Killing Kennedy

14th May, 2010

On November 22nd, 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy died, assassinated. Many believe that something else was assassinated that day: the American Dream, the idea of a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people. Who killed Kennedy? Lee Harvey Oswald? The CIA? Cuban secret services? Aliens? Nazis? Homosexuals? If you think you know, you might be in for some surprises (regardless of what you believe for now).

Like everyone else, I have been exposed to the official theory, and the alternative theory. This is a very complicated subject and so I will try to keep it simple, and tackle issues one by one. Let's begin with the official theory, as concluded by the Warren Commission (officially known as The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy), established by Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the USA.

According to this much debated commission, Lee Harvey Oswald is the sniper and acted alone. "Warren Commission" has become a synonym for "massive lies" in contemporary English, but we shall remain open-minded and endeavour to look at the evidence and the evidence only. I recommend you do so because some of things you might have come to learn in the past decades may not be as truthful as you once thought - or so was my experience, and I advise caution.

So, in theory, Lee Harvey Oswald chooses the 6th floor of the now infamous Texas Schoolbook Depository - and by 6th I mean that in the American way, which counts the ground floor as the first floor - and and elects the last window on the right (facing the building) to be the equally infamous "Sniper's Nest". From there, supposedly, he shoots at Kennedy. The exact number of shots is disputed, but at the very least there were two shots: one in the back of the President, through his throat,and another to his head. After that, Oswald leaves the building, kills a police officer, goes to a movie, and gets arrested. He is later on assassinated himself by Jack Ruby.

There are so many issues to discuss, and each of them could take thousands of words just to be introduced that I don't know where shit will hit the fan first. Much like a tasty BigMac, I don't know what side to bite first. I'll start by doing what most of you who are familiar with the subject are already doing in their heads: disproving that Oswald killed Kennedy. Well, so to speak.

The number of reasons why it seems unlikely that Oswald shot any of these shots is quite significant, and by no means do I claim to cover all of them. This is not an exhaustive chapter on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, not by a long Texas Schoolbook Depository shot.

The most famous argument is found in the Zapruder film (shot by Abraham Zapruder), in which you can see the President's head move "back, and to the left", as eloquently spoken by Kevin Costner acting as Jim Garrison in Oliver Stone's movie JFK based on books by said Jim Garrison (who sued Clay Shaw in relation to a conspiracy involving the murder of Kennedy) and by Jim Marrs, to be referenced later. You see how the smallest thing has ramifications to myriad other things. There are hundreds of books on this case, and movies, and documentaries. Needless to say I haven't seen or read them all. But back to whether Oswald could have done it.

I dismiss the Zapruder film for now because, as you will see, it may not be as truthful as I once thought it was. There are less spectacular reasons to think Oswald may not have been the culprit. According to his military record, Oswald was at best a medium shot, and according to snipers all over the world, none of them could have done what Oswald is accused of having done. I am no sniper, and I haven't read any full length books by snipers, but if they say it was impossible, then I give their opinion credit. Why was it impossible?

Shooting a moving target from that distance, through foliage (because yes, there are trees in the way), in the space of 10 seconds, two or three times, with accuracy, is not an easy feat. Again, I am no sniper, I cannot agree or disagree with these statements. What really puzzles me is why would Oswald wait for Kennedy's vehicle to drive into Elm Street (yep, nightmare on Elm Street, I thought of it too, you're not special) when he could have shot him down Houston Street, where he had a much clearer view, more time, and a less moving target since the limousine was moving towards him without slant, not to mention no foliage. The question of whether there was foliage or not is something I haven't found out yet: according to some, those trees maintain foliage in November, according to others, there weren't many leaves left in November of 1963. All I know is that if there was foliage, then it absolutely was an added difficulty of considerable importance, and it makes no sense that Oswald would have chosen to wait until Kennedy was on Elm Street instead of shooting him down Houston Street.

That said, apparently nonsensical events do occur in the real world, and one can never exclude that, perhaps, Oswald choked on his saliva as Kennedy rolled down Houston Street and and regained his cool only after the turn. Choking on his saliva, stumbling, panicking, coughing, anything. I would imagine it isn't too hard to suppose that Oswald, if he was there, would have been highly stressed (which, in addition, makes it unlikely for a "medium shot" to perform so excellently with no specific training as a sniper). This paragraph is important because, often, conspiracy theorists make use of apparent "problems" which sound like it was willed, but wasn't, and such problems occur a lot in real life. Things rarely unfold as planned. So just because Oswald didn't shoot Kennedy on Houston Street doesn't necessarily imply he had no intention to. However, if he was unprofessional enough to miss even an attempt on Houston Street, I have a hard time imagining how he could excel on Elm Street.

