Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

Here are some excerpts from this 2007 book:

* There are several reasons, over and above Jack Ruby’s supposedly “silencing” Oswald and a general distrust of government and governmental agencies, which was only intensified by the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal, why the majority of Americans have embraced the conspiracy theory and rejected the findings of the Warren Commission. One is that people inevitably find conspiracies fascinating and intriguing, and hence subconsciously are more receptive to conspiratorial hypotheses. As author John Sparrow points out, “Those who attack the Warren Report enjoy an advantage over its defenders: they have a more exciting story to tell. The man in the street likes to hear that something sinister has been going on, particularly in high places.”38 And, of course, we know that humans, for whatever reason, love mysteries (which, to most, the JFK assassination has become), whether fictional or real, more than they do open-and-shut cases. For example, who killed JR? Who is Deep Throat? (Now answered.) Are there really UFOs? We all know about the considerable popularity of murder mysteries in novels and on the screen. Tom Stone, who teaches a course on the Kennedy assassination at Southern Methodist University, says that “by the late 90’s I had come to believe that Oswald was probably the only shooter. But I found I was taking the fun out of the assassination for my students.”39 Stories of conspiracy, then, are simply more appealing to Americans than that of a gunman acting alone. And when one prefers an idea, one is obviously more apt to accept its legitimacy, even in the face of contrary evidence.

Secondly, a wide-ranging conspiracy, in a strange way, gives more meaning not only to the president’s death but to his life. That powerful national interests killed Kennedy because he was taking the nation in a direction they opposed emphasizes the importance of his life and death more than the belief that a lone nut killed him for no reason other than dementia. Abraham Lincoln scholar Reed Turner says, “Somehow it is more satisfying to believe that a president died as the victim of a cause than at the hands of a deranged gunman.”40 Even Jacqueline Kennedy was moved to say that her husband “didn’t even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights. It had to be some silly little communist. It even robs his death of meaning.”41 In the unconscious desire of many to make a secular saint out of the fallen president, the notion of martyrdom was inevitable. But a martyr s not one who dies at the hands of a demented non-entity. Only powerful forces who viewed Kennedy’s reign as antithetical to their goals would do.

And thirdly, in a related vein, there’s the instinctive notion that a king cannot be struck down by a peasant. Many Americans found it hard to accept that President Kennedy, the most powerful man in the free world—someone they perceived to occupy a position akin to a king—could be eliminated in a matter of seconds by someone whom they considered a nobody. On a visceral level, they couldn’t grasp the enormous incongruity of it all. To strike down a king, as it were, something more elaborate and powerful just had to be involved—“It’s preposterous on the face of it to believe that a mousy little guy with a $12.95 rifle could bring down the leader of the free world.”42 But of course this type of visceral reasoning has no foundation in logic. The lowliest human can pull a trigger just as effectively as someone of power and importance. And bullets are very democratic. They permit anyone to fire them through the barrel of a gun, and they injure or kill whomever they hit. There have been three assassinations of American presidents other than Kennedy (Lincoln, 1865; Garfield, 1881; McKinley, 1901) and six attempted assassinations (Jackson, 1835; FDR [president-elect], 1933; Truman, 1950; Ford, 1975 [twice]; and Reagan, 1981). With the exception of Lincoln’s murder and the attempt on Truman’s life (both of which, particularly in Truman’s case, were very limited conspiracies in their scope), all were believed to be carried out by lone gunmen—demented assailants, acting alone.

* I am unaware of any other major event in world history which has been shrouded in so much intentional misinformation as has the assassination of JFK. Nor am I aware of any event that has given rise to such an extraordinarily large number of far-fetched and conflicting theories. For starters, if organized crime was behind the assassination, as many believe, wouldn’t that necessarily mean that all the many books claiming the CIA (or Castro or the KGB, and so on) was responsible were wrong? And vice versa? Unless one wants to believe, as Hollywood producer Oliver Stone apparently does, that they were all involved. I mean, were we to believe Mr. Stone, even bitter enemies like the KGB and the CIA got together on this one. Indeed, at one time or another in Mr. Stone’s cinematic reverie, he had the following groups and individuals acting suspiciously and/or conspiratorially: the Dallas Police Department, FBI, Secret Service, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, CIA, KGB, Fidel Castro, anti-Castro Cuban exiles, organized crime, and the military-industrial complex. Apparently nobody wanted President Kennedy alive. But where did all these people meet to hatch this conspiracy? Madison Square Garden?

