History, Long Read, Top Stories

My Misspent Years of Conspiracism

I

My tumble down the JFK assassination rabbit-hole began in the Tunbridge Wells Odeon on 25 January 1992. I was 16. A few years previously, I had watched a television documentary that purported to identify a second assassin in police uniform (known to conspiracy researchers as ‘badgeman’) firing at the president from the grassy knoll. But I’d never heard of Jim Garrison and knew precisely nothing about the case he had prosecuted against Clay Shaw. Oliver Stone’s new film had a 189-minute running time (later expanded to 206 minutes in the Director’s Cut) which struck me as excessive, and there was something vaguely irritating about the piety of the sentences emblazoned across the promotional material (“He is a District Attorney. He will risk his life, the lives of his family, everything he holds dear, for the one thing he holds sacred… the truth”). Nevertheless, on JFK’s opening weekend, I took my seat in a packed auditorium along with a couple of school friends and for over three hours I was mesmerised. By the time it was all over, my misgivings had been forgotten and I was convinced.

I would see Stone’s epic a further four times on the big screen. My school’s film club showed it, I persuaded my American politics teacher to take our class to see it, and I dragged my younger brother to watch it twice, the second time with our sceptical father in tow. My father was unimpressed. Jim Garrison, he tried to explain, was an unscrupulous charlatan. And the long and sinister monologue authoritatively delivered by Donald Sutherland’s mysterious X on a Washington bench should probably be disregarded until we can ascertain who this person is. (X has since been identified and the news, from a credibility standpoint, was not good.) To my annoyance, my brother wasn’t sold on Stone’s hypothesis either. He found the film manipulative. “I just don’t trust Oliver Stone,” he shrugged, and moved on with his life.

Undeterred, I got my hands on a copy of Garrison’s memoir On the Trail of the Assassins and was reassured to find that Stone’s film tracked his account closely. Stone and his co-screenwriter Zachary Sklar had combined some of the dramatis personae into composite characters but, overall, their adaptation was remarkably faithful to the source, from which much of the script had been lifted verbatim. The details of the case against Clay Shaw remained opaque to me (which, in retrospect, ought to have been a clear sign that something was amiss), but I thought it perfectly obvious that the Warren Commission’s conclusions were absurd. No self-respecting person could accept an explanation of the assassination that required a bullet to manoeuvre in mid-air (“where it waits 1.6 seconds”), for no apparent reason other than to preclude the possibility of a second rifle. And the Zapruder film clearly showed Kennedy’s head being propelled backwards and to the left, which suggested a gunshot from somewhere in front of the car, not from the Texas School Book Depository behind it. Even my father reluctantly conceded that the most persuasive part of Stone’s film was its contention that the alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald could not have done the shooting by himself.

I found all this chilling but strangely exhilarating. Part of that exhilaration was no doubt a reflexive response to the relentless aggression of the film itself—JFK is a dazzling political thriller, clattering through Garrison’s investigation and sundry other speculations with pulverising conviction and an infectious urgency bordering on panic. There was also, I suspect, something perversely exciting about the plot itself that offered me a pleasurable frisson of transgression—not only had the conspirators executed a plan of breathtaking audacity, but they had got away with it in front of everyone. I was enthralled by the mystery and the mayhem they had left in their wake.

However, Stone’s film also offered an appealingly simple and far-reaching explanation for how the world works. “The organising principle of every society, Mr. Garrison, is for war,” pronounces X. JFK demanded that we re-understand everything, but I didn’t have much to re-understand aged 16. Stone simply aggravated my pre-existing anti-authoritarian reflex and flattered my adolescent cynicism by confirming what I already suspected—that power is pitiless, self-serving, and corrupt; that the good die young and the wicked prosper; and that those of us clever enough to understand harsh truths like these had a responsibility to expose them. Here, I decided, were profound insights and moral clarity.

The intensity of my obsession burned itself out in a year or so, and my mind moved on to other things. But I took what I had learned for granted and incorporated it into my developing worldview. This led me straight into the arms of Noam Chomsky, whose books and articles I would devour in the university library and whose arguments about manufactured consent and American moral turpitude I would then churn into unimaginative essays. The state-sponsored liquidation of JFK certainly fortified my view that America was no better than its enemies, and allowed me to denounce the West more generally for the usual list of disgraceful crimes and moral hypocrisies. I felt proud of my perspicacity and altogether superior to those indolent somnambulists (everyone else) who believed the mainstream media and failed to understand the importance of asking “Who benefits?”

This view survived more-or-less undisturbed until November 22, 2003.

II

Lee Harvey Oswald’s mugshots (23 November, 1963)

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was shot to death on the afternoon of November 22, 1963, as his motorcade rolled through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was en route to a luncheon at the Trade Mart where he was scheduled to speak. Texas Governor John Connally, seated in front of President Kennedy in the presidential limousine, was also seriously wounded in the shooting. Later that day, a 24-year-old Marxist named Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested at a Dallas movie theatre and charged with the murder of Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit. By morning, he had also been charged with the murder of the president. Then, two days later, Oswald was himself assassinated by local nightclub owner Jack Ruby as he was being moved to the county jail. Rumours of a conspiracy and cover-up swept the reeling nation.

Earl Warren (1891-1974)

On November 29, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson issued an executive order establishing a commission headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren to investigate the assassination. This, it was hoped, would bring all the available facts to light in the absence of a trial, reach the appropriate conclusions about culpability, and uncover any accomplices should they be found to exist. When the Warren Commission finally issued its report on September 24, 1964, it had concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald had shot and killed both President Kennedy and Officer Tippit, and that he had acted alone. He had fired three rifle-shots from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository where he worked, killing Kennedy and wounding Connally. He had then fled the scene and shot Tippit three miles away using a .38 revolver.

But rumours of conspiracy persisted. Amateur sleuths and researchers pored over the Warren Commission’s findings seizing on apparent inconsistencies and lacunae, and in August 1966, Mark Lane’s Rush to Judgment appeared and became an instant bestseller. It was among the first of over a thousand books by a dedicated contingent of critics which derided the Warren Commission as either incompetent or somehow complicit in a cover-up. In 1967, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison would bring the only prosecution in the murder of President Kennedy, and it was this case that Oliver Stone would later dramatise in his wildly successful blockbuster. Stone’s film mainstreamed fringe theories at a stroke, and hasty reissues of conspiracy literature, including Garrison’s own account, flooded airport bookstores.

By 2003, somebody at the BBC had evidently decided enough was enough, and on the 40th anniversary of the assassination, it broadcast an 85 minute documentary entitled Beyond Conspiracy that promised to clear up the muddle once and for all. “You can talk about all the theories you want,” an interviewee confidently declared in the trailer. “This thing only happened one way.” I was excited. It never occurred to me that anyone would be foolish enough to produce a film defending the Warren Commission’s discredited findings at this late date. But that was what I found myself watching. And, to my gathering dismay, it was much better than expected.

Beyond Conspiracy was written and directed by Mark Obenhaus, and presented by British broadcaster Gavin Esler. (The version screened in the US was identical, but the voice-over was provided by ABC’s Peter Jennings.) It’s a masterpiece of methodical argument, patiently picking its way through the case and marshalling the facts. Within 15 minutes, it had become apparent that I didn’t know nearly as much about the assassination as I thought I did. Like most JFK conspiracy enthusiasts (including, it now seems to me, many of those who have published whole books on the topic), I had never bothered to read the 888-page Warren Report, let alone trawl through its 26 volumes of supporting evidence and testimony. But nor had I bothered to read any books by people who had, and who could be trusted to provide an accurate account of their contents.

So, during the documentary and my subsequent reading, I was taken aback to discover that the case against Lee Harvey Oswald was a good deal stronger than I had been led to believe. Here is just some of the evidence against Oswald omitted or misrepresented by Stone’s film:

  1. On the day of the assassination, Oswald brought a long package wrapped in brown paper into work. He told his work colleague Buell Wesley Frazier that the package contained “curtain rods.”
  2. That same morning, Oswald had removed his wedding ring and left it in a cup for his wife Marina (which she testified he had never done before), along with $170, which amounted to all the money they had, aside from the $14 in his pocket.
  3. Multiple witnesses saw Oswald either shooting Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit, or leaving the scene on foot and emptying his revolver of spent shells. Stone draws our attention to conflicting testimony from two other witnesses, but neglects to point out that ballistics matched the bullets in Tippit’s body and the shells recovered at the scene to the .38 revolver Stone acknowledges Oswald collected from his rooming house after the Kennedy assassination. Oswald’s discarded jacket was recovered near the crime scene.
  4. Both the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle discovered on the sixth floor of the school book depository and the .38 revolver Oswald was still carrying when he was arrested were bought by Oswald using the alias A. Hidell. Identification bearing that name was found in Oswald’s wallet when he was arrested. The revolver was sent to Oswald’s PO Box in Dallas.
  5. Oswald refused to take a lie detector test.
  6. Ballistic tests definitively matched bullet fragments in the presidential limousine and the bullet later found on Governor Connally’s stretcher with Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano to the exclusion of any other firearm. The three spent cartridge cases found on the floor of the book depository were also matched to Oswald’s rifle. Fibres from Oswald’s shirt were found on the rifle butt. The brown paper bag in which the rifle had been concealed prior to the shooting contained fibres from a blanket Oswald had kept wrapped around the rifle. Oswald’s palm prints and fingerprints were found on the weapon itself, on the boxes stacked below the sniper’s nest window, and on the paper bag. (Stone acknowledges an Oswald palm print on the rifle, but has Garrison speculate, on the basis of nothing whatever, that this was taken from Oswald as he lay in the morgue.)
  7. Stone claims that the three exceedingly incriminating “backyard photographs” of Oswald posing with his guns and communist literature were forgeries. He does not tell us that the photographs have been endlessly authenticated, that Marina testified she took them at her husband’s request, and that expert handwriting analysis identified Oswald as the author of the words “Slayer of Fascists” scrawled on the back of one of them.

This is nothing like a complete inventory of the direct and circumstantial evidence against Oswald, but it seemed to me to be more than enough to secure a conviction.

And that’s just the evidence linking Oswald to the crime itself. Stone and Garrison were similarly selective with respect to Oswald’s biography. In their version of events, Oswald was an American intelligence operative, somehow framed by the conspirators. In reality, copious testimony from friends, neighbours, work colleagues, and acquaintances made it abundantly clear that no sane person would have considered Oswald suitable for intelligence work. A consistent picture emerges of a bitter, confused, violent bully and congenital liar, which is more-or-less how his wife Marina described him to the Warren Commission. (“They taught her how to answer,” Garrison blithely declares in Stone’s film.)

Oswald was a delinquent and truant who hated school and dropped out at 16. He joined the Marines in October 1956, and hated that too. He clashed repeatedly with his superiors and fought with his colleagues. He was court-martialled twice, demoted, and held in the brig. Upon his return home in 1959, he decided he hated America. Declaring himself a communist, he tried to defect to the Soviet Union. When his request for Soviet citizenship was denied, he slit his wrists and was transferred to a Soviet psychiatric ward. The Soviets agreed to let him stay as a stateless person, planted him in a factory job in Minsk, and kept him under surveillance. They quickly established that he was far too unstable to be an American agent and that they had no interest in recruiting him for the same reason.

Lee Harvey Oswald and wife Marina leaving Russia.

In Minsk, Oswald met and married Marina Nikolayevna Prusakova and the couple had a daughter. By now he hated the Soviet Union. Having failed in an attempt to renounce his American citizenship and having been denied citizenship by the Russians, Oswald announced in mid-1961 that he wanted to go back to America. Oswald, Marina, and their daughter emigrated in June 1962, and thereafter he complained bitterly about how much he hated America and wanted to return to the Soviet Union. His relationship with Marina deteriorated. Angry, frustrated, perpetually dissatisfied, and unable to hold down a job, Oswald would verbally abuse and beat Marina, sometimes in front of witnesses. His politics became increasingly militant.

At the end of April 1963, Oswald moved back to New Orleans where he had been born and, a month later, he founded a local chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, of which he was the only member. Distributing his literature on the street, he got into a fight with Cuban exiles. After a disastrous local radio debate about the fracas, Marina testified that she would listen to him sit for hours on the unlit front porch at night with his rifle recycling the bolt action over and over again. He became preoccupied with the idea of moving to Cuba, and tried to convince Marina to help him hijack a plane there. In September 1963, he travelled to the Cuban embassy in Mexico City to apply for a visa (Garrison insisted this trip never even happened). Oswald told the embassy officials that he wanted to visit Cuba on his way to Russia, so the Cubans sent him to the Russian embassy to collect a permit to enter the Soviet Union. When it was denied, Oswald burst into tears and started to wave his revolver in the air. Had he ever managed to persuade Cuba to take him, I’m fairly certain he would have hated it there, too.

Perhaps the most egregious omission from Garrison’s book and Stone’s film is that Oswald had already tried to assassinate someone else in April 1963. This information seems relevant, does it not? He had bought his Mannlicher-Carcano rifle and his .38 revolver by mail-order in March 1963, while he and Marina were living in Dallas-Fort Worth. At the end of the month, he asked Marina to photograph him in the back yard with his guns and his copies of the Militant and the Worker. Oswald considered retired US Major General Edwin Walker to be a fascist and had been planning his assassination for months, photographing his quarry’s house and mapping an escape route. On April 10, Oswald left his post office box key on top of an 11-point list of instructions for Marina in Russian which concluded:

11. If I am alive and taken prisoner, the city jail is at the end of the bridge we always used to cross when we went to town (the very beginning of town after the bridge).

That evening, he shot into Walker’s house with his rifle, but the window frame deflected the bullet past Walker’s head. Oswald returned home and told Marina what he had done. When he later discovered that Walker had survived, he became distressed.

It is perfectly obvious why this kind of information might not enthuse conspiracy theorists, but by ignoring it entirely they reveal the weakness of their hand. Oswald’s erratic behaviour and the evidence linking the bullets to the gun and the gun to Oswald are mutually corroborative. To recap: an impulsive, politically radical, and mentally unstable man with a history of violence committed an opportunistic murder, left incriminating evidence everywhere, and was immediately captured after fleeing the scene and shooting a police officer to evade arrest. Unless for some reason a person is committed, a priori, to Oswald’s exoneration, the official account of the Kennedy assassination is intelligible and, in light of the supporting evidence, unsurprising.

But then, surely Oswald must have conspired with someone else. Because—as we all know—the 8mm colour film of the assassination shot by Dallas dressmaker Abraham Zapruder conclusively proves more than one rifle. Discussing Oswald’s chances in Stone’s film, Garrison’s assistant Lou Ivon says that “the Zapruder film establishes three shots in 5.6 seconds … and Oswald was at best a medium shot.” The Zapruder film establishes nothing of the kind. The film was shot at 18.3 frames per second, so from the first shot (which Stone agrees was fired at frame 160) to the third and final shot at frame 312 is 8.3 seconds. Nor was Oswald a poor shot. In his indispensable investigation into the shooting, Case Closed, Gerald Posner writes that:

…at the Marine Corps recruit depot in San Diego … [Oswald was] trained in the use of the M-1 rifle. On December 21, 1956, after three weeks of training, he shot 212, two points over the score required for a “sharpshooter” qualification, the second highest in the Marine Corps. Such a score indicated that from the standing position, he could hit a ten-inch bull’s-eye, from a minimum of 200 yards, eight times out of ten.

Oswald was only 88 yards from Kennedy when he fired the fatal shot. Ivon also describes the Mannlicher-Carcano as “the world’s worst shoulder weapon,” which isn’t accurate either. Posner elaborates:

When the FBI ran Oswald’s gun through a series of rigorous shooting tests, it concluded “it is a very accurate weapon.” It had low kickback compared to other military rifles, which helped in rapid bolt-action firing. … The Carcano is rated an effective battle weapon, good at killing people, and as accurate as the U.S. Army’s M-14 rifle. … “The 6.5mm bullet, when fired, is like a flying drill,” says Art Pence, a competitions firearms expert. Some game hunters use the 6.5mm shell to bring down animals as large as elephants. The bullets manufactured for Oswald’s Carcano were made by Western Cartridge Company, and the FBI considered them “very accurate … [and] very dependable,” never having misfired in dozens of tests.

