Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

November 22, 2009

JFK Theories; Oswald and Hasan

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 8:35 am

Any new theories? Where do you stand on the old theories? Is the Warren Report conclusion (for all the flaws in its investigation) beginning to worm its way into your heart?

Did the assassination change your life? Did it (and successive assassinations) change your vision of America? Your vision of the world? Or is it irrelevant that there’s still doubt warranted (pun intended). Irrelevant in toto? (the Latin word, not Dorothy’s dog).

I’ve been thinking about Oswald. I think he fired shots that day. I can’t be sure he was alone, although I haven’t been convinced by any of the conspiracy theories. More importantly I can’t be sure why he did it. He was somewhere on the spectrum between nutcase and ideologue, maybe a combination of both.

Like a certain other shooter of recent vintage. It’s a dangerous combination.

Anyway, I’m interested in what people think about or if they do. It is November 22nd, you know.



  1. KGB.

    Comment by dan — November 22, 2009 @ 11:25 am | Reply

  2. The key to understanding Oswald: 1)His favorite TV show was “I led Three Lives” (as a boy) about an FBI gumshoe who was a triple agent (a note: I lived twice in my life across from former Oswald residences: on East 12th ST, where he lived as a boy in a juvenile center, and on Magazine Street in New Orleans, where he lived in the fall of 1963) 2) He had a grudge against former Secretary of the Navy John Connally, whom he personally wrote to upgrade his discharge, and whom he blamed for harassing, via FBI agent Hosty, his Russian wife 3) as testified to in his Marine records, Oswald was a poor shot; he fired an errant show at General Walker two months before Dallas. So what was Oswald’s role? He was, of course, a patsy, but a very active patsy. From the time, as a boy in New Orleans, when he served in the Civil Air Patrol with David Ferrie, Oswald was easily targeted as someone who could be “played”. His behavior, in the Carlos Bringuier incident, in which he faked being both pro- and anti- Castro, proves that his desire to be a double agent was being manipulated by somebodny (leaving asided the whole “Helsinki-to-Moscow-fake suicide-Patricia MacMillan interview-Kiev-marriage to an NKVD daughter-easy return to USA-de Mohrenschildt-Paine household-mysterious job in Book depository owned by LBJ backer Murchison thread). On the day of the assassination, Oswald WAS involved. He left his wedding ring. He smuggled the Mannlicher-Carcano in a brown paper bag (said bag ended up in the dead letter box of the Dallas Post Office, addressed to Oswald). His assignment was to fire one errant shot at Connally (the bullet which hit the pavement and struck the bystander James Teague). Oswald then ran downstairs, bought a Coke, was observed by a secretary and by Officer Marion Baker, who ran up the stairs, pointed a gun at Oswald and then let him go (!) Oswald’s subsequent behavior indicates his realization that he was being setup (which I have discussed in previous posts on this blog. Reminder to Ron, dear friend: please actually read the comments on this blog!). John Kennedy was murdered by Lyndon Johnson with the aid of intelligence higher-ups and their Mafiosa pals. Kennedy’s father’s love of the Nazis and betrayal of the Mob made it easy. Of course, I believe that the deaths of young Joe, Kick, JFK and Bob were all assassination reprisals for Ol’ Joe’s appeasement, but that is another matter. There is a reason the jFK assassination records are sealed for 75 years (there WAS a conspiracy). When President Clinton requested access to these files, he got nowhere. One shot from the Grassy Knoll: you can see it on the Zapruder film. (Oh, I almost forgot, after Oswald fired his shot and ran downstairs, a Cuban shooter, hiding behind the boxes, picked up the gun and fired two more shots, then fled into a parking lot where he was pcked up by a Grey Rambler.