* So the curious and rather remarkable fact remains that with the majority of Americans believing there was a conspiracy in the murder of President Kennedy, and with hundreds upon hundreds of books having been written on the president’s murder, no previous author has seen fit to tackle the issue head-on and knock down all the various alleged conspiracies.

* The main element of a criminal conspiracy is simply two or more people getting together (they don’t have to physically meet or utter any magic words—all that is required is a “meeting of the minds,” which can be proved by the circumstantial evidence of their words and/or conduct) and agreeing to commit a crime. (To the ever suspicious conspiracy theorists, the definition of a conspiracy is two people talking to each other on a street corner.) For a conspiracy to exist under the law, the prosecutor has to prove one additional element of the crime of conspiracy: that at least one member of the conspiracy committed some “overt act” to carry out the object of the conspiracy (the overt act doesn’t have to be unlawful; e.g., in a conspiracy to commit a bank robbery, buying gas for the getaway car would suffice). The purpose of this requirement is to allow the individuals who have agreed to commit the crime an opportunity to terminate the agreement before any decisive action is taken in furtherance of it. Once a conspiracy is formed, under the vicarious liability theory of conspiracy each member of the conspiracy is criminally responsible for all crimes committed by the co-conspirators to further the object of the conspiracy, whether or not they themselves committed the crimes. Hence, if A and B conspire to rob a bank or burglarize a home or murder John Jones, and A commits the robbery or burglary or murder while B is in Madagascar playing volleyball, B is equally criminally responsible for the robbery, burglary, or murder. And if, for instance, A and B conspire to rob a bank, and A kills the bank teller who resists the robbery, B (whether driving the getaway car or playing in Madagascar) is responsible not just for the robbery, the only thing B agreed to, but also the murder, since the murder was committed by A “to further the object of the conspiracy,” which was robbery.

* When the term conspiracy is applied by one group of people to another (e.g., by Hitler’s regime to those in the Third Reich trying to kill him and thereby end the Second World War), the emphasis is always on the hidden, the concealed, not that which is in the open. No one would have said that the Ku Klux Klan was “conspiring” against blacks, or that today’s political parties (Democrat and Republican) are “conspiring” against each other. Thus, with the Kennedy case, the main belief is that hidden elements in the CIA, military-industrial complex, organized crime, and so forth, got together for the purpose of killing Kennedy. And it has been the objective of thousands of assassination researchers since 1963—in most cases their raison d’etre—to bring these hidden conspirators out into the open so they can face justice.

* None of the above is to suggest that there aren’t such things as conspiracies. They happen all the time, and in very serious crimes. John Wilkes Booth was the leader of the conspiracy to kill Abraham Lincoln. The CIA conspired with organized crime to kill Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. In the famous Dreyfus affair at the end of the nineteenth century in France (the case that most Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists so often compare to the Kennedy case), several high-ranking French military officers conspired to frame Alfred Dreyfus…

* This book thus far has conclusively established one point, that Oswald killed Kennedy, and inferentially established another, that he acted alone. I say inferentially because if our thoughts are going to be governed by common sense on this issue, we would agree that no group of top-level conspirators would ever employ someone as unstable and unreliable as Oswald to commit the biggest murder in history, no such group would ever provide its hit man with, or allow him to use, a twelve-dollar rifle to get the job done, and any such group would help its hit man escape or have a car waiting for him to drive him to his death, not allow him to be wandering out in the street, catching cabs and buses to get away, as we know Oswald did. Because of this reality, no matter what some person or group did or said before or after the assassination that might be deemed suspicious and indicative of a conspiracy, we know there is an innocent explanation for it that is unconnected to any conspiracy.

