File:John F. Kennedy motorcade, Dallas crop.png

President John F. Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, Nellie Connally, and Governor John Connally, shortly before the assassination.

The circumstances surrounding the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 quickly spawned suspicions of a conspiracy. These suspicions were mitigated somewhat when an official investigation by the Warren Commission concluded the following year that there was no conspiracy. Since then, doubts have arisen regarding the Commission's findings. Critics have argued that the Commission, and even the government, covered-up crucial information pointing to a conspiracy.

Subsequent official investigations confirmed most of the conclusions of the Warren Commission. However, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded that Kennedy was probably assassinated as the result of a conspiracy, with "...a high probability that two gunmen fired at [the] President."[1] No person or organization was identified by the HSCA as being a co-conspirator of Lee Harvey Oswald. Most current theories put forth a criminal conspiracy involving parties as varied as the CIA, the KGB, the American Mafia, the Israeli government, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, sitting Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, Cuban President Fidel Castro, anti-Castro Cuban exile groups, the Federal Reserve, or some combination of those entities.


Background[edit | edit source]

File:Wanted for treason.jpg

Handbill circulated on November 21, 1963, one day before the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as he traveled in an open-top car in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas on Friday at 12:30 pm,CST (1:30 pm EST) November 22, 1963; Texas Governor John Connally was also injured. Within two hours, Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the murder of Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit and arraigned that evening. At 1:35 am Saturday, Oswald was arraigned for murdering the President. At 11:21 am, Sunday, November 24, 1963, nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot and mortally wounded Oswald as he was being transferred to the county jail.

Immediately after the shooting, many people suspected that the assassination was part of a larger plot.[2] Ruby's shooting of Oswald compounded initial suspicions.[2] Mark Lane has been described as writing "the first literary shot" among conspiracy theorists with his article in the December 19, 1963 edition of the National Guardian, "Defense Brief for Oswald".[3] Published in May 1964, Thomas Buchanan's Who Killed Kennedy? has been credited as the first book alleging a conspiracy.[4]

In 1964, the Warren Commission officially concluded that Oswald acted alone and that no credible evidence supported the contention that he was involved in a conspiracy to assassinate the president.[5] The Commission also indicated that Dean Rusk, the Secretary of State; Robert S. McNamara, the Secretary of Defense; C. Douglas Dillon, the Secretary of the Treasury; Robert F. Kennedy, the Attorney General; J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the FBI; John A. McCone, the Director of the CIA; and James J. Rowley, the Chief of the Secret Service, each independently reached the same conclusion on the basis of information available to them.[6]

In 1979, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) agreed with the Warren Commission that Oswald assassinated Kennedy, but concluded that the Commission's report and the original FBI investigation were seriously flawed. The HSCA concluded that at least four shots were fired with a "high probability" that two gunmen fired at the President, and that a conspiracy was probable. The HSCA stated that "the Warren Commission failed to investigate adequately the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President."[7]

The Ramsey Clark Panel and the Rockefeller Commission both supported the Warren Commission's conclusions, while New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison unsuccessfully prosecuted Clay Shaw for conspiring to assassinate Kennedy.

Public opinion[edit | edit source]

According to John McAdams: “The greatest and grandest of all conspiracy theories is the Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory.”[8] Others have frequently referred to it as "the mother of all conspiracies".[9][10] The number of books written about the assassination of Kennedy has been estimated to be in the range of one thousand[11][12] to two thousand.[2] According to Vincent Bugliosi, 95% of those books are "pro-conspiracy and anti-Warren Commission".[11]

Kennedy assassination enthusiasts have been described as belonging to "conspiracy theorists" on one side and "debunkers" on the other.[8] The great amount of controversy surrounding the event has led to bitter disputes between those who support the conclusion of the Warren Commission and those who reject it or are critical of the official explanation, with each side leveling accusations of "naivete, cynicism, and selective interpretation of the evidence" toward the other.[10]

Public opinion polls have consistently shown that a majority of Americans believe there was a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. However, on the question of a government cover-up, different polls show both a minority and majority of Americans who believe the government engaged in one.[13] These same polls also show that there is no agreement on who else may have been involved. A 2003 Gallup poll reported that 75% of Americans do not believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.[14] That same year an ABC News poll found that 70% of respondents suspected that the assassination involved more than one person.[15] A 2004 Fox News poll found that 66% of Americans thought there had been a conspiracy while 74% thought there had been a cover-up.[16]

Possible evidence of a cover-up[edit | edit source]

Numerous researchers, including Mark Lane,[17] Henry Hurt,[18] Michael L. Kurtz,[19] Gerald D. McKnight,[20] Anthony Summers,[21] and others have pointed out what they characterize as inconsistencies, oversights, exclusions of evidence, errors, changing stories, or changes made to witness testimony in the official Warren Commission investigation, which they say could suggest a cover-up.

Michael Benson wrote that the Warren Commission received only information supplied to it by the FBI, and that its purpose was to rubber stamp the lone gunman theory.[22]

James H. Fetzer took issue with a 1998 statement from Federal Judge John R. Tunheim, the Chair of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), who stated that no "smoking guns" indicating a conspiracy or cover-up were discovered during their efforts in the early 1990s to declassify documents related to the assassination. Fetzer identified 16 "smoking guns" which he claims prove the official narrative is impossible, and therefore a conspiracy and cover-up occurred. He claims that evidence released by the ARRB substantiates these concerns. These include problems with bullet trajectories, the murder weapon, the ammunition used, inconsistencies between the Warren Commission's account and the autopsy findings, inconsistencies between the autopsy findings and what was reported by witnesses at the scene of the murder, eyewitness accounts that conflict with x-rays taken of the President's body, indications that the diagrams and photos of the President's brain in the National Archives are not the President's, testimony by those who took and processed the autopsy photos that the photos were altered, created, or destroyed, indications that the Zapruder film had been tampered with, allegations that the Warren Commission's version of events conflicts with news reports from the scene of the murder, an alleged change to the motorcade route which facilitated the assassination, an alleged lax Secret Service and local law enforcement security, and statements by people who claim that they had knowledge of, or participated in, a conspiracy to kill the President.[23]

Allegations of witness tampering, intimidation, and foul play[edit | edit source]

Witness intimidation[edit | edit source]

Richard Buyer wrote that over 500 witnesses were interviewed by the Warren Commission and many of those whose statements pointed to a conspiracy were either ignored or intimidated.[24] Bill Sloan wrote in his 1992 biography of Jean Hill, JFK: The Last Dissenting Witness, that Hill said Arlen Specter, then an assistant counsel for the Warren Commission, attempted to humiliate, discredit, and intimidate her into changing her story.[25] According to Sloan, Hill also indicated she had been abused by Secret Service agents, harassed by the FBI, and was the recipient of death threats.[25]

In his book Crossfire, Jim Marrs gave accounts of several people who claimed they were intimidated by FBI agents, or anonymous individuals, into altering or suppressing what they knew about the assassination, including Richard Carr, Acquilla Clemmons, Sandy Speaker, and A. J. Millican.[26] Marrs also wrote that Texas School Book Depository employee Joe Molina "...was intimidated by authorities and lost his job soon after the assassination,"[27] and that witness Ed Hoffman was warned by an FBI agent that he "might get killed" if he revealed what he had observed in Dealey Plaza on the day of the assassination.[28]

Witness deaths[edit | edit source]

Allegations of mysterious or suspicious deaths of witnesses connected with the Kennedy assassination originated with Penn Jones, Jr.[29][30][31] and were brought to national attention by the 1973 film Executive Action.[29][30] Jim Marrs later presented a list of 103 people he believed died "convenient deaths" under suspect circumstances. He noted that the deaths were grouped around investigations conducted by the Warren Commission, New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations.[32] Marrs pointed out that "these deaths certainly would have been convenient for anyone not wishing the truth of the JFK assassination to become public."[33]

Vincent Bugliosi has described the death of Dorothy Kilgallen—who claimed she had been granted a private interview with Jack Ruby, which if true, would have been his only private interview—as "perhaps the most prominent mysterious death" cited by assassination researchers.[34] According to Jerome Kroth, Mafia figures Sam Giancana, John Roselli, Carlos Prio, Jimmy Hoffa, Charles Nicoletti, Leo Moceri, Richard Cain, Salvatore Granello, and Dave Yaras were murdered to prevent them from revealing their knowledge.[35] According to Matthew Smith, others with some tie to the case who have died suspicious deaths include Lee Bowers, Gary Underhill, William Sullivan, David Ferrie, Clay Shaw, George de Mohrenschildt, four showgirls who worked for Jack Ruby, and Ruby himself.[36]

Another oft-cited "suspicious death" was that of Rose Cherami. Louisiana State Police Lieutenant Francis Fruge traveled to Eunice, Louisiana on November 20, 1963—two days before the assassination—to pick up Cherami, who had sustained minor injuries after she was hit by a car.[37][38] Fruge drove Cherami to the hospital and said that on the way there, she "...related to [him] that she was coming from Florida to Dallas with two men who were Italians or resembled Italians." Fruge asked her what she planned to do in Dallas, to which she replied: "...number one, pick up some money, pick up [my] baby, and ... kill Kennedy."[38] Cherami was admitted and treated at State Hospital in Jackson, Louisiana for alcohol and heroin addiction. State Hospital physician, Dr. Victor Weiss later told a House Select Committee investigator that on November 25—three days after the assassination—one of his fellow physicians told him "...that the patient, Rose Cherami, stated before the assassination that President Kennedy was going to be killed."[39] Dr. Weiss further reported that Cherami told him after the assassination that she had worked for Jack Ruby and that her knowledge of the assassination originated from "word in the underworld."[38] After the assassination, Lt. Fruge contacted Dallas Police Captain Will Fritz regarding what he had learned from Cherami, but Captain Fritz told him he "wasn't interested".[40] Cherami was found dead by a highway near Big Sandy, Texas on September 4, 1965; she had been run over by a car.[41]

Another "suspicious death" cited by Jim Marrs of someone purporting foreknowledge of the assassination was that of Joseph Milteer, Director of the Dixie Klan of Georgia. On November 9, 1963, Milteer was secretly taped-recorded by Miami police informant William Somerset as he spoke of Kennedy's coming visit to Miami on November 18:

Somerset: "I think Kennedy is coming here on the 18th to make some kind of speech. I imagine it will be on TV."

Milteer: "You can bet your bottom dollar that he [JFK] is going to have a lot to say about the Cubans, there are so many of them here."

Somerset: "Yeah, well, he'll have a thousand bodyguards. Don't worry about that."

Milteer: "The more bodyguards he has, the easier it is to get to him."

Somerset: "Well, how in the hell do you figure would be the best way to get him?"

Milteer: "From an office building with a high-powered rifle."

Somerset: "Do you think he knows he's a marked man?"

Milteer: "Sure he does."

Somerset: "Are they really going to kill him?"

