I have two reasons to doubt that President John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas as the result of a conspiracy. The first reason is the nature of conspiracies in general, and the second reason is the nature of Lee Harvey Oswald.
A conspiracy can succeed if it involves a small number of people with a limited objective on which they all agree. As more people become involved and more steps need to be accomplished, the chance for the conspiracy to succeed dwindles rapidly. To see how conspiracies within American government actually work, study the Watergate scandal. From that one can observe how the twin powers of self-interest and incompetence doom any major conspiracy.
To murder President Kennedy through a conspiracy, the conspirators would have needed to arrange for Lee Harvey Oswald to be hired at the Book Depository, and then to arrange for the President’s motorcade to take a route that passed by the Depository. The conspirators would have needed to obtain in advance a bullet fired from Oswald’s rifle, and then to have that bullet planted on a stretcher in Parkland Hospital. The conspirators would have needed a plan to remove the President’s body from Dallas and have it examined by a chosen team of doctors in Washington DC. The conspirators would have needed to script the arrest of Oswald in a movie theater and then to make him available to be shot by Jack Ruby on Dallas police property that same weekend.
After accomplishing all this, the conspirators would have needed to keep their work hidden from the FBI, the Warren Commission, and any later investigating agency. The failure of investigators to find even one person who can convincingly claim to have been involved in planning any of the many steps of such a conspiracy is resounding evidence that such a conspiracy never existed.
If that were not enough, one must consider the nature of Lee Harvey Oswald. From the time he was in the United States Marines through the time he worked various jobs in Minsk, New Orleans, and Dallas, Oswald exhibited a pattern of unreliable behavior. At no time did he stick to any job with concentration and determination. Any group of conspirators who chose to trust Oswald as a member of their team would have been guilty of poor judgment, to say the least. Even if a group of conspirators were using Oswald as a patsy without his advance knowledge, his pattern of unpredictable behavior would have made Oswald unsuitable for their plans.
How could the planners have arranged to have Oswald to bring his rifle to work on November 22 (or to have him carry a package of curtain rods wrapped in brown paper, causing people to suspect he had a rifle that morning)? How could they have kept Oswald in the second floor lunchroom of the Depository while the motorcade of the President of the United States passed by the building? How could they have been sure that Oswald’s behavior, both before and after the shooting, would draw suspicion of the Dallas police toward him that same afternoon?
Nevertheless, American imaginations generally require a conspiracy to make sense of history. The thought that one man as insignificant as Lee Harvey Oswald could, with a highly impulsive act, change the course of history does not appeal to most people. Events of great significance require great causes, in the minds of many people. Here follows a description of a conspiracy plan that could have worked, involving a small number of people with the power to carry out their will, and with the scheming of significant people fulfilling a plan to shape the future. Consider, if you will, the following scenario:
In the summer of 1963, during a routine physical examination, doctors at the Bethesda Naval Hospital discover that President Kennedy has an incurable and fatal illness. Perhaps they find an inoperable tumor, or perhaps a complication with Addison’s disease or with some other health problem in Kennedy’s history. The doctors informed the President that he had about a year to live. The President immediately demanded that the doctors keep his condition secret, and they all swore that at no time would they ever divulge the information they had learned about President Kennedy’s health.
This bad news was particularly striking to President Kennedy, who was working to shape the policy of the government of the United States in several important areas. He expected reelection to a second term to complete the progress he had started. Failure to seek reelection would threaten every one of the President’s plans. He had no guarantee that any other prominent Democrat would continue along the same course, let alone that a Republican victory in November 1964 would not derail everything he had accomplished. President Kennedy realized that he could only ensure continuation of his plans by succumbing to a sudden, rapid, and unexpected death. To receive a martyr’s reward, he would have to die the death of a martyr.
The President could not order any member of the American government to kill him in public view. To arrange for his own murder, the President needed to contact a small, highly organized group of people that was not afraid of committing a crime. Although his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, was working hard to battle organized crime in the United States, the President had a courier able to bring messages to leaders in organized crime and to carry messages from them to him. Her name was Judith Campbell (later Exner), and she had access to the President as well as to Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli, two men in powerful positions within organized crime in the United States. Kennedy was confident that the Secret Service would not interfere with his meetings with Campbell. Through her he arranged a hit upon himself, guaranteeing Giancana and Roselli that they would not be caught and prosecuted for his assassination and that government investigations of organized crime would diminish after his death. Of course it was up to them to plan and execute the killing and to hide any evidence of their involvement.
The President was not told where and when his will would be accomplished, beyond that it would happen in the autumn of 1963 in a southern state. With that information, the President authorized a political swing through Florida and Texas, and he persuaded his wife Jacqueline to accompany him, telling her that her presence was needed for political purposes. At the same time, President Kennedy firmly instructed Jacqueline that, if anything fatal should happen to him, at any time and in any place, she should demand that his autopsy take place in Bethesda Naval Hospital, and that no other medical professionals be allowed to examine his body. This way, the President could be sure that his fatal disease remained unknown and that his legacy as a martyred President would be preserved.
Researchers have noted that Giancana and Roselli seemed to have advance knowledge of the President’s death, including the details that he would be shot with a high-powered rifle from an office building and that a communist sympathizer would be arrested and charged with the crime. The Secret Service reportedly received word of a plot against the President in Miami and arranged last-minute changes in his travel plans. In Dallas they were less successful. Given a very small plot, largely conceived by experienced criminal minds, the President’s desire for an elaborate suicide was accomplished on November 22, 1963.
Elements of the crime have been detected by various investigators, but until this time no one has identified the mastermind who began direction of the assassination. Many individuals and groups have been accused, including figures in organized crime, departments of the American government, rogue elements within some of those departments, anti-Castro Cubans, and forces from the Soviet Union, Cuba, China, or Vietnam. The sheer number of suspects, combined with the burden of far too much evidence to study, has kept the secret hidden until now.
And it was no mistake that my home computer broke down on Sunday, just as I was about to reveal this conspiracy to the world. J.