Tuesday, November 28, 2023

I Always Thought the JFK Assassination Was a Conspiracy, Then Something Changed

Nothing like the mark one eyeball and a site inspection.  Then review the evidence reported.

There were lots of folks who wanted Kennedy dead that day.  I have read plenty on their machinations over the years.  Yet it is Oswald and Ruby who got lucky.

Ruby is the easy one.  He got lucky and simply succumbed to rage.  There was at least once in my life, that i was glad I was not packing.  I do think he simply lost it.

Oswald was an avowed communist no less and had already visualized himself killing a politician and had then acted and failed.  That is as bad as it gets.  At 24, no one would have trusted him, but he certainly had the weapons training and he owned both a handgun and a rifle.  This also means he had the ability to actually practise his shooting.

The target was down range and at less than 100 metres and he got off three shots.  All possible and plausible and also got one likely hit.  Still takes practise though.  At least we can avoid complications with three shots.

I had certainly slanted tward the grassy knoll, but here eyeballs eliminates that.

I Always Thought the JFK Assassination Was a Conspiracy, Then Something Changed

A personal journey of investigating what really happened in Dallas and the surprising road it went down.

(Illustration by The Epoch Times, Getty Images)

By Hans Mahncke
Nov 21, 2023Updated:
Nov 22, 2023


Today marks the 60th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It wasn't just a tragic event in American history, it marks the beginning of a period of growing distrust of the federal government, a process that's playing out today, perhaps more than ever.

A new Gallup poll finds that a whopping two-thirds of the public rejects the theory that President Kennedy was killed by a lone gunman. Indeed, the Kennedy assassination has become a symbol of government corruption and cover ups. The notion that the United States government killed President Kennedy is not only widespread but also forms the basis for subsequent conspiracy theories, ranging from unhinged 9/11 trutherism to far less unhinged theories about January 6th. In many ways, the Kennedy assassination is ground zero for conspiracy theories. If the government can take out a president, it can do anything.

But was there really a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy? While a large majority may hold this belief, it is not supported by the facts. Sixty years after that fateful day in Dallas, all the evidence still points to Lee Harvey Oswald, not only as the assassin, but as the lone assassin.

I have been studying the Kennedy assassination for 35 years. As a child, I witnessed the 25th anniversary of it, an event that was accompanied by a plethora of books and documentaries on the assassination. That was my introduction to the Kennedy assassination. Almost all these books and documentaries were firmly on the conspiracy side. Indeed, the 25th anniversary in 1988 helped seed a cottage industry surrounding Kennedy assassination theories. To date, more than 2,000 assassination books have been published, accompanied by hundreds of documentaries. The high point of the movement came in 1991, when Oliver Stone released "JFK," a movie that pinned the assassination on a vast plot.

Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and his wife Jacqueline stand on either side of a tennis net, holding tennis racquets at Hyannis Port, Mass., on June 27, 1953. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

I first traveled to Dallas in 1992 because I wanted to see the assassination site in Dealey Plaza for myself. I had read dozens of books about the assassination and was convinced that there had been a conspiracy. But this changed very quickly once I arrived in Dealey Plaza.

The main conspiracy theory at the time, which was also the theory propagated in Mr. Stone’s movie, was that President Kennedy was not shot in the back of the head from the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD), where Mr. Oswald worked, but had instead been shot from the front. The real gunman was supposed to have been positioned behind a picket fence on a grassy knoll on the north-western edge of Dealey Plaza.

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I took a shuttle bus from Dallas Fort-Worth Airport straight to Dealey Plaza. The picket fence was my first destination. I will never forget the stomach churning feeling I got as soon as I reached the top of the grassy knoll and peeked over the fence. It was immediately obvious that President Kennedy couldn't have been shot from the grassy knoll. The angle simply didn't match up. A shot from the grassy knoll would not have come from the front, it would have come from the side. I felt queasy. It was as if all the conspiracy theorists had swindled me with their books and documentaries. All the excitement and anticipation of my trip to Dallas had evaporated in the space of a few seconds.

I then visited an exhibit inside the TSBD, the building from which, according to the government’s account of the assassination, Mr. Oswald had shot President Kennedy. This was before the official assassination museum, the Sixth Floor Museum, opened in 2002. At the time of my first visit to Dallas, it was still possible to sit in the exact window from which Mr. Oswald shot his fateful bullets. Nowadays, that area is closed off to the public. As soon as I sat in the sniper’s nest and looked out of the window, I knew it was the correct spot. Everything matched up. Contrary to what the conspiracy books had said, it was also evident that it wouldn’t have been a particularly difficult shot.