Milteer: "Oh, yeah, it's in the works. Brown [Jack Brown, Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan] himself, Brown is just as likely to get him as anybody in the world. He hasn't said so, but he's tried to get Martin Luther King, Jr."[42][43]

Milteer died in 1974 when a heater exploded in his house.[44] The House Select Committee on Assassinations reported in 1979 that while the information on the alleged threat to the president "was furnished the agents making the advance arrangements before the visit of the President" to Miami, "the Milteer threat was ignored by Secret Service personnel in planning the trip to Dallas." Robert Bouck, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Secret Service's Protective Research Section "...testified to the committee that threat information was transmitted from one region of the country to another if there was specific evidence it was relevant to the receiving region."[45]

Allegations of evidence suppression, tampering, and fabrication[edit | edit source]

According to Bugliosi, allegations that the evidence against Oswald was planted, forged, or tampered with is a main argument among those who believe a conspiracy took place.[46]

Suppression of evidence[edit | edit source]

Ignored testimony[edit | edit source]

Some assassination researchers assert that witness statements indicating a conspiracy were ignored by the Warren Commission. In 1967, Josiah Thompson stated that the Commission ignored the testimony of seven witnesses who saw gunsmoke in the area of the stockade fence on the grassy knoll, as well as an eighth witness who smelled gunpowder at the time of the assassination.[47] In 1989, Jim Marrs wrote that the Commission failed to ask for the testimony of witnesses on the triple overpass whose statements pointed to a shooter on the grassy knoll.[27]

Confiscated film and photographs[edit | edit source]

Other researchers report that witnesses who captured the assassination in photographs or on film had their cameras and/or film confiscated by police or other authorities. Jim Marrs gives the account of Gordon Arnold who said that his film of the motorcade was taken by two policemen shortly after the assassination.[28] Another witness, Beverly Oliver, came forward in 1970 and said she was the "Babushka Lady" who is seen, in the Zapruder film, filming the motorcade. She said that after the assassination she was contacted at work by two men who she thought "...were either FBI or Secret Service agents." According to Oliver, the men told her that they wanted to develop her film and would return it to her within ten days, but they never returned the film.[48][49]

Withheld documents[edit | edit source]

Richard Buyer and others have complained that many documents pertaining to the assassination have been withheld over the years, including documents from the Warren Commission investigation, the House Select Committee on Assassinations investigation, and the Church Committee investigation.[24] These documents at one time included the President's autopsy records. Some documents are still not scheduled for release until 2029. Many documents were released during the mid-to-late 1990s by the Assassination Records Review Board under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. However, some of the material released contains redacted sections. Tax return information, which would identify employers and sources of income, has not yet been released.[50]

The existence of large numbers of secret documents related to the assassination, and the long period of secrecy, suggests to some the possibility of a cover-up. One historian noted, "There exists widespread suspicion about the government's disposition of the Kennedy assassination records stemming from the beliefs that Federal officials (1) have not made available all Government assassination records (even to the Warren Commission, Church Committee, House Assassination Committee) and (2) have heavily redacted the records released under FOIA in order to cover up sinister conspiracies."[51] According to the Assassination Records Review Board, "All Warren Commission records, except those records that contain tax return information, are (now) available to the public with only minor redactions."[52] In response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Jefferson Morley, the CIA stated that it had approximately 1,100 JFK assassination-related documents, about 2,000 pages in total, that have not been released for reasons of national security.[53]

Tampering of evidence[edit | edit source]

Among the items of physical evidence alleged by various researchers to have been tampered with are the "single bullet", also known as the "magic bullet" by critics of the official explanations, various bullet cartridges and fragments, the limousine's windshield, the paper bag in which the Warren Commission said Oswald carried the rifle within, the so-called "backyard" photos which depict Oswald holding the rifle, the Zapruder film, the photographs and radiographs obtained at Kennedy's autopsy, and Kennedy's body itself.[54]

The "backyard" photos[edit | edit source]

Among the evidence against Oswald are the photographs of Oswald posing in his backyard with a Carcano rifle—the weapon identified by the Warren Commission as the assassination weapon. Some researchers, including Robert Groden, assert that these photos are fake.[55] However, the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that the photographs of Oswald are genuine[56] and Oswald's wife, Marina says that she took them.[57]

The Zapruder film[edit | edit source]

The House Select Committee on Assassinations described the Zapruder film as "the best available photographic evidence of the number and timing of the shots that struck the occupants of the Presidential limousine."[58] The Assassination Records Review Board said it "is perhaps the single most important assassination record."[59] According to Vincent Bugliosi, the film was "originally touted by the vast majority of conspiracy theorists as incontrovertible proof of [a] conspiracy" but is now believed by many assassination researchers to be a "sophisticated forgery".[60] Among those who believe the Zapruder film has been altered are John Costello,[60] James H. Fetzer,[60] David Lifton,[60] David Mantik,[60] Jack White,[60] Noel Twyman,[61] and Harrison Livingstone, who has called it "the biggest hoax of the twentieth century".[60] In 1996 Roland Zavada, a former product engineer for Kodak, was requested by the Assassination Records Review Board to undertake a thorough technical study of the Zapruder Film.[62] Zavada concluded that there was no detectable evidence of manipulation or image alteration on the Zapruder in-camera original.[63]

David Lifton wrote that the Zapruder film was in the possession of the CIA's National Photographic Interpretation Center, the night of the assassination.[64] Jack White, researcher and photographic consultant to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, claimed that there are anomalies in the Zapruder film, including an "unnatural jerkiness of movement or change of focus ... in certain frame sequences."[65]

Kennedy's body[edit | edit source]

In his 1981 book Best Evidence, David Lifton presented the thesis that President Kennedy’s body (i.e., the "best evidence") had been altered between the Dallas hospital and the autopsy site at Bethesda for the purposes of creating erroneous conclusions about the number and direction of the shots.[66]

Fabrication of evidence[edit | edit source]

Murder weapon[edit | edit source]

The Warren Commission found that the shots which killed Kennedy and wounded Connally were fired from the Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5-millimeter Italian rifle owned by Oswald.[67] Deputy Sheriff Eugene Boone and Deputy Constable Seymour Weitzman both initially identified the rifle found in the Texas School Book Depository as a 7.65 Mauser. Weitzman signed an affidavit the following day describing the weapon as a "7.65 Mauser bolt action equipped with a 4/18 scope, a thick leather brownish-black sling on it".[68][69] Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig claimed that he saw "7.65 Mauser" stamped on the barrel of the weapon.[70]

Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade told the press that the weapon found in the Book Depository was a 7.65 Mauser, and this was reported by the media.[71] But investigators later identified the rifle as a 6.5 Italian Mannlicher Carcano.[72] [73] According to Mark Lane:

"The strongest element in the case against Lee Harvey Oswald was the Warren Commission's conclusion that his rifle had been found on the 6th floor of the Book Depository building. Yet Oswald never owned a 7.65 Mauser. When the FBI later reported that Oswald had purchased only a 6.5 Italian Mannlicher-Carcano, the weapon at police headquarters in Dallas miraculously changed its size, its make and its nationality. The Warren Commission concluded that a 6.5 Mannlicher-Carcano, not a 7.65 German Mauser, had been discovered by the Dallas deputies."[74]

In Matrix for Assassination, author Richard Gilbride suggested that both weapons were involved and that Dallas Police Captain Will Fritz and Lieutenant J. Carl Day might have been conspirators.[75]

Addressing "speculation and rumors", the Commission identified Weitzman as "the original source of the speculation that the rifle was a Mauser" and stated that "[p]olice laboratory technicians subsequently arrived and correctly identified the weapon as a 6.5 Italian rifle."[76]

Bullets and cartridges[edit | edit source]

The Warren Commission determined that three bullets were fired at Kennedy: one of the three bullets missed the vehicle entirely, one hit Kennedy, passed through him and struck Governor John Connally, and the third bullet was the fatal head shot to the President. The weight of the bullet fragments taken from Connally and those remaining in his body, some claim, totaled more than the missing mass of the bullet found at Parkland Hospital on Connally's stretcher—dubbed by critics of the Commission as the "magic bullet". However, witness testimony seems to indicate that only tiny fragments, of less total mass than was missing from the bullet, were left in Connally.[77][clarification needed]

Allegations of multiple gunmen[edit | edit source]

File:Dealey Plaza 2003.jpg

Dealey Plaza in 2003.

The Warren Commission concluded that "three shots were fired [from the Texas School Book Depository] in a time period ranging from approximately 4.8 to in excess of 7 seconds."[78] Some assassination researchers, including Anthony Summers, dispute the Commission's findings and point to evidence that brings into question the number of shots fired, the origination of those shots, or the ability of Oswald to accurately fire three shots in a short amount of time, suggesting the involvement of multiple gunmen.[79]

Governor Connally, seated in the limousine's jump seat directly in front of Kennedy, testified before the Warren Commission that "...the thought immediately passed through my mind that there were either two or three people involved, or more, in this—or someone was shooting with an automatic rifle."[80]

Number of shots[edit | edit source]

Based on the "consensus among the witnesses at the scene" and "in particular the three spent cartridges", the Warren Commission determined that "the preponderance of the evidence indicated that three shots were fired".[78] In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded there were four shots, one coming from the direction of the grassy knoll.[81]

The Warren Commission, and later the House Select Committee on Assassinations, concluded that one of the shots hit President Kennedy in "the back of his neck", exited his throat, continued on to strike Governor Connally in the back, exited Connally's chest, shattered his right wrist, and embedded itself in his left thigh.[82] This conclusion came to be known as the "single bullet theory".

Mary Moorman said in a TV interview immediately after the assassination that there were three or four shots close together, that shots were still being fired after she took her photograph of the President being hit, and that she was in the line of fire.[83] In 1967, Josiah Thompson concluded that four shots were fired in Dealey Plaza, with one wounding Connally and three hitting Kennedy.[47]

Origin of the shots[edit | edit source]

File:JFK Wooden Fence.jpg

The wooden fence on the grassy knoll.

The Warren Commission cited that the "cumulative evidence of eyewitnesses, firearms and ballistic experts and medical authorities", including onsite testing as well as analysis of films and photographs conducted by the FBI and Secret Service, pointed to the sixth-floor window at the southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository as the origination of the shots.[78]

In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations agreed to publish a report from Warren Commission critic Robert Groden, in which he named "nearly [two] dozen suspected firing points in Dealey Plaza".[84] These sites included multiple locations in or on the roof of the Texas School Book Depository, the Dal-Tex Building, and the Dallas County Records Building, as well as the railroad overpass, a storm drain located along the north curb of Elm street, and various spots near the "grassy knoll".[84] Josiah Thompson concluded that the shots fired on the motorcade came from three locations: the Texas School Book Depository, the area of the grassy knoll, and the Dal-Tex Building.[47]

Testimony of eyewitnesses[edit | edit source]

According to some assassination researchers, the grassy knoll was identified by the majority of witnesses as the area from where shots were fired.[28][85] In March 1965, Harold Feldman wrote that there were 121 witnesses to the assassination with 51 indicating that the shots that killed Kennedy came from the area of the grassy knoll.[85] In 1967, Josiah Thompson examined the statements of 64 witnesses and found that 33 of them thought that the shots emanated from the grassy knoll.[86]

In 1966, Esquire magazine credited Feldman with ""advanc[ing] the theory that there were two assassins: one on the grassy knoll and one in the Book Depository."[87] Jim Marrs also wrote that the weight of evidence suggested shots came from both the grassy knoll and the Texas School Book Depository.[28]

Lee Bowers operated a railroad tower that overlooked the parking lot on the north side of the grassy knoll. He reported that he saw two men behind the picket fence at the top of the grassy knoll before the shooting. The men did not appear to be acting together and did not appear to be doing anything suspicious. After the shooting, Bowers said that one of the men remained behind the fence. Bowers said that he lost track of the second man whose clothing blended into the foliage. When interviewed by Mark Lane, Bowers noted that he saw something that attracted his attention, either a flash of light, or maybe smoke, from the knoll, leading him to believe "something out of the ordinary" had occurred there. Bowers told Lane he heard three shots, the last two in quick succession. Bowers opined that they could not have come from the same rifle.[88] Bowers later purportedly said to his supervisor, Olan Degaugh, that he saw a man in the parking lot throw what appeared to be a rifle into a car.