    Comment by charlie finch — November 22, 2009 @ 11:26 am | Reply

  3. In commenting about the Williamson execution recently I linked to a Dallas Morning News article. As evidence of the newspapers expertise in Texas politics, I cited the fact that one of the last things JFK may have seen was the statue of George Bannerman Dealey publisher of the newspaper from 1885 to 1940, Dealey Plaza remember. Also happen to hear on the radio the Rolling Stones ‘Sympathy for The Devil. ‘Who killed the Kennedys? After all it was you and me.’ The guilt assumed by the Stones derives from an imputed transmission form the city of Dallas, which the Kennedys never again visited, to the rest of humanity. I think the guilt transmission follows a reasonable assumption of resistance in the Anglosphere similar to that of Dallas. It is however inconceivable that any plot directly influenced by the establishment of Dallas would have led to an assassination in Dealey Plaza. Pardon me for making the obvious macabre, but it doesn’t fit Southern hospitality that such a thing were it planned or influenced by that establishment would have happened in Dealey Plaza. So the Stones song is about an archaic mood.

    Comment by Michael Haas — November 22, 2009 @ 4:14 pm | Reply

  4. Only a fool could believe the Warren Commission’s version of events. It’s worth noting, since Rosenbaum gives such high regard to the government of Israel, that Mossad defector Victor Ostrovsky recorded in his memoir that the Israelis did their own independent investigation after the assassination and concluded that their had to have been multiple shooters. I remember reading years ago – was it in Time Magazine perhaps? – that the Cubans also investigated and concluded that a conspiracy theory was highly probable to be the truth.

    Conspiracy is one of the basic modes of human behavior, but to hear some so called “skeptics” talk, you would think that such things are by-definition fantasies, like the unicorn. Of course it doesn’t help that there are some genuinely nutty conspiracy theorists, who muddy the waters with nonsense about Little Green Men or the Elders of Zion.

    Comment by MonkeyShines — November 22, 2009 @ 7:15 pm | Reply

  5. Charlie, any chance you might break your writing into paragraphs so it would be readable?

    Comment by MonkeyShines — November 22, 2009 @ 7:18 pm | Reply

  6. Two things have long seemed obvious to me:

    1) An ex-Marine nutcase who defected to Russia and had a jones for Cuba seems an AWFULLY good candidate for the assassin of JFK. If somebody else had been arrested and convicted for it, we’d have a whole literature naming Oswald as a more likely suspect. The need to find an alternative explanation is in willful disregard of how obviously guilty Oswald is.

    2) A big-C conspiracy is, to my mind, largely disproven by the fact that we’ve gone so long without one good piece of evidence to point in another direction. Sure, you can say that the Mob or the CIA or whoever coulda done it, but lots of people COULD have. That proves nothing. And nothing proves, or even strongly suggests, an alternative explanation. In almost 50 years, something would have come out. That said, I could buy a small-C conspiracy in which he was put up to it, strongly encouraged, by some of the pro-Cuba types. But anything bigger than that would have come out by now.

    3) I’m more curious where Rudolf Diesel went, anyway.

    Comment by Mike G — November 22, 2009 @ 10:35 pm | Reply

  7. Only an expert sniper with a better rifle could have done all the shooting from Oswald’s window. We may never know who else was involved. There are too many witness reports suppressed, too much strange behavior by so many, the magic bullet, etc., to buy the Warren Report. Congress managed to cover up the cover up the last time it was investigated. Kennedy was just beginning to show promise when they took him down. I suspect if he and King had been spared we would be a lot better off now.

    Comment by Gary Ogletree — November 23, 2009 @ 3:57 am | Reply

  8. The Zapruder tape shows a shot from the front, combined with a shot from the rear. That is why you see a penumbra of blood going straight up, a kind of rainbow effect due to the speed of the bullets. It happened in Texas. All of Johnson’s problems (Bobby Baker, Billy Sol Estes) went away. CIA knocked off the guy who was going to “splinter it into the wind”. All you needed for a conspiracy were Johnson, Cord Meyer (CIA), Bill Harvey(CIA) and the mob guys CIA was already pointing towards Castro, plus half a dozen contract shooters/foot soldiers, a la the Watergate burglars. Not a whole lot, and, since their whole existence is based on secrecy. not so had to keep covered up. The circumstantial evidence (means,motive,opportunity) are so overwhelming that the Posners, Rathers, Specters should hang their heads in shame. It took another 45 years to get another President with some wit and panache, except the new one is just a black Jimmy Carter, so far.

