Everyone of my general age and older will be recalling today where they were when they heard the news. I was seven-years-old and in Bombay, with my mother, sister, and grandfather (my father was in Mogadishu, Somalia—where we were to live to the middle of the following year—awaiting our arrival several days later). We were staying in a hotel (which was off Marine Drive, so my mother informs me). My grandfather came into our room—it would have been the morning of the 23rd—and broke the news to my mother, who burst into tears. That’s my memory. I don’t remember what I thought myself, as I was only seven.
All sorts of people today will also be raking over the eternal conspiracy theories regarding the assassination. But there was no conspiracy. There was no second gunman. I repeat: There was no conspiracy. There was no second gunman. On this, one may consult Vincent Bugliosi’s definitive, case-closing 1,600 page (plus 1,000 pages of endnotes on CD-ROM) Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Bugliosi settled the matter once and for all in his magnum opus. If one does not read the book—which, given the length, would not be surprising—, one may read his interview on the History News Network, “Why Vincent Bugliosi is so sure Oswald alone killed JFK.” He also lays out his arguments in this two-part video. Among the many reviews of the book—which, in serious publications, were all positive—is this one in the L.A. Times. And Fred Kaplan in Slate had a piece last week—driven by Bugliosi’s book—on “Why the best conspiracy theories about JFK’s assassination don’t stand up to scrutiny.” I’m sure various persons will wish to dispute me on this but they’ll be wasting their time, as I will simply refer them to Bugliosi’s arguments in the above links. Sorry, case closed.
ADDENDUM: A remark: Conspiracies do happen, of course, but in polities with a semblance of democracy, a free press, and the rule of law, they are eventually uncovered. Conspiracies necessarily involve numerous persons and sooner or later—and usually sooner—one of them is caught or spills the beans. It’s hard to keep a secret even among two or three people, but if lots are in on it, it’s nigh impossible: unless one believes that agencies of the US government—which is the direction most JFK conspiracy theorists gaze in—function like a Sicilian village, with dozens of people respecting some kind of omertà (and enforced, as omertà is, with the fear of certain violent death if one talks). If one believes that this is a reality inside the US government, one will believe anything. To believe that the US government functions this way this signifies that one lives in la-la land. Personally speaking, I won’t go there (there are, of course, contractual obligations for secrecy in spy agencies—though with the inevitable whistle blowers and bean spillers, e.g. Edward Snowden—but not for manifestly criminal conspiracies, let alone murdering a president!). If there had been a conspiracy to kill JFK, we would know about it by now. The identities of the top conspirators would have been revealed, if not through regular law enforcement, then in the hundreds of thousands—probably even millions—of pages written on the assassination. But if the supertankers of ink that have been spilled on it over the past five decades have not uncovered the mystery, this is rather strong prima facie evidence that there is no mystery, at least not on the question of conspiracy. As for the famous second gunman on the grassy knoll, there would have been all sorts of immediate eyewitnesses, and even more if he had fled the scene carrying his rifle (rifles being kind of conspicuous). And if he had dumped the rifle, well, it would have been found pretty quickly. Soyons sérieux. This is not to say that the entire matter has been settled and that there are no mysteries left. There are still mysteries, or unanswered questions, as smart political scientist Larry Sabato said yesterday in this too short video on the WSJ website. There are over a thousand CIA and other documents on the affair that remain classified and could shed light on a number of questions, e.g. on how much the CIA knew about Oswald, which was possibly more than has been admitted. Who knows what’s in those documents. Probably Cold War spy stuff, names of double agents, that sort of thing. But seriously, if those classified CIA documents contained the smoking guns in a conspiracy at the highest levels of the US government, it stands to reason that the conspirators—presumably including the CIA itself—would have scrubbed those document files clean. Destroyed the evidence. Shredded, pulped, and incinerated it. Duh.