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Kennedy Assassination 42 Years Later: Case Closed?

  It was the Mafia. It was the CIA. It was anti-Castro Cubans. It was LBJ. It was the military. It was the Dallas police. It was Howard Hunt. It was the Umbrella Man. It was Marilyn Monroe. It was the Martians. In fact, they were all responsible -- the ultimate crossfire. The Single Conspiracy Theory doesn't wash. How could one conspiracy, by itself, explain the astonishing number of quirks, inconsistencies, and evidentiary gaps in the crime that happened 42 years ago today in Dallas?

    Yesterday George Lardner, Jr., who knows more than any other Post reporter about the Kennedy Assassination, had a piece in the paper about a weekend meeting of assassination researchers. Lardner's piece starts out with the poignant observation that a lot of these people have gotten gray and bald over the years as they've tried to crack the case. There was much talk at the meeting about bullet fragments, echoes in Dealey Plaza, the Zapruder Film, and the unhelpful schemings of CIA agents. "CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Dyck said the agency had no immediate comment," the story reported, which was a let-down, because I was hoping for a line saying, "CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Dyck admitted that the agency had murdered the president, and apologized profusely."

    The Kennedy Assassination isn't like the Deep Throat mystery, where there was always the promise that, someday, we'd know the truth. Even if someone stepped forward and said, "I shot JFK," assassination buffs wouldn't be satisfied. There's always More To The Story.

  Reality gets fuzzier under closer scrutiny. It must be some kind of law of physics. (Actually, I think it's called quantum mechanics.) You would think that abundant evidence, steadily compiled, would make everything clearer, but the opposite is true. Partial knowledge gives us a simple picture of the world and its phenomena -- an extension of the ignorance-is-bliss rule. Look deeper and you wind up scratching your head. The world was simpler when it didn't move, when it stood firmly at the center of the universe. Since Copernicus, things have gotten a little crazy around here.

    One of the premier skeptics of our time, Carl Sagan, who vociferously argued against tales of alien abductions, telepathy, and all manner of anti-scientific thinking, and who believed that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, still believed that JFK was killed in some kind of conspiracy (or so he led me to think when I interviewed him not long before his death). According to Lardner, three out of four Americans believe JFK was killed as the result of a conspiracy, and nearly as many think there was a cover-up.

    For the record, I am among those crazy, goggle-eyed knuckleheads who think that Oswald shot Kennedy. Just a lone nut in the window. But I recognize that many intelligent and rational people have different thoughts on this, and I am willing, potentially, in theory, because of my great mental dexterity and openness, to ponder alternative scenarios, and perhaps even change my mind and admit that Oswald wasn't even there that day. Maybe there were two Oswalds. Maybe the real target that day in Dallas wasn't JFK, but, as one dingdong wrote a while back, the limo driver.

By Joel Achenbach  |  November 22, 2005; 6:59 AM ET
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Next: Critiquing Today's Paper


[Sorry to be a pain yet again, but in the second para., second line, you have "had a piece in [the] paper . . ."]

[But don't feel bad. At least you didn't kill the President. Or *did* you?]

Posted by: Tom fan | November 22, 2005 10:58 AM | Report abuse

It's probably loaded with mistakes -- grammatical, historical, political, psychological. I'm not even sure I spelled Kennedy right. Two "n"s, right? One "d'?

Posted by: Achenbach | November 22, 2005 11:02 AM | Report abuse

"as one dingdong wrote"!


Achenbach, you kill me.

Posted by: Achenfan | November 22, 2005 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I followed the limo driver link. Haha! That's great.

Posted by: Sara | November 22, 2005 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Pathetic. You've confused fatigue with reality. Pretty obvious you haven't learned anyhting by reading the paper for whom you work, especially during the Bush administration. Wonder why Cheney so expertly compromised the Times and the Post? Revenge for Watergate + remove the enemy from the WMD investigation. But look at you - fatigued over Kennedy. Don't know what Cheney was worried about. Journalists these days obviously have their meager-sized minds pointed elsewhere.

Posted by: See eye A | November 22, 2005 11:18 AM | Report abuse

"Reality gets fuzzier under closer scrutiny."

Indeed. It's the mouse-on-the-Persian-carpet phenomenon.

"As far as whether or not we're just living in a big holodeck or not, it's a question we don't necessarily have a good answer to. I think this is a big philosophical problem we have to deal with in terms of what science can say about our world because we are always the observer in science. So we are still always constrained but what is ultimately coming into the human brain that allows us to see and perceive the things we do. So it is conceivable that all of this really is is just a great illusion, that we have no way of really getting outside of to see what is really out there."

-- Andrew B. Newberg, M.D., in the film "What the Bleep Do We Know!?"

Posted by: Dreamer | November 22, 2005 11:20 AM | Report abuse

According to Lardner, three out of four Americans believe JFK was killed as the result of a conspiracy, and nearly as many think there was a cover-up.

They've got it all wrong. JFK wasn't killed as the result of a conspiracy - it was the cover-up that killed him!

Posted by: Zman Biur | November 22, 2005 11:22 AM | Report abuse

The Warren Commission report would have us believe that one bullet went through Kennedy's neck, Connolly's right ribcage, right wrist, and ended up in his left thigh. This bullet was "found" on a gurney next to Connlly's leg by a Dallas cop. The bullet is almost perfect, hardly distorted by impact. Do you believe that?

Also that a shooter using an old bolt action rifle could fire three shots at a moving target 75 yards away in less than 2 seconds. Ever fire a large caliber rifle?

My answers: "no" and "yes."

But I guess I just a "loonie."

Posted by: nash | November 22, 2005 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"I shouted out:'Who killed the Kennedys?'

When after all, it was you and me."

Please pardon the classical reference.


Posted by: bc | November 22, 2005 11:29 AM | Report abuse

FMJ (Full Metal Jacket)
The lead core of this bullet is enclosed in a heavy copper jacket, which results in little or no expansion and deep penetration. Not recommended for hunting, the primary uses of the FMJ are military and target shooting.

Posted by: short-timer | November 22, 2005 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I was a sophomore in high school in Fort Worth in '63. The president spoke to a crowd outdoors in downtown Ft. Worth in the morning before driving to Dallas. The address was carried on local TV and radio and classes were suspended so we could listen and watch. JFK was not universally beloved in Texas- that's why he came to town, building support for a re-election campaign in '64. Then-Democrat John Connelly was governor of Texas and was there to grease and squeeze and project solidarity with the incumbent. During lunch the school principal announced that someone had shot at the president.
After a long few minutes he came back to announce that Kennedy had been hit and was taken to a hospital. We all sat stunned and ignored clocks and bells until the final announcement was made that the president was dead. It was the beginning of adulthood for a lot of people, myself included. Of course we didn't know how much crapola we were going to have to wade through in the next decade- RFK, MLK, Vietnam, Watergate. I never thought I would feel that same numbness and shock again- until 9/11/01.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 22, 2005 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Yes, yes, but what I really want to know is, has Joel figured out what the smelly thing on his desk was?

Posted by: dr | November 22, 2005 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Indeed, k'guy. As one of the characters in Stephen King's "Dreamcatcher" is wont to say, "Same s***, different day."

Posted by: Dreamer | November 22, 2005 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Another PSA:

Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Here's related information: you know how people say they'll always remember where they were when they heard JFK had been shot?

There was a study where they asked people "where were you when you heard the news?" and sure enough everybody remembered where they were. Then the researchers investigated to determine how accurate the memories were, and it turned out: not very. And the people who were the most positive that their memories were accurate, those people were the most likely to be completely wrong about where they were when they heard the news.

My worldview was completely changed by this study. Please note that I am describing the study FROM MEMORY so everything I'm saying is probably untrue. Nevertheless, I think this is important information. We construct our world. Joel has constructed himself a logical, dependable world--I recognize the landscape there. Dreamer has constructed a world where anything can happen--because what the bleep, and so on. And that looks familiar to me too.

These conspiracy theorists have interesting minds and they are constructing complex realities, but a conspiracy theory, no matter how complex, can never be as complicated as what really happened.

Posted by: Reader | November 22, 2005 11:39 AM | Report abuse

As with any "event" in the Higgs Ocean, the answer depends on which Observer you ask and which waves they're choosing to ride.

I would suggest to Dr. Newberg that from a practical perspective perhaps there's no "out there" out there, and that maybe the only vantage points are "in there".

Oh, and I'd ask him for his Lobster recipe.


Posted by: bc | November 22, 2005 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Seriously though, one of my first memories is his funeral. The picture I remember most vividly is the funeral cortege, going down the avenue.

Posted by: dr | November 22, 2005 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I was sixteen months old so of course I can only assume I was in my crib in Ft. Huachuca AZ. But I do remember exactly where I was when I heard the news that Reagan had been shot.

Posted by: omnigood | November 22, 2005 11:43 AM | Report abuse

This isn't a topic to joke about. Any thorough study makes it clear that JFK, as Lincoln, was killed by a conspiracy. I don't think it's funny that at a time when we are the victims of government deception about Iraq that we can't get those who obviously haven't done the research to take a look at the Warren Report and its supporting volumes of evidence. I've done it and as a history teacher I can tell you that it's a joke and a transparent coverup. But you need to research, read, and think critically. More Americans need to be aware that if this case had been properly studied we could have prevented Watergate and the present fiasco in Iraq. The powers that be have not wanted that to occur since 11/22/63.

Posted by: tlees2 | November 22, 2005 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Ther real key is not whether there was a conspiracy, but who lead it. The answer can be found by discovering who benefited the most and had the most to gain by the killing of JFK. Also conspiracies have to be carefully shielded from the public eye. The mastermind must have the resources and the opportunity to keep the whole thing under warps. The obvious answer is:

Gerald Ford

If Kennedy hadn't been shot he might have pulled out of Vietnam and ushered in a Golden Age of American prosperity. When Johnson took over and got use mired in the Vietnam War, that cleared the way for Nixon to win. Then getting Agnew to resign led to the backdoor appointment of Ford. Ford knew he had no chance of ever being directly elected, so he engineered the whole ten years that followed.

By sitting on the Warren Commission, Ford was able to put out enough red herrings to misdirect people for decades. I wouldn't be surprised to find that Oliver Stone and Gerald Ford aren't secretly in cahoots to spread further disinformation.

Can I prove it? Of course not. That just shows how effective the plot has been.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 22, 2005 11:45 AM | Report abuse


Whatever. Like WWII, people just can't just seem to let this subject alone. And with WWII it's worse, we know who lost and won. (exception holocaust, which must never be forgotten) And PBS et al, keep repeating it on and on and on. Hitler's secret this, Nazi's that, it's boring.

But, the Kennedy murder is worse. The book on that was closed years ago, and one can keep chopping the evidence into such small bits that it no one can tell what went on.

In this case putting all those bits into a big picture undoubtedly shows the correct version. Oswald went to Dallas, shot Kennedy, was murdered by Jack Ruby. Johnson became President.

Fin. End of story.

Posted by: Kurt | November 22, 2005 11:48 AM | Report abuse

OK Reader, let's go. You sayin' I don't remember where I was? You sayin' that? Take me to the high school lunchroom and I'll show you where I was sitting in 1963. Better yet, meet me at the old Service Merchandise (now a Target) on Route 1 south and I'll show you where I was standing in 1986 when I saw the Challenger explode on live TV. It may take me a while to find where I parked my car in the parking lot this morning, but as soon as I find it my keys and my coat and locate the car I'm ready to prove the accuracy of my recollections in any way you choose!

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 22, 2005 11:53 AM | Report abuse

k-guy, now would be a good time for a "Rashomon" reference.

Dolphin michael can make an Illuminatai (or Obliterati) reference, should he choose.


Posted by: bc | November 22, 2005 11:53 AM | Report abuse


Gerald Ford? I knew it. I just knew it. The Truth is Out There.

Posted by: CowTown | November 22, 2005 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Too young to have been around or remember the Kennedy assassination - but I do remeber where I was when I heard Kurt Cobain got shot. (I was a sphomore in high school - how's that for generation gap, k-guy?)

Posted by: LP | November 22, 2005 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I was in Dallas all last week on a business trip. I'd never been to Dealey Plaza before, so I booked a hotel 4 blocks away up Elm Street. I was amazed at how many people there were at the plaza, walking around, pointing, taking pictures, or just sitting on the grass, thinking. I counted over 120 on Saturday. The site has spawned a small cottage industry of locals who ply their conspiracy trade to tourists and passers by from large easels set up with photos of the shooting and out-takes from the Zapruder film. Publications are sold and people are told "it doesn't cost anything to look", (autopsy photos on page 14). I saw those online once, and I don't need to see them ever again.

The phrase "circus atmosphere" describes it perfectly. Some of these entrepreneurs offer a tour for $10. I saw one of them go over to a storm drain near the spot where the white X in the street marks position of the fatal head shot, and he had lifted the manhole cover to show someone how a shooter could have easily fit in the sewer.

The largish crowd apparently had nothing to do with today's anniversary of the killing. I was told that on any weekend with nice weather, as mnay or more people come out to look and gawk.

Posted by: unbridled | November 22, 2005 11:58 AM | Report abuse

A related story...
A snippet from a recent column (you can see the dateline) from one of our metro columnists, Cary Clack. Robert Kennedy would have been 80 years old last Sunday. I have a tie-in story to the Robert Kennedy assassination that I shall probably share with you later tonight, but Thanksgiving Day food errands beckon, I'm afraid.

Words and idealism of Robert Kennedy transcend partisanship
Web Posted: 11/19/2005 12:00 AM CST
San Antonio Express-News

Because of an assassin's bullet, fired on a June night in Los Angeles in 1968 after he'd won the California Democratic presidential primary, Robert Kennedy will always be 42. But Sunday would have been his 80th birthday.

He was never an orator with the skills of a Ronald Reagan, to his right, or a Jesse Jackson, to his left. Yet since Kennedy's death, it can be argued that with the exceptions of Reagan and Jackson, no presidential candidate gave more consistently passionate and eloquent speeches, as did he during the course of his 85-day campaign.

