As we pass the 52nd anniversary of the assassination of President John F Kennedy, the question still remains Who killed JFK? Are we any closer to knowing or understanding the events of the 22nd November 1963 today than we did 52 years ago?
When he was elected President in 1960, there was so much hope that the new President would bring in a period of change. Young and Charismatic, JFK stood up to the Russians over the installation of missiles in Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The personal intervention of JFK during the arrest of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King jnr and the promotion of African Americans to positions of influence promised a new era in civil rights. The new attorney general, Robert Kennedy, was cracking down on organised crime and the ‘corrupt unionists’ that ran the unions.
Although the popularity of the Kennedy administration had started to decline by 1963, JFK was still a popular president and was still more popular than the Republican candidate for the 1964 elections, Barry Goldwater. The world did not yet know about the affairs of JFK, which included Judith Campbell Exner, who would become the mistress of Mafia Boss Sam Giancana or his affair with Mary Pinchot Meyer, the wife of a CIA operative that managed clandestine services. Mary was shot dead in October 1964 in an execution style murder that still remains unsolved.
If JFK was still a popular president, then why would JFK be murdered? There were many groups ranging from the Mafia to the government itself that had motives for wanting JFK removed. Its known now that there were death threats against JFK as he went down to Dallas in November 1963.
Who had a motive or reason to kill JFK? Was JFK assassinated by Foreign Powers as Cuba and the Soviet Union after their humiliation in the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of pigs invasion? Was JFK assassinated by those that felt JFK was soft on fighting Communism and Fidel Castro? Was JFK assassinated by right wing extremists as Joseph Adams Milteer who were opposed to JFK’s support of civil rights? Was JFK assassinated because of his crackdown on organised crime? Or could JFK have been accidentely killed by the Secret Service agents as put forward by Howard Donahue?
The man accused of murdering JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald, seems to be linked in some way to all of the groups that had a motive in killing JFK. There is no doubt that Lee Harvey Oswald was the shooter – or at least one of the shooters. But was he a lone shooter as the Warren Commission later reported? Lee Harvey Oswald maintained that he was a ‘patsy’. So was Oswald a part of a much wider conspiracy to murder JFK as the Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives had concluded?
The strange story of Lee Harvey Oswald starts when he visits the Soviet Union in 1959 and returns back to the United States in 1962. Was Lee Harvey Oswald disenchanted with communism and decided to return to the U.S because he hated communism? Oswald wrote in his diary ‘“The work is drab. The money I get has nowhere to be spent. As my Russian improves, I become increasingly conscious of just what sort of a society I live in.” Or was Lee Harvey Oswald a Russian paid spy sent back to the United States? Oswald would stay in contact with the Russian embassy and also with a known Russian KGB assassin, Valery Kostikov.
Why would the Russians want JFK dead? The notion of Russian involvement in the assassination of JFK is not as far fetched as it may seem. The Russians certainly had their reasons. After all 1963 was the height of the Cold War and the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. JFK had just humiliated the Russians in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Could the KGB, the Russian secret service, employed Lee Harvey Oswald to returning back to the U.S to kill JFK? When Oswald visited the Russian and Cuban embassies in September and October 1963, were they aware of Oswald’s intentions?
While appearing to be disenchanted with communism, Lee Harvey Oswald becomes a supporter of Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba. In April 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald tries to assassinate Major General Edwin A. Walker – whom the Warren Commission would later speak to Oswald’s Russian widow, Marina and find that Oswald regarded Walker as an ‘extremist’. But if Oswald failed in his attempt to kill Walker in his own home, what chance did Oswald have of hitting a moving target?
The Cubans also denied any involvement in the Kennedy assassination. The United States opposed the Soviet backed regime of Fidel Castro when it came to power in 1959 and an attempt was made by 1400 American trained Cuban exiles with CIA support to invade Cuba and overthrow Fidel Castro in what became the failed ‘Bay of Pigs invasion’. Both the Russians and the Cubans would be later cleared of any involvement by the Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives.