William and Gayle Newman were standing at the curb on the north side of Elm St. with their two children. The Newmans said that the fatal shot came from behind them.

Jesse Price was the building engineer for the Terminal Annex Building, located across from the Texas School Book Depository on the opposite side of Dealey Plaza. On November 22, 1963, Price viewed the presidential motorcade from the Terminal Annex Building's roof. In an interview with Mark Lane, Price said that he believed the shots came from "just behind the picket fence where it joins the underpass."[89] He claimed to have seen a " run towards the passenger cars on the railroad siding after the volley of shots."[90]

Numerous witnesses reported hearing gunfire coming from the Dal-Tex Building, which is located across the street from the Texas School Book Depository and in alignment with Elm Street in Dealey Plaza.[citation needed] Several conspiracy theories posit that at least one shooter was located in the Dal-Tex Building.[91]

Physical evidence[edit | edit source]

According to L. Fletcher Prouty, the position of James Tague when he was injured by a fragment is not consistent with the trajectory of a missed shot from the Texas School Book Depository, leading Prouty to theorize that Tague was instead wounded by a missed shot from the second floor of the Dal-Tex Building.[92]

Some assassination researchers state FBI photographs of the limousine show a bullet hole in its windshield above the rear-view mirror, and a crack in the windscreen itself. When Robert Groden, author of The Killing of a President, asked for an explanation, the FBI responded that what Groden thought was a bullet hole "occurred prior to Dallas".[93][94]

Film and photographic evidence[edit | edit source]

Film and photographic evidence of the assassination have led viewers to different conclusions regarding the origin of the shots. When the fatal shot occurred, the President's head and upper torso moved backwards—indicating to many observers a shot from the right front. Sherry Gutierrez, a certified crime scene analyst and a consultant in the field of bloodstain pattern analysis concluded that "the head injury to President Kennedy was the result of a single gunshot fired from the right front of the President." Although it has been argued that that Frames Z312 and Z313 of the Zapruder film show Kennedy's head moving forward before his head moves backwards, Anthony Marsh claims that close inspection of the frames show Kennedy’s head actually moves downwards, and argue that it was the deceleration of the car by the driver William Greer which caused Kennedy's head to move down.

Acoustical evidence[edit | edit source]

According to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, a Dictabelt recording of the Dallas Police Department radio dispatch transmissions from November 22, 1963 was analyzed to "resolve questions concerning the number, timing, and origin of the shots fired in Dealey Plaza".[95] The Committee concluded that the source of the recording was from an open microphone on the motorcycle of H.B. McLain escorting the motorcade[96] and that "the scientific acoustical evidence established a high probability that two gunmen fired at President John F. Kennedy."[97]

The acoustical analysis firm hired by the committee recommended that the committee conduct an acoustical reconstruction of the assassination in Dealey Plaza to determine if any of the six impulse patterns on the dispatch tape were fired from the Texas School Book Depository or the grassy knoll. The reconstruction would entail firing from two locations in Dealey Plaza—the depository and the knoll—at particular target locations and recording the sounds through numerous microphones. The purpose was to determine if the sequences of impulses recorded during the reconstruction would match any of those on the dispatch tape. If so, it would be possible to determine if the impulse patterns on the dispatch tape were caused by shots fired during the assassination from shooter locations in the depository and on the knoll.[98]

An article which appeared in Science & Justice, a quarterly publication of Britain's Forensic Science Society, found there was a 96% certainty, based on analysis of audio recordings made during the assassination, that a shot was fired from "the grassy knoll" in front of and to the right of the President's limousine.[99][100]

On August 20, 1978, members of the Dallas Police Department Police Pistol Team, including Officer Jerry Compton, Officer Tom Knighten, and Officer Rick Stone participated in the acoustical reconstruction by firing both rifles and pistols from the locations selected by the researchers. During the acoustical reconstruction performed for the committee in August, the Dallas Police Department marksmen in fact used iron sights and had no difficulty hitting the targets.[98]

Medical evidence[edit | edit source]

Some researchers have pointed to the large number of doctors and nurses at Parkland hospital, as well as others, who reported that a major portion of the back of the President's head appeared to have been blown out, strongly suggesting that he had been hit from the front.[citation needed] Roy Kellerman, the Secret Service agent seated next to the driver in the presidential limousine, testified that he saw a 5-inch-diameter (130 mm) hole in the back right-hand side of the President's head.[101] Clint Hill, the Secret Service agent who sheltered the President with his body on the way to the hospital, said: "[A] portion of the President's head on the right rear side was missing."[102] Later, in a National Geographic Channel documentary, he described the wound as a "gaping hole above his right ear, about the size of my palm."[103]

Robert McClelland, one of the Parkland Hospital doctors who attended to Kennedy, testified that the back right part of Kennedy's head was blown out, with posterior cerebral tissue and some cerebellar tissue missing.[citation needed] He indicated that the wound was an exit wound, and that a shooter on the grassy knoll delivered the fatal head shot.[citation needed][104]

Some critics skeptical of the official "single bullet theory" state that the trajectory of the bullet, which hit Kennedy above the right shoulder blade and passed through his neck (according to the autopsy), would have had to change course to pass through Connally's rib cage and wrist.[105][106][page needed] Kennedy's death certificate located the bullet at the third thoracic vertebra—which some claim is too low to have exited his throat.[107] Moreover, the bullet was traveling downward, since the shooter was in a sixth floor window. The autopsy cover sheet had a diagram of a body showing this same low placement at the third thoracic vertebra. The hole in back of Kennedy's shirt and jacket are also claimed to support a wound too low to be consistent with the "single bullet theory".[108][better source needed][109][110][better source needed]

On the day of the assassination, Nellie Connally was seated in the presidential car next to her husband, Governor John Connally. In her book From Love Field: Our Final Hours, Nellie Connally said that she believed that her husband was hit by a bullet that was separate from the two that hit Kennedy.[111]

There is conflicting testimony about the autopsy performed on Kennedy's body, particularly as to when the examination of his brain took place, who was present, and whether or not the photos submitted as evidence are the same as those taken during the examination.[112] Douglas Horne, the Assassination Record Review Board's chief analyst for military records, said he was "90 to 95% certain" that the photographs in the National Archives are not of President Kennedy's brain. Supporting Horne is Dr. Gary Aguilar who stated: "According to Horne’s findings, the second brain—which showed an exit wound in the front—allegedly replaced Kennedy's real brain—which revealed much greater damage to the rear, consistent with an exit wound and thus evidence of a shot from the front."[113]

Paul O'Connor, a laboratory technologist who assisted in the autopsy of President Kennedy, claimed that the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital was conducted in obedience to a high command.[114] O'Connor stated:

There were kind of mysterious civilian people, in civilian clothes—were there [at Bethesda]. It seemed like they commanded a lot of respect and attention—sinister looking people. They would come up and look over my shoulder, or look over Dr. Boswell's shoulder, and run back, and they'd have a little conference in the corner. Then all at once the word would come down: "Stop what you're doing and go on to the other procedure." And that's the way it was all along. We just jumped back-and-forth, back-and-forth. There was no smooth flow of procedure at all.[43]

In his book JFK and the Unspeakable, James Douglass cites Dr. Pierre Finck’s testimony at the trial of Clay Shaw as evidence that Finck was "...a reluctant witness to the military control over the doctors' examination of the president's body":

Question: "Was Dr. Humes running the show?"

Finck: "Well, I heard Dr. Humes stating that—he said, 'Who is in charge here?' and I heard an Army General, I don't remember his name, stating, ' I am.' You must understand that in those circumstances, there were law enforcement officers, military people with various ranks, and you have to co-ordinate the operation according to directions."

Question: "But you were one of the three qualified pathologists standing at that autopsy table, were you not, Doctor?"

Finck: "Yes, I am."

Question: "Was this Army General a qualified pathologist?"

Finck: "No."

Question: "Was he a doctor?"

Finck: "No, not to my knowledge."

Question: "Can you give me his name, Colonel?"

Finck: "No, I can't. I don't remember."[115][116]

Oswald's marksmanship[edit | edit source]

The Warren Commission examined the capabilities of the Carcano rifle and ammunition, as well as Oswald's military training and post-military experience, and determined that Oswald had the ability to fire three shots within a time span of 4.8 to 5.6 seconds.[117] According to their report, an army specialist using Oswald's rifle was able to duplicate the feat and even improved on the time. The report also states that the Army Infantry Weapons Evaluation Branch test fired Oswald's rifle 47 times and found that it was "quite accurate", comparing it to the accuracy of an M-14 rifle. Also contained in the Commission report is testimony by Marine Corps Major Eugene Anderson confirming that Oswald's military records show that he qualified as "sharpshooter" in 1956. But this is confronted with more detailed record of his shooting abilities. According to official Marine Corps records Oswald was tested in shooting, scoring 212 in December 1956 (slightly above the minimum for qualification as a sharpshooter - the intermediate category), but in May 1959 scoring only 191 (barely earning the lower designation of marksman - the lowest category). He never even approached the highest marksmanship category in the Marine Corps - the Expert. Conspiracy theorists such as Walt Brown and authors such as Richard H. Popkin contend that Oswald was a notoriously poor shot, his rifle was inaccurate, and that no one has ever been able to duplicate his ability to fire three shots within the time frame given by the Warren Commission.[118][119] FBI marksman Robert Frazier who tested the rifle in two sets of tests testified to the Warren Commission that he could not reach the 5.6 second mark for firing three shots and all his shots fired five inches high and five inches to the right due to an uncorrectable deficiency in the telescopic sight.[120]

Role of Oswald[edit | edit source]

Assassination researchers differ as to the role of Oswald in the assassination of President Kennedy. Some researchers believe that Oswald was an uninvolved patsy, while others believe he was actively involved in a plot. Oswald's ability to move to Russia, then return as an avowed communist to the United States with help from the State Department – who gave him a repatriation loan of $435.71[121][122] – has led some theorists to speculate that he was working for the CIA and/or the FBI.[123][124]

Oswald contacted the FBI twice in 1963. The first occasion was on August 9 when Oswald was arrested in New Orleans for disturbing the peace. After his arrest, Oswald asked to speak with a FBI agent. Agent John Quigley arrived and spent over an hour talking to Oswald.[125] Also, Oswald visited the Dallas FBI office in November 1963, about 7 to 10 days before the assassination, and asked to see Special Agent James Hosty[126]

