Who Killed JFK?

A few days ago I wrote about “simple answers”, and maybe it would be good to have a simple answer to all the questions surrounding the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Of course, that’s never going to happen. 

I do find it rather interesting that the official White House website makes no claim at having a definitive answer, but adroitly sidesteps the entire issue in their short biography of the 35th president:

On November 22, 1963, when he was hardly past his first thousand days in office, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was killed by an assassin’s bullets as his motorcade wound through Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was the youngest man elected President; he was the youngest to die.

In contrast, the official stories clearly state that Abraham Lincoln was killed by John Wilkes Booth, that William McKinley died at the hands of “a deranged anarchist”, and that James Garfield was shot by “an embittered attorney.” Even though names aren’t always mentioned, history has recorded them. For the curious, McKinley’s assassin was Leon Czolgosz, and Garfield was mortally wounded by Charles Guiteau.

Yet all the White House says about JFK is that he was killed by “an assassin”. This, despite the 26-volume Warren Commission Report purporting to present all the facts, all the evidence, and all the answers about John Kennedy’s death.

Of course, nobody believes the Warren Report.

Over the last 50 years, a lot of men and women have made a name for themselves — along with a decent living — by continuing the investigation into the most well-researched crime of our time. It’s rather mind-boggling, when you think about it, really. Thousands of witnesses, thousands of photographs, thousands upon thousands of pages written about the shooting, yet nobody really knows what happened, how it happened, or why it happened.

Every year during November, television stations begin replaying old footage. The Zapruder film is shown over and over. It’s been analyzed, criticized, cleaned up, restored, and viewed by millions. Each year, we see those same news clips, too. Jack Ruby killing Lee Harvey Oswald. A very young Dan Rather reporting events to the public. A weary Walter Cronkite slowly removing his eyeglasses and breaking the news that “The president is dead.”

Even though most of what we know or think we know about the assassination is questionable, there is one definite fact I can share here: Next to Abraham Lincoln, no president has had more books written about him than John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Many of those books, of course, focus on the events in Dallas, 1963.

A simple entry at Amazon.com for “Kennedy  Assassination” returns a staggering seven thousand results! Those aren’t all single titles, I’m sure. There are no doubt separate listings for various formats. The listing includes videos, too.  Even so, seven thousand reports about a single moment in time makes it clear that, quite obviously, a lot of people are still looking for answers.

I’ve read a few of those assassination books. I’m not going to list titles because, to tell the truth, many of the books and their authors have become blurred in my mind. Reading about the assassination is a challenge, I’ve found, because facts aren’t really facts.

It’s the same in any attempt to step back in time and research historical events — not a phenomenon that occurs only with the JFK assassination. In any quest for information about a past occurrence, you’ll find facts changing from one source to another. You’ll find speculation tossed into the mix. You’ll find opinions, too.

In doing historical research, I learned long ago not to believe everything I read but to keep an open mind and as the old adage goes, literally “consider the source”. Speaking of source material, any historian — even an amateur one like moi — will tell you nothing beats original source material. There’s a huge difference, for example, in reading a letter written by Thomas Jefferson and reading another historian’s thoughts about the letter.

While reading various books about JFK over the years, I’ve found instances where facts not only differed from one book to the next, but where they differed from one page to the next within a single book.

Who’s a girl to trust? Who’s a girl to believe?

That’s up to the girl — in this case, me.

No, I don’t know whom to trust. Usually, when doing historical research, I can read all the “alleged facts” — from many sources — and come to a conclusion that satisfies me. That is to say, I can review the material available and form an opinion of my own.

With the JFK assassination, I can’t do that. There’s too much information, too many different voices, too many competing theories — many of which do actually make sense.  Add in Kennedy’s political maneuverings and the question of who wanted him dead becomes moot. Who didn’t want him dead?

Some theories, of course, make more sense than others. I’m much more willing to give credence to the possibility of Lyndon Johnson being involved than to buy-in to the off-the-wall theory that Jackie Kennedy contracted to have her husband killed that day in Dallas. Yep. That’s one of the theories going around.

What about Oswald? A lone gunman? A trained CIA operative? A Manchurian candidate?

Claw Shaw? James Files? Oh, wait! Let’s see…somewhere in the clutter that has become MLWR (my little writing room) I have a recent edition of one of those tabloids with a screaming headline of another man claiming to have been the one who fired the fatal shot. Could it be true?

Were there two shots? Three? Four? Who’s on first? Who were the Babushka Lady and the Umbrella Man? What happened to the Three Tramps? Was Howard Hunt among them?

Personally, my conclusion, after studying as much evidence as my feeble brain can hold, is that it was Colonel Mustard in the library with a pipe wrench.

* * *

What do other bloggers have to say?


5 thoughts on “Who Killed JFK?

  1. Pingback: For Further Reading | Christina's Corner

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