The recent October 26 deadline for releasing 50-year-old JFK-assassination records of the CIA and other federal agencies provided an opportunity for people to promote their favorite JFK assassination theories. The Russians did it. Fidel Castro did it. The U.S. national-security establishment did it. The Mafia did it. A lone nut named Lee Harvey Oswald did it.
The reaction among some people was predictable: “Oh, there are so many JFK assassination theories that I guess we’ll never know what really happened.” Or “It’s all so overwhelming and I just don’t want to be pulled into the rabbit hole.”
Actually, however, understanding the various conspiracy and non-conspiracy theories in the JFK assassination is really not that difficult. All it takes is some critical thinking, analysis, and common sense.
There are three major conspiracy theories and one non-conspiracy theory (i.e., the lone-nut theory). Let’s examine each one. I believe you’ll see why the matter isn’t as difficult as mainstream writers and commentators make it out to be.
The basic idea here is that Lee Harvey Oswald, a purported communist, got together with the Russian and Cuban governments, which were communist, and assassinated Kennedy.
We saw this theory recently resurface in the mainstream press when President Trump, on the very October 26 deadline for releasing those long-secret records, decided to let the CIA continue keeping its records relating to Oswald’s trip to Mexico City secret from the American people. Proponents of this particular conspiracy theory said, “Oh what a shame! We could have learned more details about how Oswald conspired with the Russians and Cubans to assassinate Kennedy.”
It is easy to establish the fallaciousness of this particular conspiracy theory.
First, no motive. Neither the Russians nor the Cubans had any motive to kill Kennedy. In fact, their desire was the exact opposite. They wanted Kennedy to live out his term and even be reelected. The last thing they wanted was for Kennedy to die in office and be replaced by Lyndon Johnson or be defeated in the 1964 election by Republican Barry Goldwater.
Why did the Russians and Cubans prefer Kennedy? The answer is simple: Kennedy was reaching out to them in a spirit of peace and friendship at the time he was killed.
By the time the Cuban Missile Crisis was over in 1962, Kennedy had come to reject the Cold War, anti-Russia mindset, philosophy, and policies of the CIA, Pentagon, FBI, and the rest of the U.S. national-security establishment. He also had rejected their deeply ingrained notion that America was in grave danger of being taken over by the communists.
Kennedy’s anti-Cold War mentality had gradually evolved, beginning with the CIA’s debacle at the Bay of Pigs and the deceitful way in which the CIA had tried to manipulate Kennedy during that crisis. Kennedy was so angry at the CIA that he fired its much-revered director, Alan Dulles, and is reputed to have vowed to tear the CIA into a thousand pieces.
Kennedy’s anti-Cold War mindset evolved further when the Pentagon presented him with a plan for a preemptive all-out nuclear attack on the Soviet Union and with a top-secret plan known as Operation Northwoods, which advocated a fraudulent pretext for initiating a military invasion of Cuba. After one meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Kennedy indignantly remarked to an aide, “And we call ourselves the human race.”
It all came to a head during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The CIA and the Pentagon were advocating a bombing attack followed by a U.S. invasion of the island, acts that we now know would almost certainly have resulted in all-out nuclear war. Kennedy said no and instead negotiated an end to the crisis by promising that the United States would not invade Cuba again. The generals on the Joint Chiefs of Staff considered Kennedy’s deal to be appeasement of the communists and one of the worst defeats in U.S. history.
By this time, Kennedy had lost all trust and confidence in the CIA and the military and had come to reject their Cold War mindset and direction. That’s when Kennedy changed direction, rejecting the Cold War mentality and framework that the Pentagon and the CIA had foisted on America after World War II.
Kennedy announced this dramatic shift in foreign policy at his famous Peace Speech at American University on June 10, 1963, which he prepared without consulting with or even advising the CIA or the military. Those of them who were in the audience that day had to have been stunned, angry, and outraged.
Kennedy said that it was time to end the Cold War and to establish peaceful and friendly relations with the communist world. It was a shocking notion, at least to the Pentagon, the CIA, and the FBI, which were convinced that there could never be peaceful coexistence with communists. Although the speech was, naturally, not well-received by the U.S. national-security establishment, it was in Russia, where Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev ordered that a transcript of the speech be published all across the Soviet Union, the first time that had ever been done.
Kennedy’s Peace Speech was followed by his Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which the Pentagon and the CIA vehemently opposed and which the Russians agreed to. Kennedy successfully persuaded Congress to approve it.
Kennedy ordered a partial pull-out of U.S. troops in Vietnam and told aides that he intended to pull out all the rest after he won the 1964 election. The CIA and the Pentagon believed that a withdrawal from Vietnam would cause the dominoes to begin falling to the communists, posing a grave threat to U.S. national security.