* For example, anyone who believes that the Secret Service’s spiriting Kennedy’s body away from Dallas in violation of Texas law (thereby preventing Texas authorities from examining it) is suspicious and points to a conspiracy (as so many conspiracy theorists do) has to be willing to also conclude that the Secret Service, Kennedy’s bodyguards, decided to murder Kennedy, hired Oswald to kill Kennedy, provided him with, or allowed him to use, the cheap rifle he had, and did not make any effort to help him escape. And anyone who is not willing to draw all of those inferences should immediately put out of his or her mind any suspicious notion about the Secret Service’s conduct in removing Kennedy’s body from Texas…

* Not only do the considerable number of conspiracy theories in the Kennedy assassination do violence to the facts and the evidence, but conspiracy theorists, in welcoming as many people and groups as they can get under their tent, are rarely troubled by the fact that many of their theories are incompatible with each other. For instance, if the KGB did it, doesn’t that eliminate the theory that the CIA (sworn enemies of the KGB during the cold war) or America’s military-industrial complex did it? If organized crime did it, doesn’t that eliminate the theory that the Secret Service or LBJ was behind the assassination? I mean, the Secret Service (which is not the CIA) is sitting down with the Mafia to kill Kennedy? Please.

* An absolute staple of the conspiracy community—no, a sine qua non, that without which they could not survive—is the interesting but ultimately unproductive and ridiculous notion that if A knows B and B knows C, then A is meaningfully connected to C, which of course is a non sequitur. In fact, the theorists go beyond the above equation. Not only is A connected to C, but whatever nefarious deed C has done (all the more so with B), A must have done also. (Actually, conspiracy theorists frequently go beyond A-B-C into D, E, and F.) So if Jack Ruby is a friend of Dallas mobster Joe Campisi, and Campisi has underworld connections to New Orleans Mafia chieftain Carlos Marcello, then if they posit that Marcello was behind the assassination, it becomes irresistible to the theorists that Ruby must have been involved with Marcello in the assassination or the cover-up.

* Conspiracy author Peter Dale Scott believes that Dallas oilmen, Jack Ruby, and J. Edgar Hoover, along with many others, may have been part of a conspiracy to murder Kennedy. In support of this, he writes, “A businessman told the FBI that Ruby had once introduced him to Dallas businessman E. E. Fogelson and his wife, Greer Garson. Fogelson was a member of the ‘Del Charro set.’ This was a group of Texas millionaires who frequented [Texas oilman] Clint Murchison’s resort, the Hotel Del Charro, near Murchison’s racetrack, the Del Mar, in La Jolla, California. Clint Murchison and some of his associates would pay for the annual racing holidays of their good friend J. Edgar Hoover.”

* Under this infantile reasoning in which guilt by association is elevated to an art form, one should watch whom one has dinner with. If A, a surgeon, is friendly and has frequent dinners with B, the president of a major corporation, then if B ends up embezzling millions from his corporation, A must have been involved too.

* Although common sense alone should tell conspiracy theorists that knowing someone or even being friendly with him is no evidence of a connection to his criminal activity, that you have to show the two were involved with each other in the same enterprise, there is another fascinating phenomenon that the conspiracy theorists must be aware of but seem determined not to acknowledge. I’m referring to the curious but undeniable reality that virtually any two people chosen at random can be connected to each other by the interposition of a very small number of mutual friends or acquaintances. For instance, although most readers of this book don’t know and haven’t ever met President Bush, they might very well know someone who knows him, or know someone who knows someone who knows him. Hence, most of us are only two, three, or four intermediaries removed from the president of the United States. This reality is the reason why most of us, at one time or another, meet someone new in a distant city or country and discover we have mutual friends or acquaintances. And what do we all say at these moments? “It’s a small world.”

* To elaborate further on this point, the conspiracy theorists claim to have found a million problems with the Warren Commission’s conclusions that Oswald killed Kennedy and acted alone, but not one of them has ever offered a coherent and logical alternative theory as to what did happen. All they can do is point out that such and such a group had a motive; claim that Oswald was a poor shot; allege that Oswald left the Book Depository Building after the shooting in Dealey Plaza because he probably sensed he was being framed; and so on. Their charges, which they have repeated in book after book, usually citing each other as the primary source, could be condensed and put into a thousand-page book titled Discrepancies, Supposed Coincidences, and Unanswered Questions. However, the totality of what they have written, with any semblance of credibility, as to what precisely did happen would fill only a page or so of a companion book, if that. And if that is all that the conspiracy community can produce after more than forty years, shouldn’t they be finally asking themselves if the reason why they have failed to come up with anything is that nothing exists? Not even Houdini could pull a rabbit out of the hat when there was no rabbit in the hat.

