JFK assassination whodunnit
Every once in a while, I get asked my opinion on who I think was responsible for the death of John F. Kennedy. Although the "whodunnit" aspect of the assassination has never been my primary focus, that doesn’t mean I haven’t paid any attention to the subject at all. And later in my research, I got more into that aspect of the JFK assassination. And yes, I have covered it all; the E. Howard Hunt deathbed confession, the whole James Files thing, the interviews with Robert Oswald. First of all, I would like to state that I am not 100% sure of anything; I am just offering my gut feeling on the matter based on everything I have taken in.
True, there are any number of suspicious circumstances surrounding the assassination, but the big problem with any far-reaching conspiracy theory, as I see it, is when you really investigate the string of events leading up to Oswald being in the SBD on that day in 1963. You then realize that Oswald finding employment along the motorcade route the way he did would have been a tremendous stroke of luck for the conspirators, or a very elaborate operation involving some of the most unlikely of people; and that is regardless of whether or not Oswald actually pulled the trigger (i.e. a patsy).
My contention is that if there was indeed someone else involved besides Oswald, or simply aware of Oswald’s intentions, it was a spur of the moment thing; a discussion perhaps that took place sometime between October 16th, 1963 (the day Oswald began working at the SBD) and November 21st; but most likely between the 19th (the day the motorcade route was published) and the 21st* (the day Oswald had Buell Frazier take him to Irving). In other words, I think the idea most likely began with Oswald.
At present, I am about 95% certain the assassination was a crime of opportunity, but I am only about 90% certain that Oswald acted alone in the shooting of JFK. What I am on the fence about is whether or not Oswald really was the Marxist he claimed to be or was actually a US spy, who tried desperately to get into Cuba to either assassinate Fidel Castro or engage in some other subversive activity. I am leaning towards US spy, but only by a thread (of evidence). As of yet, there has simply been no “smoking gun” proof that I am aware of. For me, anyway, it is the big unsolved mystery still surrounding the Kennedy assassination.
If Oswald was indeed a Marxist, his twisted and zealous pro-Castro/anti-JFK actions seem pretty clear-cut—if you are informed about the Cuban Revolution and the Bay of Pigs etc. Imagining Oswald as a US spy takes a little more explanation. So from this point onward, I will be looking at the subject from that perspective.
Oswald’s goal, from the time he returned to the United States, was clearly to build “street cred” as a hardcore Marxist: List: Shoot at right wing general, get beat up by anti-Castro Cubans, take pictures holding socialist literature, and lastly—shoot president of United States. I am not the first researcher to speculate that Oswald might have shot JFK thinking it would be the “ultimate act” to impress the Russians and Cubans, enough to allow him entry into Cuba. But how, from the viewpoint of Oswald the US spy, could Oswald have justified killing the leader of the free world to obtain entry into Cuba?
A rough childhood not withstanding, I think Oswald’s secondary motivations for the assassination of JFK can be broken down to three general areas: Even though I doubt that anyone actually instructed Oswald to shoot JFK, I think the first area is probably an exposure to a lot of anti-JFK sentiment, which he no-doubt experienced after his return to the states. The anti-JFK sentiment I am referring to would have primarily come from certain people who were previously involved in the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba, and with whom Oswald is alleged to have more-or-less secretly associated with after his return from the Soviet Union. As for specific names, that would include one David Ferrie and one Guy Banister, but there could have been others, if such stories are true. Beyond the Bay of Pigs, the anti-Castro crowd--composed of everyone from Cuban exiles, CIA, ex-CIA, ex-FBI to Mafioso types connected to the CIA--had other reasons to dislike JFK, including the fact that Kennedy was cracking down on their activities, afraid they might do something to further aggravate the Russians after the Bay of Pigs (and they no-doubt would have). If Oswald was indeed a US spy, he might very well have thought he could impress both sides—the anti-Castro crowd as well as the socialist/revolutionary Cubans.
