By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE – With the coming of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, it is a natural time to look back.
To look back in sorrow –sorrow about a bright light, even if more a figment of pop culture imagination than reality, being burned out before its time.
To look back with nostalgia – nostalgia loaded down with all that self-absorbed, I-remember-where-I-was stuff.
Me? I’m just looking back in anger.
A lot of it.
There are too many questions than answers to have a more mellow reaction and mourn for Camelot and all that jazz designed to take our eye of the ball.
It has been 50 years, and I am among the large percentage of “we the people” who don’t believe the fairy tale that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in gunning down JFK from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.
The fourth estate – my chosen profession of journalism — became
the first to be duped.
Fifty years later, it is an entity not even worthy of tackling this one. The best they can do is stay in the wheelhouse of discrediting anyone who beats them to the punch.
Since I am not really in the business anymore, I can say that it’s now personal.
When I walked into a movie theatre to see Oliver Stone’s “JFK” in 1991, I was already well-versed on the topic. I had read books, and seen documentaries and feature films, namely the 1973 movie “Executive Action,” starring Burt Lancaster.
I was already convinced that one of the more vile works of modern fiction ever injected into the bloodstream of our culture – like heroin in the veins of a junkie — was the Warren Report that hastily ignored any evidence pointing to a conspiracy and followed a predestined path to lay the guilt solely with Oswald.
Prior to the release of “JFK,” the average person was passé on the topic. They accepted the “official” story about Oswald but post-Watergate cynicism made them say they wouldn’t be surprised if there was an alternate theory that was swept under the rug.
Sitting in the theatre that night, I almost got chills when I could feel an awakening as viewers around me laughed aloud at that utter silliness of the incongruent Warren Report.
There were some liberties taken by Stone in “JFK,” lest a three-hour movie last three days without composite characters and supposition about meetings that took place, but the hatchet job done on him by the supposed left-leaning press told us all we need to know about the ability to tell a story in the light of day in America.
Stone’s legacy, in lieu of breaking the case, is putting the question marks back into public consciousness, which he now says was his primary objective.
Pretty much every network – from NBC, ABC, CBS and PBS to CNN, FOX and all the others – has run its own specials, using tantalizing advertising, only to lead viewers down the same dead end street and conclude that Oswald acted alone.
Like climate change naysayers, they ignore an abundance of evidence and pass it off as saying there is “no real proof” of a conspiracy.
Back at you.
There is “no real proof” that Oswald acted alone – or at all (ballistic tests showed he likely did not even fire a rifle that day).
There is more concrete evidence that he killed a Dallas cop, J.D. Tippit, than that he killed the president, and even that case is circumstantial (witness descriptions of Tippit’s killer vary).
The American public never knew his side of the story – and there are always two sides to every story – because there was no trial.
Jack Ruby was somehow able to enter the armed fortress that was the police station where Oswald was being held and shoot him while being transported to a high-security jail where he would have been an untouchable for anyone to silence before he spilled whatever beans he had to spill.
Perhaps the ante was ratcheted up when he blurted out that he was a “patsy.” There was a panic that he needed to be shut up, and Ruby had the connections to get close.
This tells me Oswald was not without some guilt, at some level, in the assassination.
Ruby was not just some random goofball. He had ties to the mob, the FBI, the Dallas Police Department (his strip club was a popular hangout for cops, possibly even Tippit) and with the district attorney.
The argument that he was never a hit man does not hurt the theory that he was silencing Oswald on someone’s order. It actually furthers it, as the killing of Oswald by a known hit man would have created obvious questions about a conspiracy.
There are many fantastical scenarios, a lot more ridiculous than the one of Oswald acting alone – which the American public at the time was conditioned to believe, as lone nuts killing presidents (i.e. Lincoln) are written into history books in indelible ink.
It would be A-OK with me if Oswald’s guilt could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but too many loose ends remain.
In “JFK,” Stone really didn’t lay out one alternate scenario, but rather a litany of “what-ifs,” some of which are easier to dismiss than others.
Because of this, he was discredited – most vociferously by some media icons that made their names on the day of Kennedy’s assassination – instead of lauded for systematically dismantling the ludicrous Warren Report (ordered to be wrapped up quickly by JFK’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, for his own political gain).
LBJ wanted to sell the American people a cover story they could almost be comforted by – one that assured them that the Cubans or the Russians were not behind the JFK murder – and move forward with the escalation of the war in Vietnam while appeasing the Kennedy people to his left with civil rights reform.
Kennedy, on the other hand, was never sold on Vietnam and it likely had the establishment of the Military Industrial Complex more than a little rattled that this president, still in his 40s, was not down with sticking with the script of rich old men who
were anxious to profit on more war.
Did that get him killed? Makes as much sense as Oswald acting alone, maybe more.
I was 26 years old in 1991. The movie sparked more research, to the point where it became an obsession.
Life experience in the intervening 22 years has taught me a lot, including the fact that the truth – which is really a stew made up of all of our perceptions of our realities and
realities of our perceptions – is a moving part.
The truth here, as in most cases, is that what really happened 50 years ago is likely somewhere between the Warren Report and Oliver Stone’s version.
Oswald was likely involved, at some level, but was a link in a chain. My gut feeling is that those on the ground had no idea who was pulling their strings and passing along envelopes of cash.
I try to let it go and move on, but then I go against my better judgment and watch a “special” like the one on CNN the other night that left out more facts than it put in
just to disprove conspiracy theories.
Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.
To me, the mechanics of how it went down that day are not hard to recreate.
Just like Oswald’s transfer time from the police station to the jail was mysteriously changed from night to day, so was Kennedy’s parade route. It put him, in an open car, in an area – Dealy Plaza – where the open vehicle would have to slow down to a speed that made him an easy target.
