Four United States Presidents have been assassinated.
In 1881, President James Garfield was shot in the back by Charles Julius Guiteau, who believed that Garfield was the architect of a vast conspiracy to remove a faction of his political enemies from Congress.
President William McKinley was killed in 1901 by Leon Czolgosz, who confessed to the killing and shortly before his execution stated: “I killed the President because he was the enemy of the good people! I did it for the help of the good people, the working men of all countries!”
President Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth in 1865. Conspiracy theories surrounded the assassination almost immediately. Evidence supporting the idea that the Confederacy was involved in the plot emerged as late as 1995. In 1977 historians discovered a statement from a convicted co-conspirator, George Atzerodt, that was made before his trial. Atzerodt told of Booth’s knowledge of a Confederate plot to blow up the White House. Additional evidence was disclosed in 1988 and 1995 by William Tidwell and others, in two books describing the Confederate conspiracy. The latest, released in 1995 is “April ’65: Confederate Covert Action in the American Civil War”. Proponents of the Confederate grand conspiracy point out that as the Confederacy’s situation deteriorated, the South became more daring and desperate in their efforts to end the war.
President John F. Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald in November, 1963. Oswald had no obvious motive for killing the President like Garfield’s killer and did not appear to be mentally deranged. Indeed, his statements to the press were quite reasoned and calm. [See previous blog with link to Oswald statements]. He did not blurt out a confession like McKinley’s assassin. Thus conspiracy theories quickly arose. The history surrounding the Lincoln assassination demonstrates that evidence relating to the motives and circumstances surrounding such a conspiracy can take decades to uncover. In the Kennedy’s case, certain evidence was admittedly concealed from the first investigators. The Select Committee report conceded that there was a conspiracy behind the Kennedy assassination [see previous blogs for a link to the report].
The Lincoln assassination demonstrates another important element of a plot to kill a President. If the perpetrator is not deranged, plot must be driven by urgent motivations – the death of the Confederacy, for example. Americans have far more simple ways of getting rid of unpopular presidents – elections.
Finally, the Lincoln assassination demonstrates that when a powerful lobby (the Confederacy) wants to kill a President, they try several different means. Blowing up the White House, hiring an assassin. Other historians have speculated that Confederate agents even tried to poison Lincoln. This simple fact undermines the entire theory behind the Warren Commission report. The Commission focused on the shooter and the path of the bullet. But there could have been many shooters at various places who were prepared to carry out orders. Oswald happened to succeed. the focus on Oswald rather than on possible motivations and actors was either a foolish oversight or the result of a corrupt investigative process – one that could have been influenced and molded by the perpetrators themselves. Chief among the suspects is the FBI, who served as the investigative body for the Warren Commission although they released a report that “Oswald Acted Alone” just days after the assassination.
The formal Kennedy investigations do not indicate any serious investigation into who might have had such motives. One of the most highly motivated actors – then Vice President Johnson – was not investigated at all, even though his ties to the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover and his ability to use political influence to cover up such a crime would have been known by the investigators.
Subsequent events give credence to the theory that a powerful political group planned the Kennedy assassination and the cover up. The delays in releasing evidence (until 2017) are themselves evidence of a possible cover up. Why else delay the disclosure of such evidence for so long?
The most extensive investigation of the potential al involvement of the Secret Service and FBI in the Kennedy Assassination was conducted by the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Committee attempted to exonerate the Soviet Government, the Cuban Government, Anti-Castro groups, organized crime and the Secret Service, FBI and CIA. Neither the Committee nor any other investigative body investigate the possible involvement of President Johnson or other private interests, such as the Texas Oil cartel in the assassination.
The Committee acknowledged that it obtained evidence that military intelligence personnel may have identified themselves as Secret Service agents or that they might have been misidentified as such. The Committee sought to identify these agents so that they could be questioned. The Department of Defense, however, reported that a search of its files showed “no records …indicating any Department of Defense Protective Services in Dallas.” The Committee was unable to resolve the contradiction.
The Committee focused its investigation on “alleged links between Oswald and the FBI”. The investigation appeared to be based on an assumption that whoever perpetrated the crime would have limited the potential assassins to Oswald. This style of investigation appears to put the cart before the horse. Wouldn’t the first step in an investigation be to determine who might be motivated to kill the president and to follow the leads forward from those determinations? If a powerful group were determined to kill the president, why couldn’t it have multiple assassins in multiple locations awaiting the opportunity for a kill? Apparently this idea did not occur to the Committee.