Jim and Elsie Wilcott, former husband and wife employees of the Tokyo CIA Station, told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1978: "It was common knowledge in the Tokyo CIA station that Oswald worked for the agency.... Right after the President was killed, people in the Tokyo station were talking openly about Oswald having gone to Russia for the CIA. Everyone was wondering how the agency was going to be able to keep the lid on Oswald. But I guess they did."[127]

Marguerite Oswald [Lee Oswald's mother] "...frequently expressed the opinion that her son was recruited by an agency of the U.S. Government and sent to Russia in 1959."[128]

New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison, who in 1967 brought Clay Shaw to trial for the assassination of President Kennedy, stated in the documentary, The Men Who Killed Kennedy: "[Oswald] was employed by the Central Intelligence Agency and was obviously drawn into a scapegoat situation and made to believe ultimately that he was penetrating the assassination. And then when the time came, they took the scapegoat—the man who thought he was working for the United States government—and killed him real quick. And then the machinery, disinformation machinery, started turning and they started making a villain out of a man who genuinely was probably a hero."[129]

James Botelho, a former roommate of Oswald who would later become a California judge, stated in an interview with Mark Lane: "Oswald, it was said, was the only Marine ever to defect from his country to another country, a Communist country, during peacetime.... When the Marine Corps and American intelligence decided not to probe the reasons for the 'defection,' I knew then what I know now: Oswald was on an assignment in Russia for American intelligence."[130][131]

Senator Richard Schweiker, who was a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, stated: "We do know Oswald had intelligence connections. Everywhere you look with him, there're fingerprints of intelligence."[132] Richard Sprague, interim staff director and chief counsel to the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations, said: "If he had it to do over again, he would begin his investigation of the Kennedy assassination by probing Oswald's ties to the Central Intelligence Agency."[133] In 2003, Robert Blakey, staff director and chief counsel for the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations, stated: "I no longer believe that we were able to conduct an appropriate investigation of the [Central Intelligence] Agency and its relationship to Oswald."[134]

According to Richard Buyer, Oswald never fired a shot at the President.[135] James W. Douglass described Oswald as "a questioning, dissenting CIA operative who had become a security risk" and "the ideal scapegoat".[136] According to Josiah Thompson, Oswald was in the Texas School Book Depository during the assassination, but it is "quite likely" he was not the shooter on the sixth floor.[47]

Alternative gunmen[edit | edit source]

In addition to Oswald, Jerome Kroth has named 26 people as "Possible Assassins In Dealey Plaza".[137] They include: Orlando Bosch[137], James Files[138][137], Desmond Fitzgerald[137], Charles Harrelson[139][137], Gerry Hemming[137], Chauncey Holt[137], Howard Hunt[137], Charles Nicoletti[139][137], Charles Rogers[137], Johnny Roselli[137], Lucien Sarti[139][137], and Frank Sturgis[137].

Vincent Bugliosi provides a "partial list of assassins...whom one or more conspiracy theorists have actually named and identified as having fired a weapon at Kennedy" on pages 1495-1498 of "Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy".

Three tramps[edit | edit source]

Main article: Three tramps

The three tramps are three men photographed by several Dallas-area newspapers under police escort near the Texas School Book Depository shortly after the assassination. Since the mid-1960s, various allegations have been made about the identities of the men and their involvement in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Records released by the Dallas Police Department in 1989 identified the men as Gus Abrams, Harold Doyle, and John Gedney.[140]

Allegations of other conspirators[edit | edit source]

E. Howard Hunt[edit | edit source]

The theory that former CIA agent and Watergate burglar, E. Howard Hunt, was a participant in the assassination of Kennedy garnered much publicity from 1978 to 2000.[141] Separately, he denied complicity in the murder of JFK while accusing others of being involved.[citation needed]

Others have suggested that Hunt was one of the men known as the three tramps who were arrested and then quickly released shortly after the assassination.

In 1976, a magazine called The Spotlight ran an article accusing Hunt of being in Dallas on November 22, 1963, and of having a role in the assassination. Hunt won a libel judgment against the magazine in 1981, but this was thrown out on appeal, and the magazine was found not liable when the case was retried in 1985 in Hunt's libel suit against Liberty Lobby.[142] During that suit, defense attorney Mark Lane introduced doubt as to Hunt's location on the day of the Kennedy assassination through depositions from David Atlee Phillips, Richard Helms, G. Gordon Liddy, Stansfield Turner, and Marita Lorenz, plus a cross-examination of Hunt.[143][lower-alpha 1]

Former KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin indicated in 1999 that Hunt was made part of a fabricated conspiracy theory disseminated by a Soviet "active measures" program designed to discredit the CIA and the United States.[144][145] According to Mitrokhin, the KGB created a forged letter from Oswald to Hunt implying that the two were linked as conspirators, then forwarded copies of it to "three of the most active conspiracy buffs" in 1975.[144] Mitrokhin indicated that the photocopies were accompanied by a fake cover letter from an anonymous source alleging that the original had been given to FBI Director Clarence Kelley and was apparently being suppressed.[144]

In 2007, Hunt's son released information about what he claimed were his father's "deathbed" confessions, including an audio tape. Hunt alleged that Johnson was behind the assassination, acting with help from Cord Meyer and David Atlee Phillips of the CIA. According to news reporter Timothy Maier, Hunt had a history of stretching the truth and the claim was largely ignored by the mainstream press.[146]

J.D. Tippit[edit | edit source]

Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit has been named in conspiracy theories as a renegade CIA operative sent to silence Oswald[147][148] and as the "badge man" assassin on the grassy knoll.[148] According to some Warren Commission critics, Oswald was set-up to be killed by Tippit, but Tippit was killed by Oswald before he could carry out his assignment.[149] Others critics doubt that Tippit was killed by Oswald and assert he was shot by other conspirators.[147][149] (See section below.) Some critics have alleged that Tippit was associated with organized crime or right-wing politics.[147]

Bernard Weissman[edit | edit source]

File:Welcome mr kennedy to dallas small.jpg

Advertisement in the November 22, 1963, Dallas Morning News, placed by Bernard Weissman and three others.

According to the Warren Commission, the publication of a full page, paid advertisement critical of Kennedy in the November 22, 1963, Dallas Morning News, which was signed by "The American Fact-Finding Committee" and noted Bernard Weissman as its chairman, was investigated to determine whether any members of the group claiming responsibility for it were connected to Oswald or to the assassination.[150] The Commission stated that "The American Fact-Finding Committee" was a fictitious sponsoring organization and that there was no evidence linking the four men responsible for the genesis of the ad with either Oswald or Ruby, or to a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy.[150] During the Commission's hearings, Mark Lane testified that an informant whom he refused to name told him that Weismann had met with Tippit and Ruby eight days before the assassination.[150][lower-alpha 2] In Rush to Judgment, Lane disputed the government's findings and indicated that the source of his information was reporter Thayer Waldo of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. [142]

Roscoe White[edit | edit source]

In 1990, Ricky Don White claimed that his father, Roscoe White, was one of three people ordered by the CIA to assassinate Kennedy.[152] According to the son, Oswald, who was involved in the plot but did not fire any shots, was picked up after the assassination by Roscoe White and J.D. Tippit to be transported to Red Bird Airport.[152] Ricky White stated that Tippit, who had no knowledge of the assassination or plot, became suspicious after Oswald panicked and got out of the car.[152] He indicated that his father shot Tippit after Tippit indicated that he would need to take Oswald to police headquarters for questioning.[152] Jack Shaw, Roscoe White's pastor, said that Roscoe White had spoken to him about the assassination on several occasions and was "killed by a witness elimination team activated after Kennedy's death."[152] According to Shaw, Roscoe White's wife, Geneva, said to him she had overheard conversations between White and Jack Ruby in which White would "take care of" Kennedy and Tippit and that Ruby would "take care of Oswald".[152] The allegations were denied as "ludicrous" by a CIA spokesman.[152] The FBI released a statement indicated that they had investigated the allegations in 1988 and determined that the information was not credible.[152]

Unnamed accomplice or accomplices in the murder of J. D. Tippit[edit | edit source]


Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit

The Warren Commission concluded that Oswald "...killed Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit in an apparent attempt to escape."[153] The evidence that formed the basis for this conclusion was: "(1) two eyewitnesses who heard the shots and saw the shooting of Dallas Police Patrolman J. D. Tippit and seven eyewitnesses who saw the flight of the gunman with revolver in hand positively identified Lee Harvey Oswald as the man they saw fire the shots or flee from the scene, (2) the cartridge cases found near the scene of the shooting were fired from the revolver in the possession of Oswald at the time of his arrest, to the exclusion of all other weapons, (3) the revolver in Oswald's possession at the time of his arrest was purchased by and belonged to Oswald, and (4) Oswald's jacket was found along the path of flight taken by the gunman as he fled from the scene of the killing."[154]

Some researchers have alleged that the murder of Officer Tippit was part of a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. Jim Marrs hypothesized that "the slaying of Officer J.D. Tippit may have played some part in [a] scheme to have Oswald killed, perhaps to eliminate co-conspirator Tippit or simply to anger Dallas police and cause itchy trigger fingers."[155] Researcher James Douglass said that "...the killing of [Tippit] helped motivate the Dallas police to kill an armed Oswald in the Texas Theater, which would have disposed of the scapegoat before he could protest his being framed."[156] Harold Weisberg offered a simpler explanation: "Immediately, the [flimsy] police case [against Oswald] required a willingness to believe. This was proved by affixing to Oswald the opprobrious epithet of 'cop-killer.'"[156] Jim Garrison alleged that evidence was altered to frame Oswald, stating: "If Oswald was innocent of the Tippit murder the foundation of the government's case against him collapsed."[157]

Some critics doubt that Tippit was killed by Oswald and assert he was shot by other conspirators.[147][149] They allege discrepancies in witness testimony and physical evidence which they feel calls into question the Commission's conclusions regarding the murder of Tippit. According to Jim Marrs, Oswald's guilt in the assassination of Kennedy is placed in question by the presence of "a growing body of evidence to suggest that [he] did not kill Tippit".[158] Others say that multiple men were directly involved in Tippit's killing. Conspiracy researcher Kenn Thomas has alleged that the Warren Commission omitted testimony and evidence that two men shot Tippit and that one left the scene in a car.[159]

William Alexander—the Dallas assistant district attorney who recommended that Oswald be charged with the Kennedy and Tippit murders—later became skeptical of the Warren Commission's version of the Tippit murder. He stated that the Commission's conclusions on Oswald's movements "don't add up," and that "certainly [Oswald] may have had accomplices."[160]

According to Brian McKenna's review of Henry Hurt's book, Reasonable Doubt, Hurt reported that "Tippit may have been killed because he impregnated the wife of another man" and that Dallas police officers lied and altered evidence to set-up Oswald to save Tippit's reputation.[161]

Allegations regarding witness testimony and physical evidence[edit | edit source]

