John F. Kennedy, Assassination of

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A scene from the 1991 Warner Bros. film JFK depicts the assassination of President Kennedy.

John F. Kennedy, Assassination of

Conspiracy theorists agree that anyone who accepts the Warren Commission’s “lone gunman” and “magic bullet” theories is living in the Land of Oz.

On November 22, 1963, at precisely 12:30 P.M. in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the thirty-fifth president of the United States was shot while riding in a motorcade. Less than half an hour later, Kennedy was pronounced dead.

In September 1964 the findings of the U.S. Commission to Report upon the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, popularly called the Warren Commission, concluded that the shots that killed President Kennedy and wounded Texas governor John Connally were fired from the sixth-floor window at the southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository. Three shots were fired by Lee Harvey Oswald, who was the sole assassin. Oswald also killed Dallas police patrolman J. D. Tippit approximately forty-five minutes after the assassination. No conspiracy was involved in the death of the president.

The Warren Commission, which included Earl Warren, chief justice of the United States; Senators Richard B. Russell and John Cooper; U.S. Representatives Hale Boggs and Gerald R. Ford; and Allen W. Dulles, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, concluded that a single bullet passed through President Kennedy’s body and continued on a course that allowed it to strike Governor Connally, who, with his wife, Nellie, was riding in the open car with President and Mrs. Kennedy. According to the Warren Commission, a second shot from Oswald struck the president in the head and killed him. The commission also concluded that another bullet missed the presidential automobile altogether—making a total of three rounds allegedly fired from Oswald’s bolt-action rifle in an impossible blur of time.

Conspiracy theorists immediately dismissed the so-called magic bullet that the government experts stated had passed through President Kennedy and continued to plow through the back, ribs, right wrist, and left leg of Governor Connally. From the very first days of the investigation, Governor and Mrs. Connally insisted that two bullets had struck the president and that a third and separate bullet had wounded the governor.

On July 3, 1997, former president Gerald Ford, the last surviving member of the Warren Commission, admitted that he had assisted the “magic bullet” theory in the report on JFK’s death by altering the commission’s description of the gunshot that killed him. According to Ford, the original text said that a bullet had entered Kennedy’s back at a point slightly above the shoulder and to the right of the spine. Ford changed the bullet’s entrance point from Kennedy’s upper back to his neck, thus making the final commission text refer to the bullet entering “the base of the back of the neck.” Such a seemingly minor alteration would support the Warren Commission’s single-assassin hypothesis, which was based on the “magical” path of a single bullet that was able to pass through Kennedy’s neck before striking Connally’s back, ribs, right wrist, and left leg.

Skeptics of the “magic bullet” theory and the Warren Commission’s final report have always pointed to the famous Zapruder home movie of the assassination and insisted that Kennedy appears hit long before Connally, who continued to hold his hat in his hand, was struck by the remarkable bullet.

Gerald Ford displayed no guilt or remorse about the fraud that he had perpetrated. In fact, he told the Associated Press, “My changes were only an attempt to be more precise. I think our judgments have stood the test of time.”

A poll conducted by the University of Ohio and Scripps Howard News Service in 1997 revealed that 51 percent of the American public dismissed the “magic bullet” theory. Nearly 20 percent of those polled expressed their belief that Kennedy was assassinated by agents of the federal government. Another 33 percent maintained that a conspiracy of political insiders was “somewhat likely” in the murder of JFK.

In November 1998 Nellie Connally, the last surviving passenger of the car in which President Kennedy was assassinated, stubbornly asserted the claim that she had made since November 23, 1963: the Warren Commission was wrong about their conclusion that one bullet struck both JFK and her husband. “I will fight anybody that argues with me about those three shots,” she told Newsweek. “I do know what happened in that car.” John Connally died in 1993 at age seventy-five, but he and his wife had always insisted that the first shot hit Kennedy, a second bullet wounded the governor, and a third struck Kennedy’s head, killing the president.

The Warren Commission concluded that there was also a bullet that entirely missed the president’s automobile. If the Connallys’ account is accurate, that makes four bullets allegedly fired with great accuracy—three hits, one miss—from Oswald’s bolt-action rifle.

Mrs. Connally remembered that after they heard the first shot, her husband turned to his right to look back at the president and then turned quickly to the left to get another look at Kennedy. When Connally realized that the president and he, himself, had been shot, he cried out, “My God, they are going to kill us all!”

Mrs. Connally also had a clear memory of Mrs. Kennedy screaming, “Jack! Jack! They’ve killed my husband. I have his brains in my hand.”