One of Kennedy's most attractive qualities was his idealism, as U.S. Sen. Barack Obama noted this week in a speech about Kennedy.

"It was an idealism not based on rigid ideology," said Obama. "Yes, he believed that government is a force for good -- but not the only force. He distrusted big bureaucracies, and knew that change erupts from the will of free people in a free society; that it comes not only from new programs, but new attitudes as well."

The most noble of political speeches transcend ideology and reminds us of shared vales and challenges.

The following are excerpts from speeches of Robert Kennedy, some of which preceded his presidential campaign:

"For as long as men are hungry, and their children uneducated, and their crops destroyed by pestilence, the American Revolution will have a part to play. As long as men are not free -- in their lives and their opinions, their speech and their knowledge -- that long will the American Revolution not be finished."

Posted by: Loomis | November 22, 2005 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I dunno, Reader. You might be doing Joel a disservice when you say he has "constructed himself a logical, dependable world." Joel seems to be one who will admit to not knowing all the answers. In the Kit "About the Achenblog," he wrote this:

"I marvel at people who have extremely strong convictions and dogmatic beliefs about issues that, to me, are fraught with uncertainty and ambiguity and incomplete data. Would that just once I knew the truth about anything."

If Joel were asked where he had been at a particular point in time, he probably wouldn't be among the respondents who were "the most positive that their memories were accurate" and coincidentally [as seems to be the case with many things] "the most likely to be completely wrong."

[In the previous paragraph I'm not necessarily referring to the Kennedy assassination -- I'm guessing Joel was a wee lad at the time.]

[Me, I wasn't even born yet. I feel so left out . . .]

Posted by: Tom fan | November 22, 2005 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Two questions-
Who is or was Kurt Cobain?
What's a sphomore?

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 22, 2005 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Kurosawaguy, I was in the Giant parking lot a couple hundred yards south of the Service Merchandise when I heard that Reagan had been shot. I was in third grade when JFK was shot. I don't think they said anything at school. I think they just sent us home and let our parents tell us. That was the beginning of an awful decade in our history that ended with Nixon's resignation. (Okay, that makes for an eleven year decade. Tough.)

Posted by: pj | November 22, 2005 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Just posted the following on the previous boodle, not realizing there was a new one in progress. Can we have some kind of bell that rings to alert us chowderheads when there's a new boodle? And of course didn't realize Joel had posted on the subject of JFK.

Just realized today is the anniversary of the JFK assassination (haven't seen anything in the MSM on it yet). And it also happens to be my middle daughter's "gotcha day," which people in the adoption community understand to mean this is the day we "gotcha" from the adoption agency. In our case, it's the day we got her from Korea 21 years ago (she was 4 years old). So Happy Gotcha Day, Cassie.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 22, 2005 12:05 PM | Report abuse

bc writes, "I would suggest to Dr. Newberg that from a practical perspective perhaps there's no 'out there' out there, and that maybe the only vantage points are 'in there.'"

I think Newberg has indeed considered this possibility, as have some of his co-stars in "Bleep":

"There is no 'out there' out there independent of what's going on in here."

-- Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D.

"The brain does not know the difference between what it sees in its environment and what it remembers because the same specific neural nets are firing.
[This raises] the question: What is reality?"

-- Joseph Dispenza

"How can we continue to see the world as real, when the self that is determining to be real is intangible?"

-- Ramtha

Posted by: Dreamer | November 22, 2005 12:06 PM | Report abuse

And Earl Warren, graduate of Bakersfield High School, led the investigation into the JFK assassination. Also on the Warren Commission were ABC News' Cokie Robert's dad, Rep. Hale Boggs of Louisiana, and Rep. Gerald Ford of Michigan (Nebraskan, Yale grad, and descended from the ancient Windsor, Conn. Porters). What a strange admixture!

Posted by: Loomis | November 22, 2005 12:07 PM | Report abuse

a baker's decade.

Posted by: omnigoof | November 22, 2005 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Fellow Old Timers: I was in fourth grade when President Kennedy was shot. Our Irish nuns kept us on our knees for about three hours praying for his (a) maraculous recovery; or, (b) speedy entrance to heaven. I don't remember where I was when Reagan was shot, but I wasn't in school.

Curmudgeon: Congrats. Happy Gotcha Day.

Posted by: CowTown | November 22, 2005 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I was in the BC3 student union eating a donut.

Posted by: omnigood | November 22, 2005 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to have an opinion about all this, but it looks like they've all been taken.

Posted by: kindathinker | November 22, 2005 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Glad you explained the Hotelling Model to jw.

Happy that you're back safe and sound from Japan. More tales, please?

Bayou Self:
Thanks for explaining it was Maury Sr. Were you a feature writer at the time? For what paper--Houston Chron?

"I'd like someone to explain to me why sweet potatoes were ever created. Ick."

HaHa! As Popeye said, "I y'am what I

An adoptive parent. Ahhh...

Posted by: Loomis | November 22, 2005 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I was in 11th grade study hall when I heard about JFK. I was in my car driving on Washtenaw Ave. underneath the US 23 bridges in Ann Arbor when I heard that J. Edgar Hoover (alias "Mary") had died. I recalled raising my arms (steering with my knees) and letting out a joyous whoop. I was in Dallas for a meeting on a lawsuit when Richard Nixon was dying.

Cover ups happen all the time. Democracy, as well as the lack of it, is exceedingly exhausting. It's sort of like insurance companies -- banking (literally and figuratively) on the fact that very few people complain when they are denied the benefits for which they have dutifully paid. Sometimes we feel like protesting, and other times we don't. Life, sort of, goes on. Or not.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | November 22, 2005 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I just finished giving the Warren Commision Report a biref glance and according to the timing evidence of the Zapruder film there was a 4.8 to 5.6 second delay between the Shot that hit Kennedy's neck and the second shot that hit him in the back of the hit. That's plenty of time to shoot a bolt action three times if a minimum of 2.3 seconds for each shot is considered. And 75 yards is nothing to a marksman. Heck, I can dot the i on a budweiser bottle from 100 feet with a Crossman 360 BB gun without a scope.

Posted by: omnigood | November 22, 2005 12:23 PM | Report abuse

back of the hit=back of the head

Posted by: omnigood | November 22, 2005 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Of course I can't see the i, I just know where it is: Zen and the BB gun sharpshooter.

Posted by: omnigood | November 22, 2005 12:26 PM | Report abuse

sorry if I killed the 'boodle. but I'm really hungry and must get lunch.

Posted by: omnigood | November 22, 2005 12:27 PM | Report abuse

The concept of "scottynuke" may or may not have been on my future parents' minds when JFK left us...

I was in a middle school locker room when I heard Reagan was shot...

I was in an Army barracks in Germany when I heard about Challenger...

I do not subscribe to the notion that topics are somehow "off-limits" for comedy.

I do subscribe to the notion that K-guy has an excellent alibi for his whereabouts that fateful day...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 22, 2005 12:28 PM | Report abuse


Ever heard of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle? It states, and I'm really paraphrasing here, that we can never precisely know the position of a particle of matter (yes, Virginia, this IS rocket science) because the very act of looking at it changes its location, however minutely. Sounds like this also applies to murder mysteries...I agree with you: Oswald did it. (I still have a VERY vivid memory of that day in the fourth grade; I even had nightmares that night.)

Posted by: LCox | November 22, 2005 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Linda: I'm an adoptive parent three times over. I have no brains whatsoever.

K-guy is absolutely right: the day JFK was shot was the first day of adulthood for many of us. I was in 12th grade, between periods, walking to last period study hall in the library, when a girl named Karen came running down the hall in tears. I stopped her and asked what was wrong. She said Kennedy was shot. I don't know what study Reader might have been referring to, but I don't know a single soul of my generation who doesn't know exactly and precisely where he or she was at the moment they heard. I remember where I was three days later, watching the TV when they brought Oswald out, and Ruby shot him.

I was working in the composing room of the student newspaper at my alma mater when somebody came in and said Martin Luther King had been shot. We were in shock--and on deadline--and realized we had to do something. So we threw out the editorial on whatever it was, and put in what newspawper types call a "mourning box," a text box with a heavy black border, with the words, "In memoriam, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr."

Shortly after the semester ended, I signed up to work on Robert Kennedy's campaign instead of earning money on a typical summer job. Four days later, I was up late watching the California returns, and after RFK's speech, he left the hotel ballroom and I went into the kitchen to get something to eat. When I came back into the TV room a few minutes later, my father (who had been asleep in his chair) had woken up and said, "They shot your guy." He hated RFK, and was almost gloating. If I'd had a gun right then, I'd have shot my father.

My girlfriend, who was editor of the college paper, was invited to ride on the funeral train, and I was supposed to go with her unless they could contact the editor of the newspaper at Penn. At the very last second, they located him, and so I was bumped from being on the train.

I want to meet the pollster who found that people probably don't remember these things accurately. Maybe he's the guy the boodler was referring to who said "Americans like Dick Cheyney."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 22, 2005 12:40 PM | Report abuse

SCC entry for my 12:06 post:

"How can we continue to see the world as real, when the self that is determining IT to be real is intangible?"

Bah. Bleep.

Posted by: Dreamer | November 22, 2005 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Firsttimeblogger, should you wish to visit J. Edgar's grave, he's planted right here in town at the Congressional Cemetary. And as in life, Clyde Tolson is not far away from the bossman. I'd recommend a visit to Congressional to anyone interested in history. There are lots of politicos, obviously, but there are plenty of other interesting folks planted there, and it's right next to the D.C. jail, so if you have friends or relatives incarcerated, it's a twofer!

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 22, 2005 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Comedian Bill Hicks had an instructive joke using the JFK assassination:

"Now, once the new President is sworn into office, he's taken into a back room somewhere with a big screen monitor and shown an angle of the Kennedy assassination that has never been seen before. Then he is asked,"

"Any questions?"

Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Re: J Edgar Hoover's grave at Congressional Cemetary.

The cemetary is a very popular place for dog walkers (I believe Gene W has written about it). The only grave I recall with a FENCE around it--presumably to keep out the mutts--is Hoover's.

I always open the gate.

Posted by: crusty | November 22, 2005 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Regarding perceptions of reality, an interesting article in today's NYT.

"This is Your Brain Under Hypnosis"


The same processing stream, from lower to higher regions, exists for sounds, touch and other sensory information. Researchers call this direction of flow feedforward. As raw sensory data is carried to a part of the brain that creates a comprehensible, conscious impression, the data is moving from bottom to top.

Bundles of nerve cells dedicated to each sense carry sensory information. The surprise is the amount of traffic the other way, from top to bottom, called feedback. There are 10 times as many nerve fibers carrying information down as there are carrying it up.

These extensive feedback circuits mean that consciousness, what people see, hear, feel and believe, is based on what neuroscientists call "top down processing." What you see is not always what you get, because what you see depends on a framework built by experience that stands ready to interpret the raw information - as a flower or a hammer or a face.

The top-down structure explains a lot. If the construction of reality has so much top-down processing, that would make sense of the powers of placebos (a sugar pill will make you feel better), nocebos (a witch doctor will make you ill), talk therapy and meditation. If the top is convinced, the bottom level of data will be overruled.

Brain scans show that the control mechanisms for deciding what to do in the face of conflict become uncoupled when people are hypnotized. Top-down processes override sensory, or bottom-up information, said Dr. Stephen M. Kosslyn, a neuroscientist at Harvard. People think that sights, sounds and touch from the outside world constitute reality. But the brain constructs what it perceives based on past experience, Dr. Kosslyn said.

Posted by: ABJunkie | November 22, 2005 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Tlees writes:

"This isn't a topic to joke about. [PLEASE PROVIDE A LIST OF ALL SUCH TOPICS SO THAT I DON'T OFFEND YOU AGAIN] Any thorough study [WHAT ABOUT "CASE CLOSED," BY GERALD POSNER, WAS THAT NOT THOROUGH OR DO YOU JUST DISAGREE WITH HIS CONCLUSION?] makes it clear that JFK, as Lincoln, was killed by a conspiracy. I don't think it's funny that at a time when we are the victims of government deception about Iraq [WHERE WAS CHENEY ON 11-22-1963????] that we can't get those who obviously haven't done the research to take a look at the Warren Report and its supporting volumes of evidence. I've done it and as a history teacher I can tell you that it's a joke and a transparent coverup. But you need to research, read, and think critically. More Americans need to be aware that if this case had been properly studied we could have prevented Watergate and the present fiasco in Iraq. The powers that be have not wanted that to occur since 11/22/63."

OK, so, question: Who did it? You've got the floor.

[Sorry about the very rude upper case annotations of your original post.]

Posted by: Achenbach | November 22, 2005 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Did ... it ... again.
Kilt the boodle.

Posted by: Achenbach | November 22, 2005 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I am going back upstairs to the Kit and I'm not coming back to the Kaboodle, EVER.

Posted by: Achenbach | November 22, 2005 1:09 PM | Report abuse

...come back, Shane!...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 22, 2005 1:13 PM | Report abuse

This book by Richard Belzer is a fun read.

He concludes that one cannot prove a conspiracy, but one can find ample evidence that a whole lot of goofy stuff was going on the day JFK was killed.

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 22, 2005 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that link -- interesting stuff indeed.

Posted by: Dreamer | November 22, 2005 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Come back, Joel! Come back! [fade to black as our superhero rides off into the sunset on his sleek black Schwinn 3-speed.]

Joel, are you as short as Alan Ladd?

Seriously, your post of 12:55:01 was excellent.

Posted by: pj | November 22, 2005 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I've been a DC Police Det for 13 years, 5 in Homicide. I'm more than familiar with the numerous uncertainties that accompany every violent crime. The JFK assassination is no exception. However, it's still a basic homicide. By simply examining and studying the basic evidence as it stands (and not allowing urban-myths to taint evidence, i.e. "the pristine bullet"), one can only conclude that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, fired 3 rounds, and killed JFK.

