Monday, November 18, 2013

Ten JFK Assassination “Conspiracy Facts”

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, suspicions persist about the assassination of President Kennedy because much evidence points to a conspiracy and to a government effort to cover it up. Here are ten “conspiracy facts” that lead many observers to doubt the Warren Commission’s conclusion that the president was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald alone, firing from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, and that there was no evidence “of conspiracy, subversion, or disloyalty to the US government by any Federal, State, or local official" (p. 22 of the Warren Commission Report). All of the following facts are discussed and documented in Conspiracy Theory in America.

The bullet holes in the President’s shirt indicate that he was shot from the front. The lone-gunman hypothesis is contradicted by the locations of the holes in Kennedy’s shirt from the first bullet that hit him. The Warren Commission report (page 92) says that the hole in the front of the president’s shirt is less than 1 inch below the collar button, while the hole in the shirt’s back is 5 and 3/4 inches below the top of the collar. This means that the hole in back is lower than the hole in front. However, if Kennedy had been shot in the back from six floors up, the bullet’s trajectory would have been downward, and the hole in the back of his shirt would have been higher than the hole in front. The location of the holes suggests that the first shot to hit Kennedy came from a location in front of him and slightly above street level.
The location and immediate consequences of President’s Kennedy’s assassination cast suspicion on Vice President Lyndon Johnson. Kennedy was killed while touring the home state of the vice president, who became president upon Kennedy’s death. In any murder investigation, the first question is: Who benefitted? Suspects are identified on this basis, and then their statements and actions in relation to the crime are scrutinized. The government failed to pursue this, the most obvious line of inquiry, at least in part because Johnson had much control over the investigation. Within a week of the assassination, he selected and appointed the members of the Warren Commission, which included, among other Johnson friends, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency who had been fired by Kennedy after the disastrous Bay of Pigs operation.
Vice President Johnson had a strong motive to want Kennedy dead. It was rumored that Johnson was going to be dropped from the president’s ticket in Kennedy’s upcoming bid for reelection. The morning of the assassination, this rumor appeared on the front page of the Dallas newspaper. It came from none other than former vice president Richard Nixon, who happened to be in town on business and had been interviewed by the newspaper the day before. One reason for thinking Kennedy might be considering other running mates was that an ongoing Senate investigation had linked Johnson to a bribery scandal centered on Senate Majority Secretary Bobby Baker. in January 1964, two months after the assassination, Johnson admitted he had accepted an expensive phonograph from Baker, and he acknowledged wrongdoing to Congress, which, no longer wanting to pursue the case against him now that he was president, ended further inquiry into Johnson’s role.

Evidence from the president’s limousine was immediately destroyed. The president’s limousine was washed while it was still at Parkland Hospital on the day of the assassination. That night, the limo was flown by cargo plane to Washington, D.C., where all the blood was cleaned from its seats and carpets. It was then shipped to Detroit, and the bullet-pocked windshield and interior chrome were replaced. The bullet marks and blood spatter were essential for determining the direction and number of shots fired. The destruction of this evidence suggests an effort to cover up the possibility that Kennedy was shot from the front.
Secret Service agents under the direction of Vice President Johnson removed Kennedy’s body before a legally mandated autopsy could be conducted by Dallas medical examiners. By law, the autopsy of President Kennedy should have been performed by Dallas medical examiners, because, legally, the crime was a murder under Texas law. (It was not a federal crime in 1963 to assassinate a president.) While Kennedy's body was still at Parkland Hospital, local officials informed the federal officials who were present that the latter could not take possession of Kennedy's body until the autopsy had been completed by a Dallas medical examiner who was already at the hospital. Nevertheless, Secret Service agents had a casket delivered, and they took control of Kennedy’s body (some reports say at gunpoint) as Parkland Hospital doctors and staff tried to block their way. The body was taken by ambulance to Love Field and loaded onto Air Force One after seats in the plane were removed to make room. This is described in the Warren Commission report (page 58) in a section titled, “Removal of the President’s Body.”
Vice President Johnson would not allow Air Force One to take off from Love Field until he had been sworn in as president by a federal judge. Johnson boarded immediately after Kennedy’s body was loaded onto the plane. According to the Warren Commission report, presidential aid Kenneth O’Donnell instructed the pilot to take off immediately; O’Donnell was “concerned that local officials might try to prevent the plane’s departure” because the Dallas medical examiner had been prevented from conducting an autopsy as required by law. However, Johnson delayed the plane’s departure for almost an hour, until a federal judge could get there whom he had selected to administer the oath of office. Johnson then insisted that Mrs. Kennedy come out of the plane's bedroom and stand beside him as he was sworn in and photos were taken.
Lee Harvey Oswald was interrogated for two days, but no recording was made, and no one took notes. About ninety minutes after the assassination, Dallas police arrested Oswald, a School Book Depository employee who left the building shortly after the assassination. He was interrogated for a total of about twelve hours from 2:30 p.m. on November 22, to 11:15 a.m. on November 24. Oswald maintained his innocence throughout his questioning and protested publicly that he was “just a patsy.” Without any explanation, the Warren Commission report (page 598) says simply that “there was no stenographic or tape recordings of these interviews.”
Gerald Ford personally edited the Warren Commission report to obscure the evidence that the first shot that hit Kennedy came from the front. Ford was a member of the Warren Commission. In 1997, the New York Times reported that recently declassified documents revealed Ford had been instrumental in editing the Warren Commission’s description of the bullet wound in Kennedy’s back. As discussed above (see point #1), the bullet holes in President Kennedy’s shirt indicated a downward trajectory from front to back because the hole in front was higher than the hole in back. The initial draft of the Warren Commission report revealed this by referring to the wound in Kennedy’s throat and the wound in his back. Ford changed the wording to say the latter was “near the base of the back of President Kennedy’s neck” (page 87, Warren Commission report). The upshot is that Ford knew the Warren Commission’s account of the president’s assassination was cast in doubt by the bullet wound evidence, and that he edited the report to conceal this.
An 8-millimeter movie taken of the shooting by Abraham Zapruder was withheld from the American people. The film was sold by Zapruder to Life Magazine the day after the assassination. The film shows that Kennedy’s head snapped to the back when the fatal shot struck him in the head, thus indicating a shot from the front. The Warren Commission viewed a copy of the film and then had the original brought to Washington, D.C., to view it. The film might never have been shown publicly had it not been for New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison, who subpoenaed the film in 1968 when he was prosecuting Clay Shaw. Garrison’s staff made copies of the film, and at least one was leaked. It was shown on the Giraldo Rivera Show in 1975, and, as soon as people saw it, they realized that Kennedy had almost certainly been shot from the front and that the Warren Commission report had covered this up.
The alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was murdered while in police custody and at police headquarters. Oswald was shot at pointblank range by Jack Ruby, a local nightclub owner connected to organized crime. Naturally, many people wondered if Oswald was murdered to keep him from talking. Oswald’s death meant there would never be an examination of the assassination in open court with adversarial procedures. When Ruby was interviewed by the Warren Commission in Dallas, he was allowed to speak to the press, and he said that Americans did not realize it, but an entirely new form of government had been installed.

By Lance deHaven-Smith, author of Conspiracy Theory in America.

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