While Lee Harvey Oswald continues to be the assassin of record and is named in official documents as the lone gunman responsible for the death of President Kennedy, conspiracy researchers have always disputed the allegation that Oswald acted alone and was such an incredible marksman that he could accurately hit a moving target at a considerable distance with the bolt-action rifle allegedly in his possession. Conspiracy theorists insist that there is physical, medical, and ballistics evidence that would force any fair-minded panel of experts to conclude that one person could not have fired so many shots so quickly with such a rifle. Although the rifle had a clip containing a number of cartridges, the bolt had to be manually pulled back to eject the spent cartridge after each shot, then slammed into place again to move a fresh cartridge into the breech. Those experienced with such rifles severely doubted that a steady bead on a target could be maintained with the accuracy shown in the assassination of JFK.

Various students of the Kennedy assassination have amassed evidence that a large number of more likely assassins than Lee Harvey Oswald existed, including Kennedy’s own Secret Service bodyguards, the Mafia, the CIA, or Cuban activists.

Perhaps the most popular theory is that President Kennedy was killed by a small group of rogue CIA agents in retaliation for passing National Security Action Memos 55, 56, and 57, which essentially splintered the CIA into hundreds of competitive branches and defused the power that the Agency had enjoyed since its creation at the end of World War II. These rogue agents also enlisted the aid of dissatisfied members of military intelligence and angry Mafia mobsters who felt betrayed by Kennedy when he failed to acknowledge their role in swinging the Chicago vote during the 1960 presidential election.

Another theory that ranks high with conspiracy theorists is that the military assassinated Kennedy in revenge for his refusing to provide air cover for the exiled Cubans and Special Forces members in the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. President Kennedy also sought peace with the Soviets and an end to the Cold War, and he had promised to withdraw from Vietnam, ordering the first one thousand troops home for Christmas.

And tying both conspiracies together, seeing that all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place, was the secret government, always working in the shadows behind the scenes, to bring about the ultimate goal—a New World Order, a One World Government.

On February 13, 2005, radio journalist Jeff Rense posted on his website a photocopy of a “United States Memorandum” that appears to be solid proof that Lee Harvey Oswald was trained by the CIA and worked for the Office of Naval Intelligence. The photocopy is stamped “Confidential,” dated March 3, 1964, and is addressed to James J. Rowley, Chief, U.S. Secret Service from John McCone, Director, Central Intelligence Agency. The memorandum, allegedly McCone’s response to Rowley’s request for information regarding Oswald’s activities and assignments on behalf of the CIA and the FBI, states in part that “Oswald was trained by this agency, under cover of the Office of Naval Intelligence, for Soviet assignments. In 1957 [Oswald] was active in aerial reconnaissance of mainland China and maintained a security clearance up to the ‘confidential’ level.”

Mysterious rumors and stories about Lee Harvey Oswald continue to swirl about the man’s memory. According to some who claimed to have known Oswald before that terrible day in November of 1963, he often spoke of an international league of people who had permitted Satan to possess them so they might do his bidding. The “Devilmen” of whom he spoke were, in effect, a secret world power with members in key positions within each national government.

Many investigators have pondered the strange links between Lee Harvey Oswald, a CIA-trained assassin; airplane pilot David Ferrie, a possible CIA operative; and Jack Ruby, the enigmatic nightclub owner who killed Oswald. A number of witnesses who spoke to investigators concerning the events leading up to the killing of President Kennedy swear that they saw Oswald, or a man looking very much like him, speaking with Ruby in Ruby’s Carousel Club in Dallas on a number of occasions before November 23. Several of those witnesses suffered mysterious fatal accidents not long after making such an identification.

Ferrie, according to some Oswald-Kennedy assassination buffs, may have been employed by the CIA as a U-2 spy plane pilot. Loss of body hair was rumored to be a hazard of flying the U-2, allegedly from radiation levels at high altitudes, and Ferrie wore a garish red wig and bemoaned the absence of his body hair. It is also known that before he became a commercial pilot, Ferrie had studied for the priesthood. He had been dismissed from Eastern Airlines because of an arrest record for homosexual activities. Later he posed as a psychiatrist, worked as a private detective, and hired out for various jobs connected with aviation until he became Oswald’s instructor in the Civil Air Patrol in New Orleans.

According to certain witnesses, Ferrie talked a lot about the occult, hypnotism, and politics in the years before the assassination of JFK. Oswald seemed to be an eager listener as Ferrie talked about demonology, witchcraft, and the power of the mind. Some say that Ferrie was obsessed with the belief that God and Satan were waging battle for control of the world. One of his favorite topics was how the priests in the Spanish Inquisition had merely driven Satan and his demons underground. Ferrie claimed that the devil and his minions would appear in their own time as a demonic evil horde.