Posted by: TMac | November 22, 2005 1:17 PM | Report abuse

...Jean Arthur needs you!...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 22, 2005 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I was in my third grade classroom, on Cape Cod, when another teacher came in and told my teacher, Mrs. Ellis, that Kennedy had been shot. We were sent home as soon as the busses could be rounded up, and I heard he died when I arrived home.
Watching the funeral, a friend of my father's (they were both lifers in the Air Force) was the first man I'd ever seen cry.
I was asleep, in bed, with my radio on when I woke up to hear that RFK had been shot. I went to my parents room to tell them what I had heard and was told it was just a dream and go back to bed.
If the JFK assasination was a conspiracy, it has been successful and hidden for so long that, no matter what evidence came to light, it would never be universally accepted, and so the case will never be solved to the satisfaction of the majority. It sells books to speculate, and always will, as Mr. Posner can attest.

Posted by: capeman | November 22, 2005 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Bill Hicks and the History Channel. Okay Mssrs. Zapruder. The History Channel JFK special includes an interview with a Special Forces operative who was approached to carry out an assassination against a domestic politician. This guy had Capt. Willard credentials and could kill snarky varmint with a pee-shooter.

Back and to the left. Back and to the left. Back and to the left...The debris from Kennedy's head moved in a direction inconsistent with a bullet fired from the respository. Yes, while a structurally composite hydrous mass will respond in random ways to a missile fired from any direction - when the head debris itself is analyzed its trajectory can be described by the simplified laws of converstation of momentum.

Kennedy's facial flesh, head, and brains moved back and to the left, back and to the left. Consistent with a high velocity round fired from the sewer grate in the gutter of the road less than fifty feet from President. The underground system leading to that ideal sniping position leads to an exit more than a mile away...

Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Dreamer, I'd momentarily forgotten about Dr. Wolf's commentary in "Bleep". Apologies.

L. Cox, I believe that Joel was the one who brought up quantum mechanics, Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle being one of the foundations of it.

As I understand it, an Observer cannot know with complete certainty the values of a particle's state and physical Observables as expressed algebraically.
In what is perhaps a gross overstatement, the certainty of any pair of measured values to assign to the variables (position, momentum, energy, etc.) are inversely proportional (I'll skip Planck's constant and wave functions, becuase my math is lousy).

To your point, I think it may have been Schrodinger (sorry, I don't know how to get umlauts in TypePad) and the Copenhagen Interpretation that brought to the fore the concept that the Observer affects the experiment, moreso than Heisenberg's original UP.

Science Tim, you are probably better at 'splainin' this than I. All errors, intentional or not, are mine alone.


Posted by: bc | November 22, 2005 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I was in the fifth grade, and my dad, the newspaper reporter, came and got me out of school so I could go home and watch Walter Cronkite for the rest of the day...Went to Dealey Plaza several years ago and was amazed at how small the area is. I never got the perspective from the photos. The image etched in my consciousness is the photo of John Kennedy Jr saluting the cortege as it went past.

Posted by: slyness | November 22, 2005 1:30 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 1:34 PM | Report abuse

BC, ümläübs are ëäsÿ tö dö.

Hold down the ALT key and type the asci number.
(here is a list of the numbers, you don't have to type the starting zero's)

Posted by: Eurotrash | November 22, 2005 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what would have happened if Hinckley actually had been able kill Reagan. Would we now also debate his death and say there was a conspiracy, instead of just accepting that Hinckley acted alone and was just insane?

Posted by: Eurotrash | November 22, 2005 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Easy bc, hold the alt key down while typing 0246:ö ta-da.

Posted by: omnigood | November 22, 2005 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Why kill the boodle, when it can be assassinated?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 1:44 PM | Report abuse

If you leave out the 0 you get this ÷

To get a conspiracy out of Hinckly succesfully assasinating Reagan you would need a "Ruby" to murder Hinckly.

Posted by: omnigood | November 22, 2005 1:48 PM | Report abuse

What makes the JFK assassination so ripe for conspiracy theorists is that there are so many suspects available. Mobsters, Cubans, Russians, Republicans, Texans, Shriners, Bavarian Illuminati. Everybody can get in on it.

Any conspiracy has to have three parts:

a. Was Oswald the sole shooter? If not who else?
b. Who put Oswald up to it? Someone must have given him the idea.
C. How has the secret stayed secret so long? Conspiracies are notoriously fragile. You can't even smear a CIA lackey without everyone tripping over each other to spill the beans.

Read the book Winter Kills by Richard Condon for a great fictional take on the level of paranoia that is conceivable.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 22, 2005 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Will respond to your post about RFK later tonight. What a story you have. Thanks.

Thanks for the mention of J. Edgar. My dad ended up never getting his 15 seconds of fame--and his link is to J. Edgar. I actually brought back *two* significant pieces of paper after cleaning out/emptying my mother's manufactured home in Vista, Calif., in the summer of 2002. The first was a small portion of our family tree. Our family knew of a group letter from Hoover, with my dad's name mentioned. In summer 2002, I found the original letter from Hoover written expressly to my father. This "lost history" could lead to a book some day (Oh, how I think of Joel's Kit yesterday), so I'm feeling a little bit about this like I feel about the pancake recipe. (Sorry.)

But my RFK story is a go later this evening. If we (I) weren't so darned fussy about the type of bread we eat, I wouldn't have to drive half-way across town to Whole Foods to get the European-style breads that have become my breads of choice/necessity--but oh, those turkey sandwiches will taste that much better!

Ha, Eurotrash! Umlauts (not umlaubs)
In Ulm und um Ulm und um Ulm herum! (A fairly apt description auf Deutsch of my afternoon.)

Posted by: Loomis | November 22, 2005 1:58 PM | Report abuse

good point about Ruby. Forgot about him.
Even though some people would have insisted that someone, or some group put the idea in the the insane Hinckly's head.

And you are correct about the starting zero. I often use the alt key for the @ sign and for that one you don't need to put the two zero's (as in ALT64), but ö seems to demand it.
German letters like gründligheid it seems, it's in their national character.

Posted by: Eurotrash | November 22, 2005 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Linda, thanks for spotting that.

And another SCC: Grundlichheid.

Posted by: Eurotrash | November 22, 2005 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Oops, gründlichheid.

Posted by: Eurotrash | November 22, 2005 2:06 PM | Report abuse

It's simply option/u and then u on a Mac. ü.

Option/i gets î. Option/n gets ñ.

And those li'l things that appear are called "tittles."

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 22, 2005 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Conspiracy Theories are Not Funny?!? Well, please someone alert Mr. Seinfeld and Mr. David and Mr. Richards and Mr. Keith Hernandez. Back and to the Left, indeed.

Posted by: irregardless | November 22, 2005 2:07 PM | Report abuse

As JA wrote, the more evidence, the less clear the picture of the crime. This is true of the JFK assassination. And mind you that the single-shooter theory is the most accepted now, because it was the official version at the time. Bad autopsy on the Prez, bad security around Ruby, etc. Lots of evidence forever gone. The option of second guessing the official version is gone forever with bad evidence handling. And the physics is still bad. Many stood to benefit from JFK's demise, so justifiably there are many suspects if a consipary existed.

The only two Presidents who were not also free masons? JFK and Lincoln. Yup. When the free-masons shush conspiracy theories, it's time to spew them.

As JA wrote, the more evidence, the less clear the crime. That is never true when the authorities conducting the investigation can be trusted. CSI stuff leads to the truth. Show me the evidence.

The Warren report was shoddy and weak, thereby creating an atmosphere of distrust and skepticism among its scrutinizers. Theories abound in the meanwhile. And two wars of agreesion on false premises (Vietnam and Iraq) later, there is more death, blame, and retribution to go around, than previously for the the shennanigans of the tiresome and cruel global elite.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 2:08 PM | Report abuse

As they said on Dragnet: "Please stick to the facts, ma'am"

Fact: Hoover was a crossdresser tied through sexual friendships to the mob

Fact: hoover hated Kennedy, and forced him to name LBJ as VP or he would expose the President's sexual activities..which is how the rediculous "gentleman's offer of the vice presidency" came in to explain how JFK invited his hated arch rival to join him in the Whitehouse

Fact: The witnesses died in quick succession of accidents and in some cases with mafi "keep quiet" warnings such as shooting the victim repeatedly around the mouth.

Fact: The mafia was livid with JFK over the loss of their casino businesses in cuba, and with RFK for insisting over Hoover's objection that there was in fact, a mafia

Fact: Hoover repeatedly denied there was a mob, or even organized crime

Now then, you decide. It doesn't take a Phd... or the magic bullet invented by the imagination of Arlen Spector

Posted by: Long Beach, CA | November 22, 2005 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Bayou Self, I think you mean "tildes".

Posted by: Eurotrash | November 22, 2005 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, k'guy, I've been there. When I still had knees that worked, I used to really enjoy roaming through cemetaries, especially the really old ones -- trying to decipher dates through the erosion of time, and then figure out how old these people were when they died. Some very, very old, and accordingly, some very, very young.

I, too, recall seeing Jack Ruby firing the gun on Oswald. Still see it in my mind's eye.

Learning from past mistakes requires courage. Sometimes we got it, sometimes we don't got it.

Slightly off topic, can someone chime in on what "victory" means with respect to Iraq? Is that to be the same as "we win" over there? Is it to be configured into an equation of enough people having died (enemy only, perhaps, and then again, how would we know?)? Is an open-ended unplanned war the only way to prove one's manhood? Does the Defense Department need a vasectomy? With all the evidence starkly to the contrary, how on earth does this nonsense in Iraq "preserve our freedoms"?

Nah, I'm really not in the mood for a full-blown rant today. I'll wait until a more propitious time (I *love* the word "propitious"!)

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | November 22, 2005 2:09 PM | Report abuse

me thinks the SU Det. is going to pay Mrs. Ach'nfann a visit after today's kissups.

Posted by: creamora | November 22, 2005 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Joel, you cannot leave yet. You still have not answered my question. Did you figure out what the smelly thing on your desk was, circa 2001? Or is this the real conspiracy?

Posted by: dr | November 22, 2005 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey all - boy did I miss a ton lately... Appparently there was conversation about my favorite movie of all time: The princess bride AND there was math humor!

I have a great math humor one for you: The mathematical proof that women are evil.

We know that women require time and money

Women = time X money

We also know that Time equals money

Women = money X money or money squared

We also know that money is the root of all evil

Money = square root of evil

There for

Women = square root of evil squared or just plain evil!

Posted by: LTL | November 22, 2005 2:18 PM | Report abuse

am I too late for today's ration of drivel? I understand it was brewed up yesterday.

and for firsttimebloggger:

"victory" is when Bush says he's through--and not one day longer. the last phrase is essential. and it's for him to know and us to find out as the blood and guts of tens of thousands of Iraqis and a few thousant more of our best is spilled. It's that simple.

DoD doesn't need a vasectomy. It needs the world's biggest enema. Hmm, maybe a green tea enema.

Posted by: vulvix | November 22, 2005 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Euro -- the Spanish mark on an ñ is a tilde. A tilde is one of many marks that are tittles. Honest. No conspiracy theory here.

Main Entry: tit·tle
Pronunciation: 'ti-t&l
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English titel, from Medieval Latin titulus, from Latin, title
1 : a point or small sign used as a diacritical mark in writing or printing
2 : a very small part

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 22, 2005 2:19 PM | Report abuse

and yes - I am one of the evil ones!

Posted by: LTL | November 22, 2005 2:19 PM | Report abuse

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle is important, but tends to get more press than it deserves. It's not so much a foundation, as a fundamental truth that is derived by implication from the rest of quantum mechanics. It gets an inordinate amount of press, because it's one of the few things in QM that can be explained in plain language and leave you knowing more than when you started.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 22, 2005 2:20 PM | Report abuse


Okay, okay, don't get your noodles in a sauce [or substitute any appropriate folksy saying here]. I looked around on the internet for the memory study without finding the original source. But I did find some references to it, and guess what: I did remember the details incorrectly. Turns out the study was done around the Challenger explosion, and I was also wrong about the inverse relationship between the confidence of the subjects and the accuracy of their memories. I warned you about this in my original post. Memory is not reliable. Memory is not the same as perception. It just seems the same to us.

Of course, perception is also unreliable, but in a different way.

Here's a quote about the study:

"...In a study of memory for the Challenger explosion by Ulric Neisser and Nicole harsch, college students were interviewed less than twenty-four hours after the event and then again two and a half years later. Over this long interval, students showed substantial forgetting of the circumstances in which they learned of the event, and the recollections of a number of them differed substantially from their earlier reports. Nevertheless, many students expressed high confidence that their false recollections were accurate. Indeed, Neisser and Harsch observed little relationship between the accuracy of a flashbulb memory and a person's subjective confidence that it was correct."

--Searching for Memory: The Brain, the Mind, and the Past
by Daniel L. Schacter

Posted by: Reader | November 22, 2005 2:22 PM | Report abuse

whaddya think about the big X on Big Dick's face during his speech yesterday, as seen on CNN. Omen? Prank? Epiphany?

Posted by: schadenfreud | November 22, 2005 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Bayou Self,

I going to stop correcting people because I seem to make a fool out of myself.
But I learn new things, so not everything is bad.

Posted by: Eurotrash | November 22, 2005 2:23 PM | Report abuse

If yoü are using a Mac, like me, yoü may be deprived öf the mötivation to learn how to make umlauts the hard way, becaüse it's töo därned easÿ: option-u, followed by whatever letter you wish to have the umlaut appear above.

I expect this to be the opening shot in a sudden flaming digression of the boodle into a religious war over operating systems. And yet, I have to get back to work. All, I can say is, I'm right.

Posted by: Tim | November 22, 2005 2:24 PM | Report abuse

'Victory' in Iraq as anywhere requires decisiveness.