As President, JFK approved the CIA plan to invade Cuba and overthrow Fidel Castro. But JFK wanted to disguise U.S support for the invasion and use Cuban troops, not U.S troops, to carry out the invasion. The invasion failed and JFK sought informal communications with Cuba through the United Nations and refused to sanction any further attacks against Cuba. It has been alleged that anti-Castro supporters felt betrayed by JFK’s decision not to continue to support the overthrow of Castro.
While the Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives would clear anti-Castro groups of any role in assassinating JFK, the Committee believed that ‘the available evidence does not preclude the possibility that individual members may have been involved’. The New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison believed that individuals were responsible for the murder of JFK.
In an October 1967 interview with the magazine ‘Playboy’, Jim Garrison believed that ‘….President Kennedy was killed for one reason: because he was working for a reconciliation with the U.S.S.R. and Castro’s Cuba. His assassins were a group of fanatic anti-Communists with a fusion of interests in preventing Kennedy from achieving peaceful relations with the Communist world’. This may have been referring to the the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963 signed by both JFK and Kruschchev that banned all nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in space, or underwater.
On very flimsy evidence, Jim Garrison had New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw arrested and charged with conspiring to assassinate President Kennedy, with the help of Lee Harvey Oswald, David Ferrie, and others. On January 29, 1969, Clay Shaw was brought to trial on these charges and would be acquitted by a jury of the charges. The Hollywood movie director Oliver Stone would make a film titled ‘JFK’ about Jim Garrison and the alleged conspiracy by Shaw to murder JFK.
But why would Lee Harvey Oswald – a supporter of Fidel Castro, be involved with alleged anti-Castro supporters? Was Oswald trying to penetrate anti-Castro groups and reporting back on their activities to the Cubans or the Russians? Jim Garrison alleged that Lee Harvey Oswald had ‘…..many of his New Orleans contacts overlap with those in Dallas. Jack Ruby, who played a key role in smuggling guns to the anti–Castro underground — on behalf of the CIA — was one of Oswald’s contacts in Dallas’. Could the CIA be involved in a plot to have Kennedy assassinated?
The Central Intelligence Agency certainly had its reasons for not liking John F Kennedy. After all, it was JFK who had fired the director of the CIA Allen Dulles after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and it was JFK who had refused to fully support the invasion. Was JFK the first President to bring the CIA under control after years of the CIA doing as it pleased? Was the CIA annoyed that Kennedy wanted to follow a policy of diplomacy as opposed to the CIA using covert operations to achieve change?
There is no doubt that Kennedy’s refusal to support even the U.S own allies against communist aggression angered U.S allies. When Indonesian President Sukarno began a policy of ‘confrontation’ with the Western powers and annexed West Guinea from the Dutch, Australia sought American assistance to stop the Indonesians. However, the Kennedy administration was unwilling to risk involvement in a war over West Guinea and Bob Komer announced ‘it was worth sacrificing a few thousand square miles of cannibal land” to keep Indonesia out of the communist camp. There is no doubt that this decision annoyed the Australians concerned about a communist power so close to Australia.
So what would have been JFK’s response in Vietnam? A coup on 1st November 1963 overthrew the corrupt regime of President Ngo Dinh Diem Diem of South Vietnam. While years of propping up a corrupt and brutal dictator had finally ended, it did little to stop the growing support for the North Vietnamese communist insurgency spreading into South Vietnam. The United States already had 10,000 troops in South Vietnam by the end of 1963 and Kennedy had already agreed that the U.S would support an increase in the size of the South Vietnamese Army from 150,000 to 170,000. But would JFK increase the number of U.S troops in Vietnam? Had JFK actually rejected this idea?
But lets get back to Lee Harvey Oswald and any connection to the CIA. With the release of documents relating to the assassination of JFK, it has become known that the CIA was aware of the visit of Oswald to the Cuban and Soviet embassies in October 1963 to plan his escape after the assassination. Despite the release of documents, the CIA still continues to fight against the full release of all documents, especially relating to George Joannides – the CIA officer who oversaw the dissident Cubans in 1963. It has even been alleged that the CIA had known and organised the murder of former JFK mistress Mary Pinchot Meyer.