On November 22, 1963, word reached District Attorney Jim Garrison in New Orleans that the FBI had found Ferrie’s library card in Oswald’s wallet shortly after they apprehended the assassin in Dallas. Although this bit of intelligence would certainly suggest that the two men knew each other, strangely enough, the library card was not in Oswald’s effects checked in by the Dallas police.

Shortly after the assassination, numerous individuals remembered that they had seen Oswald and Ferrie at several ritual parties in the Quarter—private affairs where circles were drawn on the floor, black candles lighted, and chickens and small animals sacrificed. Oswald and David Ferrie were undoubtedly a strange pair—a young ex-Marine who had defected to the Soviet Union, then returned to his native America with a beautiful Russian wife, and a nervous, hawk-faced, hairless man with false eyebrows and a weird red wig.

Many analysts of the official scenario of the day of death in Dallas have pointed out how Oswald behaved in a foolish, irrational manner after the murder of Kennedy. Some have remarked that he appeared to be under some sort of hypnotic control, such as that depicted in the motion picture The Manchurian Candidate. When such an observation is made, the investigators remind us of the friendship between Oswald and Ferrie and the latter’s proficiency as a hypnotist.

Jack Ruby, the pudgy Dallas nightclub owner who shot down Oswald on live network television, scored a successful prediction of his own fate when he stated that he would die in jail. A fervent believer in astrology who relied on his daily horoscope as if it were Holy Writ, Ruby enjoyed having the showgirls in his club read aloud to him from books on the occult. It has been reported that his two favorite topics of conversation shortly before the terrible events of November 22, 1963, were demonic possession and the influences of the new hallucinogens on the human mind.

In 1970, conspiracy researchers began circulating a photocopied manuscript entitled Nomenclature of an Assassination Cabal, by William Torbitt. Among the document’s assertions condemning those involved in the murder of JFK are the following:

  • The assassination was carried out by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s elite Division Five.
  • NASA and a little-known group headed by Wernher von Braun, Defense Industrial Security Command, had a part in the assassination.
  • The same cabal had unsuccessfully planned the assassination of Charles de Gaulle in 1962.
  • If the lone-gunman theory failed, the cabal had deceptions in preparation that would blame the anti-Castro groups in Florida or Fidel Castro himself.
  • Lyndon B. Johnson, John Connally, and Clay Shaw, a New Orleans businessman with alleged CIA connections, were involved in the plot.

More recent surveys regarding public attitude toward the Warren Commission’s 1964 findings indicate that only 11 percent of Americans accept the commission’s decision that there was no conspiracy involved in the events that transpired in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. Among the reasons people reject the commission’s findings and believe conspiracy researchers’ theories are the following:

  • The parade route was altered at the last minute, bringing it into Dealey Plaza, where the assassins awaited the president.
  • There was limited protection that day for the president because someone had ordered the 112th Military Intelligence Group, an army unit specially trained in protection, to stand down.
  • The Zapruder film of the assassination clearly shows JFK’s head thrust violently backward and to the left, inconsistent with a shot allegedly fired from behind.
  • Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin, was discovered by a co-worker only ninety seconds after the shooting, calmly drinking a soda on the second floor of the Texas School Book Depository. The rifle allegedly used in the assassination was found on the sixth floor, along with shell casings.
  • After the assassination, several people who were in Dealey Plaza stated that they had encountered individuals identifying themselves as Secret Service agents. The Secret Service has repeatedly claimed that it had no agents on the ground in Dealey Plaza at any time that day.
  • Numerous witnesses in the plaza stated that their attention was drawn to men behaving strangely behind the picket fence on the so-called grassy knoll, a sloping hill leading to a concrete wall on the north side of Elm Street. Some witnesses who had military experience stated firmly that they recognized the sound of gunshots coming from behind them while they were standing on the grassy knoll.
  • Acoustical evidence proves that at least four shots were fired that day in Dealey Plaza.
  • Experienced Dallas doctors reported the president’s throat wound as an entry wound, meaning that he was shot from in front.
  • While Dallas doctors should have performed an autopsy, Kennedy’s body was flown back to Washington for a military autopsy.
  • News media around the world reported Oswald’s guilt, complete with extensive background data on this allegedly unknown assassin, before he was even charged with the crime.
  • On May 29, 1992, two former navy medical technicians who witnessed the autopsy of President Kennedy on the night of November 22, 1963, said that the Warren Commission had been supplied with fake photographs and X rays. Jerrol Custer, who X-rayed the body, and Floyd Riebe, who photographed the autopsy proceedings, said that they were told by the Secret Service to keep their mouths shut about what they had seen.
  • President Kennedy’s brain has never been found.
  • Perhaps as many as 120 witnesses or individuals who had knowledge of the Kennedy assassination have died mysteriously.

