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The JFK Assassination Conspiracy cover-ups

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The JFK Assassination Conspiracy cover-ups
Only 29 percent of the American public believed that Oswald had acted alone

Virtually everyone in America who was more than ten years old on November 22, 1963, remembers exactly where he or she was when first hearing the news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas.
On West 57th Street in Manhattan when I saw a group of people gathered around a newsstand listening to the radio. Groups were gathered everywhere around radios or just talking, exchanging the latest bulletins from Dallas.

Pretty soon stores, offices, and theaters began to close down,The initial reaction was not sadness—that came later. The first reaction was shock or more accurately, surprise. How could the young and vigorous Jack Kennedy be dead, and how could he have been killed—in America!
Other American presidents had been assassinated, most notably Abraham Lincoln. But the last U.S. president to be assassinated before Kennedy was William McKinley, and that was way back in 1901. By 1963 the vast majority of Americans hadn't even been born when McKinley was assassinated. There had been serious assassination attempts on the lives of Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, but few remembered them.
The JFK assassination seemed not only terrible but a singular and utterly improbable event in American history, even though it wasn't Over the next few days the feeling of improbability grew stronger as the drama continued. A suspected assassin was arrested within two hours of the killing. He turned out to be an obscure little malcontent named Lee Harvey Oswald—a nobody. And he was supposed to have carried the killing out with a cheap mail-order rifle.

Two days later Oswald himself, surrounded by guards and TV camera crews, was shot while being led by guards through the basement of a Dallas jail. The killing was shown live on national television. The killer was Jack Ruby, owner of a seedy Dallas nightclub—another nobody. There never was a trial for Oswald, and while there were a number of investigations none of them ever seemed very satisfactory. Ruby
Oswald was shot and killed. Photographers and cameramen from across the nation recorded the unbelievable sequence of events was tried, found guilty of murder, and sentenced to death. He died before his appeal was heard.
To most of us it seemed not only improbable but downright unnatural that one of the most convulsive events in modern American history could have been created by such unimportant people. And it was in this atmosphere that the most vigorous of all American conspiracy theories grew and still flourishes to this day.

More than two thousand books have been written on the subject of the Kennedy assassination. There have been countless magazine articles and television shows. The assassination has been one of the most popular subjects for discussion on radio talk shows and on the Internet. Groups discussing every conceivable and many inconceivable aspects of the case communicate via e-mail, fax, telephone, letters, and well-attended conventions. As a result, more than four out of five Americans do not believe the official conclusion that Oswald was the lone assassin.
The most widely held opinions are that Oswald was framed or that he was part of a much wider conspiracy.
Suspicions and rumors about the Kennedy assassination began to circulate almost as soon as the news broke, and they simply exploded after Oswald was killed. A Gallup Poll taken a week after the assassination showed that only 29 percent of the American public believed that Oswald had acted alone

The initial suspicion was that the Communists, Soviets, or Cubans were behind the plot. Oswald himself was a highly suspicious character. Though he had enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, Oswald was an outspoken Marxist, an ideological Communist though not actually a member of the Communist party. A short time after his discharge from the Marines in 1959 Oswald departed for the Soviet Union. He was reasonably well treated in the Soviet Union, where defectors from the United
States were rare. He worked in a Russian factory and married a young Russian woman. Within two years, however, he was ready to come back to the United States with his wife.

The Soviet Union apparently had disappointed Lee Harvey Oswald, but he had not become disillusioned with the theory of  communism. After returning to the United States, Oswald was associated with a pro-Castro Cuban group and made inquiries about going to Cuba. All of this information was known almost immediately and naturally led to early suspicions that the assassination was a Communist plot.
The Soviets and the Cubans realized that if they were implicated in the killing of an American president the result could easily be war. Both countries went to extraordinary lengths to deny any association with Oswald and to offer whatever proof they could that there was no conspiracy. At first a lot of people, particularly people in the CIA, didn't believe them. Perhaps some still don't. But in the more than three decades since the assassination not a shred of credible evidence indicating a Communist plot has turned up. And this in spite of an incredibly intensive investigation by members of the intelligence community who were sure the assassination was a Communist plot. With the collapse of communism many of the records of the clandestine activities of the Soviet government have become public. They contain not a hint of a plot.