“The Zapruder film is the proof they didn’t count on, Lou,” Garrison tells his assistant. In fact, the Zapruder film disproves the conspiracy theorists’ two most powerful claims: that a single bullet could not account for seven wounds inflicted on Kennedy and Connally, and that the final shot came from the grassy knoll to the right-front of the limousine.

In the Beyond Conspiracy documentary, a 3D computer model of the footage, painstakingly constructed by computer animator Dale Myers, allows us to watch the assassination from any viewpoint in Dealey Plaza. Advancing the animation frame-by-frame, it is possible to identify the precise moment Connally is hit from the flip of his jacket lapel as the bullet passes through his body. Frame-by-frame analysis further establishes that the moment Kennedy is hit by the fatal shot, his head moves forward by 2.3 inches before his body convulses backwards due to a violent neuromuscular spasm (not unusual when the head and brain experience massive trauma), and the forward expulsion of blood and tissue as the top-right of the president’s head came apart. The entry wound in the back of Kennedy’s head established by the (repeatedly authenticated) autopsy photographs could not have been inflicted by a shot from the grassy knoll.

Watch for yourselves:

I found the computer simulation too convincing to dismiss. I knew that if this same technology had been used to demonstrate that the kill shot came from in front of the motorcade, I would have considered that evidence decisive and final. So what grounds did I have for rejecting a less welcome conclusion arrived at by the method? Well, none really. And with that, my belief fell apart.

III

New Orleans DA Jim Garrison (left) and Clay Shaw (right) in 1967.

Having a foundational part of your worldview reduced to atoms in under an hour and a half is pretty destabilising. Over the subsequent weeks, it dawned on me how many assumptions had been carelessly built on that foundation and, consequently, how different and peculiar the world now looked. But it was also liberating. I suddenly found myself with much more room to think and, in the intervening years, my views about all sorts of things have changed in all sorts of ways.

So, returning to JFK in preparation for writing this essay was an odd experience. It remains an enjoyable and exciting film, but much of what I had found powerful or emotive in my teens and twenties now looks absurd. The problem is that once you accept Oswald did the shooting alone, what remains seems inconsequential and makes very little sense. Even as fortified by Stone, Jim Garrison’s case against Clay Shaw is a confused and incoherent mess. From what I can tell, it breaks down like this:

  1. New Orleans lawyer Dean Andrews claimed to have received a call on the day of the assassination from a man using the alias “Clay Bertrand,” who asked him to represent Lee Harvey Oswald. Andrews later retracted this claim, but told the Warren Commission he had previously helped Oswald try and get his marine discharge upgraded.
  2. Two days after the assassination, Garrison’s office received a tip that a man named David Ferrie had driven from New Orleans to Houston on the night of November 22. The tipster was Jack Martin who worked for Guy Banister, a former FBI agent turned private eye, virulent anti-communist and racist, and general right-wing headcase. Ferrie knew Banister and Martin, who hated Ferrie, claimed he also knew Oswald. “544 Camp Street” was stamped on some of the Fair Play for Cuba flyers Oswald was seen distributing in New Orleans in the Summer of ‘63, and Garrison claimed this address led to Banister’s office upstairs.
  3. Garrison developed the conviction that these two rather unpromising leads were somehow connected. He questioned Ferrie (who denied knowing Oswald), and then instructed his staff to find the mysterious “Clay Bertrand.” Garrison would later announce that “Clay Bertrand” was local businessman and director of the International Trade Mart, Clay Shaw. For some reason, Garrison found it significant that Shaw and Ferrie were both gay. Shaw denied knowing Ferrie or Banister or Oswald.
  4. A Ferrie-Shaw connection was belatedly provided by a 25-year-old insurance salesman named Perry Raymond Russo (who becomes male prostitute “Willie O’Keefe” in Stone’s film). Russo had been a friend of David Ferrie, and would later testify that he’d attended a party at his house at which Shaw (calling himself “Bertrand”) and a man with a bushy beard called “Leon Oswald” were present. After the party, Ferrie, Shaw, and “Oswald” incautiously discussed assassinating Kennedy using a “triangulation of crossfire.”
  5. A 29-year-old heroin addict named Vernon Bundy told Garrison that he had seen Oswald and Shaw together.

On this basis, Garrison arrested Clay Shaw on March 1, 1967 and charged that he “did wilfully and unlawfully conspire with David W. Ferrie, herein named but not charged and Lee Harvey Oswald, herein named but not charged, and others, not herein named, to murder John F. Kennedy.”

The problems with this case are many and various. But, for the sake of argument, let’s just accept that Garrison was right on all five counts—that Ferrie and Shaw and Oswald and Banister all knew one another; that Shaw used the alias “Bertrand”; and that Shaw, Ferrie, and Oswald all discussed assassinating Kennedy in front of Perry Russo. So what? The only person directly tied to the assassination is still Oswald, and Oswald was the person Garrison was trying to absolve! By charging Shaw with conspiring with Ferrie and Oswald to murder the president, Garrison had succeeded in tying Oswald’s guilt or innocence to Shaw’s.

This worried a number of Garrison’s staffers at the time. An eccentric English journalist named Tom Bethell worked for Garrison for a while as a researcher, and the diary he kept offers an illuminating account of a shambolic investigation. On December 7, 1967, Bethell wrote:

It cannot be stressed too strongly that proving Oswald innocent and proving Shaw guilty are antithetical aims. If Oswald is proven innocent, Shaw is virtually exonerated.

If Shaw is guilty of conspiracy, then Oswald must be either an actual assassin or have concurred in his own frame-up, by allowing his rifle to be taken into the TSBD [Texas School Book Depository] etc. Moreover, the argument that Oswald should have (a) discussed assassinating the President with Shaw and Ferrie, and (b) be innocent, when he was in the building from which the shots were fired, when his gun was also in the building, and when the bullet fragments ballistically matched to that gun were found in the car of the dead President, lacks plausibility to say the least.

In fact, nobody seems to have remarked on the fact that Russo’s testimony, if it is true, actually increases the likelihood that Oswald was an assassin, since, in addition to the prior evidence against him, he is now involved in a prior discussion about the assassination.

Bethell is writing this nine months after Clay Shaw’s arrest.

Stone’s film portrays Garrison as the steady leader of a loyal staff whose hard work and integrity are sabotaged by one treacherous member. The accounts of Bethell and others who had the sense to bail out bring to mind an operation more like that in the present White House. Garrison would rail against the FBI and denounced defectors as CIA plants who, he would inform the press, had been people of no importance to his operation anyway. The remaining staff were a mixture of true believers and those privately colluding to thwart Garrison’s more excessive whims. Others realised the case was a disaster and hoped some unforeseen intervention would prevent it from ever reaching a courtroom.

Garrison was particularly proud of a code he had cracked/devised which allowed him to unscramble various numbers found in Lee Harvey Oswald’s notebooks. On October 28, 1967, Bethell recorded the following:

On Saturday (28th) Garrison talked to [British author and assassination theorist Michael Eddowes] in my office. Eddows [sic] was inordinately impressed by the ‘code.’ For me it was a bizarre experience. After going through the P.O. 19106 ‘code’, he branched out into several other variants supposedly employed by Oswald, eg a code which gives you the CIA phone number in New Orleans.

Garrison’s method of working this out is as follows: first he finds a series of digits or numbers in Oswald’s address book (several pages are filled with scrawled figures, so there is plenty of choice) and selects a group which strikes his fancy as being encoded. He then looks up the CIA phone number in the phone book. Then, using an arbitrary method which is uniquely suited for that purpose, he translates one set of digits into the other. He also did this with the FBI phone number, but needless to say he had to use a different decoding procedure. Of course, this is not quite the way he explains it. He starts out by showing you the digits in Oswald’s book, and persuades you that it is in code. Then comes the decoding ‘key,’ which he makes sound as plausible, logical and as easy to remember as he can, (Garrison can be surprisingly persuasive on occasions like this.) Using the key, he translates the digits into a different set, and writes out the new number for you. Then, with the air of a conjuror arriving at the climax of his trick, he opens the phone book and shows you the CIA phone number. The same number!

Eddows seemed to be completely hoodwinked by this, and was tremendously impressed by the whole performance. Garrison had complete confidence in Eddows after this, and even let him keep the sheets of legal paper he had been demonstrating the variants of the code on, which I should have thought could almost have been regarded as an incriminating document of some kind. Garrison also let Eddows take away a copy of Clay Shaw’s address book.

Conspiracy researchers like Eddowes, Vincent Salandria, and Mark Lane drifted in and out of the office at will, xeroxing documents (with Garrison’s permission), and offering advice that Garrison’s more prudent staffers would then have to talk him out of. From insider accounts, the whole operation sounds desperate, disorganised, poorly resourced, strategically confused, inept, and totally unethical.

But while his staff chased down deadbeat leads and fretted that their case made no sense, Garrison was publicly predicting a devastating victory at trial and announcing that he had completely solved the mystery. When confronted with the failings of his investigation, he proved extremely hard to embarrass. In Stone’s film, Garrison and his wife watch Stone’s reconstruction of an NBC-TV documentary broadcast after Shaw’s arrest, in which the presenter says, “A team of reporters has learned that District Attorney Jim Garrison and his staff have intimidated, bribed, and even drugged witnesses in their attempt to prove a conspiracy involving New Orleans businessman, Clay Shaw in the murder of John F. Kennedy.” Because we never see Garrison do any of these things, we are expected to conclude that these allegations are lies.

But Garrison had drugged at least one witness, and he defended doing so in the same NBC-TV documentary he and his wife are shown watching. Perry Russo began speaking to the Baton Rouge press shortly after the death of David Ferrie. At that point, and on February 25 when he was first interviewed by Garrison’s assistant Andrew Sciambra, he made no mention of a party, “Clay Bertrand,” or a plot. He had already told WDSU TV that he had never heard of Oswald before the assassination. On February 27, Russo met with Garrison’s investigators at Mercy hospital, where he was administered sodium pentothal and re-interviewed. Now, his story began to change. At least two further interviews were conducted under hypnosis (on March 1, the day Shaw was arrested, and again on March 12), during which Russo was directed with highly leading questions and fed important information he had never volunteered. Asked about all this by a BBC Panorama journalist, Garrison replied:

We decided to give [Russo] objectifying, uh, machinery to make sure he was telling the truth. We gave him the truth serum [sodium pentothal] in order to make sure. Now, it seems to me that this is a rather unusual prosecution…uh prosecuting office which has a pretty good case making its witness take objectifying tests to make sure they are telling the truth. We did it for this reason. We used hypnosis for the same thing. Just to make sure he was telling the truth.

Although Garrison would later deny it (just one of a litany of lies), Russo also took a lie detector test which the administrator reported showed “deception” and evidence of a “psychopathic personality.” Vernon Bundy, the drug addict who claimed to have seen Oswald and Shaw together, also failed a polygraph and confessed to two witnesses that he was lying in the hope of getting his parole violations quashed. In an act of grotesque irresponsibility, Garrison called both Russo and Bundy to the stand as witnesses against Clay Shaw anyway. That he felt he had to do so is an indication of the meagre pool of testimony at his disposal.

Bill Broussard, a composite of various Garrison staffers, is allotted the role of villain in Stone’s film after an FBI agent convinces him to turn on the investigation. But in view of the above, he sounds like the lone voice of reason during his final confrontation with Garrison:

BROUSSARD: You tell me how the hell you gonna keep a conspiracy going on between the mob, the CIA, the FBI, and army intelligence, and who the hell knows what else when you know for a fact we can’t even keep a secret in this room between 12 people. We got leaks everywhere. I mean, we are going to trial here y’all and what the hell do we really got? Oswald, Ruby, Banister, Ferrie are dead. Shaw? I mean, maybe he’s an agent I don’t know. But as a covert operator in my book he is wide open to blackmail because of his homosexuality.

GARRISON: Shaw’s our toehold, Bill. Now I don’t know exactly what he is or where he fits in and I don’t really care. I do know he’s lying through his teeth and I’m not going to let go of him.

BROUSSARD: And for those reasons you’re gonna go to trial against Clay Shaw, chief? Well, you’re gonna lose.

And lose he did. On March 1, 1969, exactly 2 years after he was arrested, Clay Shaw was cleared by the jury in less than an hour. Garrison was not in court for the verdict.

IV

The House Select Committee on Assassinations (1976)

By the time the trial ended, many of the old guard of conspiracy researchers had wearied of Garrison. But Oliver Stone’s JFK provided him with a new generation of defenders. In Stone’s black-is-white looking-glass reality, Jim Garrison is James Stewart, Lee Harvey Oswald is Josef K., and the man Garrison pointlessly persecuted is a homicidal Sadean libertine. Stone even contrived to ennoble the uselessness of Garrison’s case, by inviting us to find something honourable in his humiliation by impossible odds. But those odds were the product of Garrison’s own recklessness—he had used the power of his office to hound an innocent man with nothing but speculation and innuendo. Seen from outside the conspiracy bubble, even Costner’s whitewashed version of Garrison cuts a diminished figure—obstinate, self-righteous, self-pitying, ridiculous, and wrong.

Garrison’s misbegotten prosecution arguably made at least a minor contribution to the formation of the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1976. Tasked with re-investigating the murders of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the Committee conducted an exhaustive review of all the evidence and a whole new battery of tests using state-of-the-art technology. At the end of his film, Oliver Stone informs his audience that “A Congressional Investigation from 1976–1979 found a ‘probable conspiracy’ in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and recommended the Justice Department investigate further.”

This is one of Stone’s more truthful assertions, but it is still highly misleading. The Committee did indeed conclude (incorrectly) that there had been at least four shots and two rifles in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. But they also concluded that (a) the shot from the grassy knoll (fired by persons unknown) had missed the car completely and that (b) Lee Harvey Oswald had fired the other three. This second conclusion was supported by a new mountain of evidence. In his thoroughly enjoyable new book I Was a Teenage JFK Conspiracy Freak, Fred Litwin spends four pages discussing the HSCA’s scientific findings, and provides summaries of the forensic pathology and photographic panels, the expert earwitness analysis, the handwriting and fingerprint authentication, the Mannlicher-Carcano firing tests, and the report of the firearms panel, all of which pointed to Oswald’s guilt.

So the notice at the end of Stone’s film might more accurately have read, “The findings of a Congressional Investigation from 1976–1979 conclusively discredited everything you have just seen.” Instead, he ignored them. The conspiracy researchers had been provided with every scientific test they had ever demanded and it made no difference. All that time, money, and expertise spent re-establishing what had already been established, and for what? “Reading the actual evidence was a revelation,” Litwin writes. “[But] you’d be hard-pressed to find acknowledgement, positive or negative, of what the HSCA was able to accomplish in any conspiracy book.” And why? Because conspiracy theories offer no freedom of thought for the independently minded, only the prison of motivated reasoning.

In 1963, the assassination of the president by a communist misfit was an embarrassment to the New Left and an unexpected boon to their hated antagonists on the anti-communist Right. Consequently, revisionists were afforded generous space in radical publications like Ramparts to implicate their enemies and exonerate anyone to whom they were ideologically sympathetic. “It seems to me,” William Buckley drily remarked during his 1966 Firing Line interview with Mark Lane, “that it would just be absolutely divine if it could be proved that Mr. Oswald was subsidised by [oil tycoon and Republican activist] H. L. Hunt, and the John Birch Society, the Minutemen, given a little moral support by National Review, [and] that [Republican senator Barry] Goldwater cleared it. That would be sort of the ne plus ultra in causing delight in many quarters of the United States.”