But I was still left with one big question. I knew then that President Kennedy couldn’t have been shot from the grassy knoll and I knew that the TSBD was where the sniper had to have been. But was Mr. Oswald the shooter? I knew I couldn't trust anything I had previously read. So I went back to basics which, in the case of the Kennedy assassination, meant the Warren Commission Report.

(Left) The Texas School Book Depository building seen from Dealey Plaza. (Right) The view from the picket fence. (Hans Mahncke)

The Warren ReportThe Warren Commission Report is an 888 page report issued by the Warren Commission, the body established by President Lyndon Johnson. President Johnson had tasked Chief Justice Earl Warren with investigating the assassination. The Warren Commission Report is a refreshingly objective account of events, in particular when compared to modern day government reports, such as the Mueller Report into Russia collusion, which is replete with half-truths and false narratives. In addition to the main body of the Warren Commission Report, there are also copious volumes of exhibits and interview transcripts. This level of transparency is nowadays sorely missed. The Mueller Report, for instance, did not include such supplementary materials. Instead, Mueller’s materials, such as interview transcripts, emails and other documents, remain largely hidden from public view.
Over the course of the next few years, the Warren Commission Report, and its supplementary materials, became my assassination research bible. It is sometimes claimed that the report got many things wrong but there is no evidence for such claims. Despite lacking modern forensic technology, Justice Warren and his team got it right. What is more, the report’s 26 volumes of supplementary materials mean that we do not have to believe what the report says. Instead, we can look at more than 16,000 pages of original sources. Studying the report became a life lesson in the importance of primary sources.

New York Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey (L) and his running mate California Gov. Earl Warren lean on a fence at Dewey's farm in Pawling, N.Y., on July 2, 1948. (Al Gretz/FPG/Getty Images)

The Warren Commission examined Mr. Oswald’s activities in the weeks and months prior to the assassination in great detail. These parts of the report are crucial to understanding that Mr. Oswald killed President Kennedy, and that he did so on his own. Regrettably much of this information is omitted from popular narratives about the Kennedy assassination.
I’m often asked what convinced me that Mr. Oswald was a lone gunman. The answer is largely based on Mr. Oswald’s activities before the assassination. There are three stories contained in those activities which, taken together, leave no doubt as to Mr. Oswald’s guilt: First, there is the fact that the Kennedy assassination wasn’t Mr. Oswald’s first rodeo, second, there is the story of how Mr. Oswald got his job at the TSBD and, third, there are Mr. Oswald’s actions in the hours before the assassination.
Walker Assassination Attempt

Edwin Anderson Walker. (Unknown military photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

A mere seven months before the Kennedy assassination, Mr. Oswald tried but failed to assassinate another public figure, Gen. Edwin Walker, a prominent anti-communist who had run for governor of Texas a year earlier. Mr. Walker lost in the Democratic primary to John Connolly, the eventual winner of the 1962 Texas gubernatorial election. Incidentally, on the day of the assassination, Mr. Connolly was gravely injured by one of the three shots fired by Mr. Oswald.

Mr. Oswald had staked out Mr. Walker’s Dallas home in advance of the assassination attempt, including taking photos of his house, of the sniper location, and of his escape route. The photos were later turned over to police by Mr. Oswald’s wife Marina. On the day of the Walker shooting, April 10, 1963, Mr. Oswald left a letter for Marina which provided her with instructions in case Mr. Oswald was killed or captured. Mr. Oswald shot at Mr. Walker at 9 p.m., as the latter sat at his desk. The bullet missed Mr. Walker’s head by a few inches, having been deflected by the window frame. Mr. Oswald quickly fled the scene. When he arrived home, he told Marina what he had done. Marina kept quiet but not before getting Mr. Oswald to promise not to do it again. As a sidenote, Marina was a Soviet citizen who had only arrived in the United States 10 months earlier. She spoke hardly any English and was entirely dependent on Mr. Oswald.

Lee Harvey Oswald with wife Marina Oswald in Minsk, Belarus, circa 1950s. (Fotosearch/Getty Images)

The police had no idea that Mr. Oswald was behind the Walker assassination attempt until after Mr. Oswald himself was assassinated. It was Marina who finally admitted the truth. The bullet recovered from Mr. Walker’s home matched the Carcano rifle that Mr. Oswald used to shoot President Kennedy seven months later. Mr. Oswald had purchased the rifle a month before the Walker shooting, using the alias “A. Hidell”. When Oswald was captured after the Kennedy shooting, he carried a fake identification card for “Alek Hidell.”

