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President Kennedy

When assessing whether the murder of President Kennedy was a conspiracy, two broad considerations must be analyzed. Firstly, who other than Lee Harvey Oswald had both the motive and the means to assassinate the President? Secondly, if one asserts that Oswald was not the assassin, or was not the lone assassin, how does the physical evidence square with that assertion? In other words, if it was a conspiracy, who did it and how did they do it? For our purposes, a conspiracy entails actors and actions that were not accounted for in the official versions of the shooting, such as the Warren Commission Report.

We are not looking for inconsistencies with the minute details of Oswald’s personal life; we are looking for something much more profound, something that will prove conspiracy. Essentially, what is needed is another gun or another shooter. Motives and Enemies We will first approach the issue of motive. Who had motive to kill the President in Dallas? Part of the shock of that day was that so few Americans could conceive that anyone would be so motivated, but the passage of time and the release of classified information have made it clear that President Kennedy had many enemies, foreign and domestic.

First we will look at one of the most popular suspects of conspiracy theorists, the CIA. The CIA causes suspicion in general among the American people simply because it is a secretive organization without regular oversight. Evidence has emerged, however, that President Kennedy may have had special reason to fear the agency. President Kennedy initiated Operation Mongoose, a CIA action to undermine and eventually overthrow Fidel Castro. The CIA recruited many anti-Castro Cubans, some of them assassins, to train for this task. After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Kennedy was not going to try such aggressive action against Cuba again.

We should not underestimate how betrayed the Cuban exiles must have felt by this decision. In this theory, Kennedy’s refusal to overthrow Castro may have cost him his life. Interestingly, this theory could coexist with Oswald being the gunman; the CIA may have hired him. The mafia also had reason to gun for the president. Despite acts of generosity towards President Kennedy’s campaign in 1960, some mobsters felt persecuted by the President as well as by his brother Bobby, who the President had appointed Attorney General. Bobby was using his office to go after some of the very gangsters that had helped get his brother elected.

Again, this scenario could still allow for Oswald as the shooter; the mob may have hired him. Another obvious suspect would be the Soviet Union, the implacable ideological foe of the United States. It may have orchestrated a decapitation strike against its rival. We know that Lee Harvey Oswald and his wife lived in Russia. This alone makes it clear that there is a Russian connection, however ambiguous. The Soviet Union, with its global intelligence networks, would be capable of carrying out such a strike, and of hiding its involvement.

As for another Cuban connection, Fidel Castro had very simple motive to kill the president; the president had repeatedly tried to kill him, with such programs as Operation Mongoose. It is indicative of how cloudy and complicated this issue is that both the government of Cuba and Cubans that wanted to overthrow their government both had motive to kill Kennedy. And, either group could have hired Oswald. The last point to make about motives and the likelihood of conspiracies is this; all of these actors must be assessed in terms of how motivated they were and how capable they were.

Ranging from the mob to the Soviet Union, all of these groups were well practiced in violence, as well as contracting out assassination, and all of them had grievances with the President. Lastly, we must understand the wide range of these enemies. It could have been our very government that killed Kennedy; it could have been an enemy government. It could have been Castro that killed Kennedy; it could have been Castro’s enemies. Method and Tactics In addition to hypothesizing about motives and capabilities, we can also look at the more objective realm of physical evidence.

Specifically, is there anything about the physical evidence that makes the official story of Oswald and only Oswald seem unlikely? The easiest way to prove that there was a conspiracy is not to prove who actually did it, but simply to prove that Oswald could not have done it alone. The most-focused upon piece of physical evidence for conspiracy theorists is the video of the assassination. In the film of the fatal shot, the president’s head clearly snaps back, while the official story holds that all the shots came from behind.

If a man was shot in the head from behind, the layperson would expect that person to slump forward, not to jolt backward, as the president did. If one or more shots did come from in front of the president, as many eyewitnesses insisted, then by definition there was a conspiracy because there were at least two gunmen. The infamous “grassy knoll” is the most likely spot for the second shooter, according to this theory. We also have the so-called “magic bullet” theory. The official report holds that three bullets were fired in the commission of the assassination.

Skeptics say that, judging by the number of times that both President Kennedy and Governor Connelly were each struck, the claim of three bullets is absurd on its face. One of the bullets would have had to strike both men multiple times for this theory to fit. There is also much skepticism on whether Oswald’s World War II era rifle could have fired three shots so accurately and so rapidly. There is also considerable cynicism expressed about the behavior at Parkland Hospital, where the president was taken after the shooting. Somewhat understandably, the president was not treated like a normal murder victim.

The chaos resulted in evidence, up to and including the president’s body, being handled with no regard for chain of custody or preservation of evidence. Conclusions It seems probable that, with the relentless passage of time, we will never know what really happened in Dallas. However, when reviewing this brief synopsis, a few thoughts come to mind. Firstly, the number of people and groups who had real motive and real means to kill the president is both so broad and so deep that it is very difficult to accept that Oswald acted alone.

As noted above, many conspiracy theories still allow for Oswald’s participation, just not his masterminding. Secondly, while none of the doubts about the physical evidence cited above prove conspiracy, they do accrue to strengthen one conclusion, which incorporates both the motives and the means aspects. The most likely scenario is that Oswald and one other man killed the president at the behest of someone else. So the official version is the truth, but it is certainly not the whole truth. If the two-shooter for hire theory is true, it explains all the inconsistencies noted above.

In terms of why the government would skew the physical evidence to fit its one shooter theory, there are only two conclusions. One would be embarrassment and an urge to both cover up their incompetence and to get the issue behind them, all the easier because Oswald had been conveniently murdered. The second would be to hide its own complicity.


Fonzi, Gaeton. “Who Killed JFK? ” Washington Monthly, November 1980. Joesten, Joachim. Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy? Marzani and Munsel, 1964. Marchetti, Victor. The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence. Knopf, 1974.

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