The paranoia and political disgrace of the 1970s provided theories of government corruption and conspiracy with fresh plausibility and seductively expedient new reasons to embrace them. In his 2009 examination of conspiracy thinking, Voodoo Histories, British journalist David Aaronovitch remarks that, “For sections of the Left, of course, looking back on how the promise of the Vietnam protests became first the Nixon years and then the Reagan era, had an interest in creating an account which somehow mitigated any sense of their own failure, or the failure of their ideas.” For many others, however, the idea that Kennedy had been murdered in a plot simply restored a sense of cosmic order that had been disturbed by an act of arbitrary violence. “I know that millions and millions of people in this country believe there was a conspiracy,” says American historian and Kennedy biographer Robert Dallek in Beyond Conspiracy, “because I think it is very difficult for them to accept the idea that someone as inconsequential as Oswald could have killed someone as consequential as Kennedy.”

As for Oliver Stone, had he actually cared about the integrity of the Garrison investigation, he might have noticed that it was full of holes. But he was swept up in the romanticism of Garrison’s lonely doomed crusade, and wanted so badly to believe the assassination finally explained the insanity of Vietnam. His film, however, explains nothing. Conspiracy theories foreclose the possibility of explanation, because they postulate unalterable conclusions in search of evidence instead of following evidence to plausible conclusions. And, for that reason, no countervailing argument, hypothesis, or fact will ever be enough to dissuade committed theorists. But there comes a point when those who insist most strenuously on the paramount importance of the truth have to be honest with themselves. Pace Jim Garrison, the world makes a lot more sense when examined from the correct side of the looking-glass, where black is black and white is white, and things are more-or-less as they appear to be.

Given what we know about the world, what would we expect to find in the wake of the assassination had Oswald acted alone? We would expect to find a convergence of evidence pointing to his guilt and a paucity of evidence pointing elsewhere. And since that is exactly what we do find, what is the more parsimonious explanation? That all the evidence implicating Lee Harvey Oswald was doctored or planted? And that all witnesses were bought off and intimidated or killed? And that a plot and cover-up requiring hundreds of conspirators never yielded a single confession? And that every other shooter in Dealey Plaza simply vanished into thin air? Or would it be more reasonable to conclude that the conspiracy theorists are simply wrong?

 

Jamie Palmer is senior editor at Quillette. You can follow him on Twitter @j4mi3p

Further info:

1. The Beyond Conspiracy documentary can be seen here.
2. NBC-TV 1967 documentary The JFK Conspiracy—The Garrison Investigation can be seen here. Garrison’s reply can be seen here.
3. William F. Buckley’s Firing Line interview with Mark Lane can be seen here.
4. An extract from Fred Litwin’s book I Was A JFK Conspiracy Freak was published in Quillette here.
5. Craig Colgan’s 2017 Quillette essay on the slow death of JFK conspiracy theories can be found here.
6. For the really committed, David von Pien has collected all 23 parts of Lee Harvey Oswald’s 1986 mock trial into a YouTube playlist here. Gerry Spence appears for the defence and Vincent Bugliosi prosecutes.
7. There are a number of good sites online debunking the JFK conspiracy theories, but John McAdams’s endlessly fascinating resource is probably the best. Hours of fun here.

183 Comments

  1. ralfy says

    Those years were not misspent because according to one source almost 20,000 documents concerning the assassination have not yet been made available to the public.

        • Simon Ritchie says

          Thanks for the link, James. I’ll have to check it out over the weekend. I’ve never really been up on the JFK conspiracies as much as some of the more modern ones, but the title is absolutely correct.

      • ralfy says

        I will consider conclusions concerning this event only when all available documents are released to the public, and preferably with no redaction or similar.

        • stevengregg says

          That’s an unreasonable position. Many of the JFK documents can never be released and for good reason. For example, when FBI agents interview somebody, they take the information in on one form, investigate it, and put out their findings on another form. The intake forms should never be released, because they can contain all manner of nonsense about satanic cults and neighborhood spats. If some yahoo claims that his neighbor shot JFK as part of a Martian conspiracy and that is on an FBI intake form that is released, then you have conspiracy dolts who will run with that.

      • Ralph Allen says

        Yep that is why the entrance wound is larger than the exit wound. This is how it always happens right? ORRR perhaps the shooter was standing in the 6 foot storm drain at the side of the road and was shooting upward from the front blowing the back of his head outwards knocking the head backwards. JFK angered too many entities like like the Federal Reserve by allowing the Treasury to print dollars and the Military Industrial Complex with plans to pull out of Vietnam and enter serious deescalation talks with the Soviets and threats to dismantle the CIA after the bay of pigs. The soviets mafia were just mud in the water to keeps the fools distracted.

        The same animals are still in charge! Just watch, on YouTube, the perfect controlled demolition of WTC 7 that occurred about 8 hours after the plane crashes. You probably have not seen this since the media refuses to broadcast it on TV again.

          • Ralph Allen says

            I worked for the FAA for 20 years as a senior principle engineer. I do my own analysis so your condescending comments are arrogance at best and disinformation at worst. Did you watch the video I recommended? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nc9Xad6ooPo&t=1s

            Or the one for JFK where the the secret service is told to stand down https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nc9Xad6ooPo&t=1s
            leaving JFK car without protection. You can see that the secret service agent is confused since they should be on the back of the presidents car and are ordered to do something they know is wrong. This happened just seconds before JFK enters the killing zone. Either I believe my lying eyes or some mouth piece for the government telling me the official story.

            Hey do you get paid by the hour or by the post?

        • stevengregg says

          The entrance wound on the back of the head is smaller than the exit wound, as is usual. There was no shooter in the storm drain. A documentary already explored that false claim by opening the sewer and putting a cameraman in it. You can see nothing from it but a sliver of sky above, not any passing cars.

          It’s the same reheated nonsense from you conspiracy nuts, over and over.

    • Agree with ralfy. Is there another reason for keeping the documents from the public besides the documents refute the desired “Oswald acted alone” meme?

      • Have all the documents related to WW II been released? Does this mean that we should deny the Holocaust? We never have 100% knowledge on anything, so this cannot be the standard by which you judge the truthfulness of events. We have 55 years and absolutely no evidence implicating anyone other than Oswald, but you haven’t seen some CIA form with the name of every agent working is Mexico City in 1963, so that somehow means that maybe Oswald didn’t do it? There is nothing that could come out at this point that would change the basic facts of the case. Oswald owned the rifle that he used to shot the President. Oswald owned the handgun that he used to shoot Officer Tippit. Oswald was seen at both crime scenes committing the acts. There is no mystery here.

    • Trach Clan says

      Okay, here’s my issue:

      Before, the author was convinced the assassination was a conspiracy and others were in denial not to grasp that it was.

      Now, he’s convinced the assassination was NOT a conspiracy and people are in denial not to grasp that it was not.

      The melody is the same, some lyrics changed The author’s still hammering away to straighten out other people’s heads. He herded his class to see JFK; he wrote this Road to Damascus novella for us.

      “Conspiracy thinking” is a tautology in my experience. It’s all just “thinking”, and everyone I know does it to an extent or another. People who are particularly sensitive to patternicity–“conspiracy whackos”–realize some amazing and verifiably true connections sometimes, in my experience.

      In complex world events, even the people who are PHYSICALLY PRESENT have a difficult time sorting out what happened. My grandmother was a nurse in Dallas when Ruby shot Oswald, was in the room when he was brought in. She doesn’t know what the hell went down. What kind of chance do ANY of the rest of us have post facto?

      Self-appointed “skeptics” telling me what’s wrong with my thinking rub me wrong. It smacks mightily of the “straw in your eye/beam in mine” problem.

      Like the song says, “I’ll do me, you do you.”

      • False equivalence. Before, the author was beholden to an a priori belief and was completely lacking in knowledge of the facts. Now, he has facts. That’s a major, qualitative, binary difference. Conspiracy thinking is not ‘just thinking’. It’s characterized by motivated reasoning, failure to exercise parsimony, a litany of logical fallacies, and comes to demonstrably false conclusions. It cannot defend these conclusions against fact-based, straightforward criticism, and it predictably handles critics with either willful ignorance of new information or desperate ad hominem dismissals. If skeptics citing facts rubs you the wrong way, that’s a red flag.

        The example about your grandmother is preposterous, even if it’s true, which is highly unlikely but I’ll grant you the benefit of the doubt in that regard. Her being physically alive and handling Oswald’s injury has nothing to do with her understanding of some ostensible vast, complicated, secret conspiracy. We have incomparably more information available to us now than she did.

        And of course you wrap it up by hammering home the false equivalence. Yes, we can all just do our thing, but some of us are biased from the start and ignore and cherry pick information to come to unparaimonious conclusions.

        • Lemme simplify it:
          BEFORE:
          He was an impressionable teenager, and carried these “truths” at least into his thirties, at which “adulthood” now seems to begin, at least according to current theories.
          AFTER: In his thirties, the synapses wereconnecting and communicating so much better, and only a chance encounter with 11-22 history caused him to re-examine the whole thing.

          It’s like a dream that was causing false memories. You are convinced that something really happened, until you by CHANCE think more deeply and then realize “Oh yeah! That must have been a dream I had!”

  2. Johnny Oldfield says

    I have always found the film to be fascinatingly brilliant as a work of propaganda. And it is just that, propaganda or the worst kind. But it is also a brilliant piece of film making and for that I rarely pass up the opportunity to watch.

    I wonder how many of those involved in the financing, production, and making of “JFK” have had harsh words for the current President of the United States and his endless attempts to undermine public faith in public and government institutions. And I wonder of those who have had harsh words for the current President feel any guilt for engaging in the very same thing with their work on “JFK”/

    No one takes Trump seriously, not even most of his supporters. I remember back in 1989 a lot of people took Oliver Stone’s “courage” to reveal the truth very seriously. So much so they fell into the same rabbit hole as the author of this piece.

    • Steve says

      “No one takes Trump seriously, not even most of his supporters.”

      Hillary Clinton didn’t take Trump seriously.

  3. Circuses and Bread says

    I gotta ask: why is the Kennedy assassination even remotely relevant in 2018? John Kennedy died in 1963. That was 55 years ago. Most Americans have no living memory of him. Even if we believe his assassination was some sort of conspiracy, anyone involved would either be dead or very elderly.

    • fred90024 says

      It’s relevant because Stone’s movie helped energize the left and helped Bill Clinton get elected. It’s relevant because baseless conspiracy theories have ham stringed the present administration and have had an impact on the country’s politics. Finally, it’s relevant because there are many people – see below- who prefer conspiracies to mundane reality.

    • Scott says

      It also matters because the Kennedy assassination was the first real “domino” to fall in the process of undermining ordinary Americans trust for and belief in their government. Followed by the MLK, RFK assassinations, the loss of JKF, Jackie and Camelot ripped the naivete from an American society in love with the notion that the “American way” was the pinnacle of social achievement and goodness in the world (not implying that the notion was altogether wrong). Although few people alive today have a “living” memory of him, millions of people have seen his image splashed across TV screens and listened to his stirring words in the decades since 1963; he’s been appropriated as a cultural icon for progress, advancement and change; sadly, but for his death, the actual achievements of his Presidency almost certainly would not have propelled him to such heights. And part of that process has been the re-examination ad nauseum of his assassination, which has been largely driven by popular fascination with the belief in a conspiracy, and that basically he was wrongfully taken from us by bad people. Demystifying the conspiracy theories is important because like them, John F. Kennedy, as a President and a person, was less vaunted than current popular belief.

    • I would add that Oliver Stone has been wiping his butt all over history for 50 years and this article is an excellently researched and telling indictment of his character.

      • Martin Lawford says

        Reporter Sam Donaldson challenged Oliver Stone about X’s claim in the movie that the telephones of Washington, D.C., were shut down for an hour after the assassination. Donaldson pointed out that he himself had made phone calls during that hour. So had many other people, although it was hard for each of them to get a call through the overwhelmed telephone lines. Wasn’t X’s claim just a lie?

        Stone replied, “Well, that’s how you see it.”

      • Oliver Stone. Oliver North. They should do a movie together. Perhaps call it “Oliver Twisted”.

    • Robert Desnos says

      My first political memory is a kid running into my 5th grade class yelling, “The president’s been shot.” I saw Oswald killed live on Sunday morning. The evidence, to me, never gelled with what the Warren Commission concluded. The track record of the government since then has been one of incompetence. I stopped believing on that day and have questioned everything ever since. Now, if you say it, you better have proof.

      It changed a generation.

    • dellingdog says

      C&B, I’m not terribly interested in JFK or the never-ending controversy over his assassination, either. However, I do think the article is useful in showing how someone can become beguiled by a conspiracy theory and eventually reason their way out of it. Belief in conspiracy theories is worryingly common on both the left (9/11 Truthers, GMO-phobes) and the right (QAnon, climate change) and can have real-world consequences. The author demonstrates how critical thinking can cut through misinformation and false beliefs.

    • Truth matters in history. The JFK assassination was an incredibly traumatic event for America and the attempts to gin up a massive ‘deep state’ conspiracy is at best self serving (monetarily and/or ego) or at worst destructive propaganda.

    • stevengregg says

      Stone’s conspiracy movie is relevant today because it shows how a lie can race around the world while the truth is still getting its boots on.

  4. If this story is so solid proof that Oswald killed JFK why then does he leave out facts that don’t fit the story? The magic bullet left lead in Connally but was “magically” missing far less lead than it left. Very strange. Or the fact that Oswald had to fire the rifle, eject the spent cartridge and hand feed the new round, slam the bolt home and then reacquire the target and make a very accurate shot in a very brief time. Hasn’t been replicated and they tried and tried to do so. There were supposedly only three shots fired but there is evidence of more bullets which would be impossible from Oswald’s “nest” in the time allotted. Then there is the conflicting evidence of the head shot entering from the front and the bullying of the doctor to change his report to shot from the rear. Then of course there are the two commissions who by their own words lied/changed facts to fit the narrative desired and then placed all the evidence and related facts into a secret vault for 50 plus years. Why? And of course there is the extremely convenient killing of Oswald before he can say anything under what must be the most unlikely circumstances in history by of all people a mobster in the employ of a man who hated JFK!! Ands so much more that cannot be explained by the Oswald shooter meme.

    • I haven’t checked out the author’s ‘Further info’ yet but you will probably find plenty of answers to your questions there and elsewhere. I doubt if you or anyone else can come up with a question about President Kennedy’s assassination that has not been answered repeatedly and exhaustively.

    • Martin Lawford says

      No, Oswald’s firing of three shots in the time allotted has been repeated numerous times. The claim that it hasn’t been rests on the use of a telescopic sight, which takes longer to aim than open sights. Yet, the distance Oswald was shooting was only eighty yards and as a Marine he proved his proficiency using open sights to hit targets at 200 yards. source: “Reclaiming History”, by Vincent Bugliosi

      • Not true. Do the research. The FBI tried to duplicate it and were unable.to. The key to the difficulty is two things: The rifle did not have the magazine with it so in order to fire it the rifle had to be loaded each time by hand. Anyone who has ever fired a bolt action rifle can tell you this is kind of klunky and not conducive to firing rapidly. The second problem is that the time between the 2nd and 3rd shot was so short none of the experts could fire a shot accurately, reload, reacquire the target and fire an accurate shot. Simply put there were two shooters. AND this doesn’t even address the problem that there were five shots fired not three.

        • Martin Lawford says

          “Deducting the millisecond it took him to pull the trigger for the first shot, Oswald had at least eight seconds from that point forward to fire two more rounds, hardly the impossible timing problem that conspiracy theorists have alleged throughout the years.” “Reclaiming History, p. 491

          In 1967, CBS News hired eleven marksmen to try to replicate Oswald’s marksmanship, using identical Mannlicher-Carcano rifles. The average time of the marksmen to fire three shots was 5.6 seconds. same source, p. 496

        • The Mannlicher Carcano rifle had a fixed magazine. You couldn’t remove the magazine, so no it wasn’t missing it’s magazine. It had an enjoyable Bloc clip. The clip is a simple piece of metal that was meant to be disposed of.