An odd coincidence is that Oswald didn't just snipe from the Texas Schoolbook Depository, he also worked there. Now, if you wanted to snipe the President, would get a job at the place you wanted to snipe him from? And if you intended to do that, wouldn't you have to know the exact course of the motorcade? Oswald started working at the Texas Schoolbook Depository on October 16, Kennedy was assassinated on November 22 of the same year, 1963. I have no definite proof that Oswald couldn't have known the path the motorcade was to take on October 16, neither did I actually do any research in that, but that sounds unlikely. If Oswald did it alone, outside of any secret service or agency, then the odds for him to know such information that long ahead of time are rather slim, if not inexistent. On the other hand, if he was involved in some governmental group of some sort, then perhaps he could have gotten such info. The vital point about Oswald is whether he acted alone - in which case it was the mad act of one - or whether there were others - in which case it is a conspiracy, with all that this implies.

Whether the schedule route was altered at the last minute, to force the motorcade to take a left into Elm Street rather than turning earlier into Main Street, I do not know. I have heard this idea, but I have also read that it was pure invention and that the route never actually changed.

Let us now tackle the Zapruder film. It is quite possibly the most famous home-video (video, or movie if you want to be picky) in the universe. It's an 8 mm flim, in colour, but without sound. The whole Zapruder film contains 486 frames - 26,6 seconds - and it shows Kennedy's head explode. YouTube has tons of Zapruder versions, original, stabilised, slow-motion, close-ups, etc. I recommend watching it over and over until all you can think of is "brain jelly".

To be more specific, the Zapruder film shows Kennedy lifting his hands up to his neck, where he seems in obvious pain. Jackie turns to him, and on frame 313, the fatal shot occurs and a large chunk Kennedy's skull is blasted away. As mentioned above, the fact that his head is jerked backwards after the impact is what convinced everyone that the shot must have come from the front, where Oswald never was, even according to the Warren Commission. That's the main point of the Zapruder film. If Kennedy's head goes backwards upon impact, then this headshot was fired from the front, and if the other shot was indeed shot from behind, as the Warren Commission says (and I believe it is correct, given the angle of the bullet through Kennedy's neck, which is a downward angle and given that no sniper was hiding behind the pedals of the limousine). What does that mean? It means there had to be two shooters, at least, and takes us farther away from the theory of a lone gunman (and not "lonely" as some commentors wrote... make a ducking effort, people). And if there were several snipers, then it wasn't a madman's mania that killed the President, but a well-organised conspiracy, maybe even a coup d'état. So, who killed the President, and more importantly, why?

At this point, theories abound, as you would expect. And I will return to the Zapruder film shortly, worry not. So who killed Kennedy and why? Excellent question. I know a few, and I guess the one you may be familiar with is the idea that Kennedy wanted nothing to do with the Vietnam situation and that the military-industrial complex blew his head for it. Military industrial complex you say? Whether they did it or not, I still think we should never forget President Eisenhower's warning, uttered during his farewell address to the nation:

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

The idea that the Vietnam War happened merely because some businessmen wanted to make money is regarded as truth by many, but I'm not convinced that would be enough. Of course, those who believe this have no problem believing America went to war in Iraq for money alone and that the same pattern is being repeated. I exclude nothing, but if I had been Bush, I'd just have bought their weapons without actually using them. That way everyone is happy, if that indeed is the motive behind every war. I think it unlikely, though.

This idea, however, is what Oliver Stone expresses in his movie, JFK, and the sad truth is that Lyndon B. Johnson is portrayed as a man who was going to "give the war" to warmongers if only they made him President. Johnson did say something along the lines of "Make me President and I'll give you your damn war," but you need the context, and the context was that Johnson promised either side he'd give them what they wanted if they made him President (and I guess he did this before he was himself vice-President, because if he did this as a vice-President, it can only mean one thing). I'll return to Stone's movie later.