Shots came from three directions – the Texas School Book Depository from JFK right rear, the Dal-Tex Building from the left rear and from behind the fence from the grassy knoll to his right front.
Each location likely had a team that included an advance person to set up the sniper’s nest and have a weapon waiting there. The lead man would assist the shooter and spotter as they moved into place.
There were also some operatives on the street – like the man who had a seizure to create a distraction around the time the shooters set up shot – that never turned up at any local hospital.
And we have the man who curiously pumped an umbrella as Kennedy’s car came into prime position.
This could have been a signal to the shooters that car was in position. It could have been an ominous dig at Kennedy, letting him know that he was being killed for the lack of the “umbrella” of air protection during the botched Bay of Pigs invasion. It has even been suggested that the CIA had developed a device where a small projectile could be fired from an umbrella, which could explain the wound in Kennedy’s neck that doctors at Parkland Hospital recorded as an entrance wound (the Warren Report later changed it to an exit wound to fit the story of a single shooter).
One thing for sure is that it was not raining, and there was no need to open an umbrella at such a suspicious time.
While panic ensued in the aftermath of the shooting, the man with the umbrella was seen calmly sitting on the curb with another man, possibly the same one who had the “seizure.”
There were also pictures of Jack Ruby on the street, suggesting he was part of the operation.
Witnesses reported a man matching Ruby’s description running with a sense of purpose, while everyone else was on the ground, seconds after the shooting.
He was probably the advance person inside the Texas School Book Depository, where the planners expected the kill shot would come from (even though it likely ended up being the grassy knoll). He set up the nest, left the rifle (not the same feeble one attributed to him) and waited inside the building before helping the shooters leave.
At some point, he probably deduced that he was being set up. This led to panic, and the possible shooting of Tippit, who could have been involved the plot – at least to the extent that he was told when and where to arrest the predetermined patsy or to shoot him dead and make it look like self-defense.
Who were these other shooters and operatives? Probably just hired hands, maybe ex-military marksmen for hire, who went through layers of middle men.
Those involved in the killing likely had little to zero knowledge of the breadth of the plan.
Who was behind it?
We can make logical guesses, based on who had the most to gain, but the trail goes cold after 50 years of treating us like we’re children.
We will probably never know the truth.
For all my research, your guess – 50 years later — is as good as mine.
And that is what leaves me angry.
That secret died, not only with Lee Harvey Oswald but with a lot of other people.
Lee Bowers. David Ferrie. Guy Bannister. Dorothy Kilgallen. George de Mohrenschildt.
And that’s to name just a few, whose coincidental deaths are also peculiar.
All of them are – or were — vital pieces to the puzzle.
None of them – and their mysterious deaths – received a passing mention in the CNN mockery of a farce of a sham. Instead, the special spent more time on discrediting former New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison than the ludicrous magic bullet theory concocted by Arlen Specter or the litany of witness who were positive the kill shot came from the grassy knoll (consistent with the way Kennedy’s head violently snapped, according to the famed Zapruder film, where frames were deliberately flipped to deceive the public).
The Dal-Tex Building, much like the grassy knoll, is the location where nearby witnesses claimed to have heard gunfire. It was actually locked down before the Texas School Book Depository.
A man in a leather jacket and gloves was taken into custody, questioned and released. His name was stricken from officials records. Also in the building at the time of the lockdown was career criminal from California, Eugene Hale Brading (aka James Braden and James Lee), who just happened to be passing through Dallas.
The day before the assassination, he and another man – Morgan Brown – checked into the Cabana Motel. He then visited with oil man Haroldson L. Hunt.
After the shooting, he was questioned for “acting suspiciously” but released after he said he was inside the building – while everyone else was outside to watch the motorcade – to make a phone call.
Ruby, who was believed to have met with Hunt the same time as Brading/Braden/Lee, reportedly visited the Cabana Motel near midnight.
When Tippit was killed by Oswald, instead of the opposite, they had a problem to discuss that night at the motel.
Were all these men, including the dude in the leather jacket on a warm day, were part of the team on the ground that included those taken into custody – and promptly released – from behind the fence beyond the grassy knoll?
We don’t, and won’t, ever know.
We do have the best living example of more than three shots being fired, a man named James Tague. He was struck in the face with a bullet fragment, which is proof that there had to be at least a fourth shot.
Did CNN mention Tague, whose position in Dealey Plaza, would have been directly in the line of fire from the Dal-Tex Building?
Was he interviewed?
There needed to be the conclusion to the two-hour waste of time.
The brilliant deduction was that we, as a culture, don’t embrace the truth about Oswald because we can’t handle the truth.
What we can’t handle is being deceived by lies and half-truths.
If it makes you nostalgic and/or sad, fine.
It makes me angry.
- JFK conspiracy theories still abound 50 years later (star-telegram.com)
- Half a century later, JFK conspiracies still thrive (fresnobee.com)
- The One JFK Conspiracy Theory That Could Be True (ktla.com)
- Half a century later, JFK conspiracies still thrive (mcclatchydc.com)
- Fox Politicizes The Kennedy Assassination: JFK Was A Conservative Murdered By A Liberal (newshounds.us)
- Most still believe in JFK assassination conspiracy (usatoday.com)
- Video: JFK assassination: Cronkite informs a shocked nation (cbsnews.com)
- Warren Commission Report: High Level Coverup Of JFK Assassination? (rinf.com)
- Who killed JFK? Fifty years on, slew of new books add fuel to conspiracy fire (theguardian.com)
- Who killed JFK? Fifty years on, slew of new books add fuel to conspiracy fire (theguardian.com)