Worst of all, from the standpoint of the Pentagon and the CIA, President Kennedy initiated secret personal negotiations with Khrushchev and Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro to end the Cold War. While the CIA undoubtedly learned about the negotiations through wiretaps on Cuban officials at the UN in New York City, Kennedy did everything he could to keep the negotiations secret from both the CIA and the military. In fact, on the very day that Kennedy was assassinated, he had a personal emissary having lunch with Castro to discuss an end to the Cold War (and implicitly the decades-long U.S. economic embargo against the Cuban people).
Now, ask yourself a simple question: Why would the Soviets and the Cubans want to kill Kennedy? Why would they want to elevate Johnson, who was still a died-in-the-wool Cold Warrior whose mindset mirrored that of the Pentagon and the CIA and who would quickly reverse JFK’s attempts to reach out to the Russians and Cubans in a spirt of peace and friendship? That would not have been rational.
Second, the Russians and the Cubans would never have entered into a conspiracy with an American assassin, especially one that, on the surface at least, wasn’t exactly a bastion of stability. They would have known that if Oswald were arrested, he could easily be turned by being offered a sweet deal by prosecutors to testify against his co-conspirators. If the Russians were going to assassinate a U.S. president and wanted to keep their involvement secret, they would have relied on a foreign agent who they could trusted 100 percent to take the fall if he were caught and not implicate the Russians and Cubans, especially since that would likely have led to nuclear war.
Third, if Oswald were in a conspiracy with the communists, he never would have talked to investigators after being arrested, and he never would have claimed that he was being framed. A conspiracy with Soviet and Cuban officials would have been carefully planned. The Russians and Cubans are very familiar with America’s criminal-justice system. As part of such a conspiracy, Oswald would have been told that in the event he was arrested, he should keep absolutely silent and to wait for a pre-retained attorney to represent him.
Fourth, there is the JFK autopsy, an Achilles Heel of the U.S. national-security establishment in the JFK assassination. As I show in my book the military conducted a fraudulent autopsy as part of its cover-up in the JFK assassination.
If the Russians and the Cubans had orchestrated the assassination of a U.S. president, would the Pentagon and the CIA have tried to cover up for them with a fraudulent autopsy? On the contrary, they hated the communists. They would have gone after them with all guns blaring and all nuclear bombs ignited. Don’t forget, after all, Operation Northwoods, which they presented to Kennedy and which advocated a fraudulent pretext for invading Cuba. Also, don’t forget the Bay of Pigs invasion.
So, the thought that the Pentagon and the CIA, on the very evening of the assassination, would suddenly decide to conduct a fraudulent autopsy to protect their new-found communist friends in Russia and Cuba is, well, not very realistic.
Keep in mind something else about the JFK autopsy. The plan to conduct a fraudulent autopsy was launched immediately after JFK was declared dead. That was when Lyndon Johnson ordered a team of Secret Service agents to immediately bring JFK’s body to Dallas Love Field, where Johnson was patiently waiting for it. Loyally following orders and brandishing guns, screaming profanities, and implicitly implying that they would kill anyone who got in their way, that team of Secret Service agents forced its way out of Parkland Hospital, ignoring the objections of the Dallas County medical examiner, who pointed out that Texas state law required an autopsy to be conducted by him. Thus, there is a big timeline problem for the Russia-Cuba conspiracy theory: the autopsy plan was launched before U.S. officials had any evidence of possible Russia-Cuba involvement in the assassination.
The idea here is that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone-nut former U.S. Marine communist who suddenly decided to kill President Kennedy.
There are several problems with this theory.
First, no motive. Oswald had no motive whatsoever to kill Kennedy. In fact, motive runs in the opposite direction. Don’t forget: in June 1963, Kennedy announced a change of direction for America. In his Peace Speech at American University, he publicly announced an end to the Cold War and a new era of peaceful coexistence and friendship with the communist world. Later, he negotiated the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviets.
If Oswald really was a communist, why would he want to kill a president who was reaching out to the communist world in a spirit of peace and friendship, especially knowing that his replacement, Lyndon Johnson, was cut out of same ideological Cold War cloth as the Pentagon and the CIA?
If Oswald was doing it for fame or to show that he was as big a man as Kennedy, as many proponents of the lone-nut theory claim, then why deny doing it? Wouldn’t a man who was seeking fame or glory for killing a president want the whole world to know what he had done?
Second, Oswald’s actions after the assassination are not characteristic of someone who has just assassinated a president.