        • Also, the clip was found with rounds still in it (one in the chamber, two more in the clip, which was in the magazine). This another of those “factoids” conspiracy theorist gets wrong. First it completely misunderstands the difference between magazine and clip and second it doesn’t take into account that the only way a Mannlicher Carbine could still have rounds in it is to have the clip inside the magazine. An envelope Bloc system, as opposed to a stripper clip, requires the whole clip to be inserted into the magazine and remain their until the last round is fired. The Mannlicher Carcano rifle had an open based magazine. Rounds could not be stored without the clip being in place.

        • Saw file says

          @Anon…nonsense. You obviously don’t know firearms.
          I proved a conspiracy minded friend wrong on this once.
          Took him to the range with my Lee-Enfield. On the 100yd board tacked a pc. newspaper vertical. Drove a lathe into the ground with a empty gallon paint can on it (center-high).
          Start the time on the first shot and yell TIME at 10sec.
          When he yelled, I was cycling shot 7. Of the 6: 3 hit the paint can (head) and the other 3 hit the newspaper (body). This was with factory fixed iron sight’s.
          He said, ‘it wasn’t a moving target’. I just smiled, because my point was made.
          I have seen better operators than me deliver 25+ aimed rounds downrange within a minute ( including loading).

          https://www.enfield-rifles.com/the-leeenfield-mad-minute_topic7892.html

        • stevengregg says

          Oswald’s rifle used a clip of bullets. He did not need to reload each bullet.

      • Yes and I have stood in that window in the School Book Depository and the shot was not that difficult. The distance is magnified by photos and diagrams.

    • T Morgan says

      This is a perfect, crystal clear example of the confusion wrought on minds by conspiracy theories. When faced with the clarity, precision and evidence of this article, the conspiracy-mind immediately jumps to specious, unproven whatabouts. Real, delicious irony. An unintentional proving of the exact point.

      According to Scott Alexander, the MD psychiatrist polymath, the brain activity of schizophrenics is indistinguishable from those in the thrall of conspiracy theory thinking. I’d had similar notions before reading that — it really is a similar kind of activity: deeply organized information pornography in the cause of a chosen theory. Deeply fascinating stuff.

    • Martin Lawford says

      Oswald said plenty upon being arrested and most of it was provable lies. For example, he denied owning a rifle even though you can see him holding his rifle in the infamous photograph. If a conspiracy wanted to silence Oswald, why did they wait a day to do so? Why not kill him immediately after the assassination instead of giving him a chance to be arrested and talk?

      • Lol, if I was a ‘deep state’ bureaucrat who decided to assassinate a President, how would I go about it? Would I hinge my assassination on a mentally unstable tool to be done in front of thousands of people with cameras everywhere or, for example, would I insert or compromise a maintenance technician who worked on Air Force One?

      • stevengregg says

        If Ruby wanted to kill Oswald, he had plenty of opportunity, since he was sitting around the police station while Oswald was interrogated. They even walked Oswald by him at least once while Ruby was armed with his revolver.

    • Frederick says

      Just WOW! It’s indicative of how poor the US education system is.

      Pure forensics:

      Point 1. Bullets DO NOT continue in a straight line after changing from one medium to another. They veer, randomly and violently. Anyone who has bothered to watch a youtube of bullet penetration in ballistic gelatin can understand this. So much for the “Magic Bullet” that passed thru 6 different media changes. It’s nonsense.

      2. Back when, in the Old Corps, a gunner taught me how to increase my speed in operating a bolt action. You work the bolt with thumb and forefinger, pull the trigger with your pinky. A couple hours of practice, saves you a lot of time, and you don’t sacrifice your spot weld. If I know how, without any special training, there is no reason Oswald couldn’t have heard of it. It’s all a matter of creating muscle memory. It works better with a light recoil rifle, and a hasty sling.
      These kind of fragments have been handed down from Old Salt to Boot since Christ was a Corporal.
      (Of course, based purely on relative scores, I outshot Oswald over a similar course of fire, by 11 points, scoring low expert, for four years.)
      Admittedly, it takes a SHOOTER, and I’ve never met a journalist, in the last half century, who could pick up a rifle with any comfort, let alone hit a bull in the rear with a banjo.

      3. I’ve actually been to the 6th Floor Museum, looked out the window, and was stunned at the short range. 88 yards? 25 years of nonsense amateur speculation imparts a whole fictional base.
      It’s practically conversation range! Off a rest? That Oswald missed one indicates how fortunate he was to make the other two shots.

      Not that it matters, but I had a Mannlicher-Carcano carbine, as a toy, when I was a kid. Dad bought a $10 piece of junk, filled the barrel with lead, and i used to play army with it. It had a short pull, ideal for a 9 year old, and the bolt worked. I was the envy of the neighborhood. Pre-Dallas. This was when democrats were still Americans.

      • stevengregg says

        Oswald missed his first shot because he tried to shoot through a tree. He made the same mistake with General Walker when he shot him through a window. Oswald did not realize that shooting through things changed the trajectory of the bullet.

    • stevengregg says

      I don’t see how you can make a statement about the amount of lead left in the bullet that struck Connally when all of the bullet was not recovered. Some of the fragments remained in Connally and were buried with him.

      Oswald’s shots have been replicated more than once. I don’t know why you say they weren’t. You can even see recreations in private documentaries. This has been done to death.

      There is no reliable evidence of more than three shots. Most of the witnesses say they heard three shots. The earwitnesses directly below Oswald on the floor below his window heard three shots from directly above, heard the shells eject and roll around on the floor.

      The head shot entered from the rear as the wound shows, as Zapruder’s film shows, as the remaining bullet fragments show. The shot that hit his head broke into seventy fragments which fell forward in the car, one of them cracking in the inside of the windshield. The shot could not have come from the Grassy Knoll because Jackie’s face was backstopping Kennedy’s head from that angle, yet she was unwounded.

      Much of the documents are placed in the vaults for fifty years to spare the family, who suffer every time JFK’s death is replayed in public.

      You need to read more about Oswald’s death, which was clearly an impulse murder of opportunity, not planned at all.

      • Ralph Allen says

        Ohh and you have posted what 20 times telling everyone you have the truth? Just another disinformation expert.

  5. Andrew Mcguiness says

    Well, if it led you to Noam Chomsky, that’s not a bad thing

  6. Powderburns says

    Who would seek to hide the crimes of Marxists?

    Why did Stalin smuggle Hitlers skull & a few bones out of Berlin then spread rumours he had escaped to Argentina?

    Who benefits from the endless conspiracy theories? The mad? I don’t know.

    Isn’t it strange that Germans exhumed Hitlers body, burnt it, and flushed it in the sewers. Too little. Too late.

    • Martin Lawford says

      No, it is not strange that the Germans “exhumed Hitler’s body, burnt it, and flushed it in the sewers”. They burned Hitler’s body because he had ordered them to. They did not flush his body in the sewers, they covered up his charred corpse in a shell crater. The Soviets did forensic identification of Hitler’s remains because Stalin wanted to ensure Hitler was actually dead.

  7. mitchellporter says

    Oswald fits the profile of a Soviet assassin. But he was undoubtedly debriefed and monitored by American intelligence once he returned to the US. The fact that he was himself assassinated so promptly, and by someone like Jack Ruby, suggests that it was Americans, not Russians, who controlled the manner of his death.

    As we know from our own time, law enforcement and intelligence agencies will sometimes allow dangerous individuals to proceed with their plots – e.g. in order to discover who is directing them – or will even help organize the plots – e.g. in a sting. It is quite conceivable that Oswald was a counterintelligence project gone awry. It is even conceivable – though is it likely? – that there were *anti*communists who wanted him to succeed, so they could wage a savage counteroffensive against communist subversion at home and abroad. Such is the nature of conspiracy and counterconspiracy.

      • mitchellporter says

        The one where he disavows America and defects to Russia; then after a few years returns to America and starts a family with his young Russian bride, as if he is going to settle down; then he assassinates the president, having visited the Russian embassy in Mexico a few months before (planning his escape?).

          • mitchellporter says

            I’m not saying that the pattern of his life is a template reproduced elsewhere. In fact, Oswald has been described as “virtually unique” among returned defectors in that he brought a Russian wife with him; something which might be correlated with the another unique thing about him.

            But if we were talking about two other countries, enemies recently on the brink of immensely destructive war, and then the leader of one was assassinated by an individual with the profile I describe… surely you would be very suspicious that he had acted as an agent of the other nation?

        • stevengregg says

          Because Soviet assassins want to maintain a high profile and connect the crime to the Soviet Union?

          • mitchellporter says

            The crime *is* connected to the Soviet Union, in that the alleged assassin had recently lived there for a year and a half, is described as espousing their state ideology, and tried to get a visa to return, a week or two before the crime.

            Presumably US investigators had this kind of debate: Was Oswald a Soviet assassin, a rogue, a wannabe? Was he acting on his own initiative, or at someone’s orders? Would Russia dare sponsor such an act, and if they did, would they dare to use someone with such clear ties to Russia? i.e. questions of means, motive, and opportunity.

    • “The fact that he [Oswald] was himself assassinated so promptly…”

      Promptly? If there was a conspiracy that aimed to have Oswald killed as a patsy or to cover up the conspiracy, the conspirators would have been on the job during the JFK assassination, and they would have killed Oswald before he could get 10 yards from the Schoolbook Depository, within minutes, not days, of the JFK shooting.

      • mitchellporter says

        I partly agree, in that the manner of Oswald’s death looks improvised to me. But see my remarks about a counterintelligence fiasco.

        For example: he may have been a double agent who fooled his American handlers. By shooting at General Walker and missing, he maintains his credibility both with the KGB, who think he’s an American radical willing to kill, and with CIA or FBI, who use him to learn about Russian and Cuban intelligence.

        But then he goes and actually kills Kennedy, and gets caught doing it. He’s in the hands of ordinary law enforcement, who know nothing about the double-cross risk-taking of the spy world. So someone pulls a few strings, and just two days after he was arrested, Oswald is permanently silenced.

        I’m not arguing for this specific scenario, just indicating how these things could play out.

        • You have no evidence; you are just spouting wild speculation. I could do that too:
          ***
          Maybe the Russians wanted to use the assassination to sow distrust of the American government, so they found a secretly gay prosecutor and blackmailed him into ginning up a conspiracy and a prosecution. Since the prosecutor was secretly gay, he knew the gay community and who in that community had a reputation for being unstable, so they would be good targets for extracting false testimony. Also, he decided to focus on gays in order to divert attention from any thoughts that he might be gay himself.
          ***
          See how that works? Anyone with a decent imagination can come up with a story to support anything and make it seem plausible. That’s why responsible people don’t speculate in the absence of evidence. When you do, you are doing nothing but revealing your own prejudices and hidden goals.

          • mitchellporter says

            My goal is to illustrate an elementary kind of possibility that is neglected in these discussions, but which occurs in the real world of crime and espionage: that the events resulted from the clash of multiple “conspiracies”. Evidence of western and of eastern involvement in the affair has been collected by separate schools of thought; I leave it to others to convince you that evidence-based hybrid scenarios are possible and significant.

  8. Steve Sailer says

    My recollection is that conspiracy theories about the JFK assassination (and other events like the RFK assassination) were rather respectable from the late 1960s until early 1992. Oliver Stone’s “JFK” was given 8 Oscar nominations and appeared to be a Best Picture frontrunner. At that point, in early 1992, the serious press turned en masse against JFK conspiracy theorizing.

    “JFK” was peak Oliver Stone. In his prime, Stone was a prodigious director, winning two Best Director Oscars.

    “JFK” was way out ahead of other movies of its time at recreating what “found footage” would have looked like. I can recall while watching the supposed security cam film of Oswald visiting the CIA office losing my resistance and admitting that Stone had proved his case, only to realize a few seconds later that, wait a minute, that wasn’t Oswald it was Gary Oldman (who was superb at disappearing into LHO). Audiences in the early 1990s weren’t used to directors playing tricks to make their film stock look like documentary footage from 1963, which Stone did brilliantly.

    On the other hand, “JFK” never made any sense because Stone decided to merge together two separate conspiracy theories: A. Fletcher Prouty’s theory that the colossal military-industrial complex decided as a whole to bring its vast resources to bear on assassinating JFK by B. hiring, according to Jim Garrison, a bunch of French Quarter flaming homosexuals, eccentric characters out of “A Conspiracy of Dunces,” to execute its plot.

    Also, other than Oldman and Tommie Lee Jones as Clay Shaw, “JFK’s” casting was poor: John Candy as a key figure in the conspiracy was absurd. The elderly Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau as important CIA agents were disconcerting. And Joe Pesci as a hairless homosexual who was the linchpin of the military-industrial complex’s entire plot was hilarious.

    But … it’s still hard to completely dismiss any and all conspiracy theories because Oswald just had too many weird connections.

    The most plausible theory I can come up with is that Oswald very much wanted to be part of a conspiracy, so he kept putting himself into contact with possible conspirators, such as the KGB, the CIA, Castro’s allies, the mafia, etc. Typically, each would eventually figure out that Oswald was Bad News and break off contacts with him.

    For example, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Forrest Sawyer of ABC went to Moscow and the KGB’s successor showed him its file on Oswald, which was festooned with warnings: Do Not Throw Away. The KGB man was adamant that the file proved that, yeah, sure, we dealt with Oswald at first, but then we figured out he was Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know, so we broke off all contact with him well before 11/22/63. So don’t blame us!

  9. Burlats de Montaigne says

    I firmly believe that conspiracy theories are like a comfort blanket for the emotionally immature and intellectually bewildered.The idea that someone, somewhere, actually has a plan; that everything is ordered and being run to a script, albeit not always necessarily with benign intent, is somehow comforting. It is the akin to the child’s sense of security. knowing that the parent is always watching over them (see also: religion, paranoia and other psychotic disorders). It also panders to human’s essential nature to find patterns in things. The idea that life is in fact just comprised of a jumbled up, random series of events all swirling about in time, and that no one is really ‘in charge’, is simply too frightening and unacceptable for some people to contemplate. Conspiracy theories simply fill the Nietzschean void.
    It goes without saying that all of it is, of course, nonsense.

    • Perhaps because most major human events are planned? That when important people are killed, it’s more likely at the hands of governments or crime syndicates than lone wolves.
      Almost everything they taught in history is clearly not the full story, but when government investigates and keeps most records secret for over half a century, the rational belief is they are just good people?

      • puddleg58 says

        Here we have a false dichotomy, government (as Trump shows, a very loose coalition of people with many conflicting interests prone to rat on one another at a whiff of impropriety) need not be good, just not organised to a James Bond mastervillain extent. The history of the US presidency and various other groups shows that unhinged loners are clearly the cause of assassinations in that country. A serious government conspiracy, Watergate, fell apart quickly and the small number of people involved haven’t stopped talking ever since.

    • @Burlats

      “It also panders to human’s essential nature to find patterns in things…”

      This rant may be the most un-self-aware thing I have ever read. It’s hysterical.

      • Annie says

        There is a long record of assassinations involving our intelligence agencies around the world. It seems a particular type of American complacency to ignore that we do these things elsewhere, but of course we’d never be affected by them domestically. Personally, I suspect Oswald was involved in the assassination, but he was not the only one. I could be wrong. But to reduce healthy skepticism (which is something we need much more of regarding our government in light of *things it has already and persistently done*) to emotional self-indulgence is bizarre. There was a comment above about brain patterns of conspiracy theorists resembling that of schizophrenics. I wonder if the brain patterns of those pooh-poohing the idea that there is ever more to the story than what’s offered match those of extreme conformists prone to groupthink. Nonsensical.

    • Melvin Backstrom says

      An excellent exposition of my own thoughts on the appeal of conspiracy theories.

    • stevengregg says

      Conspiracy theories are a way for stupid people to be smart, at least in their own feeble minds, by claiming to have secret knowledge nobody knows.

