Friday, November 22, 2013

50 Years Later: November 22, 1963

Which theory is more plausible:  a lone gunman, hateful of and intent upon killing the president, coincidentally works in a building along a serendipitously planned parade route, or a conspiracy that could pin the assassination on him? In the midst of the Cold War, U.S. President John F. Kennedy had many enemies:  the Soviet Union, a continual threat since the Truman Administration, and its sphere of influence; communists at home and abroad; disgruntled, and staunchly anti-communist, elements within the CIA, military, etc; and the Mafia. The latter is the most interesting, because it is mainly a domestic issue – and Attorney General Robert Kennedy was infuriating mafiosos, who, allegedly, had “aided” in the election of his brother, by cracking down on their activities. Eliminating the U.S. Attorney General would have been problematic given the focus on them; on the other hand, a president, as shown, has many enemies both domestic and foreign. The CIA, military, etc, wanted their war against communism, which President Kennedy was seen as being weak against ever since the failed Bay of Pigs, while the Mafia wanted Attorney General Kennedy dealt with and rendered powerless.

One had the plan and resources, the other had the manpower; all were used to keeping secrets. Only thing needed was a staunch communist to take the fall.

Meanwhile, Lee Harvey Oswald was known as a self-avowed Marxist opposed to the Kennedy Administration’s anti-communist policies as documented by his own activities and that of the FBI investigating them. Oswald, and by extension his eventual killer Jack Ruby, did not even need to be party to any broader conspiracy – creating a perfect “patsy,” as Oswald himself claimed, who truly knew nothing, with the added bonus of being eliminated by someone with no knowledge as well. (Actually, Ruby, who did have some mob connections, very well may have blown any cover-up by killing Oswald on his own, thus inadvertently, if not unintentionally, exposing the assassination to conspiratorial scrutiny.) Strangely, though, the more people believe in a conspiracy, and the more others vehemently deny such, the more the conspiracy becomes evermore muddled in ambiguity.

Thus, both a mix of calculated scheme and fortuitous circumstance created an ideal cover-up that seemingly continues to keep the truth at bay even today.

There also are the details of the assassination itself. Of course, everyone knows, or at least should know, about the “magic bullet”; however, Oswald’s actions would seem the tricky part. In the narrative fed by official accounts, his portrayal is that of a calculating sociopath with delusions of grandeur working – either in concert or independently – for the communist cause. A person who coolly fires three shots in a matter of seconds, using a questionable rifle to boot, to kill the president of the United States because of those beliefs. Then, after the assassination, he acts panicky and paranoid…with nary an escape plan. No plans to seek asylum in Cuba, or maybe return to the Soviet Union, as a cause célèbre, or at the very least to immediately leave Dallas? He had not even packed an overnight bag. Instead, Oswald decides, as if on the fly, to return to his boarding house in a rush, grab a pistol (why didn’t he have it with him earlier in case of a standoff with police?), shoot a Dallas police officer (if it was in fact him), mill about downtown storefronts and hide in a movie theater where he is eventually apprehended.

As such, the before and after narratives do not mesh.

Even more, the apprehension of Oswald has to be the most masterful piece of detective work in the history of law enforcement. Even by today’s standards, with our surveillance cameras, 24/7 news, mobile phones, social media, etc, it must rank at the top. Within minutes of the assassination, they were able to determine the shooter’s position – thanks to the supposedly calculating assassin fortunately leaving behind the weapon and bullet casings – and quickly spread a description of him. Numerous eyewitness accounts help in the determination as well, despite expert opinion that such accounts are typically useless especially in a time of chaos. Other accounts either are ignored or suppressed ostensibly to focus on a pre-arranged narrative the conspirators attempt to peddle to the public through the media – propagandist tactics no doubt learned from the Nazis during World War II, a conflict only 18 years removed and still fresh in memory. In essence, it is an incredible orgy of evidence against an alleged lone gunman implausibly gathered in a short time.

How? Because Oswald was already on the radar; the conspirators simply had to control the necessary flow of information about him.

Whichever theory one subscribes to, not since President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination – at the hands of a conspirator, mind you – had a national tragedy so galvanized the United States. For the majority, on both sides of the political aisle, it commenced the descent of national morale from one of hope to that of disbelief. Only for those on the extreme partisan fringes did the president’s death carry an encouraging implication:  for those on the left, who believed Kennedy had not championed the liberal agenda enough, they could press harder in the name of a martyred leader; for those on the right, who believed he had betrayed the country by instituting his liberal policies, they could press the need for ideological change. Either way, there persists the “what if” of a mythic second Camelot lost that tragic afternoon in Dallas, Texas, 50 years ago today…either at the hands of a lone gunman or those of conspirators.

©2013 Steve Sagarra

No comments:

Post a Comment