    Comment by charlie finch — November 23, 2009 @ 5:29 am | Reply

  9. It is fascinating to see all the wide variety of conspiracy theories around the JFK assassination. While I doubt that we will ever know the complete truth, my interest is in the proliferation of conspiracy theories themselves.

    The early and mid-sixties were arguably the peak of American power, achievement, and confidence. The West continued to hold out against the East Bloc, the other major WWII powers were accelerating their recoveries but still far behind the USA, and surprisingly vibrant 1950’s American culture was moving on to a new level.

    The Greatest Generation were in their prime, enjoying America’s dominance and stretching their muscles in commerce, technology, military, cultural and communications fields, among others.

    What is it about those times that so many would seek and pursue such intricate and bewildering varieties of conspiracy theories following the shock of JFK’s shooting? Why do so many threads running through incompatible theories seem to have some credibility, or ability to explain what happened?

    We can understand a Leon Czolgosz or a Charles Guiteau, contemporaneously and in retrospect. But Oswald remains a cipher, perhaps thanks to Lloyd Ruby, himself a mystery man.

    But why in that era, that golden time, would dark conspiracies be afoot? And why would they remain undiscovered? That is what interests me.

    Comment by Seppo — November 23, 2009 @ 8:14 am | Reply

  10. Kennedy was killed in Dealey Plaza. Dallas has been blamed for the assassination but the name of the plaza derives from George Bannerman Dealey, publisher of the Dallas Morning News from 1885 – 1940. A statue of him is there and would have been among the last things JFK saw. The newspaper was and still is very much a part of the establishment of Dallas. Nobody identifying with the establishment of Dallas would have killed him there. A citizen of Dallas killed Kennedy but it was not ‘you and me’ as the Stones’ song ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ had it.

    Comment by Michael — November 23, 2009 @ 8:17 am | Reply

  11. Is there “one” book to seek out on the subject? In terms of fiction, I loved “Libra.” What’s the indispensable non-fiction book?

    Comment by Chris H — November 23, 2009 @ 9:13 am | Reply

  12. Well, you could read the almost 2000 pages plus CD-ROM appendix of Vincent Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History, but seeing him dismantle one bit of cooked-up circumstantial evidence after another (like the ones breathlessly dropped in this thread) gets kind of old. Great that someone did it so thoroughly, but you’ll be satisfied after a thousand pages. Apparently his more recent book Four Days in November does a shorter (relatively) job of the same thing, but I haven’t looked at it.

    The earlier, pretty definitive cut-the-conspiratorial-crap book was Gerald Posner’s Case Closed, and you could certainly read it profitably. I leave it to others to offer recommendations for the argument that it took 1000 government employees working with the Mob to put three shots in a human being.

    Comment by Mike G — November 23, 2009 @ 11:51 am | Reply

  13. I did wade through Bugliosi’s book. It’s actually fascinating, or it was to me anyway. I’ve also read many of the conspiracy theory books, and was more or less convinced that the mafia was somehow involved, some time ago. I seriously doubt the CIA did it; periodically an assassinated world leader whose demise was attributed to the CIA turns out to have been done in by someone else; so far, none have ever been confirmed as victims of the CIA. A friend of mine works at another intelligence agency, and tells me that around his office CIA is said to stand for “Clowns in Action”.

    As for the issue of whether Oswald could have made the shot himself, a couple of things are worth noting. Bugliosi addressed the issue of whether Oswald shot well while he was in the Corps by looking at the actual records: when the score he shot affected his pay, he was actually pretty good. The last time he shot and it was scored, he was leaving the Corps, and there was no incentive for him to do well, so he shot poorly. This is the score most skeptics put forward as proof he was a bad shot. Second, back in 1967 one of the TV networks (CBS?) did a reenactment of the assassination. They built a platform to the correct height, and had a trolley on rails that moved in the proper direction at the proper speed while at the proper distance from the platform to replicate the shot. They hired the membership of a local rifle club to try and do what Oswald did (two hits in three shots in whatever it was, 2 or 3 seconds). About half the club managed it; one guy got three hits and beat Oswald. It wasn’t that hard of a shot.

