Forty years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, questions still remain in the hearts of most Americans about the true nature of his death. The murder of Lee Harvey Oswald at the hands of Jack Ruby essentially killed the hopes of ever discovering Oswald’s true motives, and many conspiracy theorists are more than happy to offer their conjectures. Though the Warren Commission determined that Oswald acted alone, more than half of the American population believes that Oswald was part of a much larger conspiracy.
The Theories (a select few):
The CIA Theory: After Kennedy fired its director and several agents, the CIA feared that JFK would shut down the agency he believed to be highly disorganized and corrupt. Lee Harvey Oswald, who, while in the Marines, had been stationed at the largest CIA outpost in Japan and had hoped to join the agency, was the perfect assassin. Many believe that Oswald was exposed to mind-control, or “radio-hypnotic intra-cerebral control and electronic dissolution of memory” at the hands of the CIA.
The Mafia Theory: In the fifties Joseph Kennedy Sr. apparently made a deal with the devil in return for his life. New York mob boss Frank Costello had put out a contract on Joe’s life as retribution for some unreturned “favors.” In return for protection, Joe reportedly told Sam Giancana, “If my son is elected president, he’ll be your man. My son, the president of the United States, will owe you his father’s life. He won’t refuse you, ever. You have my word.” However, after John Kennedy was elected, he and his administration promptly turned against the Mafia. Also incensed about Kennedy’s leniency toward Fidel Castro, who had shut down its Cuban casinos, the Mafia dispatched Oswald to execute the president.
The LBJ Theory: Theorists claim that Johnson, angry about his perfunctory role as vice president and anxious about his political future, ordered Kennedy’s murder. It appears that Oswald was a henchman of the Texas oilmen loyal to LBJ.
The FBI Theory: Sixty-eight-year-old J. Edgar Hoover knew that when he turned seventy, he would be legally required to step down as head of the FBI. Hoover was certain that his longtime friend Lyndon Johnson, upon his swearing in as president, would let him continue as director—and he was correct.
The Zapruder Film: Abraham Zapruder’s gruesome eighteen-second color film has long been a source of contention among conspiracy theorists, not simply because it is a recording of one of the great tragedies of American history, but because it is crucial to the understanding of what really happened to Kennedy in a literal and tangible sense. Many believe in its authenticity while others claim that frames were cut from it.
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas displays a permanent exhibit of assassination artifacts, including one of the original windows from 1963, several films, and memory books signed by visitors that will one day be part of the museum’s archives. The southeast window area has been recreated as well as the spot where the sniper supposedly escaped. The museum houses oral histories from witnesses, law enforcement personnel, hospital employees, and Kennedy family acquaintances and houses several collections of documents, including medical records of Kennedy, Oswald, and Oswald’s assassin, Jack Ruby, from Parkland Hospital and radio recordings, TV footage, and hundreds of photographic negatives from Dallas-based media sources.
There are many books covering the assassination; five are listed below.
Who Shot JFK?: A Guide to the Major Conspiracy Theories by Bob Callahan
Blood, Money and Power: How L.B.J. Killed J.F.K. by Barr McClellan
The Great Zapruder Film Hoax: Deceit and Deception in the Death of JFK by James H. Fetzer (editor)
Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK by Gerald Posner
What Really Happened? JFK: Five Hundred One Questions and Answers by Joan Hubbard-Burrell, et al.
The Internet is an excellent resource for conspiracy information, for both the amateur and the expert.
www.jfk-online.com is one of the most comprehensive sites on the tragedy and includes hundreds of links to other JFK sites.
Kennedy’s supposedly authentic autopsy pictures can be viewed at www.celebritymorgue.com/jfk.
Court TV’s Crime Library has a very thorough article on Kennedy’s assassination as well as a biography of Sam Giancana at www.crimelibrary.com.
www.earthcam.com/jfk/ offers a live view from the sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository Building.
www.jfk.org is the official Web site of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.