How can the US be decisive in Iraq:
1) Start the draft and send more troops
2) Withdraw ASAP and declare victory

For now, the White House is pussyfooting.

Iraq is either
1) a fight, or
2) a shooting gallery

If 1), send more troops, or
If 2), bring them home and declare victory


Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Have any of you all (er y'all - hat tip to our Kit King)read the dancing wu lee masters - think "quantum mechanics for dummies"... It made me want to learn more about physics - the stuff life is made of! I wish I had the time and mental energy to dedicate to exercising the mental muscle...

I remember that after one really hard day at work, I was standing on the metro attempting to work through some paragraph by Hawking about "how could time have a beginning, what was going on before time began".

As the metro car began to spin, I forced my brain towards dissecting the latest Bennifer/Branjolina story in a desperate attempt to regain my mental stability.

Posted by: LTL | November 22, 2005 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Did I mention option/o for ø?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I wrote a piece for The Washington Spectator about ten years ago, about my having gone through one of the recently-released Kennedy Assassination files at the National Archives. When I got to the Public Comment files -- reserved for those ordinary folk who offered to help the Warren Commission with tips -- I had my first laugh ever at such a somber subject, one seemingly-dominated by people that the recently-deceased Spectator editor Ben A. Franklin called "Assassinuts." The tippers accused, among other people and things, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnez, The Republican Party of Omaha, Nebraska, and space aliens. One contended that JFK committed suicide. Then there was the man who wrote to set the record straight: no matter what his friends at his local bar said, he did not kill Kennedy.

If you want a very serious look at the Warren Commission, check out Max Holland's books.

Posted by: Fredric Alan Maxwell | November 22, 2005 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Did I mention option/o for ø?

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 22, 2005 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I would like to suggest
"A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson.
It's realy well written, with a lot of humor, and it's not only about discoveries but also about how the discoveries were made.

Posted by: Eurotrash | November 22, 2005 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Maxwell, thank you for your post, and welcome.

I can just imagine Lucille Ball hiding under a storm grate, her high-powered rifle posed to shoot up through the floor of the president's limosine. Ricardo sits by her and says, "Lucy, if you miss, you've gaught sum explanning to do!"

Posted by: CowTown | November 22, 2005 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it was a rotting rutabaga.

As for conspiracy theories [I'm finally getting around to actually commenting on the topic at hand], whenever I'm trying to decide whether something is due to a conspiracy or to incompetence, I'll go with incompetence every time. Incompetence is so much more common, and so much easier to implement. If only there *was* such a high proportion of intelligent, well-disciplined individuals in the community as all these conspiracy theories would seem to suggest -- would require.

My belief in the triumph of incompetence over organization and discipline helps allay any fears I may have that this country will, in the near future, experience another terrorist attack of the magnitude seen on September 11. Frankly, there just aren't that many people in the world who are capable of executing such an elaborate plan. And those who *were* capable in this instance are now dead.

But getting back to JFK, etc.: It's so much more exciting -- and probably more comforting, too -- to attribute all wrongdoings to conspiracy. Such attribution implies some degree of control at some level, by *someone*. Similarly, it's more comforting to believe that everything would have been A-OK for the past 40 years if JFK had not died than to accept that stuff happens and that it always *will* happen.

[See? I really *am* a jackass.]

Posted by: Achenfan | November 22, 2005 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Uh to round out the thought above...

It is sad to feel so mentally worn at the end of the day that I have nothing left to give towards learning for the sake of learning.

It would be so nice to have the leisure to dedicate life to just be, learn, live...

Posted by: LTL | November 22, 2005 2:40 PM | Report abuse

This just in from the White House: "The Price of Freedom has plummeted this week"

WH: "Hold back on that armor shipment to Iraq. The more American blood is spilled the more dear Freedom rings. That'll jack up the Price of Freedom."

Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 2:41 PM | Report abuse

So nice to talk of this again, once it doesn't really matter anymore. Where is the news space being provided for the questions of today, like what really happened to the World Trade Center?

Posted by: DH | November 22, 2005 2:45 PM | Report abuse

"...In a study of memory for the Challenger explosion by Ulric Neisser and Nicole harsch, college students were interviewed less than twenty-four hours after the event and then again two and a half years later. "

College students! College students can't even remember to use condoms, much less remember current events. Listen, everything from the summer of '66 til the spring of '70 is a blur to me even now. See, you've got to understand that we were kept very very busy rejecting the judgement of every authority figure from LBJ to Smokey the Bear and what are now referred to as controlled substances were at that time very much out of control.

These guys should have studied old people. Old people can remember. Now, what was my original point....

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 22, 2005 2:50 PM | Report abuse

[I'm glad I didn't promise to lay off the "Bleep" quotes just yet, because I have one more. (Sorry, but the quantum physics thread really got me going.)]

"You now can see in numerous labs around the United States objects that are large enough to be seen by the naked eye and they are in two places simultaneously. You can take actually take a photograph of that. Now, I suppose if you showed a photograph, they'd say, 'Oh great, here is this nice blob of colored light, and I see there's a bit of it over here and another bit over there -- so you've got a picture of two dots. What's the big deal?' You say, 'Look right in the chamber. You can see it right there.' 'I see two things there.' 'No, no. That's not two things -- it's the same thing in two places.'

"I'm not sure that people's jaw would drop about it, because I don't think people really believe it. And I don't mean that people say, 'Oh. You're lying,' or 'Oh, the scientists are confused.' I think it is so mysterious that you can't even understand how amazing it is . . . But you've gotta really stop and think about what it means. That it is the same object and it's in two places at once!

"When people tinker in the lab and they get angry about things, and they have lunch and they go home and they lead their lives just as though nothing utterly astonishing is happening because that's how you have to go about it. And yet, there's this completely amazing magic sitting right in front of our eyes."

-- Jeffrey Satinover, M.D., in "What the Bleep Do We Know!?"

[OK, *now* I'll lay off the "Bleep" quotes. I apologize for being such an Achenpest.]

Posted by: Dreamer | November 22, 2005 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Physics is funny, and even in the macroscopic, classical, non-Quantum world, things do not work out the way that we expect. That's why Galileo and Einstein were revolutionaries, not plodders, by carefully examining the consequences of our other, well-grounded, deductions about the world.

Amateur sleuths are constantly analyzing sketchy evidence from murder scenes to show that there's a cover-up and a conspiracy because of something that "everybody knows." The problem is that "everybody" has not done the experiment. "Everybody" sees cowboy movies and believes that a shot from a high-powered rifle will send a cowpoke spinning away, or knock him flat on his back. Conservation of energy and momentum and the location of the human hinge points really don't let that happen.

You shoot a human head (hypothetically only, please), I expect you will find that there isn't that much momentum transferred to the body. I just deduced that my head has a mass of about 1.15 kg; a little more, really, since it is desner than water. The M1 Garand rifle fires a 0.174 kg bullet at about 853 m/s (Google is very handy). If the bullet transferred its full momentum to my head, it would be very bad for me, moving my head at 112 m/s. Clearly lethal. Even with a helmet that completely stops the bullet, it could snap my neck. Compare to the effect on my whole body, however, at a slightly hefty 91 kg: 1.6 m/s momentum transfer. The speed of hitting a wall at a slow walk. Not enough to knock a person over. Back to the bullet hitting the head: although impact obviously is lethal (that's what bullets from M1 rifles are for, right?), the rifle bullet almost cetainly would not transfer its full momentum to the head, it would pierce it and go out the back. This is important, because it affects which way the head will fly upon being shot -- will it cock backward, or can it flip forward? If the head were not attached to a strong arrnagement of muscles and bone, it would just fly away, of course. But, it is attached. This is completely ignoring the issue of what will happen with a suddden jangle of nerve messages firing muscles all through the body, twitching al the muscles randomly.

I don't have a gun, nor do I shoot, but I propose the folloiwing experiment to someone with the right equipment: acquire a small watermelon. Coat the exterior with a strong papier maché mixture (you like that accented é?) to resemble a model skull; about a quarter-inch thick ought to do it, but you should do your own homework on that point. Drill a hole into the base and attach a bolt to a rigid surface below, to hold the model head in place, like a neck. Now shoot it, with a weapon similar to Oswald's rifle (an M-1, wasn't it?), while filming the results with videocameras at several angles. Repeat a reasonbable number of times (say, 10-15). Repeat with different calibre weapons. Giving that the head is attached to a neck, does it roll away?

Actually, this would make an excellent (albeit grisly) science fair project for a high school student, as a foray into forensic science. If you have a student who wants to go into criminology and law enforcement, I suggest you propose the idea. Also handy for any would-be assassins and cover-up artists. Knowledge is power. Morality lies in the hands (and mind) of the user.

Isn't that stomach-churning?

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 22, 2005 2:56 PM | Report abuse

DH: After the first WTC bombing in 1993, surrounding buildings in the financial district complained about security risks to them if the 110 storey WTC towers ever fell down.

As a security precaution, explosive charges were set in the towers. To bring them down just in case they were attacked. Evidence of this gameplan is clear when the WTC 7 'collapses': a cascade of timed detonations can be seen scaling up the building.

As to the 9/11 attacks themselves, nevermind the massive surge in 'put' options on Wall Street for American and United Airlines, and no other US carriers, that happened the day before the attack. A 'put' option allows you to sell a stock when its at its highest and re-buy it once it bottoms out. I'm sure some free-masons made a lot of money off the 'put' options.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I knew Captain Humes, who did the autopsy, and sat directly behind his daughter Ann at St. Jane DeChantal school in Bethesda, who stood up in class the day after, and told what her father had said about the experience the night before.
He maintained until his death that all Kennedy's hits were from above and behind. Capt. Humes could not have been part of the conspiracy, as he just happened, by luck-of-the draw, to be the senior medical duty officer at Navy Med that evening.
I think some of us are hard-wired to see things as more complex than necessary, and the new "need" for conspiracy seem to have moved to the utterly ridiculous notion than something other than an American Airlines 757 hit the Pentagon. I lived in Arlington, within walking distance of the Pentagon then, and have video I took the day after. Anybody who thinks something different happened there, well, all I can say is, talk to any of the several hundred eye witnesses who saw it happen, and see if you can find even one who thinks there was a conspiracy. Pace.

Posted by: aurorasmith | November 22, 2005 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Tim, you're the amateur. And you basically made my point. The behavior of JFK's body is not of interest when a bullet strikes his head.

And evidence whether in a crimelab or a chemlab is sketchy only to that extent that it determines something instead of underdetermining everything else.

The Zapruduer film shows JFK's head, facial flesh, and brains, each going back and to the left, back and to the left.

A biomechanical engineer is what we need, not quantum physics. The law of conservation of momentum is sufficient to descibe the behavior of his cranial momentum when the bullet strikes his face.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 3:05 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim, I'm pretty sure that several experiements along the lines you describe have been done over the years (there are several that turned up in Google), and I recall seeing at least one on TV somewhere.

The difficult part, as I recall, is that shooting something that isn't alive can be different from something that is (e.g. nerve and muscle reactions).


Posted by: bc | November 22, 2005 3:10 PM | Report abuse

The only thing I have to say to Heisenberg is:

How's Schroediger's Cat?

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 22, 2005 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Dreamer, I'm wondering about "what the bleep." Do you take all it's claims seriously?

Have you read the salon article that isn't realy sympathetic about the film and it's message?

Posted by: Eurotrash | November 22, 2005 3:12 PM | Report abuse

And don't forget, of course, that the Greek philosophers beat the Germans 1-0 on that wonderful "Eureka" goal...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 22, 2005 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Karl Marx's spirited sideline warmup really disappointed on the field...Confucious as the Ref! Nietzsche was just the right philosopher to argue with the Refs at the end of the game...

Archimedes was known for the "Eureka" shout on plunging into a pool figuring out the idea of density as he splashed and the water rose up.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Oswald's rifle was a Mannlicher-Carcano, which he bought mail-order. Not an M-1. Don't know nuthin' 'bout no bullets, etc., but the name of the rifle is one of the "trivia" (no disrespect meant) type questions that remains lodged in the minds of We Who Remember the Day. Just like I remember the name of the cop who Oswald (supposedly, for you conspiracy folks) killed: Office J.D. Tippett.

Don't know why that stuff sticks, but it does.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 22, 2005 3:43 PM | Report abuse

nameless said: "Tim, you're the amateur. And you basically made my point. The behavior of JFK's body is not of interest when a bullet strikes his head."

I am no amateur, sir or madame; I am a dilettante. An amateur deserves respect. My point is not about what happens to his body; my point is that intuitive expectations are so often wrong.

I do not speak as a forensic scientist, only as a physicist. I do not claim to have the answers; rather, I am arguing for profound skepticism about any evidence or deductions that claim absolutely certainty. The real world is a messy and complex place, and we can't expect our hypothese to be borne out with precision, even when the evidence is basically in our favor.

I'd still kind of like to do the watermelon experiment, even if it has been done before by others. There's nothing like doing the experiment yourself. I was told, once, that the explanation for bicycle stability that generations of physics students, like me, were taught, is actually crap: conservation of angular momentum is not what keeps a bicycle stable. I couldn't believe it, because it's so beautiful and elegant. So, I did an experiment. I drilled a hole through the headset of a cheap bicycle and put a bolt through it. Then I tried to ride it. I can confirm that conservation of angular momentum has little if anything to do with stabilizing a bicycle, at speed or slowly.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 22, 2005 3:44 PM | Report abuse

The bolt-action, clip-fed rifle found on the sixth floor of the Depository, described more fully in appendix X, is inscribed with various markings, including "MADE ITALY," "CAL. 6.5," "1940" and the number C2766. (See Commission Exhibit Nos. 1303, 541(2) and 541(3), pp. 82-83.) These markings have been explained as follows: "MADE ITALY" refers to its origin; "CAL. 6.5" refers to the rifle's caliber; "1940" refers to the year of manufacture; and the number C2766 is the serial number. This rifle is the only one of its type bearing that serial number. After review of standard reference works and the markings on the rifle, it was identified by the FBI as a 6.5-millimeter model 91/38 Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. Experts from the FBI made an independent determination of the caliber by inserting a Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5-millimeter cartridge into the weapon for fit, and by making a sulfur cast of the inside of the weapon's barrel and measuring the cast with a micrometer. From outward appearance, the weapon would appear to be a 7.35-millimeter rifle, but its mechanism had been re-barreled with a 6.5-millimeter barrel.