The Warren Commission identified Helen Markham and Domingo Benavides as two witnesses who actually saw the shooting.[162] Conspiracy theorist Richard Belzer criticized the Commission for, in his description, "relying" on the testimony of Markham whom he described as "imaginative".[163] Marrs has also taken issue with Markham's testimony, stating that her "credibility ... was strained to the breaking point".[158] Joseph Ball, senior counsel to the Commission, referred to Markham's testimony as "full of mistakes," characterizing her as an "utter screwball."[164] The Warren Commission addressed concerns on her reliability as a witness and concluded: "However, even in the absence of Mrs. Markham's testimony, there is ample evidence to identify Oswald as the killer of Tippit."[162]

Domingo Benavides initially said that he did not think he could identify the assailant and was never asked to view a police lineup,[165] even though he was the person closest to the killing.[166] Benavides later testified that the killer resembled pictures he had seen of Oswald.[167] Other witnesses were taken to police lineups. However, critics have questioned these lineups in that they consisted of people who looked very different from Oswald.[166][168]

Additionally, witnesses who did not appear before the Commission identified an assailant who was not Oswald. Acquilla Clemons saw two men near Tippit’s car just before the shooting.[129] After the shooting, she ran outside of her house and saw a man with a gun whom she described as "kind of heavy." He waved to the second man, urging him to "go on."[169] Frank Wright emerged from his home and observed the scene seconds after the shooting. He described a man standing by Tippit’s body who had on a long coat and who ran to a parked car and drove away.[170][171] There have also been concerns about ballistic evidence and finger print evidence on the police car that seemed to make it less likely that Oswald was the killer.[citation needed]

Critics have questioned whether the cartridge cases recovered from the scene were the same as those that were subsequently entered into evidence. Two of the cases were recovered by witness Domingo Benavides and turned over to police officer J.M. Poe. Poe told the FBI that he marked the shells with his own initials, "J.M.P." to identify them.[172] Sergeant Gerald Hill later testified to the Warren Commission that it was he who had ordered police officer Poe to mark the shells.[173] However, Poe's initials were not found on the shells produced by the FBI six months later.[172][174][175] Testifying before the Warren Commission, Poe said that although he recalled marking the cases, he "couldn’t swear to it."[174][176] The identification of the cases at the crime scene raises more questions. Sergeant Gerald Hill examined one of the shells and radioed the police dispatcher, saying: "The shell at the scene indicates that the suspect is armed with an automatic .38 rather than a pistol."[177] However, Oswald was reportedly arrested carrying a non-automatic .38 Special revolver.[170][178]

Allegations regarding timeline[edit | edit source]

The Warren Commission also investigated Oswald's movements between the time of the assassination and the shooting of Tippit, to ascertain whether Oswald might have had an accomplice who helped him flee the Book Depository.[179] According to their final report, Oswald was seen by his housekeeper leaving his rooming house shortly after 1:00 pm and had enough time to travel nine-tenths of a mile to the scene where Tippit was killed around 1:16 pm.[180][181][lower-alpha 3] The Commission reported that the time of the shooting was determined by police tapes that logged Domingo Benavides' use of the radio in Tippit's car.[182]


Tippit's squad car on E. 10th Street in Dallas shortly after his shooting.

Some Warren Commission critics believe that Oswald did not have enough time to get from his house to the scene where Tippit was killed.[147] The Commission’s own test and estimation of Oswald’s walking speed demonstrated that one of the longer routes to the Tippit shooting scene took 17 minutes and 45 seconds to walk.[183] No witness ever surfaced who saw Oswald walk from his rooming house to the murder scene.[184]

Conspiracy researchers Anthony Summers and Robert Groden believe that Tippit's murder may have occurred earlier than the time given in the Warren Report.[185][186] They note that the Commission established the time of the shooting as 1:16 pm. However, Benavides testified that he did not approach the car until "a few minutes" after the shooting, because he was afraid that the gunman might return.[187] He was assisted in using the radio by witness T.F. Bowley who testified to Dallas police that he arrived at the scene after the murder, and that the time was 1:10 pm.[185][188]

Witness Helen Markham stated in her affidavit to the Dallas Sheriff’s department that Tippit was killed at "approximately 1:06 pm." She later affirmed the time in testimony before the Warren Commission, saying: "I wouldn't be afraid to bet it wasn't 6 or 7 minutes after 1."[189][190] In an unpublished manuscript titled When They Kill a President, Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig stated that when he heard the news that Tippit had been shot, he noted that the time was 1:06 pm.[191] However, in a later statement to the press, Craig seemed confused about the time of the shooting.[192]

Warren "Butch" Burroughs, who ran the concession stand at the Texas Theater where Oswald was arrested, told author James Douglass in 2007 that Oswald came into the theater between 1:00 and 1:07 pm, which if true would make Oswald's alleged 1:16 pm shooting of Officer J.D. Tippit impossible.[193][194]

Conspiracy theories[edit | edit source]

According to researchers, conspiracy theorists consider four or five groups, alone or in combination, to be the primary suspects in the assassination of Kennedy: the CIA[195],[196] the military-industrial complex[195],[196] organized crime[195],[196][197] the government of Cuba,[196][197] and Cuban exiles.[196] Other domestic individuals, groups, or organizations implicated in various conspiracy theories include Lyndon Johnson[198],[196][197] George H. W. Bush,[196][197] Sam Giancana[198], J. Edgar Hoover,[197] Earl Warren[198], the Federal Bureau of Investigation,[196] the United States Secret Service,[196][197] the John Birch Society,[196][197] and far-right wealthy Texans.[196] Some other alleged foreign conspirators include Fidel Castro[198], the KGB and Nikita Krushchev[198],[196] Aristotle Onassis,[197] the government of South Vietnam,[199] and international drug lords[196] including a French heroin syndicate.[199]

New Orleans conspiracy[edit | edit source]

Soon after the assassination, allegations began to surface of a conspiracy between Oswald and persons with whom he was or may have been acquainted, while living in New Orleans. On November 25, 1963, New Orleans attorney Dean Andrews told the FBI that he received a telephone call three days earlier (the day of the assassination) from a man named Clay Bertrand, asking him to defend Oswald. Andrews would later repeat this claim in testimony to the Warren Commission.[200]


David Ferrie (second from left) and Lee Harvey Oswald (far right) in a group photo of the New Orleans Civil Air Patrol in 1955 (click to enlarge)

Also, in late November 1963, an employee of New Orleans private investigator Guy Banister named Jack Martin began making accusations of possible involvement in the assassination by fellow Banister employee David Ferrie.[201] According to witnesses, in 1963 Ferrie and Banister were working for lawyer G. Wray Gill on behalf of Gill's client, New Orleans Mafia boss Carlos Marcello.[202] Ferrie had also attended Civil Air Patrol meetings in New Orleans in the 1950s that were also attended by a teenage Lee Harvey Oswald.[203]

In 1966, New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison began an investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy. Garrison's investigation led him to conclude that a group of right-wing extremists, including David Ferrie and Guy Banister, were involved in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy.[204] Garrison also came to believe that New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw was part of the conspiracy and that Clay Shaw used the pseudonym "Clay Bertrand".[205] Garrison further believed that Shaw, Banister, and Ferrie conspired to set up Oswald as a patsy in the JFK assassination.[206] On March 1, 1967, Garrison arrested and charged Shaw with conspiring to assassinate President Kennedy. On January 29, 1969, Clay Shaw was brought to trial on these charges, and the jury found him not guilty.

In 2003, Judyth Baker—whose employment records show that she worked at the Reily Coffee Company in New Orleans at the same time Oswald did—appeared in an episode of Nigel Turner's documentary television series, The Men Who Killed Kennedy.[207] Baker claimed that in 1963 she was recruited by Dr. Canute Michaelson to work with Dr. Alton Ochsner and Dr. Mary Sherman on a clandestine CIA project to develop a biological weapon that could be used to assassinate Fidel Castro. According to Baker, she and Oswald were hired by Reily in the spring of 1963 as a "cover" for the operation.[208] Baker further claimed that she and Oswald began an affair, and that later Oswald told her about Merida, Mexico—a city where he suggested they might begin their lives over again.[207][209] According to John McAdams, in the years since Baker first made her allegations public, she has failed to produce hard evidence that she was acquainted with Oswald,[210] and the research community has widely dismissed her claims.[211] However, other researchers, including Jim Marrs and James Fetzer, have concluded the opposite—that Baker's claims are credible.

CIA conspiracy[edit | edit source]

Main article: CIA Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory

The House Select Committee on Assassinations reported that "[t]here was no indication in Oswald's CIA file that he had ever had contact with the Agency" and concluded that the CIA was not involved in the assassination of Kennedy.[212]

Gaeton Fonzi, an investigator for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, wrote that investigators were pressured not to look into the relationship between Lee Harvey Oswald and the CIA. He stated that CIA agent David Atlee Phillips, using the pseudonym "Maurice Bishop", was involved with Oswald prior to the Kennedy assassination in connection with anti-Castro Cuban groups.[213]

In 1995, former U.S. Army Intelligence officer and National Security Agency executive assistance John M. Newman published evidence that both the CIA and FBI had deliberately tampered with their files on Lee Harvey Oswald both before and after the assassination. Furthermore, he found that both had withheld information that might have alerted authorities in Dallas that Oswald posed a potential threat to the President.[214] Subsequently, Newman has expressed a belief that James Angleton was probably the key figure in the assassination. According to Newman, only Angleton, "had the access, the authority, and the diabolically ingenious mind to manage this sophisticated plot." However the control of the cover operation was not under James Angleton, but under Allen Dulles (the former CIA director who had been dismissed by Kennedy after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion). Among senior government officials, only James Angleton continued expressing his belief that Kennedy assassination was not carried out by a lone gunman.[215][page needed]

Shadow government conspiracy[edit | edit source]

One conspiracy theory suggests that a secret or shadow government including wealthy industrialists and right-wing politicians ordered the assassination of Kennedy.[216] Peter Dale Scott has indicated that Kennedy's death allowed for policy reversals desired by the secret government to escalate the United States' military involvement in Vietnam.[217]

Military-industrial complex[edit | edit source]

Some conspiracy theorists have argued that Kennedy planned to end the involvement of the United States in Vietnam and was therefore targeted by those who had an interest in sustained military conflict, including the Pentagon and defense contractors.[218]

Former Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough in 1991 stated: "Had Kennedy lived, I think we would have had no Vietnam War, with all of its traumatic and divisive influences in America. I think we would have escaped that."[219]

According to author James Douglass, Kennedy was assassinated because he was turning away from the Cold War and seeking a negotiated peace with the Soviet Union.[220] Douglass argues that this "was not the kind of leadership the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the military-industrial complex wanted in the White House."[221]

In his farewell speech, President Dwight D. Eisenhower had warned, "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted."[222]

Oliver Stone's 1991 movie JFK explored the possibility that Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy involving the military-industrial complex.[223] L. Fletcher Prouty, Chief of Special Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Kennedy, and the person who inspired the character "Mr. X" in Stone's movie, wrote that Kennedy's assassination was actually a coup d'état.[224]

Secret Service conspiracy[edit | edit source]

