Saturday, March 07, 2015

Parsing the JFK Assassination

I've been a student of the JFK Assassination as well as a critic of the official explanation contained in the Warren Report for over 50 years and have written about it on this blog periodically.

The only thing I am certain of is that the Warren Report is wrong. That said, I really don't know what is right. It seems like every time you turn around someone is popping up with a new theory. The whole thing is like one gigantic Rubik's Cube, except that you can eventually, with enough time and by keeping your wits about you (or by using a "cheat sheet") solve a Rubik's Cube.

I have purchased, borrowed -- or out-and-out stolen -- and read well over 100 books on the JFK assassination, and most of the theories in them just seem to fall apart when you start asking the inevitable "Yeah, but what about...?" questions. No one has a waterproof and airtight theory.

The Kennedy Assassination has one solution. The problem is that it is not an easy one, an obvious one, an apparent one, and a lot of the data can go to support one theory or another. The single assassin aka the Lone Nut Theory? Plenty to support that. The Mafia did it? Got it. The CIA? Of course. The anti-Castro Cubans? Good case for that. The Kremlin? Okay, maybe... Castro himself? Hmmmm, well....

Those are the biggies, but there are many more theories scuttling around in the lower part of the curtains that latch onto one aspect or another and stretch it out beyond the breaking point: Oswald was actually shooting at Connelly because of his "undesirable" discharge from the Marines (Connelly had been Secretary of the Navy); the Secret Service agent who was driving the limousine turned around and shot Kennedy point blank with a pistol; a Secret Service agent in the followup car accidentally shot Kennedy in the head with his experimental weapon (actually a prototype of the M-16) when the first shot was fired; or my personal favorite, Kennedy was assassinated by the South Vietnamese version of the CIA in revenge for the assassination of Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem on -- get this -- November 2, 1963! Less than three weeks earlier!

All of these theories have their hardline enthusiasts who can show you the all of the clues that prove their point -- when the clues are lined up "correctly". The big problem is that many of those clues are all fairly easy to use when you pull together your own theory, if you line them up correctly. The key is that "correctly" -- we are all predisposed to see things that support our presuppositions and ignore any messy extraneous details that don't fit. See my post on Pareidolia from New Years Eve. The trick is lining them up really correctly, to fit all of the facts. Not so easy to do. Actually, it's apparently impossible to do.

Over in the newsgroup alt.assassination.jfk, which I check out regularly, there's a guy who goes by the name "Ralph Cinque" who is really into the photographic evidence from November 22. He runs a blog called Oswald in the Doorway which is probably worth taking a look at. The long and the short of it is that he thinks that Oswald is innocent and the famous Altgens photo, taken seconds after the first shot, clearly shows Lee Harvey Oswald standing in the doorway of the Book Depository Building; therefore he couldn't have been on the 6th floor. Lately Ralph's been obsessed with the Time Magazine cover that shows a long-lens shot of JFK and Jackie in the limo at some point just before the assassination -- he's convinced that it's been "doctored" in some way. I'll admit that it does look a little "off", but it was a telephoto shot and anyone who's ever taken pictures through a high-power telephoto lens knows that the resulting photograph will likely look a little "funny".

Sidebar: It is also interesting that in that Altgens photo, you can't even see Lyndon Johnson, who was riding in the right rear seat of the convertible that was the second car behind Kennedy's, with Ladybird sitting next to him (look between and behind the two motorcycle cops on the right side in the photo -- you can see his wife Ladybird, unmistakable in that hat, but where's Lyndon? He was 6'4" tall and he ought to be visible sitting on Ladybird's right). That fact, in and of itself, has resulted in another branching JFK Assassination theory, one that holds that LBJ was either involved in it or else somehow knew in advance that Kennedy was going to be shot in Dealey Plaza and scrunched down in anticipation of the shots as his car turned into Dealey Plaza. Since Lyndon Johnson was a notoriously amoral Texas wheeler-dealer, it's really not that much of a stretch when you look at that picture and wonder, Where's Lyndon?
Anyway, Ralph treats his blog like a newsgroup chat, which makes it really hard to follow, but if you alternate between it and his posts on that newsgroup, it sort of makes sense. Kind of.