For example, Oswald supposedly took the time to hide the rifle. Why would he do that? He would have known that investigators would have searched the entire floor. What good would hiding the rifle do? Doesn’t it stand to reason that someone who has just assassinated the president would do everything he could to escape before the cops arrived and before the building was closed off, thereby trapping the assassin on the inside?
Instead, in an assassination carried out by what would have to be one of the most casual and easygoing assassins in history, Oswald took the time to put some money into a coke machine in order to imbibe a soft drink before heading off to, say, Cuba, which many proponents of the lone-nut theory (and the Soviet-Cuba conspiracy proponents) claim he planned to do.
That’s not all.
He then casually walked out of the building, walked a couple of blocks, and then caught a city bus, which was heading back in the direction of the crime scene! Trapped by a traffic jam, he got off the bus and decided to take a cab, only in a moment of extreme Southern chivalry, he offered the first cab he saw to some lady. Later, he decided to go watch a movie.
Now, ask yourself: If a man has carefully planned an assassination, doesn’t it stand to reason that he’s going to carefully plan his escape as well? Isn’t he going to scadattle out of there as quickly as he can? He’s going to have his transportation carefully worked out. If he’s going to Cuba, he’s going to have a chartered airplane ready to fly him out of Dallas. Or at least a bus ticket out of town.
Oswald had none of that. No motive. And no escape plan.
This is the only paradigm in the JFK assassination that makes any sense and in which all the contradictions, inconsistencies, and anomalies disintegrate. The operation was no different in principle from the ones carried out in places like Iran, Guatemala, Chile, and Cuba and for the same reason: to protect U.S. national-security from a political leader whose policies were perceived to pose a grave threat to U.S. national security.
One of the fascinating aspects of the Kennedy assassination has always been the reluctance or the refusal of the mainstream press to consider the matter from the standpoint of one of the bedrock principles of American jurisprudence — the presumption of innocence, especially since Oswald was claiming that he was an innocent man. In fact, not only did Oswald deny that he killed the president, he went a critically important step further — heclaimed that he was being framed. The mainstream press has never shown any desire to confront that possibility and deal with it.
Indeed, they have simply accepted a set of very pat facts, all of which have all the earmarks of good frame-up. Moreover, within an hour of the assassination, it was being conveniently blamed on a purported communist, Lee Harvey Oswald, whose communist bona fides were being established with a press release by a CIA front organization in New Orleans called the DRE, almost immediately after Kennedy was pronounced dead.
As a kid, Oswald’s favorite television program was
which was about a secret FBI
agent who posed as a communist in order to infiltrate communist cells in the
United States and thereby save America from communism.
While other kids are growing up dreaming of becoming Superman or Batman, it’s a good bet that Oswald was dreaming of becoming a G-Man, just like the hero in
That would explain why Oswald, as a teenager, would be studying communism — so
that he would be able to become a secret communist infiltrator for the FBI when
he grew up.
Oswald joined the U.S Marine Corps, which hated communists and wanted to kill communists. In fact, the Marines, along with other U.S. troops, had just killed millions of communists in Korea. Would a genuine communist join an agency that killed communists? Would he join an organization in which he could suddenly be ordered to kill fellow communists in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Europe, or Cuba?
That makes no sense whatsoever. It’s simply not logical. But it would make total sense for a young man whose dream would have been to join FBI as a communist infiltrator, especially since the Marine Corps was (and is) a primary recruiting place for the CIA.
If Oswald was a genuine communist, why would he have been permitted to remain in the military? Recall that this was the Cold War era and the era of the McCarthy hearings, when U.S. officials were doing their best to ferret out communists in the army, the State Department, academia and even Hollywood. Why would they let a self-avowed communist stay in the Marine Corps and even be stationed at Atsugi Air Force Base in Japan, where the CIA’s top-secret U-2 spy plane was based? How would Oswald have learned fluent Russian while in the military, if he hadn’t been taught it by a military tutor or military language school?
Why? Because the only thing that makes sense was that Oswald was being trained as one of the CIA’s top-secret infiltrators into the Soviet Union and into domestic communist organizations as well.
We know that the CIA and FBI were infiltrating what they perceived to be communist organizations, such as the U.S. Communist Party and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. In order to do that, they would have needed infiltrators who knew the communist philosophy sufficiently well to convince genuine communists that they were genuine communists too. We also know that the CIA was obsessed with gathering knowledge about economic and sociological conditions in the Soviet Union. Recruiting a U.S. Marine to serve as one of its communist infiltrators would have made perfectly good sense, especially one whose qualifications included a longtime study of communism with the aim of becoming an communist infiltrator.
That would explain, of course, why U.S. officials didn’t lay a finger on Oswald after he supposedly defected to the Soviet Union and promised to give the communists all the classified information he had acquired as a Marine. Arguably, that’s treason. And yet, not only did they do nothing to Oswald when he returned home (with a Russian wife whose uncle worked for Soviet intelligence), they actually helped pave the way for his return.