Posted by: omnigood | November 22, 2005 3:50 PM | Report abuse

As everyone knows, "Quantum Leap" clearly demonstrated Oswald was really aiming for Jackie...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 22, 2005 3:54 PM | Report abuse

...come back, Shane!...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 22, 2005 3:54 PM | Report abuse

With which weapon was he aiming for Jackie? Okay, okay, bad joke.

Posted by: pj | November 22, 2005 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I was in Dallas the day Kennedy arrived (21 Nov 63). JFK was generally and heartily despised in at least that part of Texas. Representative was a defense-industry acquaintance of mine -- a Ph.D. from Texas A&M, of all things -- who openly referred to him as a "goddam, nigger-lovin', Irish Catholic Yankee." (Name available upon request.) The anti-Kennedy atmosphere there was so widespread and palpable it seemed you could cut it with a knife.

In any case, it is nothing to joke about.

The FBI, for all of its trying in laboratory-like conditions with expert marksman, could never approximate what the Warren Commission report maintains that Lee Harvey Oswald did: that is, to get off three shots with deadly accuracy using the very inferior "murder weapon" that Oswald was supposed to have used. Nor could the FBI duplicate the stupendous feat of getting a bullet from that gun to do what the "pristine" bullet was said to do. Every attempt resulted in a deformed, mashed-up bullet. In other words, what the Warren Commission claimed is simply physically impossible.

The "single-bullet theory" was an invention of Arlen Specter (a then-young attorney working for the Commission), who them sold the idea to Gerald Ford, who in turn persuaded the other members to go along. Bear in mind that the Commission was under tremendous pressure from Johnson and from the media to conclude and publish its report. The easiset thing was to accept the Dallas' police simplistic explanation.

Posted by: Schweinhundt | November 22, 2005 4:02 PM | Report abuse

*horribly confused boodle mixing*

Now I'm waiting for Fearless Leader to stop at the doorway to the plantation's main house, turn on one heel, and utter the immortal words:

"Frankly, my dear Boodle, I don't give a damn..."

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 22, 2005 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I was in Dallas the day Kennedy arrived (21 Nov 63). JFK was generally and heartily despised in at least that part of Texas. Representative was a defense-industry acquaintance of mine -- a Ph.D. from Texas A&M, of all things -- who openly referred to him as a "goddam, nigger-lovin', Irish Catholic Yankee." (Name available upon request.) The anti-Kennedy atmosphere there was so widespread and palpable it seemed you could cut it with a knife.

In any case, it is nothing to joke about.

The FBI, for all of its trying in laboratory-like conditions with expert marksman, could never approximate what the Warren Commission report maintains that Lee Harvey Oswald did: that is, to get off three shots with deadly accuracy using the very inferior "murder weapon" that Oswald was supposed to have used. Nor could the FBI duplicate the stupendous feat of getting a bullet from that gun to do what the "pristine" bullet was said to do. Every attempt resulted in a deformed, mashed-up bullet. In other words, what the Warren Commission claimed is simply physically impossible.

The "single-bullet theory" was an invention of Arlen Specter (a then-young attorney working for the Commission), who then sold the idea to Gerald Ford, who in turn persuaded the other members to go along. Bear in mind that the Commission was under tremendous pressure from Johnson and from the media to conclude and publish its report. The easiest thing was to accept the Dallas' police simplistic explanation.

Posted by: Schweinhundt | November 22, 2005 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I heard Courtney Love drove him too it...

Posted by: LP | November 22, 2005 4:09 PM | Report abuse

About conspiracies.

Through much of 1999-2001 I was out and about touring power plants all over yonder, including quite a few in California and Nevada. I happened to be studying esoteric engineering details and noticed a pattern: many plants had explainable, fixable, and preventable mechanical failures that just happened to last through the blackout periods and price-hikes going on in California. I told my colleagues and friends about it and they all looked at me like I'm sure many of us look toward the Assasinuts today. Needless to say, there was something There There. I'm just a little annoyed that few believed me at the time. But it all did come out in the wash.

What the end result showed was that it is pretty hard to keep a conspiracy underwraps for long, as history has borne out in the energy cases.

Which leads me to my random thought of the day, BWoodie has come out saying that he does not believe there was a WHouse conspiracy to out Plame. He says that there is not evidence of yet. I wonder how history will bear that observation out.

Posted by: irregardless | November 22, 2005 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Hey folks,
Just had to say hi after a three week hiatus. So much to catch up on, I'm totally out of it. Suffice it to say, I was down sized, and missed you all. I'm now back on line, but not yet re-employed. Wish those of us in fly-over country, good luck.

I shall now try and catch up on topic...

Posted by: RA | November 22, 2005 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Uh oh. I think we crossed the streams. Beware the Stay Puff Marshmallow man.

Posted by: irregardless | November 22, 2005 4:30 PM | Report abuse

That would result in the immediate explosion of every atom in your being. "OK, That would be bad"... :)

Posted by: RA | November 22, 2005 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back, RA! I'd been wondering where you were. Sorry to hear about the downsizing. I'm sure you'll find something else soon.

Posted by: Achenfan | November 22, 2005 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I won't reveal where I was and what I was doing the day JFK was killed for, even if I could remember, that would expose just how terribly old I am. And that's just too depressing for this lighthearted boodle.

Instead, I'd like to change the subject a little (well, maybe a lot) and point out the real reason we went to war in Iraq as revealed by Dick Cheney in his speech to the American Enterprise Institute yesterday.

I quote from the NY Times:

"The terrorists believe that by controlling an entire country they will be able to target and overthrow other governments in the region, and to establish a radical Islamic empire that encompasses a region from Spain, across North Africa, through the Middle East and South Asia, all the way to Indonesia. They have made clear, as well, their ultimate ambitions: to arm themselves with weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate all Western countries and to cause mass death in the United States."

With great restraint I will make no comment on this "turd in the punch bowl", but will leave its scatological examination to others.

Posted by: JAG | November 22, 2005 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Achenfan!
Yeah, well you know, if you don't work for the government, nothing's secure. Eeek!
But it makes the likely-hood that I could make a cherry blossom BPH all the more realistic.
Anybody know of a Pentagon job that requires a knowledge of ACD call center supervisors? (*only half kidding*)

Posted by: RA | November 22, 2005 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I like the Red Dwarf explanation for JFK. They went back in time with an alien gizmo to get a checkin vindaloo and some beer, and mucked it all up because everytime they came back they kept landing on Oswald and spooking him.

With JFK alive the country had become a ghost nation because his sexscapades came out, and we couldn't counter the Russian missiles in Cuba.

Eventually they get to JFK and convince him that if he dies, it'll be great for the country and he'll be seen as a great President. If he lives he goes to jail. But they can't do it because it has to be someone already there, or it messes up the timeline.

So they have JFK kill himself. As "Lister" puts it "Plus, it'll drive all the conspriacy nuts crazy."

Posted by: bobalui | November 22, 2005 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I like the Red Dwarf explanation for JFK. They went back in time with an alien gizmo to get a checkin vindaloo and some beer, and mucked it all up because everytime they came back they kept landing on Oswald and spooking him.

With JFK alive the country had become a ghost nation because his sexscapades came out, and we couldn't counter the Russian missiles in Cuba.

Eventually they get to JFK and convince him that if he dies, it'll be great for the country and he'll be seen as a great President. If he lives he goes to jail. But they can't do it because it has to be someone already there, or it messes up the timeline.

So they have JFK kill himself. As "Lister" puts it "Plus, it'll drive all the conspriacy nuts crazy."

Posted by: bobalui | November 22, 2005 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Your age is not depressing, George Carlin has predicted the downfall of Western Civilization [sic] because the terrorists will win.

I don't think so. We're that nasty, that we won't let it happen. We're being the collective U.S. Not this Blog...

Posted by: RA | November 22, 2005 4:45 PM | Report abuse

"The terrorists believe that by controlling an entire country they will be able to target and overthrow other governments in the region, and to establish a radical Islamic empire that encompasses a region from Spain, across North Africa, through the Middle East and South Asia, all the way to Indonesia. "

How nice of us to have taken Saddam out and given them a crack at making Iraq the center of the empire.

Posted by: ABJunkie | November 22, 2005 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Tim, you da man. When I say amateur, I mean like Cassius Clay amateur, man. Respect.

A good watermelon experiment, a good greasy watermelom experiment: put Karl Rove and Karl Marx at the pool side. Both wearing speedos:

"The Left versus the Right. The stakes: a vaseline greased buoyant watermelon in the center of the pool. Who can hang on and take the melon prize to their opponent's side? You be be the judge. Subscribe to Pay per view."

Then after the ruckus switch channels to your local cable access to see the second act:

"Speedoed politicos with watermelons race to the flat-headed splintered pylon to build a target for a forensic analysis of the Kennedy assassination"

Rifle cracks: "That one lodged in Karl Marx's beard. Karl Rove is mating with the boars over there."

Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 5:00 PM | Report abuse

AB Junkie,

Not to mention the fact that Iraq was the most secular of the Moslem states to begin with, run by Baathists whose ultimate ambition is to create a SECULAR ARAB STATE, not an Islamic one and not one reaching from Spain to Indonesia.

I broke my promise of restraint.


Posted by: JAG | November 22, 2005 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Achenfan 2:39:08,

You are no jackass. You are my sista.

Posted by: vulvix | November 22, 2005 5:04 PM | Report abuse

I've got you all beat when it comes to theories of every sort, and memories of where we were. I knew about his assisnation before it happened.
I was in the ninth grade, and had to write a short fiction story for English class, due that day. I was a terrible student then, and my dad was all over my homework, checking and correcting everything that I did. I had written out the entire scene much like it actually happened, using a three person conspiracy, committed by Soviet secret agents.
My class was after the lunch break. Kennedy was shot just before it. My teacher assumed that I had dashed the story off during lunch, and gave me an "F" for my efforts, protests to the contrary not withstanding. My dad was not very helpful, either. "Don't worry about it. In a few months, everybody will forget all about this.", he said. I haven't.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | November 22, 2005 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Nice post, K'guy.

I wasn't born when Kenndy was president, but I became really fascinated with him in 5th grade, when we were assigned a project to pick our favorite president. Only a few weeks later I learned that he wasn't alive anymore. Uggh. So there I was in the early 70s feeling like our coolest President had been stolen from me, that very day.

Ever since, I have never really cared too much about figuring out who killed him. It is so secondary to the simple fact that he was killed.

You have to think that Kennedy would have avoided Vietnam escalation. But then again, the nation might never have passed Civil Rights laws or landed men on the moon. Not too shabby!

Posted by: Kane | November 22, 2005 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Don from 1-270:
Wow -- that's quite a story! I'm thinking either you're clairvoyant, or you killed the President. (Of course, it could have just been a coincidence. But I think not. I'm going with clairvoyant.)

Posted by: Dreamer | November 22, 2005 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Talk re: Hoover and conflicts with Kennedys elaborated:

JFK was found out sleeping with a beautiful blonde East German who turned out to be connected with Soviet intelligence, and the FBI said 'we tell' if you don't let us bug Martin Luther King. True story. JFK and RFK, atty gen., got together and conferred and grudgingly allowed the FBI to sneak on the civil rights leader.

Speaks more more to the times we lived in than Prez. sexual foibles. No twenty-four hour news, no progressive lobotomites on the American public.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 5:26 PM | Report abuse

The oh-so wise and knowing media savants, such as Joel Achenbach, are understandably eager to ridicule critics of the government's official verdict in the Kennedy Assassination. But then, had they done their jobs in the first place, there would have been no need for private citizen researchers. Need proof? See:

Posted by: Roger Bruce Feinman, J.D. | November 22, 2005 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Dreamer, JA hit on a lot of things that we knew. The Zapruder (sp) film clearly shows a hit from the front, not the rear. It's hard to conceive that there was only one gunman... A hit? I'm thinking so...

Posted by: RA | November 22, 2005 5:45 PM | Report abuse

At the risk of sounding like I'm wearing a tin-foil hat...

I once read an interview with Pres. George HW Bush from the time of his re-election campaign where he was asked where he was the day JFK was shot. Pappy Bush's answer, "I don't remember." He did remember being somewhere in Texas.

Considering Pappy Bush's history with the CIA, I find his not remembering where he was when JFK was shot very suspicious. I mean, most anyone over the age of 10 (on that fateful day) is going to remember where they were. Right?

Gods, if I could just remember where that interview was!

Posted by: TulsaFan | November 22, 2005 5:53 PM | Report abuse

It's taken me over ten years to make sense of the evidence in the JFK case. I believe what I believed based on all the pieces fitting. If the CIA killed Kennedy, than all the false leads fit - the CIA is known for spreading disinformation, and is widely believed incredulously by reporters and statesment. The Mob, LBJ, the anti-Castro Cubans and other suspects don't enjoy that kind of credibility and couldn't have perpetuated such a complete coverup for so long.

Btw - no researcher familiar with the facts of the case gives Posner credibility - not because he presents the case for a lone assassin, but because he perverts the evidence to do so. Don't read books. Read documents. Read witness statements. Read of all the people who saw a puff of smoke on the grassy knoll.

Posted by: Lisa in Los Angeles | November 22, 2005 5:56 PM | Report abuse

I could almost be convinced Oswald acted alone were it not for Jack Ruby. Ruby was a racketeer, not a fanatic Kennedy admirer willing to die in prison just to avenge the murder of his beloved president.

