Was this final proof that there was a lone assassin, more evidence that the whole thing was a conspiracy…or much ado about nothing?
Unfortunately, for both those who accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in assassinating John F. Kennedy, and the many who believe one of the myriad conspiracy theories advanced over the years, the release late last week of thousands of pages of documents relating to JFK’s assassination hardly settles the issue. In fact, while the release offers a treasure trove of fascinating archival material for historians to process, it proves almost nothing new – unless you consider an exotic theory on the assassination from JFK’s successor in the oval office to be new.
On Liberty Nation Radio, we spoke with one of the nation’s leading authorities on the assassination, Gerald Posner, author of the acclaimed best-seller Case Closed. In the exhaustively researched 1200 page volume, Mr. Posner takes on all the various conspiracy theories one by one, and ultimately concludes that, while a number of organizations had both the means and motive to assassinate JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald did indeed act alone. We asked him how he views the new documents released by President Trump:
Tim Donner: Mr. Posner, doesn’t the fact that 300 or so documents were withheld for further review, apparently the ones historians were most interested in, after they had 25 years to review them just feed right into the myriad conspiracy theorists who’ve returned to the public stage with this release?
Gerald Posner: Yeah. I think withholding these documents for so many decades is one of the worst things the government has done. It was bad when the Warren Commission did it. Keeping documents from public view and from the public on the assassination of the President of the United States has always brought about the idea that there was something to hide. Even though five million pages have been released over the decades, every time you have another stage where there are still files being held in secret people think “Why are they holding them? They must have something there?” That’s the case now. Another 300 files or more are being still held back. It will further fan the flames of conspiracy theorists. I agree.
Tim Donner: Let’s talk about some of the specific information we discovered in the documents that were released this week. A senior reporter at a British newspaper received an anonymous phone call prior to the assassination alerting the reporter to “some big news” about 25 minutes in advance of the assassination according to a CIA file. What do you make of this?
Gerald Posner: I love this. CIA files, they pick up like vacuum cleaners. They pick up all types of tidbits, rumors, innuendos. They all end up in files, and because they end up in CIA files, they look important. In an era in which you couldn’t trace somebody’s telephone number when they called into a central bureau, newspapers, police got regularly crank calls and all types of different calls. That was Morning News. They got in calls that Kennedy was going to be hurt. There were calls in Chicago when Kennedy had been there.
Now somebody calls up a British reporter and says “some big news.” It happens coincidentally to fall right before the assassination. Somehow that British reporter must have thought he got a call warning him now. This is what I love about this. Assuming that there was a plot to kill the President, what does it mean? Is somebody having second thoughts who’s one of the plotters so he’s going to try to stop it? He must have dialed the wrong number. Instead of getting the Secret Service, he got a British newspaper. Maybe it was somebody who liked that reporter and wanted to give him the scoop. It’s not much of substance, but it’s a great little tidbit for history.
Tim Donner: Among the documents were handwritten notes on CIA planned mob hits on former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and memos related to Oswald. Is there anything new here? Does this give you pause about whether Fidel Castro might have led or been involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy before Kennedy could assassinate him?
Gerald Posner: The CIA was in bed with the mafia trying to kill a head of state but it wasn’t Kennedy, it was Castro. They never even managed to wound him. The same Keystone Cops that couldn’t pull off a murder of the communist dictator in Cuba somehow we’re meant to believe came over to Dallas in the country in which they’re based and … they pull off the murder of the President as if they were James Bond. No, no, no. If you look at the attempts on the Cuban leader’s life, they were more the Keystone Cops than the super spies they’re often portrayed as by Oliver Stone.
Tim Donner: The documents also reveal that the former CIA director said LBJ thought the Kennedy assassination was payback for the assassination of the South Vietnamese President that same year. This is a new theory. Of course some people like Roger Stone, conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, will say LBJ used this to deflect from the fact that LBJ himself ordered the assassination.
Gerald Posner: That LBJ theory is one I’ve never seen before. It’s certainly unique, and I give it credit for being on a shortlist for the most unique and unlikely of all the theories I’ve heard.
Tim Donner: Finally, Mr. Posner, are we beyond the point where it’s even possible to convince the American people writ large that the assassination was not some kind of conspiracy?
Gerald Posner: An opinion poll done in 2013 on the 50th anniversary by Gallup showed 61% believed in a conspiracy and 29% thought a lone assassin. I remember people at the time said “Boy, that’s a big conspiracy number.” I said “Not at all. That’s fallen.” That 29%, almost a third of Americans, think it’s Lee Harvey Oswald is amazing considering that after the Stone film in ’91 it was 92% or 93% who thought it was a conspiracy. That number has dropped while the number for a lone assassin keeps coming up.
I believe one of the reasons why is after five decades, 54 years, people ask the right questions. They say “Okay. Where’s the deathbed confession? Where’s the person with a little bit of guilt on his mind who left a piece of paper behind or a diary? Where’s the piece of evidence been unearthed?” There’s no such thing as a perfect crime and conspiracy involving a public figure like Jack Kennedy. You might think at some point the evidence is going to come out, but you need one piece of credible evidence to prove it. If after 54 years you don’t have it, people start to think “Ah, maybe that 24-year-old sociopath armed with a cheap Army rifle really did pull off the end of Camelot.