  10. Steve Sailer says

    The three most famous assassinations in history before JFK were the product of fairly sizable and high level conspiracies — Julius Caesar, Abraham Lincoln, and the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

    The last was assassinated on the order of the head of Serbian military intelligence, who dispatched 9 assassins to Sarajevo for a month.

    Lincoln was murdered by the brother of the most famous actor in America, with the assistance of numerous gentlemen of fashion. It’s a little bit like if Trump were assassinated by Casey Affleck or Dave Franco and their friends. How high up the Confederate conspiracy went is unknown, in part because Secretary of War Edwin Stanton preferred to mete out swift justice to those directly involved and not pursue more tenuous trails to the top Confederate leadership.

    Julius Caesar was murdered by respectable old family Senators like Brutus.

    So, it’s not unreasonable that people assume Oswald must have been part of a conspiracy. He seemed to want to belong to a conspiracy. But potential conspirators seemed to decide eventually that they didn’t want to have anything to do with the erratic Oswald.

    • Peter from Oz says

      Oswald was like John Bellingham, the chap who assasinated British PM Spencer Perceval in 1811. Both were loners who had become quite twisted and bitter over personal grievances for which they blamed th government.
      When you consider that Britain was leading the fight against Napoleon at the time, it is quite amazing that the assignation of the Head of Government hasn’t made so much of an impact oh history.

  11. scribblerg says

    Sometimes I like to shock leftists by pointing out that 2 U.S. POTUSs were assassinated by socialists in the 20th century. They look me like I’m crazy, truly. When I point out that McKinley’s Polish assassin was a radical socialist, as all “anarchists” of the time were, they just demur. And then i bring up Oswald being a communist, and well, they literally cannot process these facts..I wonder how many reading this article realize the basic truth of the above statement?

    Consider how deeply we’ve been deceived that we cannot see the basic reality of how the Left has overrun our society over the past 120 years or so. Consider that keeping the average American from realizing that communists/marxists killed two of our Presidents is crucial to the ongoing lies they want their people to believe. I mean, can it be that the Democrats moved from the party of African slavery and formal oppression of blacks to the party of violent, delusional revolutionaries?

    The author seems to not have examined one area of this new truth she’s woken up to, and that is the conclusion that the Soviets rejected Oswald as an asset when he arrived in the Soviet Union. In Prof. Ronald J.Rychlak an Lt Gen Ion Mihai Pacepa’s amazing book, Disinformation, Pacepa states clearly that as head of the Romanian secret service/intelligence, he knew the Oswald was in fact a Soviet agent. And that Kruschev – a complete maniac – had ordered the assassination, but then had rescinded the order unsuccessfully. Oswald was not able to be pulled back. Why do we think Oswald traveled in and out of the Soviet Union at all? Why did he go to Soviet embassies? He was also in touch with a known Soviet operative. Read the book, you will be stunned by the level of disinformation and propaganda that the Soviets engaged in, at times having over 1 million staff involved in running the massive disinformation operations. Americans are asked to ignore all this, and just accept that the Soviets said, yeah, Oswald’s too crazy, we won’t use him. Lol, really? I suggest the author read the above book and revise her thinking once again…

    It’s too bad the author didn’t acquire Posner’s Case Closed when it was published in 1994. You see I wasn’t smitten by conspiracy theorists foaming at their mouths I was always doubtful of them, so when Posner’s book came out I grabbed it up. Posner did such a great, fact based investigation in depth. Updated forensics, chasing down every conspiracy theory including the idiotic Garrison conspiracy, debunking the all utterly and easily. He also challenged Stone to debate him on many occasions when JFK came out. Stone never faced him…

    And since I’m criticizing the author’s gullibility, Noam Chomksy always sounded like he was trying way too hard on every point he made. He lacked any restraint or judiciousness in his judgment. Later in life I came to deeply suspect anyone I met who was similarly demonstrative of such slavishness to posing as being deontological in fields of study in which there are no axioms from which to reason. It’s too bad this fatal flaw underlying so much of the epistemology of the ideas that infect the humanities isn’t discussed more. Because it tends to explain everything…

    You see, to be a Marxist, one needs to enjoy engaging in magical thinking unmoored from reason. My tour through Marxism began at the age of 26, sitting in night school, a new father and exhausted, stuck listening to my socialist history professor fetishize “the Prague spring” and twist himself into knots trying to “teach” us all that Marx was really misunderstood and ignored by Lenin and then Stalin, he was a Trotskyite like a Christopher Hitchens was, and after all that’s the least absurd line of retreat for a socialist/marxist to take if they are trying to not be completely absurd.. Of course, one has to ignore Trotsky’s bloody history…My point? I went to the library, took out all of Marx’s works and read them. 7 of them I believe. I couldn’t believe how idiotic much of it was, and how the real world around me looked nothing like the world he wanted to fix. You see, I’d been raised in the middle class that Marx claimed couldn’t exist.

    So, if you are running around as a socialist or Marxist, you de facto would rather engage in meta analysis unmoored from pesky facts and inconvenient realities. Once you do this, any kind of wild thinking becomes possible. And the Left knew it. They also could not possibly accept the fact that Oswald was a Soviet agent, given how they were still in denial about the how Stalin had starved 5 million Ukrainians to death intentionally.

    I’m rambling, but my point is important. The level of disinformation and propaganda on this assassination is epic, sure, but the reason this is so is more important. The Soviets backed and organized and coordinated this disinformation campaign along with many others, and they encouraged the undermining of our faith in our institutions. Think about it, how great is it for leftists that so many Americans actually think it possible or likely that our own govt killed JFK? Not the Soviets, but the CIA? The author touches in this, but I find that most people criticizing the current insanity of the Left have little idea for just how long the effort to create this kind of insanity has been underway and how much rot it has already caused.

    • “Consider that keeping the average American from realizing that communists/marxists killed two of our Presidents is crucial to the ongoing lies they want their people to believe.”

      Two presidents? How about the millions killed in the Soviet Union, Cambodia, etc. in the name of reducing dissent? The left turns the other way when the tragedies of communism are mentioned or mumbles something about another time, another era and that would not happen today – this time it would work. It’s never worked. It goes against the grain of human behavior and human rights. What is special about today?

    • Micha Elyi says

      “Sometimes I like to shock leftists by pointing out that 2 U.S. POTUSs were assassinated by socialists in the 20th century.”

      Shock ’em even more, Scribblerg. Three, not 2, US Presidents were assassinated by socialists in the 20th century. Fortunately for #3, Jerry Ford, the two socialist females who tried to kill him on separate occasions both failed.

      Sometimes I like to shock feminists by pointing out that half the assassins of Presidents during my lifetime (JFK, Ford, Ford, Reagan) were female. (And half of the men were motivated to become an assassin by a female, although this time she did so unwittingly and wholly unintentionally. Still, it disproves the whole feminist meme of Females Are Powerless.)

  12. Takashi Macintosh says

    So because a Hollywood film was inaccurate, there was no conspiracy? This article was so infantile and stupid it has completely shook my interest in Quillette. KBR had billions to lose if the Vietnam War ended, possessed it’s own private army of ex-Special Ops contractors, was based in Texas, and had deep roots with the CIA and DoD. They had the motive and the means and the company is so evil they actually recruited Dick Cheney to be the CEO when it became Halliburton. Every foreign historian or journalist who studies this story even superficially has no doubt about a State/Corporate conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Only pathetic, pearl-clutching American journalists like Jamie Palmer fail to see the obvious and waste decades deconstructing a piece of entertainment instead of developing their own research. You sir, are very much in the wrong profession. Return to your roots and become a small town’s favorite high school history teacher. Not the AP one though, you don’t have the IQ for that the kids will just mock you.

    • Gareth Cotter says

      “Every foreign historian or journalist who studies this story even superficially has no doubt about a State/Corporate conspiracy to kill Kennedy.”

      Incredible claim. Completely unsubstantiated though. To take your argument more seriously, you should provide sources.

      I look forward to hearing more. Thanks in advance.

      • Nooooo.... says

        @Gareth Cotter:

        You are one of my favorite kinds of people in the whole wide world:

        Those who haughtily demand sources and evidence on anonymous comment boards of obscure online publications.

        Don’t ever change.

        • Yes, absolutely preposterous to expect people to take several seconds and a couple lines of text to back up verifiable/falsifiable facts.

        • stevengregg says

          Sources and evidence are the bane of conspiracy nuts, such as yourself. Of COURSE, you object to them.

      • Paul Reidinger says

        Read “Farewell, America” by James Hepburn. It gives the view of the French intelligence services (supposedly at the behest of de Gaulle himself) that the Kennedy assassination was the result of a sophisticated domestic plot. The KGB concluded that Lyndon likely was involved — well, of course he was! He had motive. Allen Dulles had motive. Together they had invincible motive and means. Of course they arranged it and benefited from it. That is plain as day. Jack and Bobby Kennedy were a political unit for many years, and their murders had enormous political and historical consequences. It is logical, then, to assume that their murders were political murders and were related. It is more logical to assume that than that they each died at the hands of motiveless lone assassins in their early 20s. Killing presidents and presidential candidates is serious business, not the stuff of shiftless amateurs. Takashi Macintosh is right; Quillette has done itself no credit by running this sad, shoddy — indeed thoughtless — piece.

        • Peter from Oz says

          Kennedy was a pathetic piece of crap. He wasn’t worth killing.

          • dellingdog says

            Thanks for the cogent and insightful analysis, Peter. So much for “civility”!

        • Martin Lawford says

          “Killing Presidents and Presidential candidates is serious business, not the stuff of shiftless amateurs.” But, weren’t assassins like Manson girl Lynette Fromme, Sara Jane Moore, John Hinckley, and Arthur Bremer all marginally employed losers with miserable personal lives, just like Lee Harvey Oswald?

          • Paul Reidinger says

            The figures you name were would-be assassins only. They did not succeed. The assassination of President Kennedy was a highly professional operation of maximum lethality, carried out at long range in a handful of seconds and leaving behind only dead ends, wild-goose chases and endless confusion and dispute. If it was not the perfect crime, it was about as close as we could expect on this earth.

        • Howard C Ellis says

          No evidence exists to substantiate any of that conjecture.

          • stevengregg says

            On the contrary, I heard Jim Leavalle, the Dallas homicide detective handcuffed to Oswald when Ruby shot him, say that the JFK shooting was not much different from any Saturday night shooting in Dallas except a famous person was involved.

            Oswald was a stupid kid who did a dumb crime and was easily caught, He was no mastermind and this was no perfect crime.

        • stevengregg says

          A particularly silly theory in a field of silly theories.

        • Eric V. Gonnason says

          You’re so right, Paul Reidinger. The French and other Europeans have been seeing this exact same pattern played out with nauseating repetition for many centuries, and always, since Julius Caesar, with the added pains taken to conceal the people behind the events. I already knew who had killed Kennedy when I went to see Stone’s film in the theatre, and found that he had actually done a pretty good job. The scene in which Garrison’s men pull David Ferrie’s would-be priest clothes out of the closet shows how close he came to the truth, so it was disappointing that it went no further, except to show him saying “All I ever wanted to be was a fucking priest!” The film leaves us thinking it was “the government” that did it, so, as others have observed, it only serves to further undercut peoples’ trust of government. But it was really the CIA, and the CIA is not at all accountable to the Government, the President, Congress; the CIA is the Vatican’s Trojan Horse, dedicated to completely subjugating all of the world’s governments, including ours to a one-world government under the papacy. Kennedy was on to this and fired Allen Dulles, whose son Avery became a Cardinal after becoming a Jesuit, and who magically reappeared on the Warren Commission and controlled every aspect of its final, utterly ridiculous report.. How quaint!.

      • Eben Macintosh says

        Going all the way back to his very first campaign running for the Texas legislature, the Texas-based corporation Kellogg, Browning and Root (KBR) was LBJ’s largest political contributor for every election he entered. They owned him completely.
        http://www.allgov.com/news/unusual-news/kbr-made-illegal-campaign-contributionsto-lyndon-johnson-in-1941?news=842780
        If we could cross-reference ex-US Army personnel with sniper training and KBR employees circa late 1950’s/early 1960’s we might know exactly who fired the shots but that’s not possible because: https://www.archives.gov/personnel-records-center/fire-1973
        Of course even today KBR/Halliburton remains very much in the news influencing our foreign policy towards interventionism: https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1569483

      • Takashi Macintosh says

        Going all the way back to his very first campaign running for the Texas legislature, KBR was always LBJ’s largest cash contributor:
        http://www.allgov.com/news/unusual-news/kbr-made-illegal-campaign-contributionsto-lyndon-johnson-in-1941?news=842780
        If we could cross-reference personnel records of US Army soldiers with sniper training with KBR employees circe late1950’s/early 1960’s we might have some actual suspects but that’s not possible because:
        https://www.archives.gov/personnel-records-center/fire-1973
        Some more background:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KBR_(company)

      • Takashi Macintosh says

        There are resources online indicating that KBR was LBJ’s single largest political contributor stretching all the way back to his very first campaign when he ran for the Texas State Legislature, as well as this: http://www.allgov.com/news/unusual-news/kbr-made-illegal-campaign-contributionsto-lyndon-johnson-in-1941?news=842780
        This is also interesting:
        https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1569483
        We might cross-reference ex-US servicemen with sniper training who also worked at KBR circa 11/23/63 but this happened: https://www.archives.gov/personnel-records-center/fire-1973

    • DiamondLil says

      I am left with choosing between two explanations, Takashi: Either your sarcasm font failed to download properly or you have neglected to take your meds again.

    • “Every foreign historian or journalist who studies this story even superficially has no doubt about a State/Corporate conspiracy to kill Kennedy.”

      Yeah because being foreign and studying the story superficially makes them so much more likely to understand it right? Is this what passes as evidence to you?

    • Eric V. Gonnason says

      Excellent observations, Takeshi! So right about foreign countries recognizing the patterns from their much longer histories. Russia immediately compared the framing and quick disposal of Oswald to the Nazis’ lynching of Marinus Van Der Lubbe for the Reichstag fire. A person I know who majored in French History knew that it was the Jesuits using the same M.O. as used in France. The French intelligence service also wrote and published “Farewell America” in 1968 in a futile effort to protect Robert who they knew was next in the boresights about the four marksmen who fired at John, none of whom was Oswald.

      Pearl-clutching journalists: nice turn of phrase! And, thanks for a breath of fresh, common-sense air!

    • stevengregg says

      There is no reliable evidence of a conspiracy to kill JFK, only unsubstantiated speculation by conspiracy nuts. There is considerable evidence that Oswald shot JFK alone.

  13. martin woyzeck says

    So after wasting my time reading this lengthy rant to find out what the point is,
    it turns out that it’s just rightwing propaganda, making Oswald out to be a Marxist,
    and attempting (yet failing) to question Stone’s film, solely because his politics are to the Left.
    That’s basically the bottom line of what this waste of space is

    • stevengregg says

      Ahem, Oswald was a Communist, made a point of being a Communist in the Marines, and defected to Russia because he was a Communist. What part of being a Communist don’t you get about Oswald?

      Stone lied throughout the film. One of the most egregious lies was his phony presentation of Jean Hill immediately after the assassination reeling off the whole Grassy Knoll shooter false narrative. In reality, when the camera caught Hill, she said she did not know what happened. And on and on the lies rolled from there.

  14. martin woyzeck says

    And Stone didn’t give any ‘absolutes’, as we still don’t know absolutely.
    What I liked about Stone’s film is he threw out every conspiracy theory there was.
    He gave facts, details that make some elements of the various conspiracies,
    those were factual. But since we still don’t know, Stone never said this is exactly what happened.
    He gave every theory out there.

  15. TheSnark says

    Almost all conspiracy theories require that the hidden actors be incredibly clever, well organized, perfectly coordinated, and can keep everything perfectly secret. Anyone who has ever worked with the US government will know it is incapable of of any one of those four, much less all of them. Anyone who has worked with private organization knows that they might meet one or even two of those criteria fairly well, but again, never all four.