If there was no conspiracy, how do you explain Ruby's involvement?

Posted by: ricardo | November 22, 2005 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Currently listening to Mr. Feinman's presentation as I write this: I am reminded of one more shocking weakness to the official version of the JFK assassination:

The JA dittohead Oswald single shooter theory is an exculpatory addendum to the original SINGLE BULLETT theory. The two conclusions, single shooter and single bullet, are proclaimed by the same official sources. They invented the word 'hedge.' Therefore those who hold to the single shooter theory without seeing further evidence in the wake of the forensic debunking of the single bullett theory, ought to show great pride in toeing the party line than pretending to vaunt faculties of careful analysis.

Posted by: LouKY | November 22, 2005 6:05 PM | Report abuse

I have to say, this has been a great 'boodle today. Looks like we might have even had some Googlers -- it's been awhile since that happened.

I think Joel should do these Conspiracy Kits more often. They could become a regular feature, like Tom's Dumb Question. Tin-foil hats optional.

[TDQ will always be my favorite, though.]

Posted by: Tom fan | November 22, 2005 6:18 PM | Report abuse

For the real truth and a real examination of the evidence, see "The Kennedy Assassination: Beyond Conspiracy" hosted by the lare Peter Jennings on the History Channel. Saturday, November 26 @ 8pm ET/PT

Guess what? Oswald did it, he acted alone, and every silly theory and so-called counter evidence is thoroughly and professionally debunked. Sorry folks, George Bush did not do this one. Get over it.

Posted by: Truth B Told | November 22, 2005 6:26 PM | Report abuse

To do the unusual, here it is. Typepad somehow wiped out my anonymity. So I chose my wherefrom to identify me last time. I take ownership of some BS. My email address upstairs is the same place I get RNC updates. Heil, outsiders.

Dumb drunk tall blond girl in Ann Arbor tried to sell me an Ohio State game ticket stub for 70 bucks. I told her where to go. An old stub. Got a real ticket for less from a black dude with whom I shared my flask.

Posted by: LouKY | November 22, 2005 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Achenfan/Tomfan, I like your theory the best. Its not about conspiracies, its about incompetence. The coverups you say? Who really wants to admit they were so stupid.

It fits with my theory about the advancement in consumer products. For exampmle, teflon is a failed search for something else, as is the post-it note glue, and a whole host of other stuff. These things were not created by success, they were created by failures which some lazy bugger out there found a use for.

Posted by: dr | November 22, 2005 6:37 PM | Report abuse

If you want to have a serious discussion I will. If you want to try to be rude (as you admitted you were in your response to my previous post), I guess I'm wasting my time trying to get you to be open-minded about this issue. However, in the hope that someone else will think about what I'm saying and out of respect to our murdered President, I'll try.

The research makes a pretty good case that JFK's death warrant was signed after the Bay of Pigs because JFK had cancelled our scheduled air cover for the Bay of Pigs. This infuriated Gen. Charles
Cabell and others. Cabell's brother Earle was mayor of Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Operation Mongoose, a joint CiA, mob, anti-Castro operation to assassinate Fidel Castro changed its target to JFK. Oswald, a low-level counter-intelligence operative, was set up as a patsy because his cover was as a Marxist. Thus the extreme right wing could eliminate JFK and blame on it Communists. The CIA and anti-Castro Cubans hated JFK because of the Bay of Pigs fiasco. The mob wanted Castro out because he had closed their lucrative casinos in Havana. They also hated JFK and Bobby because Bobby as AG went after Carlos Marcello, head of Dallas/New Orleans organized crime. They also felt that Poppa Joe Kennedy violated a deal with the mob which helped JFK steal the Illinois vote in the 1960 election. The rest is cover-up for obvious reasons.

Posner's Case Closed (should be renamed Mind Closed)is a thorough attempt at debunking assassination critics. In my opinion it is not a thorough attempt to follow the evidence in discovering the true story of 11/22/1963.

If you disagree with me fine, but don't treat me as if I'm an idiot. I cared about JFK and have read a lot about his assassination.

Posted by: tlees2 | November 22, 2005 6:50 PM | Report abuse

I was impressed by the book 'Case Closed', as well as some compelling work since then demonstrating that the bullet trajectory was, indeed, linear. From my perspective, however, I simply deny that a conspiracy of this nature is possible. The government is leakier than a colander. However, there seems to be a human need to associate great tragedy with great evil. That a lone man took out a President and profoundly changed history seems so terribly unsatisfying to many. Alas, I fear the universe may work like that.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 22, 2005 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully all the new boodlers today will remember that this blog is about humour as much as anything. Joel's initial Kit is obviously humour, as are some of the links (I cannot vouch for all - I did not get to read them all). Please take that into account when you read here and write here. Everyone will have different views on this subject, and some people are going to take it more seriously than others, but with a few minor hiccups this is a pretty repsectful place. Remember, we are all village idiots and village geniuses here.

Posted by: dr | November 22, 2005 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Scc Respectful place.

And some of us cannot spell worth a darn.

Posted by: dr | November 22, 2005 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Before the Jesuits ever had time to slaughter the freemasons, the Mafia killed Kennedy. The answer is simple: blame one's enemy and take up arms. If the moment escapes, stockpile them. Moments and rifles. And download maps. There are never enough good guys. According to Thomas Jefferson, one is 61 generations overdue a revolution. One ought to do the math. And exercise his or hers first two rights of the Constitution.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Hey tlees2, chill out. The problem with your scenario is that the agencies you speak of are not monolithic entities. They are composed of people. People I work with ever day. The notion that they all somehow work together in some sinister way is silly. Put two of these people together and you get three opinions. And dr, insightful as usual. Do the Canadians share our obsession with conspiracies?

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 22, 2005 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Don't chill out so much that you ignore history. Are you denying that Operation Mongoose existed? Are you denying that a President (Lincoln) was killed by a conspiracy? So a President being killed by a conspiracy happened at least once. Don't be close-minded to the idea that it may have happened twice.

Posted by: tlees2 | November 22, 2005 8:13 PM | Report abuse

In-house business: I have to do the critique tomorrow of the Post. This is a new daily ritual in which several staffers of the Post critique that morning's newspaper. I'd be appreciative of any very specific observations about tomorrow morning's paper (posted on this site tonight in just a couple of hours). I'll post a fresh kit early in the morning to facilitate this.

Dear tlees2: I was obstreperous before and I'm sorry. As a rule we don't use upper case here to shout and rant. It was the coffee. It was the ... let's see ... deadine pressure? The cold front blowing in? Climate change? About your scenario: As RD Padouk has already articulated perfectly, it's heavy on monolithic (and scary) institutions and short on actual names, on people (though you do name a general -- dead, alive?). "The Mob" and "The CIA" don't tell me a lot. Your conspiracy is multi-headed. It would necessarily involve many people. Who are they? How have they managed to maintain their silence for so long, given that the disclosure of the truth would potentially merit someone enormous fame and even riches? Without question, lots of people wanted Kennedy dead. No one doubts that people had the motive. But that doesn't prove that they pulled the trigger. Anyway, thanks for weighing in (and thanks to the many others who dropped by and shared their thoughts).

Good Boodle all around. And ScienceTim definitely wins the Boodler of the Week award with his 2:46:47 post.

Posted by: Achenbach | November 22, 2005 8:49 PM | Report abuse

The Lincoln conspiracy didn't even last the evening in which the attacks occurred, tlees2. If you are a historian, you should know that. Why do you think a massive Kennedy conspiracy has lasted more than 40 years?

Lincoln was killed by a small-time and mostly failed conspiracy.

Garfield was killed by a mentally disturbed person.

McKinley was killed by a single anarchist.

As attempted assassinations go, Harry Truman was attacked by a couple of Puerto Rican nationalists.

Gerald Ford's attackers were Sara Jane Moore and Squeaky Fromme.

Ronald Reagan was attacked by John Hinckley.

There isn't a single major political figure involved in any of these assassinations or attempts. They were all committed by small-time people. Why do you assume that a major conspiracy was involved in Kennedy's? Because of Bay of Pigs???? If you are a historian, you should be able to provide more than the assertions you make in your post. E.g., the following are all assertions you make: Operation Mongoose, a joint CiA, mob, anti-Castro operation to assassinate Fidel Castro *changed* [emphasis added] its target to JFK. Oswald, a low-level counter-intelligence operative, was set up as a patsy because his cover was as a Marxist. Thus the extreme right wing could eliminate JFK and blame on it Communists. The CIA and anti-Castro Cubans hated JFK because of the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

Where is the evidence to support these assertions?

Do you *really* think the Mafia would kill the President of the United States because they lost income from Cuba? ["Godfather, my income statements aren't up to snuff." "Oh, okay. Let's kill the President."] Is this what you think what happened?

Posted by: pj | November 22, 2005 8:50 PM | Report abuse

By clicking one of the links Joel A provides, one comes upon an article about Oliver Stone's movie, JFK, written by George Lardner in "Outlook's" June 2, 1991 edition.

Lardner writes that it is nonsense to suppose, as Oliver Stone did, that Kennedy would not have waged the Vietnam War as LBJ did.

To "prove" it, he cites the historian Gibbons saying that it "is absurd" to suggest JFK had any real intention of "getting out, withdrawing entirely."

Lardner and his respected source got it wrong, something that Oliver Stone's sources - U. of Maryland historian John Newman and U. of Cal's Peter Dale Scott were saying back in 1991.

Overwhelming proof Stone was right and Lardner wrong has emerged over the past 14 years in the million pages of declassified files that were released in the wake of Stone's film.

A sampling of informed opinion on JFK and Vietnam:

1. Naval War College historian David Kaiser, for example, wrote that his book, American Tragedy, documented the "numerous occasions during 1961, 1962, and 1963 on which Kennedy did exactly that ['stopped the United States from going to war in Southeast Asia'], rejecting the near unanimous proposals of his advisers to put large numbers of American combat troops in Laos, South Vietnam, or both." [David Kaiser. American Tragedy. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press, 2000.]

2. University of Alabama historian Howard Jones said that when he began his study he "was dubious" about the assertions of "Kennedy apologists [that] he would not have sent combat troops to Vietnam and America's longest war would never have occurred." But "what strikes anyone reading the veritable mountain of documents relating to Vietnam," Jones admitted to his own surprise, "is that the only high official in the Kennedy administration who consistently opposed the commitment of U.S. combat forces was the president." "The materials undergirding this [Jones'] study demonstrate that President Kennedy intended to reverse the nation's special military commitment to the South Vietnamese made in early 1961." [Howard Jones. Death of a Generation - How the Assassinations of Diem and JFK Prolonged the Vietnam War. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003, p. 1 and p. 11.]

3. Echoing Jones, journalist Fred Kaplan wrote that, "the argument that Kennedy would have withdrawn from Vietnam becomes truly compelling only when you place [JFK's] skepticism about the war in the context of his growing disenchantment with his advisers ... ." [Slate/MSNBC:]

4. Historian Robert Dallek came to much the same conclusion. "Toward the end of his life John F. Kennedy increasingly distrusted his military advisers and was changing his views on foreign policy. A fresh look at the final months of his presidency suggests that a second Kennedy term might have produced not only an American withdrawal from Vietnam, but also rapprochement with Fidel Castro's Cuba." [Robert Dallek. JFK's Second Term. Atlantic Monthly, June 2003, p. 58.]

Dallek produced a quote that gives a sense of the newly visible JFK: "The first advice I'm going to give my successor is to watch the generals and to avoid feeling that just because they were military men their opinions on military matters were worth a damn." [IBID, p. 61]

There are many more historians who held that view even in 1991, but Lardner didn't give them a fair shake. So it was incautious of Lardner to criticize Stone for historical slovenliness when he was a bit sloppy himself in picking one of the few historians who would tell him what he wanted to hear in order to bash Stone with solemn authority.

For a much longer list of historians who are agreed that JFK would not have waged war, take a look at the following essay at:

It's also worth googling "James Galbraith, JFK," and reading his persuasive account.


Posted by: Gary | November 22, 2005 9:11 PM | Report abuse

RE: Kennedy Assassination: Case Closed.

The writer has evidently not done his home work. Else, he would not have included,in the list of suspects, Marilyn Monroe who pre-deceased President Kennedy by a year and some months.


Posted by: M. Seshadri | November 22, 2005 10:06 PM | Report abuse

By clicking one of the links Joel A provides, one finds an article about Oliver Stone's movie, "JFK," that George Lardner wrote in "Outlook's" June 2, 1991 edition.

Lardner writes, "['JFK' film director Oliver] Stone complains that his film has to rely on 'bits and pieces of information' because so much is locked up. This is silly. Warren Commission records began to be made public in the mid-'60s. Hundreds of thousands of pages have been released since then ... ."

With Stone's prompting, the govt. finally got off its duff. Since the release of "JFK," more than 4 million pages of secrets have been declassified, more than vindicating Stone against Lardner. More than "so much" was indeed locked up.

But Lardner's reassuring words about the openness of the government concerning the Kennedy case brings to mind another journalist who offered similar reassurances on the day the government first released the Warren Report to the pubic, 9/28/64.

Writing in the New York Times, Anthony Lewis said that, "The [Warren] commission made public all the information it had bearing on the events in Dallas, whether agreeing with its findings or not." [New York Times, 9/28/64, p. 14.]

As we now know, even if Lewis and Lardner do not, the Warren Commission withheld mountains of evidence.

As the Assassinations Records Review reported in 1998, "President Johnson recognized the high public interest in the Warren Commission's unpublished records & initiated a plan for release of the material. The Johnson plan resulted in the release of 98% of the Warren Commission's records by 1992. Thus, at the time that Congress passed the JFK Act, only 3,000 pages of Warren Commission material remained for the agencies and the Review Board to release." [-Final Report of the ARRB, p. 2.]

So, 28 years after the Commission had "made public all the information it had," 3000 pages of it were still under lock and key.

