Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Debate Club – Breaking the Law

The following is the text of an op-ed I wrote for the "Debate Club," a feature of the US News and World Report web site. The occasion was the fiftieth anniversary of the JFK assassination. The magazine asked me and four others to comment on the question, "Was JFK's Assassination a Conspiracy?"

I'm not certain, but I think I made an error. Totally my fault. I know enough to fact-check myself, yet relied on my memory to boldly cite Newton's Third Law of Motion as proof of a shot fired from JFK's right-front. Kennedy's back-and-to-the-left reaction is proof of a shot from this direction, but I don't think it's an example of Newton's Third Law. It is, however, elementary physics.

Remarkably, no one called me on it. A careless mistake can undermine any argument. On this subject, it's almost certain to be used as a blunt object to beat you senseless.

But of course, the facts are on my side. Everything else in this commentary stands.



Was JFK's Assassination a Conspiracy?

Only someone unfamiliar with the evidence would sincerely ask, “Was there a conspiracy to assassinate JFK?” It is easily demonstrable – no thanks to the media.

For all its virtues, the American media has been regrettably complacent, even hostile, in its treatment of both the assassination and independent research into that crime. And so the issue has a serious public relations problem; when researchers are acknowledged today it is usually derisive. “These people should be ridiculed, even shunned,” the New York Times Book Review sneered in 2007. “It’s time we marginalized Kennedy conspiracy theorists the way we’ve marginalized smokers.”

I beg to differ. Independent analysis of the official evidence by “these people” has clearly demonstrated the fact of conspiracy.

The present discussion sets aside the question of culpability; it is restricted to the evidence of Dealey Plaza, where the assassination took place. What that evidence shows is incontestable. As critic Vincent Salandria observed, “Dealey Plaza reeked of conspiracy.”

In its Report, the Warren Commission placed a gunman on the sixth floor of a building along JFK’s motorcade route through Dallas. Such a gunman would have been behind the presidential limousine when the shots were fired. Yet of the 121 Dealey Plaza witnesses whose statements appear in the Commission’s published evidence, fifty-one, by one count, said gunshots came from the right front – that is, from the infamous grassy knoll. Only 32 thought shots came from the building, while 38 had no opinion.

Former Kennedy aide Kenneth O’Donnell, who rode in the ill-fated Dallas motorcade, said he heard two shots from the grassy knoll. He did not tell that to the Warren Commission, but later conceded, “I testified the way they wanted me to.”

The 8mm Zapruder film of the assassination unambiguously shows JFK’s head and upper body slammed back and to the left. Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Thus the bullet that destroyed JFK was fired from the right front – from the grassy knoll – far from the alleged location of the alleged assassin.

There is much more than this, of course: Dealey Plaza witnesses who saw unidentified armed men in the vicinity. Witnesses whose observations suggest a radio-coordinated hit team. Three Dallas cops who encountered fake Secret Service agents, and one who testified to meeting an hysterical woman screaming, “They’re shooting the president from the bushes!”

It all demonstrates conspiracy – the how of it. The question of culpability, the who and the why, remains; it is all that really matters. It is where the conversation begins. We should expect, even demand, that our media lead the way.

Conspiracy in JFK’s death is a tragic fact. To debate the issue perpetuates the erroneous notion that there is something to debate.

Even after half a century the assassination is not irrelevant. Nor is it too late to act. An early critic named Maggie Field once said that finding the truth about the murder of JFK was of utmost importance. “Until we can get to the bottom of the Kennedy assassination, this country is going to remain a sick country,” she said. “No matter what we do. Because we cannot live with that crime. We just can’t.”

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