The Committee found that the testimony of two special agents of the FBI appeared to be seriously lacking credibility on two of the major issues (the destruction of the Oswald note and the omission of an FBI agent, “Hosty’s”) name from a report purporting to contain a list of the entries in Oswald’s notebook). (Committee Report pages 181-187)
First, Oswald’s address book contained the name, address, telephone number and automobile license plate number of Special Agent James P. Hoary. That entry was a source of controversy, especially since this information was not contained in an FBI report to the Warren Commission in December 1963, one that purportedly contained the contents of the address book.
Second, the FBI acknowledged contacts with Oswald in Fort Worth in 1962 and New Orleans and Dallas in 1963.
Third, shortly after the assassination, Dallas FBI agent Hosty destroyed a note that had been delivered to his office allegedly by Oswald shortly before the assassination. When that conduct was finally made public in 1975 it aroused great suspicions, especially since it had not been previously revealed, even to the Warren Commission.
After the assassination, Dallas police found Oswald’s address book among his possessions and turned it over to the FBI in Dallas. It contained FBI Special Agent Hosty’s name, address, telephone number and car license plate number. Dallas FBI agents recorded some of the entries in the address book and, on December 23, 1963, sent a report to the Warren Commission. This report, however, did not include the Hosty entry.
The Committee’s review of the December 23 report established in likelihood that page 25 of that document, the page that logically would have contained the Hosty entry had it been properly included, had been retyped. The page was numbered in the upper left-hand corner, whereas all other pages of the report–save page 1, the retyping of which had been clearly recorded–were numbered at the bottom center. In addition, the horizontal margins of page 25 were unusually wide.
The former special agent who had coordinated the FBI’s Dallas investigation and had submitted the December 23, 1963, report, testified in a committee executive session that he had ordered the contents of Oswald’s notebook transcribed for the purpose of indicating any investigative leads. The agent acknowledged that page 25 of the report would have contained the Hosty entry had it been included, and that both the numbering of that page and its unusually wide horizontal margins indicated it had been retyped. The Committee accepted the former special agent’s statement that the page had not been retyped to mislead anyone, and indicated that the only reason the Hosty entry had been omitted from his report was because the original office memorandum setting out investigative leads generated from Oswald’s address book had failed to include it.
Had the Committee investigated the possible motivations behind the assassination and approached the relationship of the FBI with people who had strong motivations (for example, the relationship of J. Edgar Hoover with Lyndon Johnson and various members of the Texas Oil cartel) they might have delved more deeply into the inconsistencies and deletions. However, they did not.
Why do conspiracy theories continue to dog the Kennedy Assassination? There are several reasons.
First, the alleged perpetrator died under suspicious circumstances. Even Jack Ruby, the man who killed Oswald died claiming he had been murdered (injected with cancer). Before his death Oswald didn’t appear to be a raving lunatic like John Hinkley, Jr. – President Reagan’s attacker. He did not appear to desire to make a political statement like John Wilkes Booth, or to hold a grudge against Kennedy. He repeatedly asked for legal counsel and claimed he was a “patsy” in a news conference conducted just before his death. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FDDuRSgzFk
Second, the evidence surrounding the assassination has been concealed from the public. Even worse, the evidence has been manipulated by the government. The first evidence of this came in the FBI report issued three days after the killing: “Oswald acted alone”. Only after pressure from the media did the Senate convene the Warren Commission. Much has been written about the Commission and its report. What is amazing about the report is its content, which devotes pages to issues like the path of the bullet and the number of shooters. Why? What do these issues have to do with the identity of the people who might have plotted to put the shooter in place and cause the bullet to be fired? Common sense tells us that the Warren Commission missed the point. This fact, coupled with the continued efforts of our government to protect records, can hardly quiet the rumors.
Third, the subsequent report by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (See previous blog), which attempts to identify and debunk various conspiracy theories, contains serious errors of logic.
The FBI has played a key role in the assassination investigations from its premature conclusion to its position as the investigative arm of the Warren Commission to its current status as all-powerful guardian of all things secret in the United States. The FBI’s ability to investigate, harass and destroy people is without question. Its ability to use personal files and sensitive information to extort, conceal and destroy is also well-known. So it is interesting to look at the Select Committee’s conclusion about the role of the FBI in the Kennedy Assassination. See my previous blog and pages 195-196 in the Select Committee report
Why is the FBI excused from covering up evidence? From providing inconsistent accounts on a key meeting with Kennedy’s assassin just days before the assassination?
Are the reasons given in the House report for why the FBI was not involved in a conspiracy compelling?
WHAT’S YOUR OPINION?
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