The House Select Committee on Assassinations reported that it investigated "alleged Secret Service complicity in the assassination" and concluded that the Secret Service was not involved.[212] However, the HSCA declared that "the Secret Service was deficient in the performance of its duties."[225] Among its findings, the HSCA noted: that President Kennedy had not received adequate protection in Dallas; that the Secret Service possessed information that was not properly analyzed, investigated, or used by the Secret Service in connection with the President's trip to Dallas; and finally that the Secret Service agents in the motorcade were inadequately prepared to protect the President from a sniper.[226] The HSCA specifically noted:

No actions were taken by the agent in the right front seat of the Presidential limousine [ Roy Kellerman ] to cover the President with his body, although it would have been consistent with Secret Service procedure for him to have done so. The primary function of the agent was to remain at all times in close proximity to the President in the event of such emergencies.[227]

Some argue that the lack of Secret Service protection occurred because Kennedy himself had asked that the Secret Service make itself discreet during the Dallas visit.[228] However, Vince Palamara, who interviewed several Secret Service agents assigned to the Kennedy detail, disputes this. Palamara reports that Secret Service driver Sam Kinney told him that requests—such as removing the bubble top from the limousine in Dallas, not having agents positioned beside the limousine's rear bumper, and reducing the number of Dallas police motorcycle outriders near the limousine's rear bumper—were not made by Kennedy.[229][230][231]

In The Echo from Dealey Plaza, Abraham Bolden—the first African American on the White House Secret Service detail—claimed to have overheard agents say that they would not protect Kennedy from would-be assassins:

[President Kennedy] alienated Southerners and conservatives around the country, most of whom were already suspicious of him. In this, the Secret Service reflected the more backward elements of America. Many of the agents with whom I worked were products of the South.... I heard some members of the White House detail say that if shots were fired at the president, they'd take no action to protect him. A few agents vowed that they would quit the Secret Service rather than give up their lives for Kennedy.[232]

Questions regarding the forthrightness of the Secret Service increased in the 1990s when the Assassination Records Review Board—which was created when Congress passed the JFK Records Act—requested access to Secret Service records. The Review Board was told by the Secret Service that in January 1995, in violation of the JFK Records Act, the Secret Service destroyed protective survey reports that covered JFK's trips from September 24 through November 8, 1963.[233][234][relevant? ]

Cuban exiles[edit | edit source]

The House Select Committee on Assassinations wrote: "The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that anti-Castro Cuban groups, as groups, were not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy, but that the available evidence does not preclude the possibility that individual members may have been involved".[212]

With the 1959 Cuban Revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power, thousands of Cubans left their homeland to take up residence in the United States. Many exiles hoped to overthrow Castro and return to Cuba. Their hopes were dashed with the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961, and many exiles blamed President Kennedy for the failure.[235]

The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that some militant Cuban exiles might have participated in Kennedy's murder. These exiles worked closely with CIA operatives in violent activities against Castro's Cuba. In 1979, the committee reported:

President Kennedy's popularity among the Cuban exiles had plunged deeply by 1963. Their bitterness is illustrated in a tape recording of a meeting of anti-Castro Cubans and right-wing Americans in the Dallas suburb of Farmer's Branch on October 1, 1963.[236]

Holding a copy of the September 26 edition of The Dallas Morning News, featuring a front-page account of the President's planned trip to Texas in November, the Cuban exile vented his hostility:

CASTELLANOS ...we're waiting for Kennedy the 22d, [the date Kennedy was murdered] buddy. We're going to see him in one way or the other. We're going to give him the works when he gets in Dallas. Mr. good ol' Kennedy. I wouldn't even call him President Kennedy. He stinks.[236]

Author Joan Didion explored the Miami anti-Castro Cuban theory in her 1987 non-fiction book Miami.[237][238] She discussed Marita Lorenz' testimony regarding Guillermo Novo, a Cuban exile who was involved in shooting a bazooka at the U.N. building from the East River during a speech by Che Guevara. Allegedly, Novo was affiliated with Lee Harvey Oswald and Frank Sturgis and carried weapons with them to a hotel in Dallas just prior to the assassination. These claims, though put forth to the House Assassinations Committee by Lorenz, were never substantiated by a conclusive investigation.

Organized crime conspiracy[edit | edit source]

The House Select Committee on Assassinations wrote: "The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the national syndicate of organized crime, as a group, was not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy, but that the available evidence does not preclude the possibility that individual members may have been involved".[212]

Documents never seen by the Warren Commission have revealed that some Mafiosi worked with the CIA on assassination attempts against Cuban leader Fidel Castro.[239] CIA documents released in 2007 confirmed that in the summer of 1960, the CIA recruited ex-FBI agent Robert Maheu to approach the West Coast representative of the Chicago mob, Johnny Roselli. When Maheu contacted Roselli, Maheu hid the fact that he was sent by the CIA, instead portraying himself an advocate for international corporations. He offered to pay $150,000 to have Castro killed, but Roselli declined any pay. Roselli introduced Maheu to two men he referred to as "Sam Gold" and "Joe." "Sam Gold" was Sam Giancana; "Joe" was Santo Trafficante, Jr., the Tampa, Florida boss and one of the most powerful mobsters in pre-revolution Cuba.[240][241] Glenn Kessler of the The Washington Post explained: "After Fidel Castro led a revolution that toppled a friendly government in 1959, the CIA was desperate to eliminate him. So the agency sought out a partner equally worried about Castro—the Mafia, which had lucrative investments in Cuban casinos."[242]

In his memoir, Bound by Honor, Bill Bonanno, son of New York Mafia boss Joseph Bonanno, disclosed that several Mafia families had long-standing ties with the anti-Castro Cubans through the Havana casinos operated by the Mafia before the Cuban Revolution. Many Cuban exiles and Mafia bosses disliked President Kennedy, blaming him for the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion.[243] They also disliked his brother, the young and idealistic Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who had conducted an unprecedented legal assault on organized crime.[79][244] This was especially provocative because several Mafia "families" had allegedly worked with JFK's father, Joseph Kennedy, to get JFK elected,[citation needed] and there was speculation about voting irregularities during the 1960 election.[relevant? ] Both the Mafia and the anti-Castro Cubans were experts in assassination—the Cubans having been trained by the CIA. Bonanno reported that he recognized the high degree of involvement of other Mafia families when Jack Ruby killed Oswald, since Bonanno was aware that Ruby was an associate of Chicago mobster Sam Giancana.[245]

Some conspiracy researchers have alleged a plot involving elements of the Mafia, the CIA and the anti-Castro Cubans, including Anthony Summers who stated: "Sometimes people sort of glaze over about the notion that the Mafia and U.S. intelligence and the anti-Castro activists were involved together in the assassination of President Kennedy. In fact, there's no contradiction there. Those three groups were all in bed together at the time and had been for several years in the fight to topple Fidel Castro."[246]

Carlos Marcello allegedly threatened to assassinate the President to short-circuit his younger brother Bobby, who was serving as attorney general and leading the administration's anti-Mafia crusade.[247][248] Information released in 2006 by the FBI has led some to conclude that Carlos Marcello confessed[to whom?] to having organized Kennedy's assassination, and that the FBI covered-up this information which it had in its possession.[249][dead link]

James Files has claimed to be a former assassin who worked for both the Mafia and the CIA. He has further claimed to have participated in the JFK assassination, along with Johnny Roselli and Charles Nicoletti, at the behest of Sam Giancana.[250] He is currently serving a 30-year jail sentence for the attempted murder of a policeman.

Judith Campbell Exner has alleged that she was President Kennedy's girlfriend and was also Sam Giancana's mistress. Exner was interviewed by Maria Shriver (daughter of Eunice Kennedy and Sargent Shriver) on ABC's Good Morning America. Asked if she ever carried messages between JFK and Giancana, Exner replied "no" saying, "Sam would never write anything down."[citation needed]

David E. Kaiser has also suggested mob involvement in his book, The Road to Dallas.[251]

Investigative reporter Jack Anderson concluded that Castro worked with organized crime figures to arrange the JFK assassination. In his book Peace War and Politics, Anderson claimed that Johnny Roselli gave him extensive details of the plot. Anderson said that although he was never able to independently confirm Roselli's entire story, many of Roselli's details checked out. Anderson said that Oswald may have played a role in the assassination, but that more than one gunman was involved.[citation needed]

The History Channel program, The Men Who Killed Kennedy presented additional evidence for organized crime involvement.[252] Christian David was a Corsican Mafia member interviewed in prison. He said that he was offered the assassination contract on President Kennedy, but that he did not accept it. However, he said that he knew the men who did accept the contract. According to David, there were three shooters. He provided the name of one—Lucien Sarti. David said that since the other two shooters were still alive, it would break a code of conduct for him to identify them. When asked what the shooters were wearing, David noted their modus operandi was to dress in costumes such as official uniforms. Much of Christian David's testimony was confirmed by former Corsican member, Michelle Nicole who was part of the DEA witness protection program.

The book Ultimate Sacrifice, by Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartman, synthesizes these theories with new evidence. The authors argue that government officials were (unwillingly) obliged to help the assassins cover up the truth, because the assassination conspiracy had direct ties to American government plots to assassinate Castro. Outraged at Robert Kennedy's attack on organized crime, mob leaders had President Kennedy killed to remove Robert from power. However, a government investigation of the plot was thwarted, because it would have revealed evidence of mob participation in the government's plot to kill Castro.[253]

Lyndon B. Johnson conspiracy[edit | edit source]

A 2003 Gallup poll indicated that nearly 20% of Americans suspected Lyndon Johnson of being involved in the assassination of Kennedy.[254] Critics of the Warren Commission have accused Johnson of plotting the assassination because he hated the Kennedys and feared being dropped from the Democratic ticket for the 1964 election.[255]

With his 1968 book The Dark Side of Lyndon Baines Johnson, Joachim Joesten is credited as being the first conspiracy author to accuse Johnson of having a role in the assassination.[256] According to Joesten, Johnson "played the leading part" in a conspiracy that involved "the Dallas oligarchy and... local branches of the CIA, the FBI, and the Secret Service".[256] Others who have indicated there was complicity on the part of Johnson include Jim Marrs,[256] Ralph D. Thomas,[256] J. Gary Shaw,[256] Larry Harris,[256] Walt Brown,[256] Noel Twyman,[256] Barr McClellan,[256] Craig Zirbel,[31] Penn Jones, Jr.,[31] and Madeleine Brown.[257]

In 2003, researcher Barr McClellan published the book, Blood, Money & Power[258] McClellan claims that Lyndon Johnson, motivated by the fear of being dropped from the Kennedy ticket in 1964 and the need to cover up various scandals, masterminded Kennedy's assassination with the help of his friend, Austin attorney Edward A. Clark. The book suggests that a smudged partial fingerprint from the sniper's nest likely belonged to Johnson's associate Malcolm "Mac" Wallace, and that Mac Wallace was, therefore, on the sixth floor of the Depository at the time of the shooting. The book further claims that the killing of Kennedy was paid for by oil magnates, including Clint Murchison and H. L. Hunt. McClellan states that the assassination of Kennedy allowed the oil depletion allowance to be kept at 27.5 percent. It remained unchanged during the Johnson presidency. According to McClellan, this resulted in a saving of over 100 million dollars to the American oil industry. McClellan's book subsequently became the subject of an episode of Nigel Turner's ongoing documentary television series, The Men Who Killed Kennedy. The episode, entitled "The Guilty Men", drew angry condemnation from the Johnson family, President Johnson's former aides, and ex-Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter following its airing on The History Channel. The History Channel assembled a committee of historians who concluded the accusations in the documentary were without merit, and The History Channel apologized to the Johnson family and agreed not to air the series in the future.[259]