* It couldn’t have been more obvious within hours after the assassination that Oswald had murdered Kennedy, and within no more than a day or so thereafter that he had acted alone. And this is precisely the conclusion that virtually all local (Dallas), state (Texas), and federal (FBI and Secret Service) law enforcement agencies came to shortly after the assassination. Nothing has ever changed their conclusion or proved it wrong.

* Apart from the fact that no group of conspirators would ever get someone like Oswald to kill for them, no evidence has ever surfaced even linking Oswald to any of the groups the conspiracy theorists believe to be behind the assassination. But remarkably, many in the debate treat this all-important fact as irrelevant and moot. The reason is grounded in a stark misconception. The biggest mistake, by far, that well-intentioned lay people make in concluding there was a conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination, and the biggest argument, by far, that conspiracy theorists use in their books to support their position of a conspiracy, is to maintain that such and such a group “had a motive” to kill Kennedy and, therefore, must have done it. For instance, one hears that organized crime killed Kennedy out of anger because, after they helped finance his 1960 presidential campaign, he betrayed them by allowing his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, to continue his crusade to destroy them; or that they killed the president “to get Bobby Kennedy off their back.” Or, Castro had Kennedy killed to get even with him for the Bay of Pigs invasion or before Kennedy had him killed. Or, the military-industrial complex and the CIA killed Kennedy because he intended to withdraw American troops from Vietnam, and they were fiercely opposed to it.†You know, if the president of our country is doing something that a particular group (e.g., Wall Street or unions or environmentalists) doesn’t like, the group simply kills him. That’s what we routinely do in America, right?

* Oliver Stone concluded that no fewer than ten separate groups or people had a motive to kill Kennedy, and this is why someone of his intelligence (with his thinking cap turned very tightly to the “off” position) directed a movie (JFK) in which, unbelievably, all ten were involved in Kennedy’s murder, the reductio ad absurdum of such an infantile, yet exceedingly prevalent mode of thinking.

* Many conspiracy theorists embellish the motive argument to prove that a particular group killed Kennedy, by saying that it had the “motive, means, and opportunity” to do so. They present this almost as a prosecutorial legal brief, but in my years as a prosecutor I never once used the phrase and personally don’t know any seasoned prosecutor who has, although I assume some do and I am aware of this legal colloquialism. Much more so than motive, “means and opportunity” are virtually worthless as evidence of guilt (unless, of course, you can show that no other living human, or very few other living humans, had the means or opportunity).

To illustrate how empty the concept of motive, means, and opportunity is, let’s take the Kennedy assassination. Any of the thousands of citizens of Dallas who hated Kennedy with a passion would have had a motive to kill him. And any of them who owned a gun or a rifle had the means. And if they were anywhere along Kennedy’s motorcade route, they would have the opportunity. Again, “motive, means, and opportunity” hardly gets one to first base. As indicated, even if all three are present, a prosecutor still has to show that the person or group who had them committed the crime. Indeed, a prosecutor’s focusing heavily on motive, means, and opportunity is almost an implied admission by him that he has very little evidence that the defendant did, in fact, commit the crime.