Kennedy had a more pacifist approach to politics than some people would have liked. Some people? Yes, some people. Kennedy didn't invade Cuba, he basically wanted to make peace with the USSR and go to the moon together, and upset "some people". Richard C. Hoagland has by far the most interesting theory on the Kennedy assassination: he thinks Nazis killed him. Nazis you say? Yes, the Nasa Nazis, who, by definition, had no desire to work with Communists. Crazy you say? Yes, but probably not as much as you think. Through Operation Paperclip, Overcast, and the rest, thousands of Nazi scientists were taken out of Germany to American soil, including the famous Wernher Von Braun (Nasa director) who once was no less than an SS officer. Hoagland argues that both Communist Russia and Capitalist America knew of ancient ruins on the moon, left there by, yes, aliens, and that the space race was all about getting to this abandoned technology first. Kennedy, says Hoagland, wanted to go there together with the USSR. This much is attested by other sources, though minus the ancient alien ruins, naturally. The Nazi presence is another big topic and I won't go into it, except to say that Jim Marrs wrote a book about it called Rise of the Fourth Reich and that one of his books was the basis of Oliver Stone's movie on the Kennedy assassination, Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy.

Back to the Zapruder film. Immediately after having filmed the fateful event, Zapruder made three copies of it, gave two to the secret services, and sold the third to Life. On this I have a number of questions. If I wanted to send something to the "secret services", I wouldn't know how. Which secret services anyway? I don't know, but wouldn't you make another copy for, say, the police? And how about the American people and the world? I guess selling it to Life doesn't allow making copies for other media, logically enough. Someone told me Abraham Zapruder was an honorable man because he could have become very wealthy by selling the film, but instead chose to keep it so the truth could be revealed. Well, he sold it the day it was shot, and the only reason he had to make only three copies, give two of them, and sell the first to the media is because of money. If Zapruder merely wanted the people to know the truth, he would have made tons of copies and sold them to anyone who wanted them. Secret services get free copies, the American people get a poke in the eye. Thanks, Zap.

The Zapruder film was not seen by the masses until 1975. It was seen by a few people before that, and, oddly, those people said that the version that appeared to the public in 1975 was not what they had seen in the 60's. Not only that, after decades of the Zapruder film being the main argument to say Oswald didn't act alone, or at all, and that the Kennedy assassination was a conspiracy, experts started doubting its authenticity. I didn't look intensely into this, but what I saw raises some serious questions. I'll mention a few issues.

In the Zapruder film, you can see Kennedy's head move backwards after the head shot. Yes. But if you look closely, before his head move backwards, it moves forwards! It's only for a split second, but it makes no physical sense. What could explain such a reaction? Giving the Zapruder film the benefit of doubt, maybe two bullets reached the Presidential head at almost the same time, one from the back, explaining the forward move, and one from the front, cause the head to jerk backwards. Can that be? I don't have a clue. It seems very unlikely though.

The other odd thing is that if Kennedy was shot from the front, wouldn't his brain and skull bits be thrown away to the back of the car? Yes, and in the film, you can see Jackie go there to pick up the pieces, however, the "cloud" of brain matter and blood does not appear in the back of the President, but in his front. I'm no expert in ballistics, but that sounds incoherent. Bits to the back, but brain jelly and blood to the front?

And yet another odd thing: on the Zapruder movie, the limousine never stops, nor does it seem to decelerate. That is absolutely contradictory with what witnesses have reported, that the limo slowed down, or even stopped. Some say the driver literally slammed on the brakes, giving the sniper(s) the easiest of the shots. Even the JFK movie mentions this part (the slowing down) although they also use the Zapruder film without commenting on the fact that the limousine never stops or slows down in that film!

The rest of the evidence for the Zapruder being a fake is so technical and complex that I won't even attempt to discuss it here. I could do little but copy word for word what others have said before. Feel free to inquire on the Internet; there are videos on YouTube of experts explaining why that film must be fake. As of now, I haven't watched any of them, so I can't say whether they're legitimate or not.

So there's a conspiracy about the conspiracy? If the Zapruder film is fake, who faked it and why? This is where things become really confusing (if they weren't confusing enough before). What was the effect of the Zapruder film? It made a whole nation question its government and many lost faith in their government. To this day, the JFK assassination is a prime example of why the people no longer trust their leaders. The same thing happened with 9/11. That is the result. The question now is who could benefit from something like that. Probably not the American government, so I don't suppose they would have faked the Zapruder film to cast doubt upon themselves. I honestly don't have a clue. Russian spies? Oddly enough, I haven't heard anything about the assassination being the result of Russian agents' activity. You'd think in a Cold War climate as tense as this, you'd hear more often about Communists being responsible for the death of the President, but no. Still, even if the government had faked the film, why would they fake it that way and disprove their own Warren Commission? It doesn't make a lick of sense.

And the plot thickens. I re-watched Oliver Stone's JFK recently, and it is a great movie. But it's a movie. I was saddened to find out that Stone messed around with historical facts to present a stronger case than it really was. I understand the need for dramatisation and such, and I don't mind, but some things had no reason to be made up.