The involvement of the CIA in the assassination of JFK might seem completely absurd – right up to the point when we consider the CIA collaboration with organised crime – the Mafia to assassinate Fidel Castro. Two mafia bosses, Sam Giancana and Santos Trafficante met with Robert A Maheu, a private investigator and Former FBI operative who the CIA used to gather personnel for Covert operations. The Mafia had its own connections inside Cuba and were angry with Fidel Castro for breaking up their lucrative crime businesses under the previous corrupt Cuban government.
The Mafia had their own reasons for wanting John F Kennedy dead. Its alleged that Sam Giancana had ties to the Kennedy clan, particulary to JFK’s father Joseph Kennedy. Its been alleged that the Mafia helped JFK to secure support for the 1960 West Virginia primary and that Sam Giancana and Kennedy shared a mistress, Judith Campbell Exner, with whom they were involved with at different times. The Mafia would have been angry with JFK for their crackdown on organised crime and the failure of JFK to support the overthrow of Fidel Castro who closed down the lucrative crime businesses of the Mafia in Cuba.
Could the Mafia have organised the murder of JFK? If you want to believe the confessions of Mafia hitman James Files who has claimed that he was on the grassy knoll and carried out the assassination of JFK – then the Mafia did conspire to assassinate JFK. After all, it was attorney General Robert Kennedy that cracked down on organised crime in the Teamsters Union led by Jimmy Hoffa and the Mafia. But what were the connections between Lee Harvey Oswald and the Mafia if this is true? Or was James Files – Not Lee Harvey Oswald – the true assassin of JFK?
After the assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald was stopped by Police Officer J.D Tippit, who was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald. Its been alleged that Officer J.D Tippit was on the pay roll of night club owner Jack Ruby – who would himself murder Lee Harvey Oswald. Did Ruby have any links to the mafia and to the assassination of JFK? The Warren Commission claimed that Jack Ruby was not “part of any conspiracy, domestic or foreign, to assassinate President Kennedy.” It also stated that there was no “significant link between Ruby and organized crime”.
So was there ever a conspiracy to murder JFK? At the Warren Commission, Texas Governr John B.Connolly was asked by Representative Boggs if he believed that there was a conspiracy to assassinate JFK. Governor Connolly responded that he did not believe there was a conspiracy and that ‘I think you had an individual here with a completely warped, demented mind who, for whatever reason, wanted to do two things: First, to venthis anger, his hate, against many people and many things in a dramatic fashion that would carve for him, in however infamous a fashion, a niche in the history books of this country. And I think he deliberately set out to do just what he did, and that is the only thing that I can think of’.
Some believe that the President’s own secret service detail that shot JFK accidentally when secret service agent George Hickey heard the first shots fired by Lee Harvey Oswald and accidently released a round which hit JFK. Howard Donahue, one of the ballistic experts called on to examine if Lee Harvey Oswald could have shot JFK, claimed that after Lee Harvey Oswald fired the first two shots, that it was secret service agent George Hickey that went to return fire at Oswald but shot JFK. Its a theory supported by Bonar Menninger and Australian detective Colin Mclaren in his recently released book ‘JFK the Smoking Gun’.
Could JFK have been murdered by his own government agencies? The smoking gun theory speculates that it was an accident by a secret service agent George Hickey. But it it possible that it was a deliberate attempt to kill JFK? And who could have been behind this conspiracy? It was well known that the Kennedy’s did not trust FBI director J.Edgar Hoover. Its also well known that the Kennedy’s did not get along with Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. Was this motive enough to kill JFK? Could the government possibly cover up the murder of the President of the United States?
There is no doubt that Lee Harvey Oswald had connections with each one of the groups alleged to have been behind the assassination of JFK. It has even been alleged that Lee Harvey Oswald was receiving regular payments from the FBI and that this was reported to J. Lee Rankin, the Warren Commission’s General Counsel. If there was a conspiracy to murder JFK by one group or all groups, how did it not come to the attention of the government or law enforcement agencies? That is assuming that they were not involved in the conspiracy to murder JFK?
It appears that the Warren Commission’s findings that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman appear to have been right. But was Lee Harvey Oswald the patsy that he claimed to have been? Will we ever know?