* If all the groups and people who Oliver Stone, in his movie, alleges were involved in Kennedy’s murder (e.g., FBI, CIA, Secret Service, military-industrial complex, LBJ, etc.) actually were, a coup d’état would necessarily have taken place. And, indeed, in Stone’s movie New Orleans DA Jim Garrison tells his staff that the assassination of President Kennedy “was a military-style ambush from start to finish, a coup d’état with Lyndon Johnson waiting in the wings.” It’s a notion that many conspiracy theorists readily subscribe to. In fact, one of their books on the Kennedy assassination, by Alan Weberman and Michael Canfield, is specifically titled Coup d’État in America. Kennedy’s assassination, writes conspiracy writer James H. Fetzer, could very well have been “the result of a coup d’état involving the CIA, the mob, anti-Castro Cubans, and powerful politicians, such as LBJ, Richard Nixon, and J. Edgar Hoover, fully financed by Texas oil men and elements of the military-industrial complex.”16 “There can be no doubts,” conspiracy author L. Fletcher Prouty writes, that the Kennedy assassination “was the result of a coup d’état.”17 Conspiracy icon Vincent Salandria concludes that “the killing of Kennedy represented a coup d’état.”18 I suppose that since a coup d’état is defined as a sudden unconstitutional change of state policy and leadership “by a group of persons in authority,” a coup would actually be required in order to pull off the massive conspiracy contemplated by conspiracy theorists; that is, you couldn’t even have a coup without the involvement, cooperation, and complicity of groups like the FBI, CIA, and military-industrial complex.

In addition to the fact that the aforementioned groups and people would find it impossible to agree on who should be seated where at a presidential swearing-in ceremony, much less on how, when, and where to murder the president, what the conspiracy theorists fail to realize is that there is absolutely no history of coup d’états in America. They are talking about the United States of America, the most powerful, democratic, and economically stable country in the world.

* Dean Rusk: “Although there are grave differences between the Communist world and the free world,…even from their point of view there needs to be some shape and form to international relations, that it is not in their interest to have this world structure dissolve into complete anarchy, that great states…have to be in a position to deal with each other…and that requires the maintenance of correct relations.”20

What Rusk was saying is that with respect to stable foreign nations (as opposed to, say, banana republics or Third World countries), it is in the best interests of even adversaries to accept the “legitimacy” of their opposition. And what Rusk observed between these stable foreign nations is equally applicable internally. Even though, as with every president, our elected leader has many factions in the country opposed to his stewardship of government, these factions would have many more reasons to accept the continued legitimacy invested in the president by our constitutional process than to embrace fascistic principles that would only ultimately promote the insecurity and illegitimacy of their own positions. Why would they want to live in an environment where in the future their political opposition would likely do the same thing to them as they did to Kennedy? The notion that major federal agencies of government (or even one such agency) would decide to murder Kennedy because they didn’t agree with certain policies of his is sufficiently demented to be excluded at the portals of any respectable mental institution short of an insane asylum.

* …since we know Oswald killed Kennedy, we also know that no group of conspirators killed Kennedy and framed Oswald for the murder they committed. You can only frame an innocent person, not a guilty one, so this type of conspiracy has been taken off the table by the conclusive establishment of Oswald’s guilt.

* I said in the introduction to this book that one of the reasons why everyday Americans believe in a conspiracy in this case is that they find it intellectually incongruous that a peasant can strike down a king, that something more just had to be involved. CBS commentator Eric Sevareid spoke of Americans finding it difficult to believe that “all that power and majesty [could be] wiped out in an instant by one skinny, weak-chinned little character. It was like believing that the Queen Mary had sunk without a trace because of a log floating somewhere in the Atlantic, or that AT&T’s stock had fallen to zero because a drunk somewhere tore out his telephone wires.”21

In explaining that what happened in Dallas was so horrendous, so incredible, so shattering that the American people demanded that the cause or reason for the murder equal the effect, no one, I think, has said it better than William Manchester, the author of the 1967 best seller, The Death of a President: “I think I understand why they feel that way. And I think, in a curious way, there is an aesthetic principle involved. If you take the murder of six million Jews in Europe and you put that at one end of the scale, at the other end you can put the Nazis, the greatest gang of criminals ever to seize control of a modern government. So there is a rough balance. Greatest crime, greatest criminals. But if you put the murder of the President of the United States at one end of the scale, and you put that waif Oswald on the other end, it just doesn’t balance. And you want to put something on Oswald’s side to make it balance. A conspiracy would do that beautifully. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence whatever of that.”

* “there’s a fantastic way in which the assassination becomes a religious event. There are relics, and scriptures, and even a holy scene—the killing ground. People make pilgrimages to it.”