    Stick with Occam’s Razor; the simplest explanation is usually right.

    • Gareth Cotter says

      Conspiracy theorists almost always ignore the realities of keeping incredibly complex conspiracies secret. It’s hard enough with only a few people involved but things like a fake moon landing would literally be impossible even if we wanted to attempt it because of the number of people involved.

      • And the Russians…. the Russians would’ve been party to the US moon landing conspiracy. The Russians kept close watch on the US space program for obvious reasons. Does anyone think that the US could’ve faked the moon landings without the Russians finding out?

  16. “Conspiracy theories… postulate unalterable conclusions in search of evidence instead of following evidence to plausible conclusions.”

    Great quote. Thanks for a very informative article.

  17. Michael says

    Right. And Jack Ruby killed Oswald to spare Jackie from having to testify. Anyone who thinks different must be crazy.

    Of course there was a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. There couldn’t have possibly been anything else.

  18. Jim Goeddel says

    “Of course there was a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. There couldn’t have possibly been anything else.”

    The falseness of the second sentence shows the self-inflicted blindness of the conspiracy theorist.

    Tagashi Macintosh (what a moniker!): You impressively roped in Dick Cheney way after the fact to buttress your speculations. Bravo! Not even Bugliosi’s comprehensive study of the JFK assassination deals with the perfidious Cheney!

  19. Me, I read William Manchester’s book on the JFK assassination years ago. He was hired by the Kennedys, talked to everyone except Oswald’s mother soon after the events and produced a very thorough account, on the basis of which I could dismiss conspiracy material as I encountered it. Always seemed very strange to me that so many people actually believed those theories.

    • Annie says

      William Manchester wrote perhaps the most unserious and inane work on the Middle Ages that has ever been written, and that’s saying something. His ability to do meaningful historical research was rendered null by his devotion to his ideological beliefs. I’ve read a good deal of his other work, including his harrowing interviews with Jackie, and suspect he was a dear, kind man, but would have been better doing a social gossip column instead of serious journalism or history.

      • Eric V. Gonnason says

        Absolutely right, Annie. I got as far into Manchester’s book to see him write that there was no historical precedent for the JFK assassination . All of the attempts and plots against Queen Elizabeth I,, all of which failed, the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and assassinations of French Kings Henry III, and IV, the murder of William of Orange by Baltazar Gerard, as well as the 1605 Gunpowder Plot against James I and the entire Parliament, even the killings of Francisco Madero and Alvaro Obregon in Mexico were orchestrated by the same people. Oh, and Abraham Lincoln. Manchester really blew it on that one.

  20. I know authors don’t always write their own headlines, but this was a bit of false advertising. It seemed like it was going to be more of general comment about “conspiracy theorizing” but instead it’s thousands of words about the Kennedy assassination, to add to the millions (billions?) already out there. I don’t profess to know anything different than the “official story” about the Kennedy assassination, but for me, “conspiracy theory” should just be synonymous with “important events that were planned in secret, which secrets the planners in question desire to maintain in confidence for as long as possible”. I think it should be too obvious to state that significant events are often planned in secret and that those planners desire to maintain said plans in confidence as long as possible.

  21. This is a very sloppy “essay”. It’s ironic that the author accuses Stone of selectively chosing the facts and romanticism with Garrison, but the same is done here. Look, we will probably never know what really happened, but there some things that we know, that completely smash the narrative above. Oswald was submitted to a paraffin test. There were no traces of gunpowder on his face (this is inconsistent with using a riffle). Second, there was only one person that could replicate the shooting scenario in the Oswald/School Depository theory. But there are several caveats. The gentleman only achieved it at the second try, on a “sterile” environment, this is, on a isolated area, with no noise, no people on the street. Basically with no “adrenaline kick” of a real event of this nature… By other words, it’s an impossible sequence of shots to be made by someone that is not an expert (Oswald), with that specific rifle, from that specific location. And let’s not forget that police reports and FBI reports state that the rifle found in the book depository was misaligned… I’m not going to go down this rabbit hole. One will end this journey at about the same point as one has started… However, this is very sloppy “stuff” to be written by someone claiming to have looked at it for years…

    • From the archives:
      When a revolver is fired, nitrate-bearing gases escape through this space and may leave residues on the. hand. 91 In a rifle, however, there is no gap between the chamber and the barrel, and one would therefore not expect nitrates to be deposited upon a person’s hands or cheeks as a result of his firing a rifle. As Cunningham testified:
      Mr. CUNNINGHAM. … I personally wouldn’t expect to find any residues on a person’s right cheek after firing a rifle due to the fact that by the very principles and the manufacture and the action, the cartridge itself is sealed into the chamber by the bolt being closed behind it, and upon firing the case, the cartridge case expands into the chamber filling it up and sealing it off from the gases, so none will come back in your face, and so by its very nature, I would not expect to find residue on the right. cheek of a shooter.

      • I cannot imagine an “expert” saying such a thing. The amount of residue needed to be detectable is infinitesimal. It will be all over you and likely on anyone within five to ten feet of you from a single firing of the rifle.

  22. Pando says

    First and foremost; Happy Thanksgiving, we’re still here. Grateful? Earlier today I commented on another Article here regarding “Social Justice” and Institutionalizing it’s methodologies. Again here I say: https://youtu.be/WROdwlk9_h8 A multifaceted infection not so easily assessed. Truly, no Agenda; But, there is an infection………………

  23. 1. On the day of the assassination, Oswald brought a long package wrapped in brown paper into work. He told his work colleague Buell Wesley Frazier that the package contained “curtain rods.”
    That same morning, Oswald had removed his wedding ring and left it in a cup for his wife Marina (which she testified he had never done before), along with $170, which amounted to all the money they had, aside from the $14 in his pocket.
    ————-
    The package was only testified to by Buell Wesley Frazier and his sister. No other worker testified to seeing Oswald entering with such a package that day, or any other day and in fact, one fellow worker told the HSCA that Oswald was not even in Frazier’s car that morning when he arrived at the carpark on Houston and when asked, claimed he had dropped Oswald at the front entrance. As for Marina, she also testified that the $170 was NOT just left there that day, but was added to each pay day by her husband toward an apartment for themselves. Why mention the money and not the context? As for curtain rods – Ruth Paine testified that she had some rods wrapped in brown paper in her garage and the Warren Commission actually went out to her place to see them. Funnily enough, they measured 36 inches – the same size as the rifle Oswald allegedly ordered – though the one found was actually the 40 inch model.

    2.Multiple witnesses saw Oswald either shooting Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit, or leaving the scene on foot and emptying his revolver of spent shells. Stone draws our attention to conflicting testimony from two other witnesses, but neglects to point out that ballistics matched the bullets in Tippit’s body and the shells recovered at the scene to the .38 revolver Stone acknowledges Oswald collected from his rooming house after the Kennedy assassination. Oswald’s discarded jacket was recovered near the crime scene.
    ————-
    The police only had ONE witness to the actual shooting -Mrs Helen Markham, and multiple witnesses to one or TWO people leaving the scene. Markham was hysterical when forced to view the most ridiculous line-up in history – a packed room with Oswald dressed in a t-shirt and showing a bruised faced was handcuffed with 3 besuited police employees! The “escape” witnesses meanwhile gave conflicting accounts not only only how many shooters, but on which way they went. One more thing on Markham – she was a cousin to Floyd and Ray Hamilton – two members of the Clyde Barrow gang, and had a son, James, who was on parole for burglary at that time. After James spoke to Marguerite Oswald and two reporters, he was thrown though a second story window by police who had come to charge on another count of burglary. All of this is (bar Markham;s relationship the the Hamilton’s) in the 26 volumes for anyone who wants to check. Her relationship to the Hamilton’s is noted in her only obit.

    3. Both the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle discovered on the sixth floor of the school book depository and the .38 revolver Oswald was still carrying when he was arrested were bought by Oswald using the alias A. Hidell. Identification bearing that name was found in Oswald’s wallet when he was arrested. The revolver was sent to Oswald’s PO Box in Dallas.

    Yet weirdly such an alias was not noted in any of the initial reports filed by the 5 arresting officers, and the alias was not mentioned by police interrogators to Oswald until the following day – by which time, the FBI had been notified by army intelligence that they had a file on Oswald which included information on a A. Hidell. When the FBI put the notes on this phone call together in a memo, they misinterpreted the notes. What was written became “Lee H. Oswald and an A Hidell” became Lee H Oswald and Ana Hidell, causing the FBI to search for a female accomplice. They eventually decided it must be “Lee H Oswald AKA (also known as) A Hidell and so the legend of the Oswald alias was born, The fake ID allegedly made by Oswald was just a copy of his own selective service card with a passport photo of Oswald attached to it and the details erased and changed. Such a card was useless as fake ID because those cards did not have photos. The sole usefulness of the card was to tie Oswald to the Hidell name – and thus to the purchase of the weapons.

    4. Oswald refused to take a lie detector test.
    ——————–
    As was his right, He was being denied legal counsel and he seemed to know that lie detectors are used to intimidate people into false confessions. This is done by having the machine behind the person being tested and falsely claiming the machine shows the person is lying.

    5. Ballistic tests definitively matched bullet fragments in the presidential limousine and the bullet later found on Governor Connally’s stretcher with Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano to the exclusion of any other firearm. The three spent cartridge cases found on the floor of the book depository were also matched to Oswald’s rifle. Fibres from Oswald’s shirt were found on the rifle butt. The brown paper bag in which the rifle had been concealed prior to the shooting contained fibres from a blanket Oswald had kept wrapped around the rifle. Oswald’s palm prints and fingerprints were found on the weapon itself, on the boxes stacked below the sniper’s nest window, and on the paper bag. (Stone acknowledges an Oswald palm print on the rifle, but has Garrison speculate, on the basis of nothing whatever, that this was taken from Oswald as he lay in the morgue.)
    ——————-
    The test used (NAA) on the bullets is now discredited. The tests ob=n the fibers showed only similarity, not certainty. If you want certainty in the forensics, I suggest DNA testing.

    6/ Stone claims that the three exceedingly incriminating “backyard photographs” of Oswald posing with his guns and communist literature were forgeries. He does not tell us that the photographs have been endlessly authenticated, that Marina testified she took them at her husband’s request, and that expert handwriting analysis identified Oswald as the author of the words “Slayer of Fascists” scrawled on the back of one of them.

    The photos have not been “endlessly authenticated”. What has happened is that specific claims have been addressed vis a vis various shadows in the photos and Oswald’s peculiar and extremely awkward stance. What has NEVER been addressed is this. There are only two known measurements in the photos. Oswald’s height is one – 5′ 9″ – the other is the Marxist paper. It has been confirmed that those papers were published in tabloid format – 17 x 11 inches. Using the 11 inches as a measuring stick, Oswald as shown in the photos is only about 5′ tall and the rifle comes out as 36 inches (the length of the rifle actually ordered – as opposed to the one found, which was 40 ‘ .). Either Oswald’s face was stuck on someone 5′ tall – or the various parts have been manipulated so that if you use Oswald’s known height of 5’ 9″, the rifle comes out at 40″ to match the one found. But the the paper comes out at nearly 14 ‘ – nearly 3″ too wide. The papers being held prove beyond doubt tat photos are fraudulent.

    • stevengregg says

      You spout a lot of nonsense, too much to rebut it all, so let me do just one: There were over twenty eyewitnesses to the the Tippet shooting.

  24. The comments here are more interesting than the article.

    Conspiracy theorists tend to be passionate. It almost feels religious, and like those who lack true faith they must convert others to the cause and belittle those who require proof.

    Personally I think anything is possible but that the more time passes without someone serious talking, the more likely it is that any conspiracy is not true. I understand skepticism of the government. I understand skepticism of conspiracy theories too.

  25. Peter from Oz says

    The whole conspiracy theory falls down on one point: there was no point to enter into a vast complex plot to kill Kennedy. He was a very average President. They could have far more easily brought him down by revealing his Clintonesque behaviour. Back in the early 60s a sex scandal would have been the end of a Presidency.

    • Good grief.

      Let’s start with your strawman that there can only be one type of conspiracy – that is a “vast complex plot”. What does that come from? Two people involved in a crime is a conspiracy.

      But let’s get to risible idea that there was no conspiracy based on your opinion that he was “very average” at his job. How egotistical to believe that your opinion was universally shared and that this opinion therefore negates the need to kill him. Did it ever occur to you that maybe there were also people who thought he was outstanding, while others still, thought he was terrible, with a subset of those also believing he was a traitor? Get a grip! He was hated with a purple passion by those who wanted to invade Cuba or wanted ti nuke it during the missile crisis. He was reviled by the Secret Service who were supposed to protect him He was the first president whose portrait never hung at their HQ during his tenure. They kept the one of Ike up instead!. Texas oilmen, the CIA among others, also had no love for him.

      Then we get to the so-called sex scandals. Why did they not use these to get him out of office? Because none actually happened. For those who love evidence to support accusations — and who also accept these allegations – great – pony on up with the evidence! You can’t. Because there is none, It is all innuendo, rumor and accusations without substance. These allegations have been useful for one thing and one thing only – a post mortem character assassination where the accused can not defend himself. Exactly as happened to Oswald.

  26. Here is a lengthy 2 part article implicating Israel and LBJ. It’s possible that Israel wanted JFK replaced with LBJ, because JFK did not want to give nuclear weapons technology to Israel.

    American Pravda: The JFK Assassination, Part I … – The Unz Review
    http://www.unz.com/runz/american-pravda-the-jfk-assassination-part-i-what-happened/

    American Pravda: The JFK Assassination, Part II … – The Unz Review
    http://www.unz.com/runz/american-pravda-the-jfk-assassination-part-ii-who-did-it/

    • And it’s possible he was shot by a tin-foil hat wearing Elvis impersonator from the portal of a UFO.

      Oi vey. Give me a break! There is enough stupidity in this debate already – from both sides of it.

  27. Terry Vance says

    Error — Oswald was never charged with killing Kennedy. The only person ever indicted for killing Kennedy was Clay Shaw.

  28. I agree with one of the comments that it is impossible to know what really happened. Also, Oliver Stone may not be correct in all the conclusions but that does not mean that it’s clear who did it. One thing that always struck me was the mysterious deaths of a long list of witnesses, starting with Oswald.
    https://spartacus-educational.com/JFKdeaths.htm

    Why did Jack Ruby kill Oswald? And later why did he tell the Warren commission that his life was in danger? Too many questions with no satisfactory answers.

    • stevengregg says

      Actually, it is clear who did it: Oswald. If you don’t know why Ruby shot Oswald, then you’ve done no study on this topic.

  29. The word “Conspiracy Theory” (CT) is a word that has an amazing power to discredit any theory just by tagging it as a CT.

    I like the wikipedia definition, because I think it represents the popular way the word is used:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conspiracy_theory
    “A conspiracy theory is an explanation of an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy—generally one involving an illegal or harmful act supposedly carried out by government or other powerful actors—without credible evidence.”

    Though conspiracies do happen, how many people can even name one, single true conspiracy, involving two or more powerful people acting in secret to successfully do grave harm to the public good?

    I will throw one out here: the CIA plot to overthrow the Iranian government in 1953, which was spearheaded by the grandson of Teddy Roosevelt. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. And the U.S. government did not formally acknowledge its involvement until 2013. The British government still denies their involvement.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat

    Yet, according to the wikipedia article, the CIA’s role was publicly described as early as 1954. (“An early account of the CIA’s role in the coup appeared in The Saturday Evening Post in late 1954…”)

    What I want to know is if there’s been any modern, big conspiracies that were kept a secret for a long time, allowing CTs to develop and be ridiculed, and then finally to be vindicated by irrefutable evidence. (That would make a good Quillette article.)