    Interestingly Bugliosi spent considerable time bashing Posner’s book Case Closed for being too fast and loose with the evidence, as he accuses many of the pro-conspiracy books also. He had little good to say about anyone who wrote anything on the assassination.

    There are some intriguing episodes to wonder about, even after all these years. About a year after his assassination, one of JFK’s mistress, Mary Pinchot Meyer (Cord Meyer’s ex-wife; by then he supposedly wasn’t CIA any more) was shot while she was walking along a horsepath in Georgetown. Nothing was taken; there were no witnesses. No one has ever been arrested for the crime. Just a couple of years ago, on his deathbed pretty much, Cord Meyer was asked if he knew who killed his wife, and he responded “The same bastards that killed JFK.”

    So we’re pretty sure we know who killed Kennedy, but there will always be a tantalizing loose thread that implies something different.

    Comment by DavidN — November 23, 2009 @ 9:52 pm | Reply

  14. As for motive, Bugliosi makes a pretty strong case for Oswald being a devoted Communist, ultimately disgusted by the Soviet Union because people were in his mind too selfish, who had attached himself mentally to Cuba and Castro. He probably was angry at various pieces of the government and individuals in it for a while, but he also wasn’t angry enough to try and kill someone, though he did take that shot at Walker a few weeks earlier; odd how there’s somewhat less evidence there, but everyone accepts his guilt; with Kennedy there’s more evidence, but fewer believers. Anyway, he went from the rooming house where he was living to the one where his wife was staying to try and get her to come and move back in with him, just the day before the shooting. She refused (he’d been abusive, controlling, and moody throughout their marriage) and Bugliosi thinks this may have pushed him over the edge. He doesn’t blame her, of course; how could she know he would do this in response? The point is that the motive may have been a lot more mundane than all of the JFK conspiracy crowd envisions.

    Comment by DavidN — November 23, 2009 @ 9:58 pm | Reply

  15. And to that point (about impulsive nuts with guns), Norman Mailer raised the point that Ruby, ten minutes before shooting Oswald, was standing in line at a bank. One little old lady hogging the tellers, and he would have missed his rendezvous with Oswald. Mailer’s deduction from this was that no one on a mission from his Mob bosses would have been screwing around like that, but it fits perfectly with the small time criminal’s haphazardly violent mentality, in which the idea of shooting Oswald could just pop into his head and happen moments later.

    Comment by Mike G — November 24, 2009 @ 7:35 am | Reply

  16. Not responsive to this post, but why not drop a link when you’ve got a new piece up at Slate?

    Comment by Tyrone Slothrop — November 25, 2009 @ 8:56 pm | Reply

  17. Charlie Finch: totally off topic, but, I received your son’s book, The Fleet Street Murders, and plan to spend this evening with it. I must say, the cover designs are lovely.

    The detail of 1860s England is finely drawn, and now his detective has an election to fight, near Durham! And he has dedicated the book to his father. Congratulations.

    Comment by heathermc — November 25, 2009 @ 10:30 pm | Reply

  18. Thank you Heather and Happy Thanksgiving!

    Comment by charlie finch — November 26, 2009 @ 6:15 am | Reply

  19. Charlie Finch: I stayed up all night reading The Fleet Street Murders. It’s a good book.

    I like the description of an election back then: money went direct to the voter, which I think we should re institute: no more middlemen like ACORN!

    In Canada, the same idea reigned, with a twist: since a man who would sell his vote was not to be trusted, they put the voting booth right by the building window, so the investor could check up on him.