* In July of 1966, JFK speechwriter and adviser Richard N. Goodwin, believing that Epstein’s Inquest, which essentially alleged that the Warren Report was hastily prepared and inadequate, was “a fairly impressive book,” became the first member of JFK’s inner circle to publicly call for a small group of prominent citizens who had no connection with public office to review the Warren Report and recommend whether or not there should be a reinvestigation of Kennedy’s death.13 A few months later, in November, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., a former assistant to the president whose book on Kennedy’s presidency, A Thousand Days, had won a Pulitzer Prize, went further than Goodwin, stating there was a “residue of uncertainty” among the American people about the assassination and recommending that Congress should initiate a new inquiry “to reduce, to narrow that zone of uncertainty.” That same week, Life magazine called for a new investigation (joined by the Saturday Evening Post two months later), while its sister publication, Time, took the opposite view. But opposition among most members in Congress to a reinvestigation was strong, a typical response coming from Carl Albert, the House Democratic majority leader, that he wasn’t troubled by “minor inconsistencies” in the report and felt confident “the Warren Commission answered the basic questions.”14

But two days later in an editorial, even the nation’s leading newspaper, the New York Times, joined in the chorus of those who wanted something to be done, not the reinvestigation that most of the other voices wanted, but for the Warren Commission and its staff to address themselves to “the many puzzling questions that have been raised…There are enough solid doubts of thoughtful citizens,” the paper said, that now “require answers. Further dignified silence, or merely more denials by the commission or its staff, are no longer enough.”15

The tide against the Warren Commission was gaining so much vigor that on September 25, New York Times White House correspondent Tom Wicker wrote, “A public discussion group in New York sought to hold a round-table session about the Warren Report…The major difficulty for the group was in finding anyone of stature who was willing to defend the Warren Report and its findings.”16

The next year, 1967, brought two of the best, but inevitably flawed, books the conspiracy community has ever produced. One was Josiah Thompson’s classic Six Seconds in Dallas, which perceptively focused on the technical part of the case (firearms, bullet trajectories, photographic and medical evidence, etc.) more than any book before it. Thompson, a professor of philosophy who became an ardent student of the assassination, was hired by Life magazine to be its special consultant on the assassination. Life also allowed him to work with and study one of the first-generation copies of the Zapruder film it had purchased, which put him in an envied position among his fellow critics and theorists. From his examination of the film, he was the first Warren Commission critic to postulate the theory that Kennedy had been hit by two shots in the head almost simultaneously, one from his rear, one from his right front.

The other was Sylvia Meagher’s well-researched Accessories after the Fact, in which her sense of scholarship is consistently at odds with her strong conspiracy orientation (admitting to her readers she had an “instantaneous skepticism about the official version of what happened in Dallas”), with the former barely managing to prevail, the book being reasonably sober and factual.

The year 1967 also brought the first article about the conspiracy phenomenon: a June article in the New Yorker by Calvin Trillin appropriately titled “The Buffs,” which was a peek into their world of passion and idiosyncracy. But Trillin didn’t coin the term buffs, even though he remarked at one point in his article, “They are also known as ‘assassination buffs.’”1

* The conspiracy community was on such a high that nothing could penetrate the armor of their resolve, not even a four-part CBS news documentary hosted by Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather and seen by an estimated 30 million Americans in June of 1967, which concluded that Oswald killed Kennedy and acted alone. Garrison was going to deliver them to Nirvana, and neither the Warren Commission nor the esteemed Cronkite and Rather were going to stand in their way.

Garrison’s ultimate, miserable failure in 1969 (see later text), with the world watching, dealt a solar plexus blow to the movement, and many members, angry at the embarrassment Garrison brought to them, denounced him as a fraud and a megalomaniac.

