So who killed John Kennedy?
The usual suspects are so numerous that whatever group you want to have a grudge against, you can pick your case based on the Kennedy assassination, says John McAdams, the
Here is a short list of suspects and theories.
Lee Harvey Oswald, Lone Gunman
The best argument for the Warren Commissions controversial conclusion may be the serendipity through which Oswald landed a job at the Texas School Book Depository weeks before the murdera second-hand referral. Simmering with anger about
Second Unidentified Assassin on the Grassy Knoll
The notion of a second assassin or an assassination team at
The Kennedy-for-Castro postulate had a marquee believer: Lyndon Johnson. Six months before he died, Johnson told a journalist, I never believed that Oswald acted alone, although I can accept that he pulled the trigger. He said he believed Castro ordered the retaliatory murder.
The Cuban conspiracy theories gained weight because Oswald adored Castro and had tried to travel to Cuba not long before the assassination, and because Jack Ruby had visited the island nation in 1959. Mere coincidences, say the lone-gunman believers. Impossible coincidences, say the doubters.
Under this theory, Soviet agentsagain, using Oswald as a foilkilled Kennedy because the president had embarrassed Premier Nikita Khrushchev in the missile crisis staredown. Debunkers dismiss this scheme since Kennedy had promised a hands-off-Cuba policy and had made other concessions that cast Khrushchev as a clever negotiator, not a failure. Conspiracy theorists happily note that Oswald had lived in the
Lyndon Johnson is a seminal figure in any number of the conspiracy theories. As noted, he believed Oswald was a puppet for Castro. New Orleans DA Jim Garrison also fingered Johnson as a marionette pulling strings behind Garrisons personal conspiracy theory. He played a role in the KGB conspiracy theory, as well, by ordering the Warren Commission to leave that stone unturned, according to adherents, when it learned of a Soviet connection to the murder.
In newly released telephone recordings made during his presidency, Johnson sounded flummoxed and frustrated as various aides, politicians and newsmen briefed him on conspiracy theories about the assassination. But the subject regularly came up in the Oval Office.
In a 1967 conversation with Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Johnson referred to the CIAs covert efforts to kill Castro.
He said, Its incredible. I dont believe theres a thing in the world to it, and I dont think we oughta seriously consider it. But I think you oughta know about it.
Which proved, above all else, that even the president might not know everything the government is doing.
The Mafia liked Kennedys religion but hated his politics.
The president and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, had pushed for probes of union racketeering, angering Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. His appeasement deal with Nikita Khrushchev to keep
J. Edgar Hoover had been kept informed of the whereabouts and activities of Lee Oswald. The agency knew he had subscribed to Commie publications, was active in the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee and had traveled to
Why such interest in a small fry Red, doubters ask. Believers reply that the FBI had a remarkable ability to track a wide breadth of suspected enemies during the Cold War era, and
The Garrison/Stone Theory
Jim Garrisons wildcat theory of the JFK assassination was a mishmash of international and political intrigue. He fingered virulent anti-Communist, anti-Castro zealots in the Central Intelligence Agency for plotting the murder because the president was soft on Redsas witnessed by his appeasement of Khrushchev during the Cuban missile crisis. The same zealots were soured that Kennedy was mulling a retreat from
Garrison, who enjoyed the limelight, asserted that Oswald had never fired a shot. He condemned the Warren Commissions lone-gunman conclusion as totally false. He appeared on the Tonight show to discuss with Johnny Carson his allegations about an assassination team, shadowy figures on the Grassy Knoll, photographic evidence, and connivances involving
But his showcase, the 1969 conspiracy trial of
Nonetheless, some credit Garrison and the film J.F.K. for prompting Congress in 1992 to release nearly a million previously secret Government documents regarding Kennedy's death.
The Government Super-Conspiracy
In this variation on Garrison/Stone, elements within the CIA wanted Kennedy punished for ordering a series of firings after the CIAs
The truth was either (a) hidden from the law enforcement agency bosses or (b) revealed to the bosses, who hid the information from investigators to save a collapse of the entire American military-industrial complex.
Oswald and Other Undetermined Assassins
After a two-year investigation, the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1979 concluded that a second gunman also fired at Kennedy, based upon acoustical scientific evidence. The members wrote, The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The committee is unable to identify the other gunman or the extent of the conspiracy.
However, it rejected as suspects on the basis of the evidence available the Soviet government, the Cuban government and anti-Castro Cuban exiles. It added that it could not preclude individual members of anti-Castro groups or the mob from involvement. And it flatly exonerated the Secret Service, the FBI and CIA.