ELRR Graveyard

This blog is no longer active. It's pretty much just a bunch of drunken idiocy mixed with senseless ramblings. A more refined blog can be viewed at riraho.blogspot.com.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Conspiracy Theory Pt. 1

I intended to write this on Saturday, which was the actual 45 th anniversary of the JFK assassination, but Hershey Park and Heineken got in the way, so here we are four days later.

I've never been that dedicated of a student, from grade school through most of college. I never really bothered to study anything or make a concerted effort to master most of the stuff I was taught. I liked history, even majored in it, but nothing outside of the 20th century ever interested me all that much. But if I were ever accused of being an expert on one thing, it would be the JFK assassination. I can remember finding a copy of the November 23rd, 1963 ed. of the Elwood City Ledger at my Grandmother's house and being hooked ever since. I've poured over every conspiracy theory, every book, every TV special, and every documentary over the years that I could probably make an impromptu presentation on the subject, replete with diagrams and the overhead projector slides that I still have from college.

At the outset I was a loyal conspiracy theorist. I ranged from believing, at the very least, Lee Harvey Oswald being one of the shooters and part of a grand plot, to Oswald being totally innocent. There were serious doubts that Oswald alone fired from the Book Depository behind Kennedy. Evidence seemed to suggest there was at least one shooter on the grassy knoll, perhaps even 2-3 more gunmen hidden throughout Dealy Plaza. There were too many funky inconsistencies in mind to justify one shooter.

The Warren Commission found that Oswald got off three shots from the Book Depository behind the President with an old rifle in about five seconds. Such a short window of opportunity to get off the unbelievably accurate shots. The so-called "Magic Bullet" that traveled through Kennedy's back and throat, through Texas Governor John Connally's back, chest, then through his wrist, and finally lodging into his left thigh. One bullet caused seven wounds through two men, and was found in Parkland Hospital in nearly "pristine" condition. The Warren Commission even had the nerve to publish test photos of bullets shot through goat cadavers that were almost totally smashed and flattened. Then the final fatal head shot, that saw Kennedy's head explode and snap violently back and to the left, which would indicate to most that the head shot came from the front and to the right--in the direction of the grassy knoll.

Afterwards, several witnesses said they heard more than three shots, and some may have come from directions away from Oswald's supposed Book Depository sniper's nest. If you look at film taken during the assassination you can see hoards of people running up the knoll, where they thought the shots had come from. Police officer Marion Baker, in his own estimation, came across Oswald in the second floor lunch room of the Book Depository a maximum of 90 seconds after the final shot was fired. He confirmed Oswald was an employee and proceeded further into the building. Baker said Oswald did not show any signs of nervousness or apprehension, which is odd considering he has shot the most powerfull man on the planet, run down four flights of stairs, and directly into a cop, all within a minute and a half. It was said Oswald then left the building and took a bus home to grab his jacket and revolver. Oswald would then proceed to shoot Dallas police officer J.D. Tippet on his way to sneaking into a movie theatre, where he would be later caught and arrested. While in custody, Oswald would profess his innocence in the Kennedy and Tippet murders, all the while calling himself a "patsy," furthering the notion that he was the fall guy left to take the rap for a larger faction.

None of the ballistic evidence made any sense. None of Oswald's actions made any sense. The prevailing thought amongst non-believers was that, even if there was no conspiracy in place, the Warren Commission settled on the scenario that Oswald did the shooting alone from the Book Depository at the begginning and their investigation ignored any evidence that pointed elswhere. That belief put a serious cloud over the quality and legitimacy of the official investigation and its finding that Oswald was the sole gunman. And once you have trouble believing the investigation was done in good faith, it's not a big jump to think they had other motives in mind. Especially when Oswald ends up being shot and killed—while in police custody—by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby, a man considered to be at least a low-level gangster and at best having high-ranking mob ties. It is argued by conspiracy theorists that Ruby silenced Oswald before he could tell the police of his role in a larger plot.