Madeleine Brown, who alleged she was the mistress of Lyndon Johnson, also implicated Johnson in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. In 1997, Brown said that Johnson, along with H. L. Hunt, had begun planning Kennedy's demise as early as 1960. Brown claimed that by its fruition in 1963, the conspiracy involved dozens of persons, including the leadership of the FBI and the Mafia, as well as prominent politicians and journalists.[260] In the documentary The Men Who Killed Kennedy, Madeleine Brown and May Newman (an employee of Texas oilman Clint Murchison) both placed J. Edgar Hoover at a social gathering at Murchison's mansion the night before the assassination.[261] Also in attendance, according to Brown, were John McCloy, Richard Nixon, George Brown, R. L. Thornton, and H. L. Hunt.[262] Madeleine Brown claimed that Johnson arrived at the gathering late in the evening and, in a "grating whisper," told her that the "...Kennedys will never embarrass me again—that's no threat—that's a promise."[262][263][264] In addition, Brown said that on New Year's Eve 1963, Lyndon Johnson confirmed the conspiracy to kill Kennedy, insisting that "the fat cats of Texas and [U.S.] intelligence" had been responsible.[261] Brown reiterated her allegations against Johnson in the 2006 documentary, Evidence of Revision. In the same documentary, several other Johnson associates also voiced their suspicions of Johnson.

Johnson was also accused of complicity in the assassination by former CIA agent and Watergate figure E. Howard Hunt.[265] Shortly before his death in 2007, Hunt authored an autobiography which suggested that Johnson had orchestrated the killing with the help of CIA agents who had been angered by Kennedy's actions as President.[266][267] Hunt repeated these claims in deathbed confessions to his son, published in a 2007 edition of Rolling Stone magazine. Hunt implicated CIA agents David Atlee Phillips, Cord Meyer, Bill Harvey, Frank Sturgis, and David Sánchez Morales, as well as a French gunman, Lucien Sarti, who purportedly shot at Kennedy from the grassy knoll.[268][dead link][269][270]

Suspicions that Johnson was involved in covering-up facts about the assassination were supported by Parkland Hospital doctor Charles Crenshaw. (Dr. Crenshaw had worked to save Oswald's life at Parkland after he was shot by Jack Ruby, just as Crenshaw had worked to save President Kennedy's life two days earlier.) While treating Oswald, Crenshaw said he received a phone call from the new U.S. president, Lyndon Johnson. Crenshaw gave his account of the phone conversation in his book Trauma Room One:

Johnson: "Dr. Crenshaw, how is the accused assassin?"

Crenshaw: "Mr. President, he's holding his own at the moment."

Johnson: "Would you mind taking a message to the operating surgeon?"

Crenshaw: "Dr. Shires is very busy right now, but I will convey your message."

Johnson: "Dr. Crenshaw, I want a death-bed confession from the accused assassin. There's a man in the operating room who will take the statement. I will expect full cooperation in this matter."

Crenshaw: "Yes, sir."

Dr. Crenshaw said that he relayed Johnson's message to Dr. Shire, despite Oswald being in no condition to give any statement.[261][271]

Historian Michael L. Kurtz wrote that there is no evidence suggesting that Johnson ordered the assassination of Kennedy.[272] According to Kurtz, Johnson believed Fidel Castro was responsible for the assassination and that Johnson covered-up the truth because he feared the possibility that retaliatory measures against Cuba might escalate to nuclear war with the Soviet Union.[272] In 2012, investigative biographer Robert Caro published his fourth volume on Johnson's career, The Passage of Power, which details Johnson's communications and actions as vice president, and describes the events leading up to the assassination. Caro writes that "nothing that I have found in my research" points to involvement by Johnson.[273]

Cuban conspiracy[edit | edit source]

The Warren Commission reported that they investigated "dozens of allegations of a conspiratorial contact between Oswald and agents of the Cuban Government" and that they found no evidence that Cuba was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.[274] The House Select Committee on Assassinations also wrote: "The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the Cuban Government was not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy".[212]

Conspiracy theories frequently implicate Fidel Castro as having ordered the assassination of Kennedy in retaliation for the CIA's previous attempts to assassinate him.[244]

In the early 1960s, Clare Booth Luce, wife of Time-Life publisher Henry Luce, was one of a number of prominent Americans who sponsored anti-Castro groups. This support included funding exiles in commando speedboat raids against Cuba. In 1975, Clare Luce said that on the night of the assassination, she received a call from a member of a commando group she had sponsored. According to Luce, the caller's name was "something like" Julio Fernandez and he claimed he was calling her from New Orleans.[275][276]

According to Luce, Fernandez told her that Oswald had approached his group with an offer to help assassinate Castro. Fernandez further claimed that he and his associates eventually found out that Oswald was a communist and supporter of Castro. He said that with this new-found knowledge, his group kept a close watch on Oswald until Oswald suddenly came into money and went to Mexico City and then Dallas.[277] Finally, according to Luce, Fernandez told her, "There is a Cuban Communist assassination team at large and Oswald was their hired gun."[278]

Luce said that she told the caller to give his information to the FBI. Subsequently, Luce would reveal the details of the incident to both the Church Committee and the HSCA. Both committees investigated the incident, but were unable to uncover any evidence to corroborate the allegations.[279]

President Lyndon Johnson informed several journalistic sources of his personal belief that the assassination had been organized by Castro. Johnson claimed to have received in 1967 information from both the FBI and CIA that in the early 1960s: the CIA had tried to have Castro assassinated, had employed members of the Mafia in this effort, and that Attorney General Robert Kennedy had known about both the plots and the Mafia's involvement.[280]

On separate occasions, Johnson told two prominent television newsmen that he believed that JFK's assassination had been organized by Castro as retaliation for the CIA's efforts to kill Castro. In October, 1968, Johnson told veteran newsman Howard K. Smith of ABC that "Kennedy was trying to get to Castro, but Castro got to him first." In September, 1969, in an interview with Walter Cronkite of CBS, Johnson said that in regard to the assassination he could not, "honestly say that I've ever been completely relieved of the fact that there might have been international connections." Finally, in 1971, Johnson told Leo Janos of Time magazine that he, "never believed that Oswald acted alone".

In 1977, Castro was interviewed by newsman Bill Moyers. He denied any involvement in Kennedy's death, saying:

It would have been absolute insanity by Cuba.... It would have been a provocation. Needless to say, it would have been to run the risk that our country would have been destroyed by the United States. Nobody who's not insane could have thought about [killing Kennedy in retaliation].[281]

Lyndon Johnson also implicated the CIA in the assassination. According to a FBI document released in 1977, Johnson's postmaster general, Marvin Watson told the FBI "...that [President Johnson] was now convinced there was a plot in connection with the assassination. Watson stated the President felt the CIA had something to do with this plot."[282][283][284][285]

Soviet conspiracy[edit | edit source]

The Warren Commission reported that they found no evidence that the Soviet Union was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.[6] The House Select Committee on Assassinations also wrote: "The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the Soviet Government was not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy".[212]

According to some conspiracy theorists, the Soviet Union, with Nikita Khrushchev motivated by having to back down during the Cuban Missile Crisis, was responsible for the assassination.[244]

According to a 1966 FBI document, Colonel Boris Ivanov—chief of the KGB at the time of the assassination—stated that it was his personal opinion that the assassination had been planned by an organized group, rather than a lone individual. The same document stated, "...officials of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union believed there was some well-organized conspiracy on the part of the 'ultraright' in the United States to effect a 'coup.'"[286]

Much later, the highest-ranking Soviet Bloc intelligence defector, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa said that he had a conversation with Nicolae Ceauşescu who told him about "ten international leaders the Kremlin killed or tried to kill": "László Rajk and Imre Nagy of Hungary; Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu and Gheorghiu-Dej in Romania; Rudolf Slánský, the head of Czechoslovakia, and Jan Masaryk, that country's chief diplomat; the Shah of Iran; Palmiro Togliatti of Italy; American President John F. Kennedy; and Mao Zedong." Pacepa provided some additional details, such as a plot to kill Mao Zedong with the help of Lin Biao organized by KGB and claimed that "among the leaders of Moscow's satellite intelligence services there was unanimous agreement that the KGB had been involved in the assassination of President Kennedy."[287]

Israeli conspiracy[edit | edit source]

This theory alleges that the Israeli government was displeased with Kennedy for his pressure against their pursuit of a top-secret nuclear program at the Negev Nuclear Research Center (commonly called "Dimona")[288] and/or the Israelis were angry over Kennedy's sympathies with Arabs.[289] Gangster Meyer Lansky[290] and Lyndon B. Johnson often play pivotal roles in this conspiracy theory as organizing and preparing the hit, thus bleeding into and possibly catalyzing many of the other conspiracies as well.[289]

In July 2004 Israel's nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu claimed in the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper that the state of Israel was complicit in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Vanunu, a former technician at the Dimona plant who was jailed for 18 years for revealing its inner workings to Britain's Sunday Times in 1986, made the statement after his 2004 release. He claimed there were "near-certain indications" Kennedy was assassinated in response to "pressure he exerted on Israel's then head of government, David Ben-Gurion, to shed light on Dimona's nuclear reactor."[291]

Federal Reserve conspiracy[edit | edit source]

Jim Marrs speculated that the assassination of Kennedy might have been partially motivated by Kennedy's issuance of Executive Order 11110.[292] The order, which was not officially repealed until the Reagan Administration, authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to print additional silver certificates, up to the maximum previously set by Congress. Since the President himself already possessed the same authority, the order did not endanger the careers of anyone working at the Federal Reserve.[293][clarification needed]

This theory was further explored by U.S. Marine sniper and police officer Craig Roberts in the book, Kill Zone.[294] Roberts theorized that the executive order was the beginning of a plan by Kennedy to permanently do away with the Federal Reserve, and that Kennedy was murdered by a cabal of international bankers determined to foil this plan. According to actor and author Richard Belzer, the plot to kill Kennedy was a response to a postulated attempt by the President to shift power from the Federal Reserve to the U.S Treasury Department.[295]

Decoy hearse and wound alteration[edit | edit source]

David Lifton presented a scenario in which conspirators on Air Force One removed Kennedy's body from its original bronze casket and placed it in a shipping casket, while en route from Dallas to Washington. Once the presidential plane arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, the shipping casket with the President's body in it was surreptitiously taken by helicopter from the side of the plane that was out of the television camera's view. Kennedy's body was then taken to an unknown location—most likely Walter Reed Army Medical Center[296]—to surgically alter the body to make it appear that he was shot only from the rear.[297][298][299][300]