* It was a heady time for [Mark] Lane. He was welcomed into Left-leaning European intellectual circles, particularly after he was interviewed by, and received the backing of, the French magazine Les Temps Modernes, Jean-Paul Sartre’s publication. Noted British philosopher Bertrand Russell headed up the London branch of Lane’s inquiry, calling his group “The British ‘Who Killed Kennedy?’ Committee.” Fourteen of the fifteen members of the committee were Oxford or Cambridge University graduates listed in Britain’s Who’s Who, including Oxford University professor Hugh Trevor-Roper, who became very taken with Lane and who, twenty years later, would be deceived by a peddler of Hitler’s forged diaries into declaring they were authentic.8 German Communist Joachim Joesten dedicated his 1964 book, Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy?, to Lane, proclaiming that nothing, including the “police-state tactics of the FBI,” could sway Lane “from doggedly pursuing the truth.”

* Lane’s Rush to Judgment, which was on the New York Times best-seller list for six months, leaves the uninitiated reader convinced that the Warren Commission was a national disgrace, having conspired to keep the truth from the American people. Yet, if the reader checks Lane’s assertions against the evidence produced by the Commission—which few have bothered to do—he or she will find that Lane’s contentions are either distortions or outright fabrications. “I only wish,” Warren Commission critic Harold Weisberg told Mother Jones, the erudite organ for leftist causes, that Lane “were content to steal from others, but he has this urge to invent his own stuff.” Lane, who also thrust himself into the middle of the Jonestown massacre as a lawyer for Jim Jones’s “People’s Temple” in Guyana, and into the assassination of Martin Luther King as a lawyer for James Earl Ray,* and as the coauthor, with Dick Gregory, of the book Murder in Memphis, has become an embarrassment to the Left. For example, in its article on Lane, Mother Jones referred to him as “the Left’s leading hearse chaser,” adding that he was a “huckster” who unfortunately couldn’t be “written off” because “he is, in some disturbing sense, on our side. His story raises some troubling questions for the Left.”

* Gerald Posner, in his book Case Closed, has a good section on the mysterious-deaths allegation, and perceptively points out that “no major writer or investigator on the case—even those trying to expose dangerous conspiracies—has died an unusual death.”36 Indeed, I’m unaware that any of the hundreds upon hundreds of conspiracy theorists and authors have been murdered or died unusual or unnatural deaths. As New York Times columnist Tom Wicker points out in his review of Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, “If a conspiracy as vast and consequential as the one claimed could have been carried out and covered up for three decades, why did the conspirators…allow Mr. Stone to make [his] movie? Why not murder him, as they supposedly murdered others? Why, for that matter, didn’t they knock off Mr. Garrison himself when—as Mr. Stone tells it with so much assurance—the New Orleans District Attorney began so fearlessly to follow their trail?”

* There is no evidence whatsoever that conspirators behind the assassination of President Kennedy have been murdering dozens of people throughout the years who they fear will implicate them in Kennedy’s death. Not one of these so-called mysterious deaths has ever been connected, in any way, to the assassination. The only thing mysterious is how anyone with an IQ above room temperature could possibly buy into such nonsense..

* So in one sense, the conspiracy community believes that Ruby’s calls in the September–November period leading up to the assassination were assassination-related, and then, inconsistently, they believe the mob contacted Ruby only after Oswald survived the assassination. But as author Gerald Posner points out, if the latter is true, then we could expect Ruby’s contacts with mob figures by phone (since the conspiracy community has locked itself into this alleged mode of communication by the mob with Ruby) to have increased after the assassination.330 Yet, all of Ruby’s contacts by phone with unsavory mob figures took place in the many weeks before the assassination. There is no evidence of any taking place between the assassination on November 22 and Ruby’s killing of Oswald on November 24.331

* The conspiracists are convinced that Ruby and Oswald knew each other before the events of November 22, 1963, and predictably, like people who see Elvis in supermarkets, several people thought they saw Oswald hanging out with Ruby at the Carousel Club, some even alleging that they were homosexual lovers. The Warren Commission, naturally, had no choice but to investigate each and every one of these claims, and said, “All such allegations have been investigated but the Commission has found none which merits credence,” concluding that “Ruby and Oswald were not acquainted.”

* “Oswald and Ruby were classic losers. Violent, undereducated, raised in broken homes by neurotic, paranoid, and…emotionally unstable mothers, unable to hold a steady job (Oswald) or stay out of debt (Ruby)…[Each was] puffed up with compensatory delusions of self-importance.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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