The book I'm reading now, Harvey and Lee: How the CIA Framed Oswald, by John Armstrong, posits that there were two different Oswalds, along with two different mothers, whose paths trail and cross and follow each other over time in several key locations: New Orleans, Fort Worth, the Marine Corps, and New York City. All of this was orchestrated by, of course, the CIA.

Armstrong, with a huge number of footnotes to source materials,  does a good job of bringing together such various well-known discrepancies as the height of Lee Harvey Oswald that is reported differently in several places (e.g., 5 ft 9 inches here, 5 ft 11 inches there, 5 ft 8 inches in another place), the scars that he did and sometimes didn't have, and also resolves the question as to how Oswald could be enrolled in two different junior high schools in two different states at the same time, how he could work two jobs at the same time, one in New Orleans and one in Texas, how he could also work a job in New Orleans while he was already in Japan in the Marine Corps, how he could be seen in anti-Castro training camps in Louisiana and Florida while he was also in Minsk in the Soviet Union. And it also answers the question that seemed to come out of left field a few years ago: Was Lee Harvey Oswald living in North Dakota at one point? Reliable-sounding witnesses say yes, the Warren Commission supporters say no.

The only solution, according to Armstrong, is that there had to have been two different Oswalds, the original and one who looked a lot like the original but who spoke fluent Russian (everywhere except in Russia!) and who slowly took over Lee Harvey's identity in order to be able to "defect" to Russia on a CIA spy mission. This other Oswald -- whom Armstrong calls "Harvey" as opposed to the original Oswald, "Lee" -- was the one who went to Russia pretending not to speak Russian (and Marina is the only one who has said that he did speak Russian while he was in the Soviet Union) and came back to Dallas just in time to be set up as a "patsy" for the JFK assassination. I know, it is convoluted, and Armstrong takes some 1200+ pages to deliver it.

BTW, the theory of Two Oswalds has been around almost from the beginning of the investigation. A guy named Richard Popkin, a respected academic, even wrote a book, The Two Oswalds which identified the many discrepancies between the Oswald that the WC (Warren Commission) wanted us to see and a shadowy "Second Oswald" hiding in the dark corners. For example, the Oswald who drove a car vs. the Oswald who never learned to drive, the Oswald who was acting the dick at a shooting range vs. the Oswald who was at work at the same time, etc.

Harvey and Lee is an expensive book, $90 on Amazon. Better to find a library and try to get it from them, either directly or through Inter-Library Loan (ILL) -- if you can; I found a couple of out-of-state libraries who had it but wouldn't loan it out to another library. But I did manage to find it in a kind-of choppy pdf format for free from a questionably-legal Box account. It does not contain the disk of photos and documents and other exhibits that comes with the book, though, and that's too bad. But if you want to look for them, Armstrong gives you enough information to find them with a little diligent searching. Use this Box at your own risk, but it also contains numerous other rare and out-of-print books on the Kennedy Assassination in addition to this one.

For a brief look at Armstrong's theory, check out his blog, Harvey and Lee where you see such photos as this one:

Look at those pictures and tell me that you would bet your next paycheck on both of them being pictures of the same man. On the left is the USMC photo of Oswald, on the right is the Dallas Police mugshot of Oswald. Check out Armstrong's site, but try to ignore the early-days-of-the-Internet look of his web design, though. I don't think it really does his presentation of the facts a good turn.

Another blog that covers this is called Oswald's Mother and if you dig down enough you will find some side-by-side photos of the two Mrs. Oswalds -- something is definitely a little "off" there as well.

With pretty much any event, you are going to find what appear to be anomalies. Those Six Seconds in Dallas are probably the most analyzed six seconds in history, and it's weird that the more they are analyzed, the further we seem to get from the truth. A few anomalies, well, that's coincidence. But when you start stacking up the anomalies, at some point you get beyond a mere string of coincidences and start to wonder just what the fuck is going on?

There are more loose threads here than you'd find in Rick Santorum's sweater-vest after he's been ravaged by pit bulls. None of them seem to lead to anything close to a satisfactory conclusion.

Fuck that. I want the Unified Field Theory of the Kennedy Assassination. Chances are I'm not going to get it. Just like Chief Justice and Committee Chair Earl Warren said, "not in this lifetime."

It actually bugs the shit out of me to realize that at my age I will likely not learn the truth as to who shot Kennedy, and how, and who else was involved, before I shuffle off this mortal coil.