No grand jury indictment. No harassment. No abuse. No torture. Not even an interview. While U.S. officials were prosecuting and persecuting the likes of Martin Luther King, Dalton Trumbo and other Hollywood figures, and others for being communists or communist sympathizers, they let Lee Harvey Oswald, ostensibly an American communist traitor, skate across the Cold War stage of history with nary a care in the world.
Think about how they have treated John Walker Lindh, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Thomas Drake, John Kiriakou, and Julian Assange. That’s how we would expect them to act against people who they considered were traitors or enemy sympathizers. Compare their treatment of those people to the absolutely nothing that they did to Oswald, notwithstanding the fact that he promised to reveal everything he had learned in the military, including during his time at Atsugi Air Force Base, to America’s sworn Cold War enemy, the communist Soviet Union, to which he supposedly try to defect.
There can be only one explanation for this: Oswald was an intelligence agent whose was one of the CIA’s communist infiltrators. That would explain why they didn’t do anything to him after he ostensibly betrayed his country.
It would also explain Oswald’s behavior in New Orleans and Mexico City in the weeks leading up to the assassination. They were maneuvering and positioning him, aiming to fortify his communist bona fides so that they could blame the assassination on a communist, the surefire way to dissuade people from questioning the official story. It cannot be a coincidence that one of the favorite tactics of pro-U.S. right-wing regimes in Latin America, whose personnel were trained at the Pentagon’s School of the Americas, during the Cold War was to blame covert state-sponsored assassinations on communists.
Something obviously went dreadfully wrong with the Mexico City part of the operation because they quickly shut down that part of the post-assassination investigation and buried it in secrecy. It’s not surprising that the still-secret records that Trump and the CIA suppressed on the October 26 deadline included the CIA’s 50-year-old records relating to Oswald’s trip to Mexico City.
Motive? Kennedy’s dramatic shift after the Cuban Missile Crisis, when he announced an end to the Cold War and a reaching out to the Russians and Cubans in a spirit of peace and friendship. In the eyes of the U.S. national-security establishment, that posed a grave threat to U.S. national security, in that it threatened to result in a communist takeover of the United States. Don’t forget that what Kennedy did was what Arbenz in Guatemala and Castro in Cuba had done that marked them for a CIA assassination. It was also what Allende in Chile would do to mark him for assassination and regime change. See FFF’s ebook by Douglas Horne, who served on the staff of the Assassination Records Review Board in the 1990s and who authored the five-volume book
Actually, this theory makes some sense, but only with the Mafia serving as a partner of the CIA. As in the case of the Russians and Cubans, it is virtually impossible for the military to have devised their fraudulent autopsy plan to cover up an assassination of the president by the Mafia. That’s because at the time the autopsy plan was initially launched at Parkland, they wouldn’t have known that the Mafia was involved in the assassination.
As Americans learned many years after the JFK assassination, the CIA had entered into a pre-assassination secret partnership with the Mafia to assassinate Castro. Like the CIA, the Mafia specialized in assassination, and cover-up, as reflected by the still unsolved murders of Jimmy Hoffa and Johnny Roselli, the Mafia figure who served as the liaison between the CIA and the Mafia. It would have posed no problem for the CIA-Mafia partnership to shift its aim toward Kennedy. That would have enabled the CIA to orchestrate the assassination, for the Mafia to silence Oswald, and for the military to conduct the fraudulent autopsy.
Motive? The Mafia wanted to get rid of Castro as much as the CIA and Pentagon did, especially so that they could get back into Cuba under a new pro-U.S. dictator, where they could continue to run their pre-Castro gambling operations, their child-rape operations, and their heroin and other drug smuggling operations. Also, while the CIA and the Pentagon hated Kennedy for his anti-Cold War position, the Mafia hated both John and Robert Kennedy for prosecuting, harassing, and deporting them.
Thus, there is only one JFK assassination paradigm that makes sense. We obviously do not have all the pieces to the puzzle, such as who actually did the shooting, but we do have enough pieces to see the overall picture in the puzzle. That picture is a national-security regime-change operation that took place on November 22, 1963, one no different in principle from other U.S. regime-change operations that were carried out during the Cold War era, including in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1960 to date), Congo (1961), and Chile (1973), all of which were intended to protect national security from political leaders whose policies and behavior were perceived to constitute a grave threat to U.S. national security.
Jacob Hornberger [send him mail] is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
Copyright © 2017 The Future of Freedom Foundation
Previous article by Jacob G. Hornberger: The Cunning CIA