“The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.”
– John F Kennedy –
50 years after the tragic afternoon on Novermber 22, 1963, Americans remember and mourn what it is arguably one of the most traumatic events in U.S. history, the gravity of which stopped American progression in its tracks. The news sent out ripples of shock and grief across the nation, sparking a wave of scientific investigations and consequent Congressional testimony. Such an unexpected murder naturally instigates a few questions, and people have naturally brought up alternative theories to light.
Many doubt the reports that portray Oswald as the lone gunman. After all, how else could one man so easily have killed our president, the hero who so perfectly embodied an era of boundless American optimism? According to a recent Gallup poll, a whopping 61% of Americans, fifty years later, believe that lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald was not alone in his crime. His crime, dismissed as an individual of questionable mental health that had singlehandedly shot an American icon, was never fully investigated, as Oswald himself was shot by an upset civilian, Jack Ruby, on national television.
Theories are theories, but why is it important to study this death now, after so many years? Why must alternative death theories be explored? Is it just a “coping mechanism” or a serious public refusal of ambiguous government propaganda that casts a permanent cloud of suspicion over official conclusions?
While many conspiracies may be laughable or impossible when applied to certain theories, many facts stick out unevenly. Some unresolved questions, even fifty years later, bring up skepticism with the official theory. The following are indisputable facts that, though they do not cohere to one specific theory, are definitely noteworthy and justifiably debatable. Disclaimer: I do not align myself with all of these theories.
1. Only one film?
The Zapruder film was the only known footage that covered the entire length of the murder from start to finish. Though other fragments of the shooting were scrutinized, the Zapruder film was the best sample available. Taken by a local dressmaker, Abraham Zapruder was a Russian immigrant who sold exactly three copies of the tape to the Secret Service and the public for heavy sums of money. The entire Zapruder film is 26.6 seconds long, and has been questioned by many of its authenticity.
Question: Even in the ‘60s, wouldn’t a huge presidential public appearance such as this one merit a lot of video coverage by local/national media? Why was Oswald’s death available on national television when the president’s was filmed by a home-made camera? Why is it that this low quality, silent video, taken by a private citizen, is the only substantial memento of our president’s final moments?
2. Exclusion of some witnesses, and the witnesses’ mysterious deaths.
About 600 people were present at Dealy Plaza the time of the president’s death; the Warren Commission only collected about 200 testimonials for evaluation. The other 400 or so, including many spectators that were nearest to the president, were never officially interviewed at all. Few of these missing witnesses were identified, even when the authorities had been informed of their existence (Warren Commission Hearings, vol.15, pp.525f) Author Jim Marrs, in his book Crossfire, provides of list of 103 official witnesses who died in mysterious circumstances between 1963 and 1976. Several of these testimonials had died of natural causes, but many were found to be victims of murder and suicide. Several of these witness accounts claim to have heard the gunshots from a totally different location, on the grassy knolls across from the Depository. Many of these unidentified witnesses claimed to have heard the gunshots from a different location.
Question: Why weren’t a lot of witnesses’ accounts officially recorded? And were the deaths of these witnesses just of unfortunate coincidence?
3. The government, even today, is withholding crucial information about the details and several aliases of the president’s murder.
A Congressional Investigation from 1976-1979 found a “probable conspiracy” in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and recommended the Justice Department investigate further. As of 1991, the Justice Department has done nothing. The files of the House Select Committee on Assassinations are locked away until the year 2029. (Jesse Ventura, Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura Documentary) A critical member of the Warren Commission, (which was enacted by President LBJ a week after the President’s murder) Jerald Ford, admitted that the CIA had withheld and/or destroyed crucial evidence.
Question: Why would the government withhold information that is in such high demand, fifty years later?
4. The Zapruder film only becomes widely popular by 1975.
Most Americans did not see the Zapruder film in motion until March 1975, when ABC News aired a copy during Geraldo Rivera’s weekly ‘Good Night America’ show. according to the Daily News Online.
Question: Why not earlier?
5. Oswald’s former military background meshes well with his Soviet and Cuban associations.
Oswald was a former US Marine, who had abandoned the US for the Soviet Union had lived there for about three years, only to return to Texas with a Russian wife. By the time Oswald returned, the FBI’s open file on him claimed him a communist. Oswald’s wife was allegedly in association with the KGB, a CIA-esque, Russian security force.