Part of Lifton's theory comes from a House Select Committee on Assassinations report of an interview of Lt. Richard Lipsey on January 18, 1978 by committee staff members Donald Purdy and Mark Flanagan. According to the report, Lt. Richard Lipsey said that he and General Wehle had met President Kennedy's body at Andrews Air Force Base. Lipsey "...placed [the casket] in a hearse to be transported to Bethesda Naval Hospital. Lipsey mentioned that he and Wehle then flew by helicopter to Bethesda and took [the body of] JFK into the back of Bethesda." Lipsey said that "a decoy hearse had been driven to the front [of Bethesda]."[301] With Lipsey's mention of a "decoy hearse" at Bethesda, Lifton theorized that the casket removed by Lipsey from Air Force One—from the side of the plane exposed to television—was probably also a decoy and was likely empty.[302][303]

Laboratory technologist Paul O'Connor was one of the major witnesses supporting another part of David Lifton's theory that somewhere between Parkland and Bethesda the President's body was made to appear as if it had been shot only from the rear. O'Connor said that President Kennedy's body arrived at Bethesda inside a body bag in "a cheap, shipping-type of casket", which differed from the description of the ornamental bronze casket and sheet that the body was wrapped in at Parkland Hospital.[300] O'Connor said that the brain had already been removed by the time it got to Bethesda,[300] and that there were "just little pieces" of brain matter left inside the skull.[304]

Researcher David Wrone dismissed the theory that Kennedy's body was surreptitiously removed from the presidential plane, stating that as is done with all cargo on airplanes for safety precautions, the coffin and lid were held by steel wrapping cables to prevent shifting during takeoff and landing and in case of air disturbances in flight.[299] According to Wrone, the side of the plane away from the television camera "was bathed in klieg lights, and thousands of persons watched along the fence that bent backward along that side, providing, in effect, a well-lit and very public stage for any would-be body snatchers."[299]

Other published theories[edit | edit source]

  • Appointment in Dallas (1975) by Hugh McDonald suggests that Oswald was lured into a plot that he was told was a staged fake attempt to kill JFK to embarrass the Secret Service and to alert the government of the necessity for beefed-up Secret Service security. Oswald’s role was to shoot at the motorcade but deliberately miss the target. The plotters then killed JFK themselves and framed Oswald for the crime. McDonald claims that, after being told the "truth" about JFK's death by CIA agent Herman Kimsey in 1964, he spent years trying to locate a man known as “Saul.” Saul was supposedly the unidentified man who was photographed exiting the Russian embassy in Mexico City in September 1963, whose photos were subsequently sent to the FBI in Dallas on the morning of November 22, 1963 (before the assassination), and mislabelled "Lee Harvey Oswald". McDonald claims to have finally tracked Saul down in London in 1972 at which time Saul revealed the details of the plot to him.
  • Reasonable Doubt (1985) by Henry Hurt, who writes about his Warren Commission doubts. Mr. Hurt pins the plot on professional crook Robert Easterling, along with Texas oilmen and the supposed Ferrie/Shaw alliance. ISBN 0-03-004059-0.
  • Behold a Pale Horse (1991) by William Cooper alleges that Kennedy was shot by the Presidential limousine's driver, Secret Service agent William Greer. In the Zapruder film, Greer can be seen turning to his right and looking backwards just before speeding away from Dealey Plaza. This theory has come under severe criticism from others in the research community.[305] ISBN 0-929385-22-5.
  • Mark North's Act of Treason: The Role of J. Edgar Hoover in the assassination of President Kennedy, (1991) implicates the FBI Director. North documents that Hoover was aware of threats against Kennedy by organized crime before 1963, and suggests that he failed to take proper action to prevent the assassination. North also charges Hoover with failure to work adequately to uncover the truth behind Kennedy's murder. ISBN 0-88184-877-8.
  • Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK (1992) by Bonar Menninger (ISBN 0-312-08074-3) alleges that while Oswald did attempt to assassinate JFK and did succeed in wounding him, the fatal shot was accidentally fired by Secret Service agent George Hickey, who was riding in the Secret Service follow-up car directly behind the Presidential Limousine. The theory alleges that after the first two shots were fired the motorcade sped up while Hickey was attempting to respond to Oswald's shots and he lost his balance and accidentally pulled the trigger of his AR-15 and shot JFK. Hickey's testimony says otherwise: "At the end of the last report (shot) I reached to the bottom of the car and picked up the AR 15 rifle, cocked and loaded it, and turned to the rear." (italics added).[306] George Hickey sued Menninger in April 1995 for what he had written in Mortal Error. The case was dismissed as its statute of limitations had run out.
  • Who Shot JFK? : A Guide to the Major Conspiracy Theories (1993) by Bob Callahan and Mark Zingarelli explores some of the more obscure theories regarding JFK's murder, such as "The Coca-Cola Theory." According this theory, suggested by the editor of an organic gardening magazine, Oswald killed JFK due to mental impairment stemming from an addiction to refined sugar, as evidenced by his need for his favorite beverage immediately after the assassination. ISBN 0-671-79494-9.
  • Passport to Assassination (1993) by Oleg M. Nechiporenko, the Soviet consular official (and highly placed KGB officer) who met with Oswald in Mexico City in 1963. He was afforded the unique opportunity to interview Oswald about his goals including his genuine desire for a Cuban visa. His conclusions were (1) that Oswald killed Kennedy due to extreme feelings of inadequacy versus his wife’s professed admiration for JFK, and (2) that the KGB never sought intelligence information from Oswald during his time in the USSR as they did not trust his motivations. ISBN 1-55972-210-X.
  • Norman Mailer's Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery (1995) concludes that Oswald was guilty, but holds that the evidence may point to a second gunman on the grassy knoll, who, purely by coincidence, was attempting to kill JFK at the same time as Oswald. "If there was indeed another shot, it was not necessarily fired by a conspirator of Oswald's. Such a gun could have belonged to another lone killer or to a conspirator working for some other group altogether."[307] ISBN 0-679-42535-7.
  • The Kennedy Mutiny (2002) by Will Fritz (not the same as police captain J. Will Fritz), claims that the assassination plot was orchestrated by General Edwin Walker, and that he framed Oswald for the crime. ISBN 0-9721635-0-6.
  • JFK: The Second Plot (2002) by Matthew Smith explores the strange case of Roscoe White. In 1990, Roscoe's son Ricky made public a claim that his father, who had been a Dallas police officer in 1963, was involved in killing the president. Roscoe's widow Geneva also claimed that before her husband's death in 1971 he left a diary in which he claims he was one of the marksmen who shot the President, and that he also killed Officer J. D. Tippit. ISBN 1-84018-501-5.
  • David Wrone's The Zapruder Film (2003) concludes that the shot that killed JFK came from in front of the limousine, and that JFK's throat and back wounds were caused by an in-and-through shot originating from the grassy knoll. Three shots were fired from three different angles, none of them from Lee Harvey Oswald's window at the Texas School Book Depository. Wrone is a professor of history (emeritus) at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. ISBN 0-7006-1291-2.
  • The Gemstone File: A Memoir (2006), by Stephanie Caruana, posits that Oswald was part of a 28-man assassination team which included three U.S. Mafia hitmen (Jimmy Fratianno, John Roselli, and Eugene Brading). Oswald's role was to shoot John Connally. Bruce Roberts, author of the Gemstone File papers, claimed that the JFK assassination scenario was modeled after a supposed attempted assassination of President F.D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt was riding in an open car with Mayor Anton Cermak of Chicago. Cermak was shot and killed by Giuseppe Zangara. In Dallas, JFK was the real target, and Connally was a secondary target. The JFK assassination is only a small part of the Gemstone File's account. ISBN 1-4120-6137-7.
  • Joseph P. Farrell's LBJ and the Conspiracy to Kill Kennedy (2011) attempts to show multiple interests had reasons to remove President Kennedy: The military, CIA, NASA, anti-Castro factions, Hoover's FBI and others. He concludes that the person that allowed all of these groups to form a "coalescence of interests" was Vice President Lyndon Johnson. ISBN 978-1-935487-18-0

See also[edit | edit source]

  • JFK (film), a 1991 film that examines the events leading to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and alleged subsequent cover-up, through the eyes of former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison.
  • American Tabloid, a 1995 novel by James Ellroy, which portrays the five years leading up to the assassination from the point of view of a group of Mafia associates and CIA operatives, who become embroiled in the Bay of Pigs Invasion and eventually help plan the crime.
  • An American Affair, a 2009 film that portrays the assassination and the relation between Kennedy and Mary Pinchot Meyer.
  • The Cold Six Thousand, a 2001 novel by James Ellroy, the sequel to American Tabloid. The first third of the novel portrays a cover-up of the JFK assassination, while the remainder concerns the events leading up to the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.
  • Executive Action, a 1973 film by David Miller that portrays the assassination from the point of view of the conspirators, who are right-wing tycoons and former covert ops specialists.
  • JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America, a 2009 documentary film complied from archived news footage.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. The book, Plausible Denial explores the defamation case brought by E. Howard Hunt against a newspaper, the Spotlight, and its publisher, an organization named Liberty Lobby, Inc. Lane, Mark.[142]
  2. Addressing Lane's testimony alleging a meeting between Ruby, Tippit, and Weissman, the Commission reported that they "found no evidence that such a meeting took place anywhere at any time".[151]
  3. According to the Warren Commission, after Earlene Roberts saw Oswald standing near the bus stop outside his rooming house, "[he] was next seen about nine-tenths of a mile away at the southeast corner of 10th Street and Patton Avenue, moments before the Tippit shooting."[182]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. House Select Committee on Assassinations Final Report, p. 93.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Knight, Peter (2007). The Kennedy Assassination. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press Ltd.. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-934110-32-4. 
  3. Bugliosi, Vincent (2007). Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 989. ISBN 0-393-04525-0. 
  4. Donovan, Barna William (2011). Conspiracy Films: A Tour of Dark Places in the American Conscious. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-7864-3901-0. 
  5. "Chapter 6: Investigation of Possible Conspiracy". Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. 1964. p. 374. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Chapter 6 1964, p. 374.
  7. "Summary of Findings and Recommendations". Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. 1979. p. 3. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Krajicek, David. "JFK Assassination". Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.. p. 1. Retrieved March 25, 2012. 
  9. Broderick, James F.; Miller, Darren W. (2008). "Chapter 16: The JFK Assassination". Web of Conspiracy: A Guide to Conspiracy Theory Sites on the Internet. Medford, New Jersey: Information Today, Inc./CyberAge Books. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-910965-81-1. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Perry, James D. (2003). Peter, Knight. ed. Conspiracy Theories in American History: An Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc.. p. 383. ISBN 1-57607-812-4. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Bugliosi 2007, p. xiv.
  12. Bugliosi 2007, p. 974.
  13. Karlyn Bowman (September 4, 1997). "Most Americans Don't Know Much about Fast-Track". American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. 
  14. Lydia Saad (November 21, 2003). "Americans: Kennedy Assassination a Conspiracy". Gallup, Inc. 
  15. Gary Langer (November 16, 2003). "John F. Kennedy’s Assassination Leaves a Legacy of Suspicion". ABC News. Retrieved May 16, 2010. 
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