Pieces of the Puzzle

Great moments in the conspiracy time line.

November 22, 1963. Oswald tells Dallas reporters, “I’m just a patsy.” Denies shooting JFK.

December 1963. Mark Lane publishes “Lane’s Defense Brief for Lee Harvey Oswald.”

March 1964. First suggestion of a “second Oswald” by Leo Sauvage in Commentary.

Spring 1964. Enter the European critics with Joachim Joesten’s Oswald: Assassin or Fall-guy? and Thomas Buchanan’s Who Killed Kennedy? They blame U.S. government agencies, rich right-wingers, and racists.

September 1964. Warren Report conclusions published.

November 1964. Warren Commission releases 26 volumes of testimony.

June 1966. Edward J. Epstein publishes Inquest. Interviews with Warren Commission staff expose slipshod, limited nature of investigation and serious problems with single-bullet hypothesis. Goose farmer and former government investigator Harold Weisberg publishes Whitewash, one of the two most comprehensive polemics against Warren Report.

Summer 1966. Mark Lane’s Rush to Judgment becomes national best-seller.

September 1966. Sylvia Meagher publishes Subject Index to the Warren Report and Hearings & Exhibits ; it becomes a key research tool.

November 1966. Life magazine commissions private investigation that casts doubt on Warren Commission conclusions.

February 1967. New Orleans DA Jim Garrison announces he has cracked JFK case. Takes David Ferrie—homosexual private investigator—into custody; Ferrie dies of a brain hemorrhage the day after his release. Assassination experts gather in New Orleans to contribute to Garrison’s investigation.

Spring 1967. Big split in assassination-buff world when critics Meagher and Epstein abandon and denounce Garrison.

November 1967. Meagher publishes Accessories After the Fact , acknowledged as most thorough critique of Warren Report based on contradictions of its own evidence. Josiah Thompson publishes Six Seconds in Dallas , scrupulous dissection of physical evidence that undermines case for Oswald as lone gunman, based on reinterviews of witnesses.

January 1969. Committee to Investigate Assassinations (CTIA) formed by attorney Bernard Fensterwald.

February 1969. Garrison’s investigation, having disintegrated into misguided crusade against former CIA informant Clay Shaw, collapses. Jury deliberates fifty minutes and acquits Shaw.

1969-72. Years of despair; conspiracy theory falls into hands of cultists.

Fall 1972. First Watergate-assassination link uncovered by CTIA investigator Bob Smith: FBI report of 1963 allegation by Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis that he got into fistfight with “Oswald” in Miami. Oswald not known to have been in Miami.

January 1973. Jones Harris uncovers 1960 J. Edgar Hoover memo raising possibility that “an imposter is using Oswald’s birth certificate.” Norman Mailer founds the Fifth Estate organization to research intelligence-community role in Kennedy assassination.

November 1973. “Dylanologist” A. J. Weberman organizes tenth-anniversary demonstration at National Archives to protest disappearance of Kennedy’s brain.

Fall 1974. CIA-mob assassination plots against Castro uncovered; JFK knowledge hinted.

January 1975. Rockefeller Commission undertakes first official review of JFK case. Concludes there was no CIA involvement.

February 1975. Former SDS organizer Carl Oglesby and Assassination Information Bureau convene summit conference in Boston and begin grass-roots campaign of lectures, demonstrations, and showings of uncut Zapruder film to mobilize support for JFK investigation.

Summer 1975. Senate Intelligence Committee (the Church Committee) establishes Schweiker-Hart subcommittee to investigate the investigation of JFK assassination.

June 1976. Church Committee concludes that CIA cooperation with Warren Commission inadequate. Focuses on AMLASH case as possible Cuban connection in JFK killing.

September 1976. U.S. House of Representatives forms Select Committee to investigate assassinations of JFK and King.

September 1977. First official acceptance: House Select Committee chief counsel Robert Blakey flies ten assassination researchers to Washington to consult on avenues of investigation.

October 1977. British author Michael Eddowes publishes The Oswald File , declaring JFK hit a KGB plot. Says “Oswald” who returned from Russia to shoot the president was a KGB agent who used the name Alek Hidell; long battle to get Oswald’s body exhumed to prove thesis begun.

February 1978. Edward J. Epstein publishes Legend; suggests recruitment by KGB, intricate KGB plot involving false defector Yuri Nosenko to absolve Soviets of implication in plot.

December 1978. House Select Committee gets report from acoustics experts on Dallas police tape: “95% certainty” of a second gunman behind fence of famous grassy knoll established.

December 30, 1978. House Select Committee issues Final Report: JFK “was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.”

Spring 1980. Anthony Summers, BBC reporter, publishes Conspiracy. Based on House Select Committee files and personal investigation, argues that “a renegade element in U.S. intelligence manipulated Oswald [and] activated pawns in the anti-Castro movement and the Mafia to murder the President and to execute Oswald.”

January 1981. David Lifton in Best Evidence argues for secret surgery and trajectory reversal.

Spring 1981. House Select Committee chief counsel Blakey publishes The Plot to Kill the President , which alleges Carlos Marcello—Santos Trafficante mob-hit plot behind November 22 shooting.

May 1982. Ramsey Panel of national Academy of Sciences rejects House Select Committee acoustics evidence.

March 1983. Rolling Stone article: “Did Lee Harvey Oswald Drop Acid?”

Fall 1983. Jean Davison publishes Oswald’s Game , which supports Warren Report conclusion that Oswald acted alone although motivated by anger at Kennedy plots against Castro.

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