Castro and Khrushchev. As shown in many “serious” histories, Kennedy had opened back channel negotiations with both of them to try to defuse Cold War tensions. They had no reason to think that whoever followed Kennedy would be an improvement.
The fear that Russia or Cuba might be involved, however, was used as a very effective bludgeon to keep the Warren Commission and other investigators from straying too far from the “lone nut” official line. LBJ used it to get a reluctant Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren to accept the job as head of the Whitewash, by telling him that if he did not shut down the conspiracy talk it could lead to a nuclear war with at least 40 million American deaths.
Whether Oswald was a patsy who was deliberately “sheep dipped” to be fitted for the role or just an unlucky loser who was in the wrong place at the wrong time is an interesting question. What seems clear from the physical evidence is that he did not kill JFK from the 6th floor window of TSBD with an antique bolt-action Italian rifle with a misfitted scope
When it comes to the testimony of the eyewitnesses, the photographic evidence, the physical wounds and the obviously botched (or intentionally faked) autopsy, the Warren Commission and its followers seem to be saying, “Who are you going to believe, us or your lying eyes?”
I have no special theory of where the gunmen were, but it is clear that Kennedy was hit by at least four bullets, two from the front and two from the back, with Connally taking at least two more. Adding a few known misses and the total shots are anywhere from 8-12, which would indicate at least 3 or 4 gunmen.
The other night I read through the entire official Warren Commission biography of Oswald. If you didn’t know better you could almost believe it made sense. Unfortunately more recent scholarship has shown that all evidence of Oswald’s ample involvement with American Intelligence and law enforcement agencies including the Office of Naval Intelligence, the CIA and the FBI was withheld from the Commission or deliberately left out. The same is true of Jack Ruby’s mob connections, but that’s another column!
In particular Oswald’s activities promoting the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans during the summer of 1963 and his alleged trip to Mexico City in September of that year look especially suspect. It seems clear that he was taking orders from somebody in an attempt to either infiltrate or more likely discredit the pro-Castro Cubans. That he was also conveniently being set up to look like a likely suspect in the future assassination of the President probably did not occur to him until it was too late. If that is true, Oswald looks more like a hero than a villain.
I say “alleged” trip to Mexico City because it is not clear if he was ever really there. What is clear, however, is that someone who was not Oswald contacted the Russian Embassy by phone around that time giving his name as “Lee Oswald.” If you find out who set up that cute operation, you probably have the smoking gun to the whole conspiracy and cover-up plot. (See Peter Dale Scott’s “Deep Politics I, II & III for details.”)
Regardless of who actually was the creative genius behind the operation, the true scandal is how the American Press was convinced to swallow the official line. A study of how this was done would reveal the vast reach of the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird, in buying off, controlling and manipulating the Main Stream press and the publishing industry, something that even now is apparently a little too close for comfort.
Despite the success of that on-going campaign, however, a recent Washington Post/ ABC poll showed that Americans still doubt the Warren Commission conclusions by a better than two-one margin (62-29 with 8 per cent having no opinion!). I suppose they can take some comfort that the doubters have fallen from a high of 82 per cent in the 1980s.
Looking at the poll’s internals, it appears that the doubters are distributed fairly equally among all segments of society, young and old, men and women, even liberal and conservative. although naturally, conservatives are a little more skeptical of anything issuing from the federal government.
Despite that, however, there seems to be a disturbing recent trend among some Conservative bloggers to want to accept the Warren Commission theory, especially because they can use it to claim that Oswald was really a Leftist. In my opinion, it is dangerous to twist the facts of history to use as ammunition in today’s political wars. As House Special Assassination Committee Deputy Counsel Bob Tanenbaum said, “There is no Democrat or Republican way to evaluate evidence. You can’t compromise on truth.”
Too bad Tanenbaum and his boss Richard Sprague were forced off the investigation by politics when they were getting too close to the truth. They say the truth will make you free, but in this case it seemed to also make a lot of people dead, including many of those who were about to talk to investigators.
Dead might also be a good description of our democratic system which has never really recovered from the events in Dallas 50 years ago this week.