How Oswald Got His JobThe other part of Mr. Oswald’s story which is often obscured by conspiracy theorists is how he got his job at the Texas School Book Depository. The fact that Mr. Oswald had this job was crucial to the shooting. Without access to the building, which happened to be located on President Kennedy’s parade route, there would have been no opportunity to kill President Kennedy. The problem for any conspiracy theory is that, at the time that Mr. Oswald got his TSBD job on Oct. 15, 1963, no one knew if, when, and where there would be a presidential parade. Details of President Kennedy’s parade route were only announced on Nov. 16, more than a month after Mr. Oswald got his job.

President John F. Kennedy is greeted by an enthusiastic crowd in front of the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth, Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963, just hours before he was assassinated. (AP Photo)

The story of how Mr. Oswald got his TSBD job began in September 1963, when a man called Buell Frazier was hired by the TSBD. At the time, Mr. Frazier lived in W. 5th Street in Irving, a city located 10 miles northwest of Dallas. The Oswalds lived in the same street as Mr. Frazier, having been taken in by Ruth Paine, who met the Oswalds through her interest in learning Russian. Ms. Paine took pity on the Oswalds and offered to temporarily house them. At the time, Mr. Oswald was unemployed and Marina was expecting their second child in October 1963. Incidentally, that child, a daughter called Audrey Marina Rachel Oswald, was born in Dallas' Parkland Memorial Hospital 33 days before her father shot President Kennedy. Both President Kennedy and Mr. Oswald died at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

On Oct. 14, Ms. Paine and Marina Oswald had coffee with one of their neighbors, Buell Frazier’s sister Linnie Randle. Ms. Paine mentioned that Mr. Oswald was having problems finding work and Ms. Randle, who knew that her brother had just found work at there, suggested the TSBD. Ms. Paine and Marina Oswald then took it upon themselves to call the TSBD to ask about openings. The superintendent of the TSBD, Roy Truly, agreed to interview Mr. Oswald the next day. Ms. Paine told Mr. Oswald about the opening and he agreed to attend the interview. Mr. Truly hired Mr. Oswald, who started work the next day, Oct. 16. That was 37 days before the assassination.

Tragically, as Mr. Truly later testified, there were two people who had their first day at work on Oct. 16, Mr. Oswald and another man. One was to be assigned to a nearby warehouse and the other to the TSBD in Elm St. It was by pure chance that Mr. Oswald was assigned to the depository and not the warehouse.

The sixth floor window of the former Texas School Book Depository, now the Dallas County Administration Building, on the 48th anniversary of JFK's assassination in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 22, 2011. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Oswald’s Actions Hours Before the AssassinationMr. Oswald’s actions in the hours ahead of the Kennedy assassination are another data point which strongly points to his guilt. During his time working at the TSBD, Mr. Oswald rented a room in a nearby rooming house. He did so under an assumed name, O.H. Lee. He stayed at the rooming house during the week and returned to Irving to spend weekends with his wife and daughters who were still living in Ms. Paine’s home. Buell Frazier drove Mr. Oswald to Irving every Friday afternoon and back into Dallas every Monday morning.

The day before the assassination, Nov. 21, which was a Thursday, Mr. Oswald asked Mr. Frazier for a ride to Irving. Mr. Frazier later testified that this was the first time this had happened. When he asked Mr. Oswald why he needed to go back to Irving during the week, Mr. Oswald said that he needed to pick up curtain rods for his room in Dallas. Neither Ms. Paine nor Marina knew that Mr. Oswald was coming to Irving that day. The next morning, Mr. Oswald uncharacteristically left his wedding ring and his wallet containing $170 on Marina’s dresser. Neither Marina nor Ms. Paine saw Mr. Oswald leave the house. Unlike the Walker shooting, Mr. Oswald didn't leave a letter for Marina.

Lee Harvey Oswald with his rifle, taken in his back yard on Neely Street, Dallas, Texas, in March 1963. (Courtesy of Marina Oswald)
Mr. Oswald walked to Mr. Frazier’s car, which was parked a few houses down the road. Ms. Randle saw Mr. Oswald carrying a long paper bag. Mr. Frazier also noticed the paper bag, which Mr. Oswald subsequently placed on the back seat of Frazier’s car. When asked about the bag, Mr. Oswald told Mr. Frazier that the bag contained the previously mentioned curtain rods for his rooming house. A brown paper bag, made from the same tape and paper used by the TSBD to pack school books, was later found in the sniper’s nest. The bag was 38 inches long, four inches longer than Mr. Oswald’s disassembled Carcano rifle. Police found Mr. Oswald’s fingerprints on the bag, as well as on the rifle.
The Assassination