    There have been scientific theories (STs), which people thought were absurd, but then later proven, such as continental drift. The advantage of STs over CTs is that as time passes, evidence can be gathered to a greater degree. With CTs, the evidence starts to dry up, since they are based on historical events, with the knowledge dying with the actors involved.

    Is it reasonable to dismiss a CT, just because much time has passed without strong evidence? Some would say “yes”, because it’s impossible for big secrets to be kept for long.

    On the other hand, the following article argues that when the media is concentrated and working with powerful interests, then clues can get dropped.
    http://www.unz.com/runz/american-pravda-how-the-cia-invented-conspiracy-theories/
    — “Any conspiracy responsible for some important public event must surely have many separate “moving parts” to it, whether actors or actions taken, let us say numbering at least 100 or more. Now given the imperfect nature of all attempts at concealment, it would surely be impossible for all of these to be kept entirely hidden. ”
    — “But I had always assumed that even if government failed in its investigatory role, the dedicated bloodhounds of the Fourth Estate would invariably come through, tirelessly seeking truth, ratings, and Pulitzers. However, once I gradually began realizing that the media was merely “Our American Pravda” and perhaps had been so for decades, I suddenly recognized the flaw in my logic. If those five—or ten or twenty or fifty—initial clues were simply ignored by the media, whether through laziness, incompetence, or much less venial sins, then there would be absolutely nothing to prevent successful conspiracies from taking place and remaining undetected.”

  30. The word “Conspiracy Theory” (CT) is a word that has an amazing power to discredit any theory just by tagging it as a CT.

    I like the wikipedia definition, because I think it represents the popular way the word is used:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conspiracy_theory
    “A conspiracy theory is an explanation of an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy—generally one involving an illegal or harmful act supposedly carried out by government or other powerful actors—without credible evidence.”

    Though conspiracies do happen, how many people can even name one, single true conspiracy, involving two or more powerful people acting in secret to successfully do grave harm to the public good?

    I will throw one out here: the CIA plot to overthrow the Iranian government in 1953, which was spearheaded by the grandson of Teddy Roosevelt. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. And the U.S. government did not formally acknowledge its involvement until 2013. The British government still denies their involvement.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat

    Yet, according to the wikipedia article, the CIA’s role was publicly described as early as 1954. (“An early account of the CIA’s role in the coup appeared in The Saturday Evening Post in late 1954…”)

    What I want to know is if there’s been any modern, big conspiracies that were kept a secret for a long time, allowing CTs to develop and be ridiculed, and then finally to be vindicated by irrefutable evidence. (That would make a good Quillette article.)

    There have been scientific theories (STs), which people thought were absurd, but then later proven, such as continental drift. The advantage of STs over CTs is that as time passes, evidence can be gathered to a greater degree. With CTs, the evidence starts to dry up, since they are based on historical events, with the knowledge dying with the actors involved.

    Is it reasonable to dismiss a CT, just because much time has passed without strong evidence? Some would say “yes”, because it’s impossible for big secrets to be kept for long.

    On the other hand, the following article argues that when the media is concentrated and working with powerful interests, then clues can get dropped.
    http://www.unz.com/runz/american-pravda-how-the-cia-invented-conspiracy-theories/

  31. Ghoul says

    I loved your summary about “what to expect if Oswald was guilty”. Now let me make the opposite and complementary case “what to expect if the conspiracy was true”. This is based on my reading of Vincent Bugliosi’s “Reclaiming History”:

    Only ONE thing happened in that day of November.

    If the Warren Commision’s explanation is false, and there was a conspiracy, then SOMETHING ELSE is true.

    Since the assassination, thousands of people have investigated the alleged holes in the lone nut theory, and hundreds of them dedicated a good part of their lives to the investigation. In total, MILLION OF MEN-HOURS were dedicated to conspiracy-theorizing.

    If those millions of men-hours were chasing ONE truth about a conspiracy that really hapenned, they would necessarily have reached SOME convergence, more likely a unanimity about some alternative explanations.

    And yet there is, to this day, NO convergence on an alternate explanation. No convergence on whether Oswald was one of the shooters, how many shooters there were, where the shots came from, how many shots there were, who was acting inside the Warren Commission to ensure the cover-up, whether LBJ was involved or not, whether and how the autopsy doctor commited fraud, whether the secret service was involved (and what they did and did not do that day), whether oil millionares were involved, whether the mafia was involved, whether there is any merit to the David Ferrie-Clay Shaw-Jim Garrison-New Orleans subplot, how Oswald could have spent 1 year as a factory worker in the USSR being a “right-winger”, who and how devised the happy coincidence of the motorcade driving in front of the Depository, whether LHO killed Tippit (and if not so, who did, and how the frame-up was concocted in such a short time), WHAT THE HELL OSWALD WAS DOING FOR MONTHS IN A RANDOM MENIAL JOB IN DALLAS BEFORE THE TRIP WAS EVEN SUGGESTED IF HE IS NOT PRECISELY THE KIND OF LOSER THE WARREN COMMISSION SUGGESTS (that one bugs me), which of the “death-bed” confessions are credible, whether the backyard photos were doctored, whether Marina was lying or duped, how come 8 of the 9 top ballistic experts heard by the HSCA agreed with the Warren Commission…. this is the short list.

    Yes, dear conspiracer, I know YOU think you have an answer to some of those questions. I just want to know: if your answer is right, how come the vast amount of work by the other conspiracists could not lead to a point that is settled?

    By the way, I read Reclaiming History in its entirety. Much of it more than once. Very long, but an easy, clear, engaging and enjoyable read (not the notes, the text itself). There is absolutely no excuse for not reading it if you want to discuss the subject. Anyone who compares its detailed, thorough and to the point analyses with the pitiful “rebuttals” in reclaiminghistory.org, which are meandering, full of nitpicking and absolutely irrelevant digressions, plus irrelevant alleged smoking guns (like the RFK suspicion), will find it striking the difference in the quality of Bugliosi’s work and his critics.

  32. Though conspiracies do happen, how many people can even name one, single true conspiracy, involving two or more powerful people acting in secret to successfully do grave harm to the public good?

    I will throw one out here: the CIA plot to overthrow the Iranian government in 1953, which was spearheaded by the grandson of Teddy Roosevelt. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. And the U.S. government did not formally acknowledge its involvement until 2013. The British government still denies their involvement.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat

    Yet, according to the wikipedia article, the CIA’s role was publicly described as early as 1954. (“An early account of the CIA’s role in the coup appeared in The Saturday Evening Post in late 1954…”)

    What I want to know is if there’s been any modern, big conspiracies that were kept a secret for a long time, allowing CTs to develop and be ridiculed, and then finally to be vindicated by irrefutable evidence. (That would make a good Quillette article.)

    There have been scientific theories (STs), which people thought were absurd, but then later proven, such as continental drift. The advantage of STs over CTs is that as time passes, evidence can be gathered to a greater degree. With CTs, the evidence starts to dry up, since they are based on historical events, with the knowledge dying with the actors involved.

    Is it reasonable to dismiss a CT, just because much time has passed without strong evidence? Some would say “yes”, because it’s impossible for big secrets to be kept for long.

    On the other hand, the following article argues that when the media is concentrated and working with powerful interests, then clues can get dropped.
    http://www.unz.com/runz/american-pravda-how-the-cia-invented-conspiracy-theories/
    — “Any conspiracy responsible for some important public event must surely have many separate “moving parts” to it, whether actors or actions taken, let us say numbering at least 100 or more. Now given the imperfect nature of all attempts at concealment, it would surely be impossible for all of these to be kept entirely hidden. ”
    — “But I had always assumed that even if government failed in its investigatory role, the dedicated bloodhounds of the Fourth Estate would invariably come through, tirelessly seeking truth, ratings, and Pulitzers. However, once I gradually began realizing that the media was merely “Our American Pravda” and perhaps had been so for decades, I suddenly recognized the flaw in my logic. If those five—or ten or twenty or fifty—initial clues were simply ignored by the media, whether through laziness, incompetence, or much less venial sins, then there would be absolutely nothing to prevent successful conspiracies from taking place and remaining undetected.”

  33. Even assuming a lone shooter, there is still the possibility of a conspiracy of malign neglect.

    At any given time, within our large society, there may be many disturbed people with deadly intentions towards the President, who are easily discovered and thwarted by our intelligence agencies.

    So, this means that all that the agencies need to do is just to fail to catch one clumsy assassin and thereby remove a President.

    In the case of JFK, the CIA and other agencies may have thought they had to make a choice between keeping the President safe and keeping the country safe. If JFK’s policies were deemed dangerous for national security, the agencies could rationalize allowing Oswald to commit the crime. Or maybe they could have even provided some helpful intel on the sly, with very few people in the know.

    The CIA was definitely tracking Oswald and he was not exactly a smooth and shrewd operator. So, you could make a case that it was a conspiracy of malign neglect.

    Of course, it could just be incompetence on the part of our government, which is not unheard of. Also, it’s hard to catch every threat. I’m not a big believer in JFk conspiracy theories, but I really think the reasonable point of view is that we’ll never know.

  34. peterschaeffer says

    This topic (the assassination of JFK) has interested me, my entire life. As a very small child, I shook hands with JFK while he was campaigning for the White House. I remember the day he died quite vividly. Much more recently, I have been to the “Six Floor Museum” in Dallas (which is quite good, you must buy tickets in advance).

    The evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald killed the president was rather strong back then and still is. However, the question of whether he acted alone has been contentious from the outset. I have actually climbed the infamous “grassy knoll”. It is tiny and very close to where the presidential motorcade was located. The book depository is also much closer to where the president died than most people imagine.

    Some number of years later, I read the reports and books from the Stokes commission (officially the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations – HSCA). The commission concluded that Oswald did kill the president and that he did not act alone (as stated in the Quileute article).

    A guy by the name of G. Robert Blakely was chief counsel to the HSCA. You can find an interview with him over at “Interview: G. Robert Blakey PBS Frontline”. He also wrote a book titled “The Plot to Kill the President”. You won’t find any crazy conspiracy claims (no CIA, FBI, DOD, oil companies, Nixon, etc.). However, the author does believe that a conspiracy probably was behind the assassination and that it was probably tied to organized crime.

    Note the heavy use of the word “probably”. The author (Blakely) freely admits that the truth is likely never to be clear. The deaths of Oswald and Ruby effectively guaranteed that.

  35. Daniel McCoy says

    Good piece.
    (BTW it’s “court martial” not “marshal”)

  36. Wilson says

    The author did not offer an explanation for Ruby’s assassination of Oswald. I don’t find Ruby’s own explanation plausible or consistent. G. Robert Blakey, chief counsel for the House Select Committee on Assassinations from 1977 to 1979, said:

    “The most plausible explanation for the murder of Oswald by Jack Ruby was that Ruby had stalked him on behalf of organized crime, trying to reach him on at least three occasions in the forty-eight hours before he silenced him forever.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Ruby#Ruby's_motive

    • stevengregg says

      If Ruby was stalking Oswald for organized crime, why did he not shoot Oswald the first day when the cops walked him by Ruby in the police department while Ruby was armed?

  37. Aleph says

    Agree. Chomsky is not a thing. It’s a person. A bad one, to say the least.

  38. GregS says

    School One Says: The thing about conspiracies – is that no one knows how to shut-up. Somebody always blabs – and blabs and blabs – then they write a book and blab some more on talk-shows.

    School Two Says: The thing about conspiracies – is not that no one knows how to shut-up, it is getting a word in edge-wise once they start blabbing.

  39. OK believe what you want. I’m far from convinced one way or the other.

    Only thing I know for sure is I owned a Mannlicher-Carcano carbine and I found it to be an inaccurate weapon, with a very, loose, slow bolt action.

    • Saw file says

      @jiminalaska&Kevin… I have shot one too. Iron sights at 100 yds, I had 7 of 10 within a 6″ grouping. The other 3 within the foot.

  40. Kevin says

    Yes indeed, jiminalaska, a Mannlicher-Carcano carbine is a terribly innacurate rifle, not a “highly accurate military weapon”, as was professed by the Warren Commission Report. As well, the essay’s author bases his assertions and conclusions on exactly such a similarly and terribly innacurate source: the Warren Commission Report. Nobody believes the “information” in that report.

    • stevengregg says

      The Marine firing range that qualified Oswald said that he could have made the shot with the Mannlicher-Carcano.

  41. Kevin says

    The “Warren Commission” and “Report” is and was, from its commission, inception and conclusion meant for only to assuage the troubled psyches of a troubled and rattled America. Bread and Circus.

  42. Eric V. Gonnason says

    To preface, I only found and joined Quillette because of its affiliation with Camille Paglia, one of the best social critics of our time, by far. To find a piece as disappointing as Jamie Palmer’s attached sullies the overall credibility of the site. Palmer, in fairness, appears wholly sincere and a true believer in his conclusions. My own experience in the 55 years since the first of three Kennedy assassinations has been equally wrenching. However, despite the deliberate campaign to discredit and defame any hint of conspiracy in these and other events, one must be prepared to accept some truly mortifying realities regarding History, even of life itself. Palmer says that his interest began with Stone’s film “JFK, when he was 16, which means he was born in 1975, 12 years after the JFK ambush and murder. I was ii years old, and in the 5th grade when it happened, and, though my Dad hated the Kennedys, he did mumble something about a conspiracy at the time. What really shocked me was when I saw him collapse, sobbing in a vale of tears over a TV presentation on PT-109 in which Kennedy experienced a horrific naval action during WWII similar to one Dad had on his sub-chaser, SC-1368, serving under Pierre Salinger, who would later serve as President Kennedy’s press secretary. The irony and conflict over seeing my Dad shed the first tears I would ever see from him coinciding with the death of JFK would burn this experience onto my psyche forever. And, the hopelessly nonsensical motive Jack Ruby would give three days later after his arrest for killing Oswald, you know, “i’m just a patsy!” Oswald? told me something was very wrong with this picture – from day one. And, boys and girls, there really is something wrong with this picture. And, what do you know, Jack Ruby’s girlfriend Gail Raven is on record saying Ruby’s lawyer told him to say that, that they had made it all up. Well, if this 5th-grader could see the inconsistency and absurdity in it, and the Warren Commission could accept it out-of-hand without the slightest scrutiny, the scope of this is on a par with the murder of Julius Caesar, 44 B.C.E. And for Mafia Don Johnny Rosselli to publicly call Jack Ruby “One of our boys!” – then get butchered and stuffed in an oil drum and dumped in Miami’s Biscayne Bay, and for Chicago Outfit boss Sam Giancana to be silenced with a silencer-equipped .22 with a dozen or more bullets around his mouth because he became too talkative with observations like “We do it this way every time – you’d think people would catch on!” regarding the assassinations of Anton Cermak in 1933, JFK, RFK – the day before he was to testify before Congress regarding JFK in 1975. I’m sorry, Jamie, but the “safe space” you have made for yourself to hide from the realities of the world has just been demolished. Have another look at Stone’s film and stop at the place where they’re pulling a certain garment out of Ferrie’s closet after his murder. That scene is the clue to who is behind all of the assassinations, the pious fraud that makes up the Warren Report, and the 55+ years of mis- and disinformation still being generated to “obscure the manner of the emperor’s deat” (to quote Gibbon’s 1776 “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” regarding the death of emperor Carus. You see, Jamie, this country was supposed t have been destroyed before the 50-year limit on releasing the archives ran out, so the CIA keeps pressuring President Trump to keep the last of them secured – there, I just gave it away. Now, you know who’s doing all of this, including tricking eager, young idealists like you into covering for them.

    • You’ve made absolutely no argument here, it’s just an emotional reaction to having your beliefs challenged. For god’s sake, you actually referred to a Hollywood film as evidence just now.