Over the years, conspiracy researchers have arrived at many theories about who killed President Kennedy and why. As might be expected, there are those who believe that the whole terrible business was orchestrated by the Freemasons. They offer the following as evidence:

  • The assassination took place in Dealey Plaza, site of the first Masonic temple in Dallas.
  • Dallas is located just south of the thirty-third degree of latitude. The thirty-third degree is the highest degree one can achieve in Freemasonry.
  • Mason Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Mason Earl Warren to investigate Kennedy’s death.
  • Gerald Ford, a thirty-third-degree Mason, was instrumental in suppressing evidence of a conspiracy that reached the commission.
  • J. Edgar Hoover, another thirty-third-degree Mason, provided carefully censored information to the commission.
  • Former CIA director and Mason Allen W. Dulles was responsible for bringing the Agency’s information to the panel.

The passing years have only continued to stir up more theories concerning that fateful day in Dealey Plaza. Dr. Neville Thomas Jones, Ph.D., has woven a conspiracy involving the Zionists. According to Dr. Jones, President Lyndon Johnson and Jacqueline Kennedy were secret Zionist Jews who conspired to murder President Kennedy at the exact spot on the parade route where Abraham Zapruder, also a Zionist, stood ready with his camera to capture the moment of JFK’s assassination. Mrs. Kennedy, Dr. Jones’s research reveals, murdered her husband with a single shot .41 caliber derringer, a weapon that she could easily conceal on her person.

Other theorists continue to establish Lee Harvey Oswald’s innocence in the plot to assassinate President Kennedy and maintain that the troubled individual was only a patsy to a much broader conspiracy. Judyth Vary Baker (née Judyth Anne Vary) waited thirty-eight years after the assassination in Dallas to declare that she was a friend and lover of Oswald and to state that he was the scapegoat in a CIA/Mafia conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Her silence had been enforced, she claims, by threats to eliminate her if she talked. An examination of the list of witnesses on the Kennedy Death List persuaded her to maintain her silence for decades.

Born in South Bend, Indiana, in 1943, Judyth Vary became a bright student in school; and in 1961, at seventeen, she was invited to be the first high school student to the elite Science Writer’s Cancer Research Seminar. A few months later, Judyth was conducting cancer research in the laboratory of Dr. Alton Ochsner. In 1963, she was working in a New Orleans laboratory, assigned a top secret project to develop a bioweapon to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Soon, Judyth was invited to gatherings funded by right-wing politicians and oil barons, as well as David Ferrie, Clay Shaw, Guy Bannister, and Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald took a protective interest in Judyth, and even though he was married, they entered into a love affair. Both she and Oswald worked in an office at Reily’s Standard Coffee Company as a cover for their secret projects. Judyth moved to Florida the same week that Oswald moved back to Dallas. After the assassination of the president, she protested that Oswald was innocent. Almost at once, her promising research career was suddenly terminated.

In 2003 British television producer Nigel Turner’s The Men Who Killed Kennedy was aired in England and on the History Channel in the United States. The episode entitled “The Love Affair” was dedicated to Judyth’s account of her love affair with Oswald and her declarations of his innocence. Shortly after the airing of the series, an anonymous source purchased rights from the History Channel which prevented “The Love Affair” from ever being shown again in the United States. A lengthy interview with Judyth Vary Baker with Jim Marrs, author of Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, is available on www.jfkmurdersolved.com.

In April 2011, the Internet was abuzz with claims that on November 12, 1963, just ten days before his assassination, JFK wrote a memo demanding that the CIA show him the highly classified documents that had been collected regarding UFOs. In a second memo directed to the NASA administrator, President Kennedy suggested that he should meet with officials in the Soviet Union and discuss mutual problems concerning outer space. Both of these previously classified documents had been released under the Freedom of Information Act to William Lester, a teacher who was researching a new book about Kennedy. After reading the memos, Lester theorized that JFK was concerned that the leaders of the Soviet Union might interpret certain actions of the UFOs as hostile and might conclude that they were a secret U.S. weapon.

UFO researchers stated that the memos revived the claims that had surrounded the so-called “burned file,” which a whistleblower who had worked for the CIA recovered from a fire set by the agency to burn some of its most sensitive files. The first page of the document is said to carry a message from CIA Director James Angleton stating that “Lancer” (the Secret Service’s code name for JFK) had made inquiries regarding classified UFO investigations that the CIA could not permit to be answered. Many UFO conspiracists conclude that such a directive resulted in a CIA hit squad assassinating President John F. Kennedy.