Police officer J.D. Tippit in his Dallas Police Department photo, distributed in 1963. (Dallas Police Department)

Mr. Oswald used boxes to build his sniper's nest in the south east corner of the sixth floor of the TSBD. Just before President Kennedy was shot at 12:30 p.m., several members of the public saw a rifle protruding from the south easternmost window on the sixth floor corner. Those who saw the shooter gave a description of a slender, white man in his 30s. Mr. Oswald was 24 at the time but his receding hairline and gaunt look may have made him appear older. A witness who claimed to have seen the shooter later picked out Mr. Oswald from a police lineup. Several of Mr. Oswald’s colleagues at the TSBD stated that the shots came from inside the building. Three men who were directly underneath the sniper’s nest said the shots came from right above their location.

After the assassination, Mr. Oswald left the TSBD and boarded on a bus that was heading towards the Oak Cliff area of Dallas where Mr. Oswald’s rooming house was located. But the bus got stuck in traffic and Mr. Oswald switched to a taxi. The taxi dropped Mr. Oswald near his rooming house in N Beckley Ave. Mr. Oswald changed his clothes, grabbed a revolver, and started walking south, toward Jefferson Blvd. As he was walking past 10th St and Patton Ave, Mr. Oswald was stopped by a police officer, J.D. Tippit. Mr. Oswald shot and killed Mr. Tippit. While some have questioned why Mr. Tippit decided to stop Mr. Oswald, an all-points bulletin had been issued for police to be on the lookout for someone matching Mr. Oswald’s description. After killing Mr. Tippit, Mr. Oswald fled to Jefferson Blvd., where he slipped inside the Texas Theater without paying. It was in the theater that Mr. Oswald was apprehended after a scuffle with police.

(Left) The site where J.D. Tippit was murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald. (Right) The Texas Theater building in which Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested. (Hans Mahncke)

Ruby Shoots OswaldOn Nov. 24, 1963, two days after the assassination, Mr. Oswald was shot and killed as he was being transferred from Dallas Police headquarters to the county jail. The shooter was nightclub owner Jack Ruby. Many conspiracy theories are centered around the notion that Mr. Ruby acted as a hitman who had been sent to silence Mr. Oswald. But again, the facts do not bear this out.

Just as the shooting of President Kennedy had been an opportunistic killing, so too was Mr. Oswald’s murder. According to those who had seen him on the weekend of Kennedy’s assassination, Mr. Ruby was deeply emotionally affected by the assassination. Mr. Ruby later claimed to have shot Mr. Oswald to spare First Lady Jacquenline Kennedy the ordeal of a trial.

The fact that Mr. Oswald’s murder was not planned can be gleaned from the fact that Mr. Ruby was not at Dallas Police headquarters at 10 a.m. when Mr. Oswald was supposed to have been transferred. Instead, Mr. Ruby was still at home. On the morning of the assassination, a postal inspector was interrogating Mr. Oswald about the mail order purchase of his Carcano rifle under a false name. Instead of taking half-an-hour, the interrogation ended up taking nearly two hours. This delayed Mr. Oswald’s transfer. Mr. Ruby left his home between 10:45 a.m. and 11 a.m. and went to a Western Union office where he wired a payment to one of his nightclub staff. The money transfer was timestamped 11:17 a.m. After leaving the Western Union office, Mr. Ruby went to Dallas Police headquarters, which was located 350 feet from the Western Union office. Mr. Ruby entered the police station’s basement via a vehicle ramp and shot Mr. Oswald at 11:21 a.m., a mere four minutes after wiring the money to his staff member.

Jack Ruby shoots Lee Harvey Oswald, who was being escorted by police detective Jim Leavelle (tan suit) from the city jail to the county jail. Ruby died in prison in 1967. (Courtesy of Hans Mahncke)

Opportunistic KillingsBoth the President Kennedy and Oswald assassinations were opportunistic killings. Two murderers happened to be in the right place, at the right time. This is the only conclusion that can be drawn from the cold, hard facts of the case.

There are many examples of U.S. government lies, deceptions and cover ups. To name just a few, there was no President Trump–Russia collusion, the COVID-19 virus almost certainly came out of a U.S. government funded lab, and the slaying of Ambassador Christopher Stevens on Sept. 11, 2012, was not caused by a YouTube video. Public skepticism of government narratives is not only prudent but well-founded. The irony is that the event that originally seeded this skepticism wasn’t a conspiracy at all. For once the government told the truth.

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