Strangely, though, it wasn't the idea of a Communist conspiracy that came to grip the American public. The most commonly repeated story was that the president had fallen victim to a right-wing plot.
At the time Kennedy was assassinated his popularity had been rising steadily. But there were plenty of people in America who disliked and even hated JFK. He was a president who stirred deep political passions, pro and con. Kennedy's most vocal foes were on the political right, and Dallas was a conservative city and home to many right-wing groups.
The atmosphere of speculation and rumor had grown so intense and so dangerous that within a week the new president,Lyndon Johnson, appointed a commission headed by Earl Warren, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, to fully investigate the assassination. The Warren Commission had an unlimited mandate and virtually unprecedented powers. It was supposed to answer all of the public's questions about what had happened in Dallas on that fateful day. The final 888-page report was issued on September 27, 1964, some ten months after the assassination.
The Warren Commission conclusion was that Lee Harvey Oswald had fired the shot that killed Kennedy and that he had acted alone—there was no conspiracy. The initial media reaction to the Warren Commission report in the United States was highly favorable. But the public at large was far more suspicious of "official explanations," and soon critics were picking the report to pieces.

In the months following the assassination a whole network of amateur investigators sprang up. They collected and shared information and often misinformation about the assassination, and they passionately believed and argued that all the questions had not been answered. The list of unanswered questions and alternative theories compiled by these "assassination buffs" was formidable and, as far as the general public was concerned, very impressive.

The Warren Commission hurt its own credibility in a variety of ways. The commission was supposed to have had access to all relevant information. As it turned out this was not the case. Both the CIA and the FBI withheld significant material from the commission. For example, the CIA did not disclose to the commission the fact that it had plotted with members of the Mafia to kill Fidel Castro. That would certainly have given Castro a motive to have Kennedy killed. In the end, the information that had been withheld would not have changed the Warren Commission conclusion that Oswald had acted alone. But the fact that such information had been withheld led conspiracy theorists to ask, not unreasonably, what else was being hidden.

The most outrageous, gaudiest, and meanest of the conspiracy theories was the one promoted by New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison. Oswald had been born in New Orleans, and though he had moved frequently he had returned to the city from time to time, including a visit shortly before the assassination. Oswald's New Orleans connections had been closely investigated by the FBI and the Warren Commission as well as by the assassination buffs.
Garrison was the sort of politician who is most politely described as ''controversial." He was known for making sensational charges and then being unable to follow them up with evidence. Garrison had taken an active interest in the assassination from the start. In late 1966 the district attorney shocked the nation and his own staff when he said that he was going to investigate Clay Shaw, a prominent New Orleans civic leader, as a key figure in the plot to assassinate Kennedy. He contended it was a homosexual plot, a sort of "thrill killing." Shaw was known to be a homosexual.

The whole homosexual plot idea grew out of stories told by some unbelievably unreliable witnesses that Oswald was a homosexual. Later Garrison was to assert, without a single shred of credible evidence, that Jack Ruby was also a homosexual.

As soon as Garrison's investigation was announced, he became a media star, not only in New Orleans but throughout the country. And he was a celebrity and major focus for the legion of assassination the film JFK, the actor Kevin Costner stars as Jim Garrison. When the film was released, many critics charged that it was irresponsible of Oliver Stone to have produced a major motion picture based upon the twisted and sometimes downright untrue allegations of Jim Garrison ion buffs. As time went on, Garrison expanded his conspiracy. At one point he said it "was a Nazi operation whose sponsors included some of the oil rich millionaires in Texas."