The second area is a bit more speculative, but I personally cannot rule out other factors such as race being part of the equation. Let me explain: Although unquestionable proof may remain elusive, there is more than a little circumstantial evidence pointing to Oswald having been a US spy; with the whole communist sympathizer thing being a complete ruse from the start. The “theory” is that Oswald was indoctrinated into a program that was formed by the CIA long before JFK took office, probably while Oswald was in the Civil Air Patrol (an Air Force youth program), and ran by the Office of Naval Intelligence. The plan was to create a disillusioned figure looking for a way out of the capitalist system who would be convincing enough to gain the trust of Soviet officials, with the ultimate (or eventual) goal probably being the infiltration of Cuba to carry out some form of subversion against Fidel Castro. If so (and I think it probably is), it certainly destroys the official explanation of a disgruntled Oswald returning from Russia a greater communist than ever, bent on killing certain public officials that did not agree with his Marxist or pro-Castro philosophies. Now, Oswald is credited with stating on several occasions that he did not have anything against JFK for his championship of minorities and the poor, but to make such comments would be in keeping with a socialist philosophy. So in the context of Oswald the US spy, I personally have to view the statements with suspicion and consider the possiblility that, far from being the far-leftist that Oswald spent so much time portraying himself to be to the Russian community (including his own wife), he was actually on the far right in his actual social and political views. And I believe I am safe in stating that neither Bannister or Ferrie were big fans of the Civil Rights Act.
The third area has to do with possible disgruntlement over his treatment upon his return: If Oswald was indeed a US spy, he would have returned to the US to find the top CIA-people-aware-of-his-situation had been ousted. Even so, it looks as though the CIA probably did assist Oswald in his employment after his return, only to eventually become frustrated with him. And I am sure, at some point, he was reminded of the repercussions of divulging state secrets. But I get the impression that Oswald thought he deserved more, a higher paying job perhaps, or a sizable payment that never materialized. Marxist or spy, it is clear that Oswald was hell-bent on getting into Cuba, a factor in his marital problems. In the context of being a spy, his visit to the Cuban consulate, in late September 1963, might very well have been an attempt to fulfill his progenitors' ultimate wishes (i.e., the infiltration of the Cuban government and/or the assassination of Fidel Castro). But what could anyone do? He had brought back a Russian wife and maintained ties with the Russian community. How suspicious would that have looked for the US government to be giving special treatment to a supposed communist sympathizer? Also, the FBI was apparently keeping tabs on Marina, something Oswald was not at all happy about. JFK’s younger brother, Bobby, would probably have been closer to Oswald’s operation than JFK, but JFK would certainly have been periodically briefed on the matter. Oswald would have been well aware of all this, so now he has a third reason to view JFK unfavorably.
*Although a local newpaper (the Dallas Times-Herald) did mention on the 16th that the motorcade was going to take Main Street through the downtown area.
11/20/13, revised 12/28/15, Appendix: As mentioned, I am about 90% sure that Oswald acted alone, which, of course, means that I am 90% sure that nothing occurred on the grassy knoll that had any direct connection to the assassination. But I can’t completely discount the possibility that one or more persons attempted to divert the attention of authorities by setting off one or more black powder explosions in and around Dealy Plaza, thus accounting for the puff of smoke and gun powder smell on the knoll, and the doubled-up shot around the time of the third shot that some witnesses, such as Lee Bowers, reported. Mary Sitzman, on the other hand, the person who—after Lee Bowers—had what was probably a better view of the parking lot side of the fence row than anyone, might have attributed one such explosion to a Coke bottle that she saw being smashed on the sidewalk, the sound from which she describes as “louder than the gunshots.” Of course, a handgun fired somewhere in the vicinity, perhaps outfitted with a sliencer to create a more muffled sound, might have done the trick, but doesn't account for such a prevalent smoke cloud, which was apparently visible from some 480 feet away, if Patsy Paschell's story is to be believed. So why would they do this? Well, Oswald may have been cocky enough to think he could hit Kennedy with one shot. If he had fired only one shot and had not ejected any shell casings, it might have taken much longer for anyone to have zeroed in on the SBD. And bear in mind that Oswald could see that area of the knoll from his perch (i.e., someone lighting a fuse and giving a thumbs up). The big question, though, is why the authorities who descended on the knoll did not find any remnants of an explosive device. While one could speculate endlessly about such things, and there have been a couple witnesses who have come forward many years after the assassination--with stories of bullets flying and gunmen behind the picket fence--there is simply no conclusive evidence, in my opinion, to back up their stories.
7/05/17: How much farther along would we be in understanding the Kennedy assassination if someone—a reporter, or perhaps an insider—would have leveled with the American people as to exactly what Lee Harvey Oswald was involved in prior to Nov 22, 1963? I recently read Judyth Vary Baker’s book, “Me and Lee,” 2010. I had come across mention of it years back, but only recently got around to reading it. I was a bit shocked as to how long the whole subject of Oswald’s involvement in bioweapon research had been around, and how it has—to this day—been largely censored and ignored by our supposedly independent media. Of note is the TV news show 60 minutes, which I once respected, but now—not so much.
