But in the world of Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists, it seems that the more suspects, the better. If there are a lot of groups and individuals who had some plausible motive to kill Kennedy, it must follow that some of them did. If there are a lot of suspects everybody can have a suspect that particularly suits them. Liberals and leftists can blame the CIA and the FBI. Northerners who dislike the South can blame Texas oil millionaires and right-wing racist elements. Conservatives can blame a communist conspiracy blaming a single lone communist isn't sufficiently satisfying. Everybody can blame the Mafia.
And having lots of suspects can allow one to fiddle and finagle and explain away any inconvenient evidence. If, to avoid facing the evidence against Oswald, you need to claim the Dallas cops lied, that the FBI tampered with evidence, that Warren Commission members engaged in a cover-up, that experts working for the House Select Committee on Assassinations lied when they authenticated the evidence against Oswald . . . well, why not claim all that? After all, you've got a vast number of people whose behavior and motives are suspect.
The only thing you don't have is any coherent and sensible theory.
Scott's failure occurs as throughout the entire book . . . he continually swings back and forth, all in the name of deep political analysis, and seems to draw not one conclusion but several contradictory ones. . . . Simply summarized, everything in the political sphere, as well as in the national and international spheres, has been connected to the Kennedy assassination on November 22, 1963 in some way.
I never understood why the conspiracy theorists think Hoover wanted JFK dead. Hoover was the master of blackmail, and he was very aware of the darker side of Camelot. While Hoover didn't agree with all of JFK's policies, that was nothing new to Hoover. Hoover had enough dirt on JFK to protect his vital interests. While Bobby may have been more anti-mob than Hoover cared for, JFK's death only enhanced RFK's stature, and made blackmail of the Kennedy family for their moral failings almost impossible. An RFK administration with a martyr brother to ward off attack would have been Hoover's worst nightmare.
Post by Michael Russ on alt.assassination.jfk on 2/6/98.
. . . President Kennedy, as the enormity of the Bays of Pigs disaster came home to him, said to one of the highest officials of his Administration that he wanted "to splinter the C.I.A. in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds." ("C.I.A.: Maker of Policy or Tool?," April 25, 1966)But as usual, the conspiracists are telling only a small, highly-selected part of the story. The New York Times article in fact doesn't support the Oliver Stone-style fantasy of a rogue agency out of control. The subhead under the title says "Survey Finds Widely Feared Agency Is Tightly Controlled."
The authors describe their study of the CIA, carried out over several months and involving literally dozens of journalists, and note that:
It found that the C.I.A., for all its fearsome reputation, is under far more stringent political and budgetary control than most of its critics know or concede, and that since the Bay of Pigs disaster in Cuba in 1961 those controls have been tightly exercised.After noting the JFK quote mentioned above, the article goes on to say:
Many of the critics do not know that virtually all C.I.A. expenditures must be authorized in advance first by an Administration committee that includes some of the highest-ranking political officials and White House staff assistants, then by officials in the Bureau of the Budget, who have the power to rule out or reduce an expenditure.So it seems the conspiracists have taken an article that flatly contradicts their view of the CIA and Kennedy's relationship with the agency and ripped a quote out of context.
They do not know that, instead of a blank check, the C.I.A. has an annual budget of a little more than $500-million only one-sixth the $3-billion the Government spends on its overall intelligence effort. The National Security Agency, a cryptographic and code-breaking operation run by the Defense Department, and almost never questioned by outsiders, spends twice a much as the C.I.A.
The critics shrug aside the fact that President Kennedy, after the most rigorous inquiry into the agency's affairs, methods and problems after the Bay of Pigs, did not "splinter" it after all and did not recommend Congressional supervision.
But even aside from this, there is a nasty logical problem with the conspiracists' claim. Since the assassination took place over two and a half years after the Bay of Pigs, the theory seems to be that Kennedy was mad at the CIA, but never bothered to actually try to "splinter it." For its part, the CIA knew they had a mortal enemy in JFK, but diddled around and failed to bump him off for two and a half years? It seems that both JFK and the CIA were world champion procrastinators!
In the real world of Washington politics, two and a half years is an eternity. If an agency survives presidential disapproval for that long, it no longer has anything to fear.
What do standard historical sources say about the relationship between Kennedy and the CIA? Craig Frizzell and Magen Knuth examine this issue in "Mortal Enemies? Did President Kennedy Plan on Splintering the CIA?"
Conspiracy Theorists: A Cast of Thousands
OK, if a conspiracy did kill Kennedy, just who was part of it? This presents a problem, since conspiracy theorists have come up with "evidence" to implicate a lot of different groups. What happens when you believe all or even most of the stuff you read in conspiracy books? You end up with a cast of thousands! The following is from Jim Marrs' book Crossfire. I've taken the liberty of using bold face type for each group and individual Marrs mentions as likely to be involved. Marrs labels this section of his book "A Likely Scenario," oblivious to the irony of that statement.
"A Likely Scenario"
So, who killed Kennedy? It would be easier to ask: "Who didn't?"
Conspiracy buffs are always quoting public opinion polls that show that about 80% of Americans believe a conspiracy killed Kennedy, and about 20% believe a lone assassin did. If people like Marrs are correct, 80% believe a conspiracy killed Kennedy, and the other 20% know that a conspiracy killed Kennedy, because they were part of it.