A simple example is this: in the movie, the three shells found at the "Sniper's Nest" are said to have been "neatly lined up" on the floor. In truth, they were just scattered, as they would if they had been shot from a shotgun. Now, does Oliver Stone really think that if secret agents meant to fake Oswald's presence in the Sniper's Nest, they would "neatly line up" shotgun shells on the floor? Wouldn't they be smart enough to just throw them in the general direction an actual shot would have thrown them? Of course they would. If they're smart enough to become secret agents, they're smart enough not to line up shells. Even a kid who meant to fake Oswald's presence there wouldn't line up the damn shells in a way that looks fake.

A rather impressive list of events and quotes depicted in the movie actually never happened, and Stone himself admitted to have made a "counter myth", meaning a myth to go against the myth of Oswald as the lone sniper. So let me get this straight, Oliver Stone says that in order to fight lies, you should use more lies? If someone lies to you, and to prove that this person is a liar you go to someone else and lie to them, do you think it'll work? No, you fight lies with the truth, and nothing else. Lie once, and everything you say is suspicious.

I don't care if there was no rain during the first interview of Clay Shaw in reality as is depicted in the movie; that's not vital. However, showing Jim Garrison's office as bugged when in reality it never was bugged, that's something I have a problem with. Like the naive person we all are, I didn't even think Oliver Stone would make up something of this importance. Ironically, Kevin Costner, in the movie, quotes Hitler as saying that the bigger the lie, the more easily people will believe it. I recently read that exact quote in Mein Kampf, and the logic behind this is that people will simply not suspect that you'd act so foolishly. Thus, I did not suspect that Oliver Stone would take such liberties, and I never thought of checking this stuff out, until, by accident, looking for pictures of the movie's poster, I found evidence that Oliver Stone had lied. Lied, I insist. Dramatising is one thing, making stuff up is quite another.

This being said, JFK is a great movie. It's well-written, it has awesome photography, direction, acting, and boy do I love that southern accent. The music is marvellous, everything rules. It's over 3 hours, but honestly, it's excellent. I'm not sure what Stone really wanted to do with his tampering of the facts; maybe he chose to make a more striking movie at the expense of the truth, rather than a truthful movie which nobody would care about. I don't know. I'm not sure this is a wise method, because not everyone will check the facts after seeing the movie. 3 hours is a long time for a movie, and you have to be dedicated, and, mostly, I trusted Stone, so I didn't think checking his facts was required. The bigger the lie...

But don't get me wrong, not everything is false in Stone's movie. Because of these little lies, I now have to double check everything I remember from the movie and can no longer use it as a reference for discussion. I did double check the story of the President's brain, which Kevin Costner says "has disappeared." An unlikely story. But guess what? That's true! The President's brain has disappeared!. How do you lose the Presidential brain? How does that happen? I don't believe it. Yet, perhaps, they really lost it, somehow... But I can't believe that. Maybe someone stole it. Convenient? It sure is.

Other things don't make sense, if the movie is truthful about the facts, such as the possible fact that Oswald ordered his gun when he could have simply bought it from any gunshop in Dallas. That, and the other events prior to the fatal day, in which people impersonating Oswald made sure to mark memories by being weird, talking about killing Kennedy, making Communist comments, and the likes.

So how to conclude on such a topic? I didn't know how to start, I don't know how to end. I have no answer to who killed Kennedy and why. Could it be Oswald? The Zapruder film shows that no, but if the Zapruder film is fake, then perhaps. But say it was Oswald, why all the mystery? Why is the President's brain missing? Why are there so many contesting testimonies? And most importantly: why won't they release the files before 2029? The 1992 JFK Act forced them to release documents by 2017, which is still not tomorrow, even today, and the only result of this is that by 1995, key elements have been destroyed. I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you.

And the President's brain is still missing... And I forgot to mention the Magic Bullet Theory... And I still don't know why Oswald killed a police officer if he had nothing to reproach himself... Killing someone in cold blood, in Texas, is not advisable, whether it's the President, a policeman, or anyone at all. Don't mess with Texas.


- Jim Garrison's book, On the Trail of the Assassins, 1988

- Jim Marrs' book, Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, 1992

- Website on the Zapruder film being a hoax

- The Magic Bullet Theory

- List of Oliver Stone's tampering with historical records

- The confessed assassin of John F. Kennedy

- Did the limousine stop, slow down, or neither? Witnesses testify