Upon reading Judyth’s book, I learned of a couple other books and TV productions on the subject that had flown under my radar. I will have a look at them eventually, but for right now, I offer my two cents on Judyth’s story:
This book is quite dense and full of revelatory details—very interesting to find out just what the anti-Castro plot was that Oswald was involved in (never would have guessed . . .) However, I still think the assassination was a crime of opportunity. Now don’t get me wrong, I would not be surprised at all of there was talk amongst a number of individuals regarding an assassination attempt on JFK, and (sorry Judyth) I do think it very possible that Oswald was part of such plotting. But I do not think that his SBD job was arranged as he claimed it was: I still think he saw an opportunity and took advantage of it.
During the spring of 1963, Judyth moves to Louisiana under the prospect of working with a couple of the United State’s top cancer researchers, who turn out to be some bad apples, roping her into a project to create a form of viral cancer (just what humanity always wanted). Oswald is serving as an assistant on the project, which is supposedly aimed at Fidel Castro, and he becomes involved with Judyth. He presents himself to Judyth as a Kennedy supporter—an open-minded liberal, in some respects—standing up for desegregation and black voting rights, while those he is associating with at the time are known to have opposing views. In fact, Judyth describes Oswald carrying out “missions” for Guy Banister (a staunch segregationist) to root out de-segregationist students.
By the second week of September, Judyth is long gone from New Orleans, and is even father from Dallas, but gets fed information from Oswald by long distance phone calls right up until about thirty-seven hours before the assassination.
According to Judyth, Oswald was convinced that he was being set up to take the blame for an assassination attempt on JFK. He tells her that Ruth Paine is CIA and that Roy Truly had been told Oswald was working for the FBI. If this were so, what on earth kept Truly from blurting out “He’s with the FBI” when DPD officer Marion Baker pointed a gun at Oswald in the SBD lunch room, I have to ask? Another big problem: As far as I know, none of the people responsible for steering Oswald (figuratively speaking) towards the SBD (Buell Frazier, Linne May Randle, Ruth Paine and Roy Truly) have ever claimed to have been manipulated by an authority figure into getting Oswald a job there. Conversely, the person responsible for “steering” the motorcade towards the SBD (Forrest Sorrels – SS Dallas office) has also never mentioned any outside manipulation, to the best of my knowledge.
But one the biggest questions of all, in my mind, in regards to the patsy assertion, has always been just why Oswald happened to be hanging out inside the building when he could have very easily walked to the front door and been photographed many times over (plan to make Oswald a patsy over). Judyth’s book has only served to raise this question to new heights with her claims that Oswald was convinced he was being set up. While she never does offer a good explanation for Oswald’s actions, she does acknowledge the dilemma in a footnote on page 536. And beginning about page 557, she lost me a little bit when she began straying from firsthand knowledge and began citing “facts” which I would deem questionable to bolster her case of “Oswald the hero.”
Of course, there are other problems with the patsy idea, again made worse by Judyth’s claims, such as why Oswald did not assist officer Baker in any way when Baker came storming into the lunchroom about 1&1/2 minutes after the assassination; and why Oswald then promptly left the building. (Good job Os—of making yourself look guilty).
But Judyth never so much as ponders the idea that she could have been played by Oswald—that his “I am a Kennedy supporter” and “I am being set up as a patsy” routine were just that, acts designed to shield himself (and perhaps those dearest to him) from a possible future deed, or deeds. Well, I have to call it like it is and offer my best objective opinion on the matter based on what I know at any given time, and Judyth’s book has not fundamentally changed that.
One last thing: Could Judyth’s story be a made-up work of science fiction with some basis in fact? I suppose anything is possible, but I doubt it. However, when it comes to the Kennedy assassination, one so-called truth seems to always deepen another mystery: Judyth bolsters earlier claims that Jack Ruby did indeed know Oswald, and not only knew him, but knew him very well. So one can only speculate as to how Ruby managed to pass the polygraph test given to him by the Warren Commission at his own request back in July of 1964, and what gave him the confidence that he could do so?
Q: Did you know Oswald before November 22nd, 1963?