Wednesday, November 22, 2023

60 Years Since the Assassination of JFK, too many questions linger

6O years have passed since that dreadful day in Dallas and we still don't know the truth about what happened.  I am definitely not one for conspiracy theories, but I am certain there was much more to the Kennedy assassination than we know.  I very much doubt that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

I am a baby boomer.  On November 22, 1963, I was seven years old.  On that fateful Friday afternoon, I was home from school with a cold.  It was one of the few days I was absent from the classroom due to illness.  On that momentous afternoon, I was lying on the living room sofa, watching television.  My mother, who followed the soap opera As The World Turns, asked me to watch the show for her and fill her in.  In the meantime, she went upstairs to speak to my aunt (her sister) on the phone,  I dutifully watched the soap for her and I was ready to report on all the happenings.  

Suddenly, As The World Turns was interrupted by a sombre Walter Cronkite.  President Kennedy, he said,, had been shot in Dallas, Texas.  Soon after, Cronkite sadly announced that the 35th President of the United States was dead   The seemingly unflappable news anchor choaked back tears and he kept putting his glasses on and taking them off.  I ran upstairs to inform my mother the horrible news.  I will never forget that day.

That fateful day in Dallas

Lee Harvey Oswald, a U.S. Marine Veteran and Marxist, shot and killed Kennedy from a sixth-floor of the Texas School Book Depository as JFK's motorcade travelled through Dealey Plaza in Dallas.  About 45 minutes after the assassination of the president, Oswald also shot and killed a Dallas police officer on a local street.  He then hid in a movie theatre, where he was arrested for the police officer's murder.  Oswald was charged with the assassination of JFK, although he denied responsibility, referring to himself as a "patsy."  Two days later, on November 24th, Oswald was shot dead by local nightclub owner Jack Ruby in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters.  The shooting of Oswald happened live on television.  

On November 29, 1963, the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, popularly known as the Warren Commission, was established by executive order of President Lyndon B. Johnson, to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  Chief Justice Earl Warren chaired the commission, which consisted of a panel of seven men.  The panel was comprised of Democrats and Republicans in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, among them future president, Gerald R. Ford, a Republican.  It also included diplomat John  J. McCloy and Allen Dulles, former president of the World Bank and former CIA director.  Dulles had been fired by John F. Kennedy in November of 1961, following the Bay of Pigs fiasco in April of that year.

The Warren Commission in August 1964

On September 24, 1964, the Warren Commission presented its 888-page final report to President Johnson.  It was released to the public three days later.  The commission reached the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, firing three shots from the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository for reasons unknown.  It also concluded that Jack Ruby acted alone when he murdered Oswald two days later.

Its conclusions turned out to be very controversial and have been both challenged and supported by further studies.  Man still cannot believe that Oswald acted alone.  However, the findings of the Warren Commission were supported by the Dallas Police Department, the FBI, the United States Secret Service, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), although the HSCA found that Oswald's role in the assassination was "probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy."  The  HSCA asserted that acoustic evidence from a Dallas police officer's radio showed that that two shooters had probably fired on JFK's limousine.  Although further investigations have cast doubt on the radio evidence, the HSCA's added to public dissatisfaction with the work of the Warren Commission.  

Robert Tanenbaum, the original deputy chief counsel for the HSCA, resigned from his post shortly after being named.  Tanenbaum has been vocal about his belief that the CIA thwarted the official probe of President Kennedy's assassination. He  does not believe that the assassination was adequately investigated.

Members of the Warren Commission even expressed doubts about its findings.  Democrat Richard Russel reluctantly consented to sign the Warren Report, despite the fact that he could not rule out the possibility of a conspiracy,  Russell later confessed that he had "lingering dissatisfaction" with many of it findings.  Congressman Hale Boggs, also a Democrat, had similar doubts about the report, especially the "single bullet theory" that one shot had struck both JFK and Texas Governor John Connally.

It is clear that almost 60 years after JFK's assassination, the American public is not fully convinced that Oswald acted alone.  There are too many unanswered questions, too many missing pieces of the puzzle. One person who believed there was more to the story was journalist Dorothy Kilgallen, who was investigating the JFK assassination when she died under mysterious circumstances on November 8, 1965.  She considered the Warren Commission's conclusion, that Oswald killed Kennedy alone, "laughable."  She spent 18 months probing the assassination.  During Jack Ruby's trial, Dorothy was the only reporter who was able to interview Jack Ruby.  In his 2016 book, During Jack Ruby's trial, Dorothy was the only reporter who was able to interview Ruby. 

According to Mark Shaw, in his 2016 book The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, Dorothy Kilgallen left Rugy's trial more certain than ever that JFK's assassination had been the result of a conspiracy.  In her column of March 20, 1965, Dorothy wrote: "The point to be remembered in this historic case is that the whole truth has not been told.  Neither the state of Texas nor the defense put on al l its evidence before the jury.  Perhaps it was not necessary, but it would have been desirable from the viewpoint of all the American people."

Dorothy was determined that the American people deserved to know the truth.  Sadly, before she could publish anything, was found dead in her Manhattan home on November 8, 1965.  The New York Times reported that she died from an overdose of alcohol and barbituates, and that police had found no evidence of violence or suicide.  However, James L. Luke, the assistant Medical Examiner stated, "It could have simply been an extra pill.  Luke admitted that the circumstances of Dorothy's death were "undetermined."  "We really don't know," he told the New York Times.  Furthermore, Dorothy's pages and pages of research were missing.

In his book, The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, Mark Shaw makes the case that Dorothy was murdered to end her investigation.  She was not shy about publicly expressing her doubts about the Kennedy assassination,  She doggedly continued to investigate JFK's death, and as the New York Post reported, she conducted interviews and chased leads in Dallas and New Orleans.  By the fall of 1965, Dorothy may have been on the verge of a breakthrough.  In fact, according to Shaw, she had scheduled another visit to New Orleans for a clandestine meeting with an unnamed source.

Unfortunately, we may never know the truth about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, especially since the CIA is unwilling to disclose everything it knows.  Here is what Jefferson Morley, vice president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation and editor of the JFK Facts Newsletter on Substack wrote in an article in the Washington Post:

Was the CIA merely incompetent in dealing with the itinerant Marxist Marine, or did it use him for some still-classified purpose? Or is there another explanation for its unwillingness to share all it knows? The clandestine service is no longer under any obligation to answer such questions. When it comes to the Kennedy assassination files, the CIA has won the battle over full disclosure.  

Sis decades have passed since the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  As popular as JFK was, some had reason to want him dead, including the Mafia.  It appears that the truth has been covered up.  The American public deserves full disclosure.  If the conclusion of the Warren Commission, is correct, what does the CIA and others have to hide?  Why the secrecy after all these years?  Something really smells  rotten.  It leaves a sour taste in our mouth.

Note: For more insight into the JFK assassination, I suggest you listen to Who Killed  JFK?,  Rob Reiner's investigative podcast on iHeart radio.  It is hosted by Rob and journalist Soledad O'Brien.

- Joanne  

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