Who Did It? Our Top Ten JFK Assassination Theories
Since 1964, in a report released five days before this writer was born, the Warren Commission, headed by then Chief Justice and former California Governor, Earl Warren, concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy and wounding Texas Governor John Connally and that Jack Ruby also acted alone when he killed Oswald two days later.
From that September day on, countless numbers of explanations have been advanced leading to hundreds of books and a cottage industry of conspiracy crafting.
Here we lay some of the better known as well as more interesting theories issued to date. Read on, after the break.
1 - The New Orleans Theory: If you saw the Oliver Stone film, JFK, this was essentially the basis for that tale, which has been heavily criticized in many quarters and Stone was hit for essentially re-inventing history. At the core of the theory is that a group of New Orleans based radical right wingers and assorted homosexuals, with some sort of tangential relation to the CIA and Cuban exiles, engaged in a conspiracy to kill the President and set up Lee Harvey Oswald as a "patsy." This is actually the only instance where anyone was actually tried for the murder of Kennedy; New Orleans District Attorney (played by Kevin Costner in the movie) prosecuted prominent businessman Clay Shaw who was found not guilty by the jury.
2 - The CIA Did It: When it comes to intrigue, government misdeeds and anything terrible in the country, it's easy for many to blame the shadowy intelligent agency. It is likely the CIA was no fan of Kennedy and some of his policies that seemed favorable to detente with the then Soviet Union. Kennedy was quoted as telling an official within his administration: "I want to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds." Perhaps the CIA got word of this and wanted to get Kennedy before he got them. The House Select Committee on Assassinations reported that there 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.
3 - It Was Lyndon: Even Lyndon Johnson knew after the President's assassination that many would assume the Vice President was responsible in order to earn the highest office in the land for himself. A 2003 Gallup poll indicated that nearly 20% of Americans suspected Johnson of being involved in the assassination. Before joining the ticket, Johnson had been a rival of Kennedy's for the 1960 Democratic nomination and often felt slighted by JFK and his younger brother, Bobby, who was the Attorney General. There were reports that Johnson was concerned Kennedy would dump him from the 1964 ticket and end the ambitious politician's long career. This theory is once again being pushed in a recent book, The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ. The problem is, Johnson had as many enemies, if not more, than Kennedy and someone would have talked. Bigger problem with the recent book is that author Roger Stone worked on the Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush presidential campaigns, helped shut down the 2000 Florida recount and complained to the F.B.I. that Eliot Spitzer hired hookers, well in advance of the ex-governor’s resignation. The right leaning stone reminds folks that LBJ was the architect of the War on Poverty and the Great Society, not popular programs with conservatives.
4 - Blame the Fed: Here's a theory that perhaps Ron Paul and tin-hat wearing, central bank opponents might move to the top of the list. One website claims that JFK had plans to abolish the Federal Reserve, had already issued millions in $5 "United States Notes" to counter Federal Reserve Notes and create "true money that belonged to the people." The problem with this theory is that Kennedy actually did the opposite and put into motion the phasing out of silver certificates (essentially paper money that could be exchanged for silver) in favor of Federal Reserve Notes.
5 - Los cubanos hicieron: Of course, one of the most popular theories involves some flavor of Cuban involvement. 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. And if it wasn't Cuban exiles, maybe it was Castro himself who was incredibly annoyed the Kennedy brothers seemed to always be out to get him. However, 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." Similarly, 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.
6 - Tricky Dick: Another potential suspect in the conspiracy parade has to be that of Kennedy's former rival, eventual President Richard Nixon, the dutiful Vice President to Kennedy's predecessor, Dwight David Eisenhower, who many believe had the 1960 election stolen from him by operatives working with Kennedy's father, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. Indeed, Nixon just happened to be in Dallas on the day JFK was shot. Following his loss in the Presidential race, and then an embarrassing and seemingly career ending defeat in the race for California Governor in 1962, Nixon had left politics for good, telling reporters "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore," and had become a corporate lawyer shilling for the likes of clients such as Pepsi Cola. Nixon had been in Dallas to speak at a soda industry convention and have some said that because of this event, JFK's motorcade was re-routed to Dealey Plaza as Kennedy was to make his way to a speech at the nearby Trade Mart. While tapes made during Nixon's Presidency show that he had some sort of obsession with the assassination, there is no credible evidence of the 37th President having to do with the the shooting.
7 - Da Mob: Conspiracy researcher Anthony Summers 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." In his book, They Killed Our President, former Minnesota governor Jessie Ventura concluded: "John F. Kennedy was murdered by a conspiracy involving disgruntled CIA agents, anti-Castro Cubans, and members of the Mafia, all of whom were extremely angry at what they viewed as Kennedy's appeasement policies toward Communist Cuba and the Soviet Union." Of course, the mob also could have acted alone; veteran Los Angeles journalist, Pete Noyes, in his book Legacy of Doubt, was the first to name the mafia and specifically Carlos Marcello as a possible JFK assassination suspect. All that said, the House committee concluded 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.
8 - Read My Lips, I Didn't Kill JFK: One of the more bizarre explanations has 41st President George HW Bush fingered as part of the conspiracy. Reports, which have been denied by Bush, place him in Dallas, on the scene, on that fateful day. A photograph even purports to show a young Bush standing outside the Texas School Book Depository shortly after the shooting. Why and how gets fuzzier, other than Bush being part of some sort of New World Order and reminding folks of his CIA connections. However, Bush, then a Houston businessman, wasn't even elected to Congress until four years later and wasn't tapped by President Ford to serve as CIA Director until 1976. Next.
9 - Bush, Nixon AND LBJ: This delicious thesis is featured on a long webpage with lots of photos, text and videos that put the eventual 36th, 37th and 41st PsOTUS at a party in Dallas the night before the assassination in a grand scheme to kill Kennedy. It might be worth reading until you notice the author makes reference to the grassy "noel." Oh my.
10 - It Was Oswald After All: While, as we noted, the Warren Commission determined that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy, folks still don't believe. Fifty years after the tragic events in Dallas, only 10% of Americans in a CBS survey, most of whom probably weren't born or were little children in 1963, believe Oswald, on his own with no involvement of others, fired the shots which fell the President. When a tragedy such as this occurs, it's human nature to try to make sense of what happened and the simple answer doesn't always fit. It's not possible that a lone nut, with one rifle, could have planned and carried out the murder of the leader of the free world, is it? Indeed it is. Lone nuts engage in conspiracy to kill all the time whether it's a gang retaliation, a troubled youth shooting up a movie theater or indeed, a man firing on the President. Kennedy was not the first nor the last POTUS to be shot at and most of those incidents did turn out to be lone nuts.
Much of documentary and investigative evidence not released to researchers or the public sits locked up in government archives, a lot of it sealed until most of us are gone or are senior citizens. Many of us will never know the true story. But in my view, the official story may turn out to be, the actual one after all.