Here again, Stone had it right. Perhaps the government *had* released 100s of thousands of pages when Lardner issued his reassuring words, but since then it has released over 4 million more pages of secrets - more than one would have ever imagined existed when Lardner bashed Stone's paranoia about it.

Naturally, the question arises whether the releases have shed new light. While it's way too long a question to answer in a forum like this, we've since learned that the CIA corrupted the House Select Committee's investigation of Kennedy's death, according to the HSCA's chief counsel, Robert Blakey. [google "Blakey, Frontline"]

The files also highlighted something that had been buried by the Chruch Committee. Namely, that in order to ensure the Warren Commissioners wouldn't defy the "lone-nut" verdict the FBI capo di tutti capi, J. Edgar Hoover, preferred, Hoover ordered that, "Derogatory information pertaining to both Commission members and staff was brought to Mr. Hoover's attention."

-Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations, Book V, p. 47. [On line at:

Joel is to be thanked for putting up Lardner's original article. There's no denying that Stone's history is not always reliable. But then neither is that of the authority Joel turns to, George Lardner.


Posted by: Gary | November 22, 2005 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Evidently, Joel has not done his homework. He does not seem to know that Marilyn Monroe predeceased President Kennedy by a year and few months.


Posted by: M. Seshadri | November 22, 2005 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Not to add too much to the mix, and certainly not professing too much knowledge/research to the event (I wasn't even born at the time), but how about this idea, which I haven't seen discussed here (forgive me if I overlooked it):

What about if Oswald did indeed act alone, but had been put up to it. Face it, he had his share of problems, and most likely was quite suggestible.

Not that this is earth shattering, and probably was proposed before. Just stirring the pot...

Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Emmess like multiple sclerosis?

"I am the luckiest man in the world" quoth Lou Gehrig before being traded to Tampa Bay, beforing realizing that his sclerosis was unique to the AL, ALS."

"Who make jokes about such things?"


"Only us bastards."

"Psychos more like it."

Admire the date palms in the West Bank settlement turf if you want God to smile.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Achenbach weighs in "Good Boodle all around. And ScienceTim definitely wins the Boodler of the Week award with his 2:46:47 post."


Gosh, I'd feel honored, if I weren't supposed to have been writing something else entirely at the time. You know, something related to my paid employment. Plus, I made a lot of misspellings. Plus, my own brand of perennial self-loathing makes me think that it's just out of pity, because I'm such a loser that I launch into lengthy exegeses (an excellent word) on the conservation of momentum. Oh, well.

Maybe with a little research, I could write a book someday: "The Physics of Homicide." Probably somebody already wrote it. Certainly, the biologists have had their say. A million-seller, but only to the kind of people I'd never want to meet. Still, perhaps it could become a must-have item on the bookshelf of every Hollywood screenwriter. The problem is that I am a strong believer in empirical tests of theoretical work, but I'm squeamish. There's a reason I went into physics, you know.

Boy, I'm long-winded.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 22, 2005 10:27 PM | Report abuse

I just found "The Physics of Murder" on Amazon.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 22, 2005 10:34 PM | Report abuse


You have brought the crazies out, again, Joel. Had a slow few weeks? Always good to trot out, for one more show, a national wound people will pick at from now until the end of the Republic.

Logic: find conclusive evidence for a second shooter in Dealey Plaza, and yeah, Conspiracy! But, it has not been done, and I doubt it will be.

Mafia, CIA, Marilyn Monroe, VietNam, where were we that day?... get over it, people, please!

But, some of you can't, because you believe if JFK were still alive, then all the bad things that you imagine have happened to the US since, would not have happened. Sorry, that can't be said even of Jesus of Nazereth, granting his divinity for the sake of my point.

Whether or not you believe in God, some intelligent order, or mere chance, it is rather silly to suppose than even a President of the United States has the kind of profound effect on history we wish for, however much we make our leaders a symbol of our hopes and dreams. And we can name several presidents who, in fact and not hypothesis, have had a much more profound effect on history than JFK, now can't we?

Nor can we disprove universal negatives, beginning with "what if", like what if JFK had lived, or what if there were a conspiracy, now can we?

A spoonful of sweet rationality helps the medicine go down. JFK was assassinated, and we probably know all we are going to ever know about it. We can never know "what if...", unless we can turn it into "what happened is...". Not likely to happen with JFK, since he has long lain in the lap of history, and his case is cold, concluded.

Jim Heyssel

Posted by: Jim Heyssel | November 22, 2005 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Taking off my Science hat...

I never understood the concept that the Mafia/mob would resent politicians/cops/prosecutors for busting their operations. Individual criminals would be resentful, yes, that makes sense; but, as a monolithic criminal entity, law enforcement can only help organized crime unless it becomes really, really effective. Anything short of that, and all that busts do is to drive the price higher on all the product that makes it through the net. You lose 1% of your product and a couple employees, then have your remaining retailers jack up the price, claiming that product is scarce. Small-timers who hope for a big score, like suckers buying lottery tickets, take the gamble to run the retail and shipping operations, hoping for the seemingly big short-term gains. Soon enough, they get busted, while the capitalists who run the organization make ever-increasing profits. Why on Earth would the heads of organized crim want to do away with civilian law-enforcement?

Posted by: Tim | November 22, 2005 10:44 PM | Report abuse

crim = crime

Posted by: Tim | November 22, 2005 10:46 PM | Report abuse

By the picture at the top of your blog site I can see that you are too young to have lived through those days.You and your age peers may see it as a joke,but I can tell you this:the America before the murder of JFK was a lot different country than it was to become in just two years after that murder and the truth is,it never really got any better.There is only one group who could have gotten away with that murder and protected the secrets through all of the decades since and it certainly wasn't Fidel or the Mob.The more "consiracy theories" and disinformation added to the conjecture stream,the easier it is to hide the truth.

Posted by: Ricardo Islam | November 22, 2005 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute -- you're saying that America got worse after JFK's death, presumably as a direct result? Vietnam was very bad, I grant you. But, I'd offer that the end of Jim Crow and the de-institutionalization of racism were very, very good things. Messiness and torment have come along as well, of course; the world is not a perfect place.

Posted by: Tim | November 22, 2005 11:30 PM | Report abuse

When you say "assassination buffs" you make it sound like a club of stamp collectors which is a real insult to anyone who has bothered to study the government's evidence in support of the Oswald did it theory.

When we examine the Warren Commission's evicence, we have the magic bullet (exhibit 399), a pristine projectile that was found on a stretcher in the basement of Parkland Hospital that they assumed was Connely's. In order for THEIR case to work, that bullet HAD to have traversed Kennedy's neck, entered Connely's back, fractured a rib, exitted under his right nipple, entered his right wrist fracturing the radius, exitted his wrist, entered his right thigh, and stopped at his femur. This bullet somehow worked it's way out by itself, fell on the stretcher, escaping the attention of attending doctors and nurses, and got under the cover sheet that was over the stretcher mattress. The stretcher that this bullet was found on was in the basement of the hospital long after the emergency, and it was among many stretchers.

If you can buy their story on that, let's go on to the botched autopsy that was performed not by a forensic pathologist (Like the role played on the television show "Quincy), it had a hospital staffer, Commander Humes, who was anything BUT a forensic pathologist. He hardly had any autopsy experience, much less forensic pathology credentials. One would think too that even a botched autopsy, that the photograps, xrays, and writen description would agree at least in general terms the wounds. When they're compared, they don't agree at all.

I could go on and on. The fact is that we simply don't know who killed Kennedy because the official proofs don't stand up at all. Had Oswald lived, and if a fair jury could have been found (doubtful if you lived through and recall that period), an even incometant attorney could have blown their case away.

An "Assassination Critic" is not a "Buff." He clearly recognizes that the evidence does not hold up, and is deeply concerned. Our government was changed for us that day in 63 and we didn't cast OUR vote, someone ELSE did. Many of us at the time wondered what nut did this, and within hours they gave us the name of that nut and we went back about our business after the funeral.

Then the Warren Commission issued its report. Life Magazine published frames of the Zapruder film. Etc. and so on... When the information came out and it didn't add up, many wanted to know why.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 22, 2005 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Heck, it didn't post my name. I did the above post

Posted by: aBigSAM | November 22, 2005 11:36 PM | Report abuse

aBigSAM, you got it right. Those who weren't around those days or weren't old enough, haven't any idea what the country was like before JFK's murder. My companion on that fateful day in Dallas had it exactly right. He said, "Now everything will change." How true!

Posted by: Schweinhundt | November 23, 2005 12:05 AM | Report abuse

I've written an essay about an "expert" touted by one of the posters, Max Holland. Regarding him, I've outlined the myriad reasons there are not to trust the Warren Commission. Namely, because the government has concluded the Warren Commission can't be trusted.

The essay is on-line at:

I pick up here in the middle, quoting an official body explaining why not to trust Earl Warren's famous effort.

Copious source notes are available in the on-line essay.

Gary Aguilar

"The evidence indicates that Hoover viewed the Warren Commission more as an adversary than a partner in a search for the facts of the assassination," the HSCA concluded in 1978.[44] Speaking for all the Commissioners in 1977, chief counsel J. Lee Rankin admitted that in 1964, the Commissioners were naïve about Hoover's honesty and yet were afraid to confront him when he wouldn't properly fetch for them. "Who," Rankin sheepishly asked, "could protest against what Mr. Hoover did back in those days?"[45] Apparently not the President's commissioners. And so, "The Commission did not investigate Hoover or the FBI, and managed to avoid the appearance of doing so." This had repercussions on possibly the most explosive rumor the Warren Commission ever dealt with--that Oswald had been an FBI informant. The HSCA found that, "The Warren Commission] ended up doing what the members had agreed they could not do: Rely mainly on FBI's denial of the allegations [that Oswald had been an FBI informant]."[46]

The FBI never informed the Commission of Oswald's threatening note to Hosty, which it destroyed. The Commission never heard about the mafia threats against JFK and RFK that had been picked up in FBI wiretaps. Nor did they ever learn that even before the Commission started, Hoover already had a secret informant in place: Representative Gerald Ford.[47] The record also suggests the CIA had been little better than the FBI.

Two years before the HSCA issued its report, the Senate Select Committee reported on its own examination of the process employed by both agencies. It reported, "The Committee has developed evidence which impeaches the process by which the intelligence agencies arrived at their own conclusions about the assassination, and by which they provided information to the Warren Commission. This evidence indicates that the investigation of the assassination was deficient and that facts which might have substantially affected the course of the investigation were not provided the Warren Commission or those individuals within the FBI and the CIA, as well as other agencies of Government, who were charged with investigating the assassination."[48]

Thus, Holland's most threatening enemies aren't the informed skeptics, or even the university-published skeptics who mistrust the government, but the government itself. That is, two government bodies that--armed in abundance with the one key capacity the Commission needed but lacked, a staff of experienced and proven criminal investigators--uncovered good reasons to incline any reasonable person toward skepticism.
The HSCA vs. The Warren Report

The list of Commission shortcomings the HSCA assembled is not short. A brief summary of them runs some 47 pages in the Bantam Books version of the report (p. 289--336), which outlines what required all 500+ pages of volume XI to cover.

To cite a particularly important one, the HSCA found that, "Even though [the Commission's] staff was composed primarily of lawyers, the Commission did not take advantage of all the legal tools available to it. An assistant [Commission] counsel told the committee: 'The Commission itself failed to utilize the instruments of immunity from prosecution and prosecution for perjury with respect to witnesses whose veracity it doubted.'"[49] And despite Earl Warren's bold declaration, "Truth is our only client here," it was no less than the Chief Justice himself who recommended relying on the FBI's investigation instead of conducting an independent investigation. Warren inexplicably refused to seek one of the most essential tools necessary for any serious criminal investigation: the authority to issue subpoenas and to grant balky witnesses immunity from prosecution. His opposition had to be overcome by the other Commissioners.[50] But in practice, they proved no more courageous than Warren. For although they admitted doubting, and with good reason, the truthfulness of some of the witnesses, the Commissioners freely admitted they never once found even a single occasion to offer a grant of immunity to pursue their only client.[51]

The HSCA's chief counsel, Robert Blakey, an experienced criminal investigator and prosecutor himself, was impressed with neither the Commission's vigor nor its independence. "What was significant," Blakey wrote, "was the ability of the FBI to intimidate the Commission, in light of the bureau's predisposition on the questions of Oswald's guilt and whether there had been a conspiracy. At a January 27 [1964] Commission meeting, there was another dialogue [among Warren Commissioners]:

John McCloy: ... the time is almost overdue for us to have a better perspective of the FBI investigation than we now have ... We are so dependent on them for our facts ... .

Commission counsel J. Lee Rankin: Part of our difficulty in regard to it is that they have no problem. They have decided that no one else is involved ... .

Senator Richard Russell: They have tried the case and reached a verdict on every aspect.