      Skeptical people would have no problem accepting a conspiracy if there were strong evidence, or any real evidence at all, because they respect facts and plausible conclusions regardless of where the facts lead. But there isn’t evidence. Just various conjectures and supposed inconsistencies that are all demonstrably false or non-issues when actually honestly examined. Skeptics, unlike conspiracists, are not married to an a priori belief. Whether there was a conspiracy is not an important article of faith for them. Conspiracists have a lot of trouble accepting this, that others don’t think like them. A skeptic doesn’t care one way or the other. It’s not about ‘beliefs’ at all, it’s about simply observing facts and coming to parsimonious conclusions.

      Really, the final nail in the coffin is that a vast conspiracy to assassinate the president, if true, would have been revealed by now. The chance of something credible coming out by now is basically 100%. The idea that every single person involved would keep their mouth shut, no deathbed confessions, no leaks, nothing of any significance that can be corroborated or proven, is ridiculous.

      • @A – Oops. Well, so did I- That is, refer to a Hollywood film (elsewhere here).
        But at least I did not drag poor old Julius Caesar, Marcus Aurelius Carus, or for that matter, Edward Gibbon into this mess. Yes, lunacy does have its faults.

    • @Eric_V_Gonnason Well… no one here seems to have replied to you (yet), so perhaps the onerous task must sadly fall to me. Even though I have never studied Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall, etc” and various other academic treatises of the Red Herring variety.
      Julius Caesar? 44BC? Migod.
      At least, please _ I beg you do not invoke Shakespeare. My poor eyes have aleady glazed over.
      Sorry- I am but a lonely fellow with only an udergraduate degree in science.
      I assume you are university-connected, and have some sort of tenure. For your sake, I certainly hope so. 😉
      Or more likely, you are an undergraduate practising his debating ability. All I can say is Practice! You have a long way to go.
      Much of your arguments are hearsay, and I am too tired to refute them now, however easy it may be. But just one-
      Jack Ruby’s girlfriend? Hey I “dated” her! (Just joking!: ) But do see a brief refutation of this argument: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.assassination.jfk/G1cdZFZRSUw
      Much more of your above screed can just as easily be dismissed. But we’ll leave that for another day.
      But in the meantime, perhaps you should do an online search for Michael Shermer’s “Why People Believe Weird Things”. Hey! It might be in paperback now!

      Disclaimer- any typos in the above rant are the result of excess alcohol consumption and/or a faulty keyboard that I recently spilled cheap wine on.

      • Eric V. Gonnason says

        Shakespeare? no. Actual history, yes. Excessive alcohol consumption partially explains the poor judgment, but not the ignorance. The most difficult things from history are the hardest to accept, so much so that they are too painful to believe, because they are the weirdest. What’s most difficult is the inexorable decay of society due to the simple conspiracy of time, societal entropy. Accepting that one’s own society is no more immune from self-destruction than any of the “great empires” of the past is like accepting a medical diagnosis of terminal illness, and just as inevitable. My degree is in History, but it was from this that I learned “why no one knows history.” The senators who conspired and as a mob stabbed Caesar to death publicly boasted of their act, and were all then driven to suicide or killed by his grand-nephew Octavian, LTBKA Augustus Caesar. From then on, virtually all political assassinations have made effective use of “patsies,” individuals or groups, as with the Black Hand that killed Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo in 1914 to shroud the powerful nobles, barons, princes – and senators behind them. Our “information age” has enabled an even more effective blizzard of disinformation, further enhanced by the institutionalized absence of critical thinking. Back to your bottles, bongs, whatever. Fiendishly enjoying this duel of wits with my unarmed adversaries!

  43. If an unhinged loner can become President of the USA, why cannot one become the assassin of John Kennedy?
    Or take 19 of these (basically) maladjusted loners, and somehow have them merge long enough to pull off 9-11?

  44. Laz Schneider says

    Reading “The Last Investigation” by Fonzi should be a prerequisite to any further speculation.

  45. “I felt proud of my perspicacity and altogether superior to those indolent somnambulists (everyone else) who believed the mainstream media and failed to understand the importance of asking “Who benefits?”

    A good point but for some reason conspiratorialist never ask an equally important question, “Are the benefits worth the risk?”.

  46. Jim DiEugenio says

    This article is essentially a rerun of Fred Litwin’s book. Which I have critiqued here

    https://kennedysandking.com/john-f-kennedy-articles/jim-garrison-vs-fred-litwin-the-beat-goes-on-part-2

    His other reference point is the 2003 ABC special, here is a multi leveled demolition of that special:

    https://kennedysandking.com/john-f-kennedy-articles/236

    The JFK case is a huge ocean of misinformation, disinformation and sometimes good info. But if you look hard enough you can find it. My one simple comment is that no professional has ever duplicated what the Warren Commission said Oswald did without cheating. CBS covered up its actual results by saying that they threw out misfires. Not true, they threw out anyone who could not duplicate what Oswald did in less than six seconds. YOU can read about how bad CBS was here:

    https://kennedysandking.com/john-f-kennedy-articles/why-cbs-covered-up-the-jfk-assassination

    I will be reviewing this very poor article at Kennedysandking.com, quite surprised it got printed.

  47. Eric V. Gonnason says

    Whom, or whatever you are “A,'” lacking the courage to ID yourself, as with so many too cowardly to face historical realities, the ” vast conspiracy to assassinate the president” has been proven beyond doubt. All that remains is the combined conspiracy of laxity, cowardice and timidity supported by a steady drip of disinforming artificial an misleading conspiracy theories – “cover stories” generated by the CIA to preserve the comfort zone so slavishly indulged by you and the rest – you know who you are. Suggest reading Prouty’s “The Secret team,” Douglass’ “JFK and the Unspeakable” and the Giancanas’ “Doublecross.” as primers. It is credibly estimated that at least 1/3 of JFK “conspiracy” books have been or are still being produced by the CIA. Since they know – and control – all the facts, it’s quite natural for them to mix and match them for each new spin on the subject, knowing that the people in general are so easily gulled.

    But, enough of trolling. See The 17th Crusade; JFK and Education; Julius Caesar, Jesus Christ and JFK; and CIA – The Catholic Inquisition Agency at usaishistory.com I dare ya. You see, boys and girls, the Pope was really pissed off when the United States beat his latest (16th) Crusade to seize the holy places at Jerusalem by stopping Hitler at Stalingrad and Japan at Midway. This was the most powerful nation in history and beat two colossal enemies on opposite sides of the Earth simultaneously, and had to be destroyed – from within. Kennedy knew the CIA had been established in 1947 to serve as the Vatican’s Trojan Horse, and swore to “smash it into a thousand pieces.”

    • Hello! . Dan Brown? Is that you?
      I have a neat idea for your next book!
      Meet me in the Sistine Chapel next Friday. I’ll be wearing a green corduroy jacket. I’ll try to get it dry-cleaned first.

    • stevengregg says

      So, the CIA is writing the JFK conspiracy books, eh? Are you sure it’s not space aliens or shape-shifting lizards?

  48. Thanks for including the video. It reminded me about the Oliver Stone movie. I watched it on TV more than once. I remember being torn: artistically, it was a masterpiece, what made me want to see it again, all there with my favorite actors. The content though I couldn’t come to terms on the first time, and then each time it bothered me more and more. But I never had the time to do all the research. So I appreciated the summary of the facts as we know them. How many films and other works of art, especially in recent years, are like this! And it’s interesting, as the article points out, how so many of our intellectuals (Chomsky for example) traffic in the conspiracy mind set.

  49. Man, I can relate. The Kennedy conspiracy for a lot of Americans of a certain age is the crux upon which the whole seesaw falls, left or right, and the conspiracy theorists are so prevalent that to not believe in a conspiracy can feel like the radical position. It’s also the correct position. Consider that Oswald had the job in the book depository before it was ever planned for the motorcade to pass by it (the route was printed in the local paper!), and after he had already failed to assassinate Edwin Walker. It was just cruel happenstance.

  50. Pingback: My Misspent Years of Conspiracism – Quillette | Athe1stP0werBlog

  51. Hmm let me see, Oswald can’t hit a stationary target that is 100 feet away. Then, six months later, and without much more practice, he become an ace sniper and hit a moving target multiple times at a range of 265 feet away.

    Sorry, not buying it.

    I came to realize that for me the simplest explanation is not the lone gunman theory but the fact that the conspiracy is a success.

    • BS. From all accounts, Oswald was an EXCELLENT Marine sniper. But his personality, to put it politely, precluded him from fitting any further into the US Marines
      Ever see Kubrick’s movie “Full Metal Jacket”? Gunnery Sergeant Hartman’s speech to the troops summed up Oswald best.

      • Eric V. Gonnason says

        Here we go with movie scripts as history again. “Full Metal Jacket” had the effect of glorifying woman-worship in the finest Roman Catholic tradition, carefully masking the Vatican’s hijacking of America to kill off the Buddhists of Southeast Asia after rebranding them as Communists and Viet Cong and sending our lower-IQ troops as Einzattsgruppen to do the job. We killed over a million , and only lost 58,000+, a 19-to-1 ratio. Oswald didn’t shoot anybody. He had been set up to think he was going to be used, but when he heard the gunfire, realized he’d been sheep-dipped and from the doorway of the Book Depository where he had been loitering – and photographed , waiting for his cue. Thomas Arthur Vallee had been assigned as the patsy for the aborted Chicago ambush, until some guy named “Lee” phoned in and blew the whistle, causing Kennedy to cancel his trip there. Rigoberto Policarpo Lopez had been assigned to take blame for Kennedy’s death in a later would-be ambush in Tampa; ultimately the critical role of patsy or fall-guy fell to Oswald, about which he was quite vociferous during the last 48 hours of his life until he could be maneuvered onto position for ex-Capone flunky Jack Ruby to kill shut him up. And the Dallas Police Department was very careful to “lose” any and transcripts, recordings, stenographic notes, Dictabelt of Oswald’s remarkably articulate testimony. I have been there and asked them myself, and they have no record of a single word uttered by what was supposedly the most prominent suspect ever in their custody. How quaint! Jamie Palmer, I suggest you get back to work. Yes,Virginia, there is no such thing as Santa Claus!

  52. Brent says

    Don’t think there was a conspiracy read The Assassination of President Kennedy, Volume I: Where Angels Tread Lightly by Dr. John M. Newman, MAJOR, US Army, RETD and sift through the content available at https://aarclibrary.org/ and then return with a full knowledge of the corruption of your government.

  53. Pierre Pendre says

    Among the puzzling parts of the evidence are the photographs of Kennedy’s body at the morgue. The back of his head has been blown clean off which would suggest an exit rather than an entry wound. There’s a neat hole in his upper right forehead that is more like an entry wound.

    Also strange is the amount of time that elapses after the first shot before the driver of Kennedy’s car hits the accelerator. I read elsewhere that Oswald’s rifle required 1.5 second between shots. So the driver, a security professional I presume, had a full 1.5 second to take evasive action before the second shot was fired and another 1.5 seconds to react to the second. That shot destroyed Kennedy’s trachea and killed him and if it hadn’t ,the third shot that destroyed his brain would have.

    According to Palmer, there was actually a full 8.3 seconds – an eternity in secret service reaction time – between the three shots. The supposed struggle to revive the president at the hospital was all theatre as was the time of his death announced on television by Cronkite if my memory is right.

    It’s not surprising that people are suspicious of what they were told.

    I have similar reservations about the official account of Mary Jo Kopechne’s death which alleges that she survived for several hours in an air pocket. If the car was submerged, Kennedy would have needed to open a window to flood the car and equalise the water pressure inside and out in order to open his door and escape. Why was Mary Jo unable to do the same with or without assistance from Kennedy?

  54. stevengregg says

    There are at least two hundred conspiracy theories about JFK’s assassination. At most, only one can be true, which tells you that conspiracy theories in general are a pack of lies by con men or numbskullery spun by idiots. If you accept that all but one conspiracy theory must be false, then I’m telling you it’s one more than that.

    Most conspiracy theories are developed by people who just don’t think very well. A few are developed by unscrupulous people who seek attention or profit. All of them are wrong.

  55. Avinash says

    We do not have any evidence that Oswald fired that rifle and never did.Nobody has been able to put him in that window with the reifle in his hand yet – Jesse Curry Dallas Police Chief.

    I think Chief Curry’s quote sums up the case nicely.

    • stevengregg says

      Yes, we do. The rifle was found on the sixth floor with Oswald’s palm print on it. An eyewitness identified Oswald in the window. Oswald’s palm prints were on a box in the sniper’s nest.

      This is the problem: Most critics of Oswald’s guilt don’t know anything about the shooting. Nothing. They claim stuff that is nonsense.

  56. SLR Marksman says

    Jamie: “…establishes that the moment Kennedy is hit by the fatal shot, his head moves forward by 2.3 inches before his body convulses backwards…a violent neuromuscular spasm (not unusual when the head and brain experience massive trauma)…”

    OK. So a bullet moving faster than sound and supposedly from behind just nudges a guy’s head forward “2.3” smidgeons (not 2.4 maybe?) before a separate “spasm” rips the head back like some giant vacuum cleaner.

    That’s some ballistics theory y’all got there. A tip for ya Jamie: bullets carry lot and lots of kinetic energy stuff, and move against things they hit. Sorry, I know that sounds terribly simple and maybe even working class

    Meanwhile, in more breaking news from London…

    • stevengregg says

      There is a documentary that shows ballistics tests where a human skull full of gel is shot from behind, just like JFK. The gel is blasted out of the skull forward while the skull itself hops back. So, that’s how it works.

      • SLR Marksman says

        Wow a “documentary”. All my time hitting thick steel plates and other targets on the range I must’ve been hallucinating. Besides, supersonic shots as frontal kevlar helmet impacts snap the head back with such force that the target often just dies of a broken neck. Maybe no “documentary” there but a lotta post mortems

        But I suppose when propaganda’s running hot that’s how your head works

  57. Conspiracy Theorist says

    Here is a recent interview with a pathologist that held the brain of JFK in his own hands, and who is at odds with the official story – and thus at odds with this article and many of those here supporting it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2U7dXPA_juM

    I’m no expert, but I did look into this subject some years ago and came away with a clear picture of deception and cover-up by authorities and media. Since I wasn’t behind the curtain, I can’t say for certain exactly what did or didn’t actually happen, but just like 9/11, it is clear and obvious that the official story is complete bs – as is the notion that the government can’t hide things. If you think that the government can’t successfully hide things, you haven’t looked at factual documented history at all to make such a claim. Mockingbird, MK-ULTRA, UFO/UAP phenomenon, gassing citizens, $Trillions missing, and on and on and on. You’re either blind, ignorant, just can’t handle the truth, or are a modern Mockingbird.

    After all that our government and government institutions have (and haven’t) done, I find that those labeling “conspiracy theorists” in a derogatory manner, are themselves, at best, incredibly naive. The term “conspiracy theory” was weaponized by the CIA as outlined at Global Research: https://www.globalresearch.ca/conspiracy-theory-foundations-of-a-weaponized-term/5319708

    [CIA Document 1035-960 was released in response to a 1976 FOIA request by the New York Times. The directive is especially significant because it outlines the CIA’s concern regarding “the whole reputation of the American government” vis-à-vis the Warren Commission Report. The agency was especially interested in maintaining its own image and role as it “contributed information to the [Warren] investigation.”

    The memorandum lays out a detailed series of actions and techniques for “countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists, so as to inhibit the circulation of such claims in other countries.” For example, approaching “friendly elite contacts (especially politicians and editors)” to remind them of the Warren Commission’s integrity and soundness should be prioritized. “[T]he charges of the critics are without serious foundation,” the document reads, and “further speculative discussion only plays in to the hands of the [Communist] opposition.”

    The agency also directed its members “[t]o employ propaganda assets to [negate] and refute the attacks of the critics. Book reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose.”]

    Believing the government/media story at face value is what is foolish. “Fool me once” makes a lot of sense to me, but apparently not for these anti “conspiracy theorists”. You are the real fools, and everyone that has seriously looked into government corruption knows this clearly and unequivocally. Do your own research and decide for yourself. And what ever you do, make sure you don’t use Wikipedia or Quillette articles like this one.

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