Monday, January 9, 2012

Now, Finally -- Who Really Did Murder JFK?


I know, I know -- this subject has come up before.  It will again.  The fact is, the circumstances that led to the shooting of JFK work like a bleeding ulcer at the belly of our history, they sap us and confuse us, they prevent us from understanding properly how our society works and what the risks really are for anybody -- at any level -- who takes on entrenched American power.

I was reminded of the potency of our unacknowledged fears recently by an e-mail from a friend of more than forty years, a kindly and generous-spirited lawyer who has been a backroom presence in top Democratic circles going back to the Eleanor-Roosevelt-Adlai Stevenson era.  My friend has important connections in the filmmaking business.  I recently developed a film script based on my book Bobby and J. Edgar, and it occurred to me that my friend might be inclined to pass along the script to one of his Hollywood  friends.

A week after he received the script my friend got back with his appraisal.  He was still unshakably loyal to the Kennedy family, my friend wrote, and beyond that "...I must in good conscience disagree with many of the scenes in your screenplay... no one has been able to prove indisputably that the Mob killed JFK...that Hoffa tried to strangle Bobby, that the Kennedys arranged to have Marilyn killed, etc. etc..."

I replied at once.  My script -- see my book Bobby and J. Edgar for details -- never suggested that the Kennedys arranged to kill Marilyn Monroe -- the point was that the Mob tracked Bob Kennedy to Marilyn's house in Brentwood, hours before she died, and sent their own specialists in to dispatch her in order to frame Bobby, who as attorney general had started to round up key members of the Mob.  Hoffa's attempt to strangle Bobby comes directly from a book by Frank Ragano, Hoffa's lawyer, who was there.  But most wounding and inaccurate of all was the familiar statement that "no one" has proved "indisputably" that the Mob killed JFK.

I hear this sort of thing from time to time and I am reminded of the arguments put forward by the defenders of creationism, who point out miniscule gaps in the fossil record in hopes of discrediting the theory of evolution.  Such statements are profoundly uninformed.  "If Oswald wasn't the only shooter, why haven't the conspirators stepped forward by now?" is the standard challenge.

The truth is, at all levels, dozens and dozens of people implicated in the Kennedy assassination have indeed stepped forward.  For chapter and verse have a look at Bobby and J. Edgar and the extensive notes on Chapter Nineteen.  Starting with his fellow workers in the second floor cafeteria of the Dallas Schoolbook Depository, who watched Oswald having a soft drink while he was purportedly four floors higher shooting Kennedy several hundred feet away through the foliage, to the eyewitnesses who testified overwhelmingly that the fatal shot came from the front, the "grassy knoll," the evidence against Oswald was contradicted from the start.  Surgeons at Parkland hospital who attempted to save Kennedy would insist that the entry wound was found in the president's right temple.  The police who grabbed Oswald found no indication of powder burns on his cheek or hands, unavoidable if he had discharged a weapon that day.  James Files has testified from the Illinois State Penetentiary that he was stationed on the grassy knoll, and that he pulled the trigger.

The chief counsel who conducted a years-long investigation of the shooting for the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations, the distinguished Notre Dame Law Professor Robert Blakey, concluded that there were several shooters -- a conspiracy -- and that the Mob was likely to have been behind it.   When the two key mobsters who probably saw to the orchestration of the assassination, Johnny Rosselli and Sam Giancana, were subpoenaed to appear before the Church Committee, both were found murdered days before they could testify, Giancana with a "Corsican necklace" of bullet wounds around his neck and Rosselli chopped up like chicken parts and floating in an oil drum in Chesapeake Bay.  Meanwhile, key CIA records dealing with the assassination remain sequestered, until the middle of the twenty-first century.  Not a conspiracy?

You decide.  At least as fascinating is what led up to the assassination and what it would lead us into. Richard Nixon, no mean hand when it came to conspiracies himself, remarked on one of the Watergate tapes that the Warren Commission Report remained "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated" on the American people.  Of course, that was decades before the lead-up to the war in Iraq.

Have a wonderful 2012.


1 comment:

  1. Mr. Hersh, Having studied James Files, I don't find him to be a credible source at all. Why do you?


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