A View on the JFK Assassination, 50 Years After, From an Okie Down Under

(Editor’s note: This is a serious blog post which was, of course, prompted by the 50th anniversary of the horrific assassination of the 35th President.)

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I have not thought that much about the JFK assassination in the last 25 years.

But when I was in my 20s, I spent untold hours reading over 100 books and papers on the assassination, and on the Camelot of Kennedy.

When I was a reporter on the student newspaper at the University of Texas at Arlington, I wrote a long story about the assassination after monitoring a many-weeks-long course taught by Jim Marrs.

Marrs was a former reporter with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram who became a prominent figure in the JFK conspiracy press. His book Crossfire was a source for Oliver Stone‘s film JFK.

The story I wrote has disappeared in the sands of time, but I can still remember most of Marrs’ list of possible killers, who he speculated could have acted independently or in league, and their reasons for orchestrating a “hit” on JFK and a subsequent cover-up.

The possible killers and their motives included:

CIA (rogue elements or the agency itself): JFK hated the CIA. He had been in office only a matter of weeks in 1961 when he learned of the CIA’s ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion plan. Young and new in the job, he chose not to stop the invasion. After the bloody debacle, Kennedy said he wanted to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds.”

Pro-Castro or Anti-Castro elements: This one is enormously complex, filled with intrigue, CIA, Mafia and big business interests. Pro-Castro elements wanted Kennedy dead so he would never again invade Cuba or support CIA efforts to kill Castro. Anti-Castro elements blamed Kennedy for botching the Bay of Pigs invasion and for not subsequently assassinating Castro. (Note 1: In New Orleans, Lee Harvey Oswald was involved with the pro-Castro Fair Play For Cuba Committee. Note 2: The CIA has admitted it actively tried to assassinate foreign leaders, including Castro.)

Organized Crime (possibly working closely with the CIA): The Kennedys knew organized crime better than most. JFK’s Dad, Joseph, made his millions as a criminal rum-runner during Prohibition. Ironically, Bobby, as Attorney General, led a crusade against the mafia. RFK was bad for the mob’s vast business empire, but he could not be stopped as long as the President of the United States had his back. (Note: JFK had been having an affair with Judith Campbell Exner, who was also having an affair with a top mobsters Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli.)

U.S. Oil Interests: JFK had made loud noises about getting rid of the Oil Depletion Allowance which, for decades, had permitted investors to deduct from otherwise taxable income 27.5 percent of the gross income earned from oil wells. Experts called this strategic oil investing “drilling with tax money.” Eliminating the tax break would have taken billions out of the pockets of Big Oil, who were friends of Texas’ Lyndon B. Johnson. (Note: LBJ and RFK loathed each other).

Military Industrial Complex: JFK was a decorated war “hero”. He was not enamored with, or afraid of, the military. By many accounts, he planned to wind down the military involvement in Vietnam after his re-election, not escalate it, which would have cost munition-makers billions. Kennedy also was well aware of the warnings of his predecessor, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a former 5-star general. In his farewell speech, Ike said: “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. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

Fringe Right Wing Fanatics: As mentioned above, Big Oil was not happy with JFK. In addition, some very rich and angry Texas businessmen hated him. Their vitriol for the President was illustrated in the full page ad published in the Dallas Morning News hours before JFK was assassinated. Security concerns for the President, caused in part by this ad, prompted many voices to urge JFK not to travel from Fort Worth to Dallas.

Got all that? No? Maybe you should read a bit about this enormously complex and turbulent period of American history.

Because I live in New Zealand, I am “out of zone” and have not been able to watch NOVA’s “Cold Case JFK” on You Tube. I want to watch it because an old friend says it convinced him that Oswald had acted alone.

I would be surprised if it would convince me, considering the library of information that is still in my head about the assassination, which includes paper research and personal visits to Dealey Plaza and the Texas School Book Depository.

For the NOVA program to convince me that Oswald acted alone, and there was no conspiracy before or after the assassination, it would have to answer hundreds of questions, starting with these:

How can the President’s head violently snap backwards if he were shot from the school book depository, behind and above, as shown in the Zapruder film?

Is it really possible that a pristine bullet, said to have gone through JFK’s neck and shattered Gov. Connally’s wrist, was found on a stretcher at Parkland Hospital, long after the Governor had been moved?

Why were FBI marksmen using “Oswald’s rifle” unable to make the shots Oswald was supposed to have made in the time allotted? (Note: the marksmen were firing in low-stress, controlled conditions, unlike an assassin would have been).

Why did the United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), established to investigate the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King Jr., conclude in 1978 that Kennedy was very likely assassinated as a result of a conspiracy?

How did Oswald leave the Marines, defect to Russia, get back into the U.S. get involved with the CIA, and conveniently find himself in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963?

How could night club operator Jack Ruby, alleged to be involved in organized crime, stroll into the Dallas police station hours after the assassination and shoot Oswald dead?

What happened to the President’s brain; how could such a critical piece of evidence possibly go missing?

How do you discount eye witness reports and audio evidence that indicate a second gunman was on the grassy knoll?

Obviously, this list of questions goes on and on.

I have no idea whether Jim Marrs was right about his conspiracy theories.

But, for me, I believe JFK was assassinated by a range of powerful and probably linked entities, not a “lone nut”. The question that I cannot answer is, after 50 years, how could such a vast conspiracy not unwind?

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Click HERE for another blog on serious stuff — the killing of OBL.

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