Oswald had an active membership in the Fair Play for Cuba committee, an anti-Castro group that was bitter with Kennedy near the end of his presidency, because of his failure at the Bay of Pigs (Dailymail UK)
Oswald prior to his stay in Texas was last seen visiting Mexico City, at either the Soviet or the Cuban embassy.
Question: Especially for a highly volatile time like the 1960’s, were these Soviet and Cuban relations purely coincidental?
6. Oswald had applied for a job at the Depository about a month before the assassination occurred.
Oswald started work at the Texas Book Depository on October 16th, about a month before the assassination (ABC News) Many at work described him as “terribly lonesome” or of “stoic character”.
Question: Why was Oswald, with high aspirations and previous military background, conveniently employed at the Book Depository, conveniently a month before the assassination?
7. Oswald was a young ex-Marine had amazing marksmanship as well as incredible agility, exceptional for a 24-year-old in the 1960’s.
According to official reports, the lethal bullet was fired from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, passed through President Kennedy’s neck and Governor Connally’s chest and wrist, and eventually embedded itself in the Governor’s thigh. This famous (and considerably heavy) bullet was shot by a cheap, military surplus rifle called the Carcano Model 91/38. Gun technology would still have long ways to improve before it would be possible to fire a shot that distance. If this is true, this bullet traversed 15 layers of clothing, 7 layers of skin, and approximately 15 inches of tissue, struck a necktie knot, removed 4 inches of rib, and shattered a radius bone. Note that the location of the sniper was approximately 60 feet up and 200 feet away from the target…impressive for a 1960’s lone “madman.”
If the official accounts are true, Also note that Oswald shot 3 continuous rounds on a manual reload machine with a heavy recoil— 6 seconds. A lot of reenactments by expert sharpshooter marksmen today (including those conducted by CBS News and even those in the Warren Commission) fail the 6 second reload.
Question: How is it that Oswald had this amazing precision AND speed? Was he trained beyond just basic military ranks or was it not his bullet at all?
8. Oswald’s network of powerful people.
Oswald’s closest friend in Dallas was a man by the name of George de Morenschidt, who happened to have close contacts with President Ronald Reagan. De Morenschidt was known to be associated with the CIA, and the conspiracists who believe that the assassination had CIA involvement has categorized de Morenschidt as Oswald’s top contact. De Morenschdit was also a powerful man with much influence in the petroleum industries. de Morenschidt would die via a lethal shot to the head, 6 months after receiving a discreet letter from President Reagan. The case was dismissed as a suicide.
Question: How did Oswald, who has just returned from Russia with very dangerous ideologies of communism, obtain such close, well-connected friends? And how did De Morenschdt really die?
So, on the surface, this compilation of inconsistencies means nothing…just a bunch of misfitting facts that don’t harmonize with the Warren Commission’s official report. You don’t have to believe in a conspiracy theory to look in these facts and know that there was something worthy of skepticism. However, to look right through these crucial details and ignore them is something else.
To ignore the unanswered questions is complacently accepting a flawed and partial story. The 50th anniversary of JFK’s death marks a should mark a turning point in history so many years ago. A new notion of mistrust towards national government emerges, directed towards authority and automatically doubts the honesty of what we are told. As the nation mourns JFK’s premature death, many remember that such a man could not have gone down so easily, like in the official story reports with so many unanswered questions. These are just some of the many faults in the neat story that the government spoon-fed the American people after the murder of our youngest, and arguably best-loved, president. We must take time in this 50th anniversary to eulogize this wrongful, not thoroughly investigated tragedy. So that his death won’t be in vain.
The fact is, being inquisitive is in human nature. Facing the reality at hand is also extremely important in discussing any public opinion. Furthermore, dismissing all controversial questions without even trying to scientifically or holistically answer them is not only a poor way of learning about the world but also formidably dangerous. This content attitude towards the federal government reveals a lot about how prone to disinformation our society is.
One of the roles of a president is to help us focus as a society–to give us goals, to steer us in a direction, to seek justice upon corruption, and to give us motivation to seek the truth. That’s precisely why further theories upon Kennedy’s death, even 50 years later, still matter.