Senator Hale Boggs: You have put your finger on it. (Closed Warren Commission meeting.)"[52]

The HSCA gave a compelling explanation for how the case was so swiftly solved: "It must be said that the FBI generally exhausted its resources in confirming its case against Oswald as the lone assassin, a case that Director J. Edgar Hoover, at least, seemed determined to make within 24 hours of the of the assassination."[53] (The Bureau's ability to prove is legendary. It proved that Nixon was innocent of Watergate after what then-Attorney General Richard Kleindienst, with unintended irony, described as the greatest (FBI) effort since the assassination of President Kennedy.[54])

In essence, the HSCA concluded that Hoover had divined the solution to the crime before the investigation, and then Hoover's agents proved his epiphany. The intimidated Commission didn't put up much of a fight. (Who could protest against what Mr. Hoover did back in those days?) Despite the Commission's admission that it would probably need an independent investigative staff to properly investigate certain intelligence "tender spots," it chose not to get one. As the HSCA succinctly put it, "[T]he Commission did not go much beyond the agencies in investigating the anticipated [intelligence] 'tender spots.'"[55] J. Lee Rankin explained the Commission's spinelessness: An independent investigative staff would have required an inordinate amount of time, and "the whole intelligence community in the government would feel that the Commission was indicating a lack of confidence in them ... ."[56] Echoing Rankin, Allen Dulles pressed his fellow commissioners to accept the FBI's investigation so as to, as Dulles' biographer Peter Gross put it, "avoid frictions within the intelligence community."[57]

The HSCA's criticism is particularly damning given the fact it was delivered by an official body. Holland, however, is unlikely to be impressed. Complaining in The Nation that HSCA deputy chief counsel Gary Cornwell "recycles some of the hoariest clichés regarding the Warren Commission (in his book Real Answers),"[58] Holland seems disinclined to accept any of the HSCA's critique of the Commission. For Cornwell had made an admission that one imagines would have immediately disqualified him as far as Holland is concerned: "Before joining the Select Committee, I had been a federal prosecutor with the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the Justice Department, and Chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force in Kansas City. I had investigated numerous conspiracies, and indicted and tried the organized crime members who participated in those conspiracies, including the head of the Mafia in Kansas City, and the head of the Mafia in Denver. I believe criminal conspiracies do exist. Unlike [pro-Warren columnist] Tom Wicker, my bias ran toward a belief that conspiracies are a very integral part of 'how the world works.'"[59] Certainly anyone with Cornwell's sterling credentials as a murder investigator, someone who had so often proved conspiracies actually exist, could not possibly have been relied upon to investigate JFK's murder, or the Warren Commission's investigation of it.
The Senate Select Committee vs. The Warren Commission

Very well, ignore Cornwell and the HSCA. But how about the conclusions of Frank Church's Senate Select Committee, rendered two years before the HSCA? It is still celebrated even today for having revealed prior, gross intelligence failures, lies and abuses committed by the same agencies that Holland hails for having cracked the Kennedy case. The Church committee, moreover, did not "disqualify" itself by having disagreed with the Warren Commission's conclusions about Oswald. For it did not address that question. It only addressed the manner in which JFK's murder was investigated.

"Almost immediately after the assassination, Director Hoover, the Justice Department and the White House 'exerted pressure' on senior Bureau officials to ... issue a factual report supporting the conclusion that Oswald was the lone assassin. Thus, it is not surprising that, from its inception, the assassination investigation focused almost exclusively on Lee Harvey Oswald ... The pressure to issue a report that would establish Oswald as the lone assassin is reflected in internal Bureau memoranda. On 11/24/63, Assistant FBI Director Alan Belmont informed Associate FBI Director Clyde Tolson that he was sending to Headquarters supervisors to Dallas to review '... [interviews and findings] so that we can prepare a memorandum to the Attorney General ... [setting] (sic) out the evidence showing that Oswald is responsible for the shooting that killed the President."[60] So while Hoover immediately sought to narrow the scope to Oswald, a powerful brigade swiftly joined him in lockstep.

The Senate Select Committee also addressed one of Holland's central concerns: to rebut the notion the Commission was overly dependent on intelligence agencies. Apparently Commissioner McCloy's word--"We are so dependent on [the FBI] for our facts"--accounts for nothing with Max Holland. His retort is that the FBI did work satisfactorily with the Commission, which was not overly dependent on the Bureau. The Commission, you see, independently double-, or triple-checked any important FBI evidence it doubted.

Unfortunately for Holland, the Senate committee saw things pretty much the way McCloy had described them: "[T]he Commission was dependent upon the intelligence agencies for the facts and preliminary analysis ... The Commission and its staff did analyze the material and frequently requested follow-up agency investigations; but if evidence on a particular point was not supplied to the Commission, this second step would obviously not be reached, and the Commission's findings would be formulated without the benefit of any information on the omitted point."[61] Furthermore, "although the Commission had to rely on the FBI to conduct the primary investigation of the President's death ... the Commission was perceived as an adversary by both Hoover and senior FBI officials ... such a relationship," as the Committee dryly put it, "was not conductive to the cooperation necessary for a thorough and exhaustive investigation."[62]

The Senate discovered that Hoover had deployed one of his favorite dirty tricks to deal with the Warren Commission. "[D]erogatory information pertaining to both Commission members and staff was brought to Mr. Hoover's attention."[63] Given the FBI's history of destroying Oswald's note to FBI agent James Hosty, Hosty's recent admission that his own personnel file, and other FBI files, had been falsified,[64] and given the report by author Curt Gentry that assistant FBI director William Sullivan learned of other JFK documents in the Bureau that had been destroyed,[65] skeptics find cold comfort in the Committee's follow-up comment that, "the Bureau has informed the Committee staff that there is no documentary evidence which indicates that such information was disseminated while the Warren Commission was in session."[66] (emphasis added)

Although Holland touts Earl Warren's bold declaration, "Truth is our only client," he omits a more telling Warren directive, one that has been borne out by the Commission's own internal record: "[O]ur job here is essentially one for the evaluation of evidence as distinguished from the gathering of evidence, and I believe that at the outset at least we can start with the premise that we can rely upon the reports of the various federal agencies."[67] Peter Gross noted that Warren's inclination toward the FBI's solution was shared by another powerful Commissioner, Allen Dulles, who "urged that the panel confine its work to a review of the investigation already being made by the FBI."[68]

Posted by: Gary Aguilar | November 23, 2005 12:16 AM | Report abuse

after so many years november 22,1963 still
holds so much for so many.................
the idealism of the new frontier was surely
the greater victim that day...and the usa
having lost a youthful vision of better
days to come was not the same after.......
it is not possible to reach back and undo
that days awfulness...and so for the pain
and sense of loss it inflicted there can
be no healing as exampled again in this
....a follow up on comment at 4:37:26pm
..i have read/heard of this new empire of
islam threat several times seems
to have taken on some credibility with the
heritage foundation and cheney types......
to ascribe such power and means to what up
to now has been seen as being a small cell
and non-nation movement seems a far reach.
yet it is the american right
may have it's new monolithical enemy for
which it can drumbeat endless funding for
military and security programs............
the fall of the evil empire being seen as
a threat to such stuff...................
so this new empire of islam from spain to
indonesia is seemingly the next big enemy
for the usa...or is it china? must be
difficult for the cheney types to decide
on which one the military/security market
can best maybe both?........
meanwhile we can expect higher levels of
fear and not being safe ever mongering to
stoke the fires in fortress one usa.
from spain to islamic(and
this gets in there too)facist empire that
hates the usa...and is run by really bad
guys.....its just the ticket for another
50 years of misdirected economic and
social wealth and energy.................
but sadly is more of a dunghill climb and
no matter who wins,you top out on dung...

Posted by: an american in siam.... | November 23, 2005 6:05 AM | Report abuse

Jim Heyssel says "It is rather silly to suppose than even a President of the United States has the kind of profound effect on history we wish for..."

I beg to differ:

If Bill Clinton had kept his pants up, Al Gore would likely have been elected president and we would not be mired in Iraq right now--and our world reputation would be better.

I think Clinton's behavior had a "profound effect" on our history. I just hope it's not fatal.

Posted by: TBG | November 23, 2005 7:31 AM | Report abuse

I've been on both sides of the JFK conspiracy issue--as a young man I believed it was more than the mere Oswald. In middle age, the evidence, time and time again, points to only Oswald. Books like "Case Closed" and advances in forensic science point to one screwed up 24-year-old on the sixth floor of the Dallas Book Depository building.

All the psuedo-evidence and changing eyewitness claims and heresay will not alter the facts. There is a JFK Conspiracy Industry that preys on the gullibility of a paying public.

Posted by: bling bling | November 23, 2005 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Any conspiracy theories based on the supposed impossible rifle rate of fire, accuracy, or bullet performance and condition are a dry hole.

Using a bolt action rifle I easily made 4 hits on a head sized target at 100 yards in the time it supposedly took Oswald to fire 3 times and hit only twice at a shorter distance.

The Carcano 6.5mm bullet has a high frontal density, longer and heavier than the 30 cal (7.62mm) military bullets familiar to most Americans. It penetrates very deeply and its heavy cupronickel jacket makes it very tough. Fired bullets can often be picked up at the range in perfect condition.

Posted by: Jim Klapper | November 23, 2005 7:36 AM | Report abuse

I don't remember where I was when JFK was shot, but I do remember the day of his funeral. I was 5 years old and walking around town by myself (things were alot different back then). There was absolutely no one outside that day. No one walking around, no cars, the only traffic light in town was flashing yellow. I thought that world had ended that day

Posted by: first_timer | November 23, 2005 9:10 AM | Report abuse

How's this for strange? When Kennedy was assassinated, my family were members of an Episcopalian Church in Delaware. I was only 9 at the time, but I remember everyone rejoicing because our pastor had the entire congregation believing JFK was the Antichrist. Needless to say, I'm not a religious man today.

Posted by: October Man | November 23, 2005 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Oswald acted alone (or for Castro). Ruby was sent by Sam Giancana to make it look like Oswald was sent by him -- to his Mafia buddies -- to get his "respeto" back for being taken in by the Kennedys (helping elect JFK and then being persecuted by RFK).

Posted by: Denis Drew | November 23, 2005 11:03 AM | Report abuse

On, james Files comes forward saying he fired the fatal shot on JFK from the Grassy Knoll. Whether or not this is to be believed, most people I've asked have never heard about this development. I would think this would generate some press, a TV interview, etc.

Posted by: numb | November 23, 2005 11:40 AM | Report abuse

We could get THE REAL TRUTH about JFK if we put Dick Cheney into one of those European CIA detainee prisons & interrogate him. This may be the only way to really solve everybody's theorizing. I know this is true, because I believe it, and also because all of the previous comments make this an obvious conclusion. We doctors know a hopeless case if

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Posted by: Netpowersoft | November 23, 2005 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Finally a poster suggests a possible reason why a shady strip-club owner named Jack Ruby would sacrifice his own life just to kill Oswald.

The Sam Giancana theory is an interesting one. Is there any evidence for this? Did Giancana really have enough time to hatch that plot, find a willing gunman, and arrange its execution? What debt did Ruby owe Giancana that would motivate him to do something that would certainly end his life, literally or figuratively? I think I would have changed my name and moved to another continent if I was that deeply indebted to a mafia boss.

The Giancana plot seems unlikely, but not impossible.

Posted by: ricardo | November 23, 2005 12:31 PM | Report abuse

people, there is a new kit and kaboodle.
case closed already!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 23, 2005 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Since the universe is virtually infinite, and we are each quite finite, it's perfectly true that we can't know everything, or even get the very last bit of data on anything; but the saving grace of human existance is that it is possible to learn and understand *enough* to find our way through.

The Zapruder film is out on DVD, folks. It's a morbid exercise, but if you haven't seen the frames of Kennedy's head being driven back and to the left by the impact of the bullet that killed him, it's a hole in your education about American history ( and the kind of world you live in still...) waiting to be filled. You don't even have to have a full understanding of balistics; if you've ever even played a game of pool, you'll understand that the kill-shot simply could not have come from the 5th floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository.

That won't tell you who *did* murder the man, nor why, nor why those who did see the film back then, and who did have balistics experts to consult, chose to deny the ugly truth of the matter. Nor can I tell you - I haven't the time or stomach to sort through all the red herrings. So much disinformation, so little time....

It is enough, I think, to understand that your government does lie, and can get away with it. That's a cold truth we need to understand, now and always.

And by the way, it might help to see it clearly by avoiding the term "assassination"; the word makes it seem like some exotic phenomenon, in some realm beyond our ordinary lives. Whoever did it, he/they shot a man like a dog in the street, blew the back of his head off with his wife sitting next to him. It was murder, people, murder most foul. And there is no statute of limitations for the crime of murder.

Posted by: BlueHue | November 28, 2005 11:39 PM | Report abuse

I think conspiracy theories are very much an American phenomenon, as a Canadian I cannot think of one conspiracy theory in our history. At the same time I can see why Americans believe them. As far back as I remember America has always had corrupt politicians, presidents, and a violent history. When you live amongst such heavily corrupt presidents who do not appear to take the interests of the American people to heart, people will look for answers they will never get from government. JFK was the peoples president and did speak up for Americans.
I was in the fifth grade and sent home from school when JFK was assasinated. All children at all schools in Canada were sent home. I have a hard time imagining Americans even knowing who our leader is, let alone being sent home if they were assasinated. The closest thing we ever had to this was a break in at the Prime Ministers residence and he had to protect himself with a Inuit sculpture. We don't allow guns so we protect ourselves with whateve is available; chopsticks, sculptures. Life feels a lot safer here than my experience in America.
The CIA admits it has sold drugs, those with experience say they have sold drugs for over 50 years before they were called the CIA. The war on drugs appears to be a war on anyone else selling drugs. No matter how badly a President or agency behaves in America, Americans are shocked and won't believe. I believe the government is rotten to the core, and has been for a long time and I believe Americans deserve to have a government they can trust and then conspiracy theories will be a thing of the past.

Posted by: Gael | November 29, 2005 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Ottawa anyone?

Posted by: Oh Canada | November 30, 2005 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Ottawa anyone?

Posted by: Oh Canada | November 30, 2005 12:43 PM | Report abuse

True enough Oh Canada.

Posted by: Gael | December 7, 2005 12:38 PM | Report abuse

His head did'nt go back and to the left as oliver stoned' would have us believe after he has shocked us with frame 313. if he had been struck from the side not only would zapruder have jumped, but jacqueline would have had her brains splurted all over the motorcycles wind shield too. oswald only made it out of the tsbd because he was an employee. the idea of any strangers exiting the building was ridiculous. lee bowers thought he saw something out of the ordinary but he was perfectly placed to see anyone who would have had to run back into the rail way yard. he was interviewed many times and never said he had seen anyone. oswald didnt act alone in the planning. but he did in the shooting and he was qualified

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2005 11:37 AM | Report abuse

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