At other times, Garrison targeted the right-wing Minutemen, the CIA, the FBI, White Russians, and anti-Castro Cubans Anyone who disagreed with him or his investigation automatically became part of the conspiracy and cover-up. This included
President Lyndon Johnson, the Warren Commission, and even the murdered president's brother Robert Kennedy. "It is quite apparent to me," Garrison said, "that for one reason or another, he [Robert Kennedy] does not want the truth to be brought out."

For years, Garrison went around floating ever wilder conspiracy tales before a fascinated American public. Finally, early in 1969, Clay Shaw was brought to trial, and Jim Garrison had to present his evidence in court and not on the Tonight show. The trial lasted about five weeks. Jury deliberations took forty-five minutes. Shaw was acquitted on the first ballot. Garrison's case was revealed as a complete sham.

But still this wasn't the end. Two days later, Garrison had Shaw rearrested on perjury charges. It was another two years before a federal court issued an injunction against Garrison from prosecuting Shaw. Garrison appealed to the Supreme Court. When he was turned down he said that he was being made a "scapegoat," that the CIA had murdered Kennedy, and that the Supreme Court decision "puts the final nail in John Kennedy's coffin." When Garrison was not reelected as district attorney, he complained that the CIA and FBI had conspired to bring about his defeat.

Clay Shaw was never convicted of anything, but he spent years under a legal cloud and was bankrupted by his legal bills. He filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Garrison and his financial backers. A group of wealthy New Orleans residents had raised money for the Garrison investigation. But Shaw died in 1974, before his case could be brought to trial. He was a broken man, and a completely innocent one. The Garrison investigation was a shameful episode, and it grew out of public fascination with conspiracy theories.

Despite his defeat, Jim Garrison went on to write a book, On the Trail of the Assassins, in which he recycled all of his theories.
This book itself wasn't very successful, but it became the basis for Oliver Stone's extremely successful 1991 film JFK. Kevin Costner played Jim Garrison as a hero, and Garrison himself appeared in a bit part. An entire generation learned much of what it knows about the Kennedy assassination from that film. And the film, which is extremely powerful and persuasive, is also dead wrong.

The more serious conspiracy buffs had become disillusioned with Jim Garrison and his phony prosecution. But they continued to peck away at the Oswald-as-the-lone-assassin explanation. In 1976 a special congressional investigation was launched to look into the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. The investigation took more than two years and cost over five million dollars. The conclusion was that a conspiracy in the King assassination was likely and that a conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination was a possibility. The most probable conspirators in the Kennedy killing according to this report were members of the Mafia. The reason the Mafia wanted to kill the president was that they hated his brother Robert Kennedy, who as attorney general was waging a campaign against organized crime. Jack Ruby was also supposed to have mob connections, and his killing of Oswald "had all the earmarks of a mob hit."

For a while the Mafia replaced the CIA and the Cubans as chief suspects. A whole flock of alleged hit men have either been accused of the killing or have actually confessed to it. But there is absolutely no solid evidence linking the Mafia to the assassination. Historically the mob has no scruples about killing their rivals or people who owe them money or who have double-crossed them. But they don't assassinate judges, FBI agents, or even reporters. It's just too risky. It is unthinkable that they would even consider killing a president, no matter how much they hated his brother.

Every year about six million people visit Dealey Plaza in Dallas where the assassination took place. Some of them pay seven dollars to visit the Conspiracy Museum, which opened early in 1995. The aim of the museum, according to its director Tom Bowden, is to get people to think. "Maybe that way we can correct the textbooks so that they contain information about the larger conspiracy."
The Kennedy assassination has become an obsession and nearly a religion to many as well as a moneymaking business for some. Nonetheless, a good number of Americans cling to the assassination conspiracy theory simply because it helps to make sense out of an otherwise senseless event.

This illustration, produced for one of the many illustrated weekly newsmagazines of the mid-1860s, shows the artist's rendition of Booth shooting
Lincoln in the box at Ford's Theatre


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