I've read nearly every conpiracy minded book possible. Their objections range from questions regarding Oswald's ability to get three shots off in the time frame allowed, the near impossibility of the Magic Bullet causing seven wounds in Kennedy and Connally and ending up virtually undamaged, to Oswald's activities while living in Russia and being a professed Communist.

If not Oswald then, who else would have a vested interest in removing Kennedy from office? The list of suggested conspirators are long and varied:

-Mobsters, angry with the Kennedy administration for waging war against organized crime, including interfering in Mafia-controlled gambling industries in Cuba
-Fidel Castro, angry that the US had helped anti-Castro Cuban exiles try to invade Cuba and for US plots to assassinate him
-Anti-Castro Cubans, angry that Kennedy had decided at the last second to not provide air cover during the Bay of Pigs invasion
-Renegade elements in the CIA and Armed Forces, angry at Kennedy for stripping the CIA of the majority of it's powers after the Bay of Pigs incident and for his unwillingness to escalate US involvement in Vietnam, respectively
-Business interests like Bell Helicopter, who stood to lose billions of dollars if the US were to not persue heavier involvement in Vietnam

With motives so closely tied to one another, it's easy to see how they can fuel ideas of grand collaboration and wide reaching conspiracy with several or all of the above listed groups. And all of which Oswald may or may not have been connected with. At different points of his life, he has been tied to pro-Castro and anti-Castro causes. He served in the Army and may or may not have been working with the CIA at the time of the assassination, something many theorists believe. While living in Texas, Oswald socialized with engineers from Bell Helicopter.
But if there is one work that is the flag bearer for conspiracy theory thought, it is surely Oliver Stone's 1991 film JFK. The movie is a big screen send up of the investigation of Jim Garrison into Oswald's dealings in New Orleans, LA in the year or so prior to the assassination, but also incorporates most every other theory (except those involving Chuck Norris) that has been thrown out. The movie follows Oswald's involvement with the aforementioned pro- and anti- Castro Cubans, Mafia, big business interests, and shadowy CIA and military figures as he is recruited as the scapegoat for the murder of the President. As a pro-conspiracy buff, it's the ultimate example you could show someone in hopes of drawing them to your side of the fence and works quite well for those who get their history from the movies and TV. It's unfortunate that the majority of the facts in the movie are fudged or outright incorrect, but it's a great piece of film-work, regardless.

But for every one plausible theory, there are three to four that eclipse it in sheer outrageousness. I have come across several books and videos over the years with such ludicrous stories like these:

-The Texas bounty hunter who taught Ruby and Oswald to use rifles and was persuaded by Lyndon Johnson to keep the story quiet during a skinny dip
-The Parkland Hospital doctor who got a phone call from Johnson in the ER, asking him to keep any medical evidence that might indicate a shot from the front to himself
-The shadowy intelligence agent who recruited Oswald to fake an assassination attempt on Kennedy to get the President to increase security measures. Then actually shot the President himself in order to pin it on Oswald.

Presented with the above information (minus the more silly theories), it might be enough to convince you that there was a conspiracy, or at least make you hesistant to deny the possibility. So I became an adamant believer of Oswald's innocence. The chances of the Magic Bullet causing seven wounds was a little too hard to believe. The backwards head snap seemed to prove the fatal shot came from the front not the back. I had trouble buying that Oswald was able to shoot the President and then race down four floors of stairs and run into a police office and not just freak out a little. Tests taken on his hands failed to show that he had fired a weapon. Initially, police were unable to find fingerprints on his gun. It seemed to leave at least some reasonable doubt that he might not have even fired a gun. When you throw in the Mob/Ruby, CIA, Bell Helicopter, and Castro connections, it seems like the perfect storm for a conspiracy.

So why now, after so many years of believing in conspiracy, do I think Oswald did the entire shooting by himself with no collaboration?...coming in part 2.


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