    Comment by heathermc — November 26, 2009 @ 6:56 pm | Reply

  20. Joe Kennedy gave the money to the county sheriffs in the 1960 West Virginia primary and they in turn paid the voters. Since the sheriffs ran the polling places, cash was distributed at point of sale. My son, in England, thanks you, Heather (I gave him your message this morning)

    Comment by charlie finch — November 26, 2009 @ 8:21 pm | Reply

  21. More importantly I can’t be sure why he did it.

    What is hard to understand about that? He was an unbalanced young man with a history of violent and erratic behavior who discovered communism, got politically radicalized, hated our society and when he was at the right place at the right time, he used his chance. JFK wasn´t even his first attempt at political assassination.

    It does not take more than that.

    Comment by El Gordo — November 27, 2009 @ 2:17 am | Reply

  22. 10. Mike G – the problem with Bugliosi is that he is a bit of a weirdo himself. I remember an interview where he cried that new conspiracy theories are being made up as fast as he can shoot them down. But of course anyone can create a new version of a fantasy in a second and burden you with he job of disproving it. That way lies madness and Bugliosi sounded close to it, at least to my ears. Guy needs to relax.

    Posner´s book is much better. Once you have shown that what Oswald did was absolutely possible, but any conspiracy required a cast of thousands and the ability to see the future, you have done your work. The people here who buy the Oliver Stone version of history, well, I´m not surprised remembering their earlier comments.

    Comment by El Gordo — November 27, 2009 @ 2:28 am | Reply

  23. Anyone still believing in a conspiracy to kill JFK has serious mental issues, IMHO. You can find many of these same people arguing for UFO’s, 2nd amendments rights to protect against a government takeover, Jewish participation in 9/11, and, at the outer edges, a denial of the moon landings! Bugliosi’s book should have put the conspiracy nuts to bed. But they still keep yapping. Either they have a fundamental mistrust in a constitutional federal form of government (in which case they should move to China) or they simply cannot accept the fact that a loner and malcontent like LHO could wield such shattering power with a rifle. My advice: get a life!

    Comment by Mike from Chicago — November 27, 2009 @ 3:22 pm | Reply

  24. Anyone with reasonable access to the evidence in this case who does not conclude that JFK was murdered by conspirators is cognitively impaired and/or complicit in the crime.

    The only investigative methodology that can work in this case: With discipline and focus, determine the “how” of Kennedy’s murder.

    Only after you answer this question should you move on to the “who” and “why” issues.

    Based upon the aforementioned evidence, the “how” question can be answered to the degree of metaphysical certitude.

    In reiterate: Anyone with reasonable access to the evidence in this case who does not conclude that JFK was murdered by conspirators is cognitively impaired and/or complicit in the crime.

    Comment by Charles Drago — December 3, 2009 @ 9:27 am | Reply

  25. If a conspiracy a fraction of the size it would have had to have been to be able to carry off such a massive deception had passed through Dealey Plaza that day, it would have left traces — everything real does. Yet not a single trace was ever found. Why do we find it so hard to let go of fancy and admit what stares us in the face?

    Comment by dimmer Jones — January 18, 2010 @ 11:37 am | Reply

  26. An open question for all conspiracy theorists:

    If it was a physical impossibility for CE399, the “Magic Bullet,” to have caused all of the damage attributed to it and still remain in relatively pristine condition…

    …and if said “Magic Bullet” was planted on a stretcher in Parkland Hospital, presumably to implicate Oswald as the assassin…

    Why did the conspirators plant a bullet in near pristine condition?

    If “they” were so highly sophisticated, wouldn’t “they” have known to plant a bullet that looked a little more flattened?

    Since the conspiracy supposedly involved the CIA, Organized Crime, Military Intelligence, Right Wing Oil Tycoons, etc, etc, surely they could afford a few more test rounds to get just the right bullet to convince the public.

    After all these years, I have yet to hear a reasonable answer to this rather obvious question.

    Comment by Mark in Dallas — January 19, 2010 @ 2:30 pm | Reply

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