Kennedy Assassination Context Suspects in the Kennedy Assassination
In real-world criminal investigations, having literally dozens of suspects is an indication that the probe is in trouble. The evidence isn't converging to point to a single suspect or a few suspects who may have conspired. The evidence against one suspect is about as good as the evidence against any other — which means it's no good at all.

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.

Just Who Wasn't Guilty?

Berkeley English Professor Peter Dale Scott claims to have uncovered the structure of "deep politics" that underlay the Kennedy assassination. Who does he implicate? According to this review by Rachael Weber, just about everybody. According to Weber:
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.
J. Edgar Hoover and Lyndon Johnson
FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover (left) and President Lyndon Johnson (right).

Did Hoover Do It?

Given J. Edgar Hoover's vast power as Director of the FBI, Hoover's real and well-documented abuses of that power, and the antipathy that left-leaning conspiracy buffs feel toward him, he could hardly escape being a prime suspect. But there is a fundamental flaw in all the theories that blame Hoover.
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.

Hoover a Homosexual Transvestite?

Simply claiming that Hoover was complicit in killing JFK (something for which there is no evidence) or that he trampled civil liberties (which he did) are not enough for the anti-Hoover crowd. They want to make him out to be homosexual and a cross-dresser. Mel Ayton addresses this issue in an article from Crime Magazine. This is an issue that finds reputable academics (including some of Hoover's sharpest critics) on one side, and conspiracy authors like Anthony Summers on the other. JFK and the CIA

Was JFK Going to "Splinter" the CIA?

According to conspiracy books, and the movie "JFK", John Kennedy intended to "to splinter the C.I.A. in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds." This supposedly is why he was killed. Oddly enough, JFK did actually say this, according to the New York Times:
. . . 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.

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.

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.

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?"

E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis

E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis: Scoundrels or Scapegoats?

E. Howard Hunt (right, before a Congressional committee) and Frank Sturgis (far right) became instantly famous in 1973 with the bungled Watergate break-in. Sturgis was one of the burglers, and Hunt was a Nixon White House operative in charge of "dirty tricks." Hunt had been a CIA officer, and Sturgis was connected to some anti-Castro Cuban groups that were themselves connected to the Agency. Very quickly, JFK assassination conspiracy theorists begin to claim that Hunt and Sturgis were two of the three tramps arrested near Dealey Plaza in the wake of the assassination. The hue and cry was so great that when the Rockefeller Commission investigated the domestic activities of the CIA a key order of business was to examine the theory that Hunt and Sturgis were Dealey Plaza assassination conspirators. Here are the conclusions of the Commission on the issue.

Mark Lane and his book Plausible Denial

Has the CIA Been Convicted in Court?

When a journal called the Spotlight printed an article claiming that E. Howard Hunt was in Dallas on the day of the assassination and was involved in the plot, Hunt sued. Mark Lane represented the Spotlight in court. In his book Plausible Denial, Lane claims to his readers that the jury was convinced that the CIA killed Kennedy, and that Hunt was a key operative in the plot. People with no independent information on the trial usually believe Lane, but the truth is very different from Lane's account.

Lyndon Johnson's Complex Motives

Lyndon Johnson seems to be a perfect cardboard villain, especially for people who have cultural biases against Texans, or those who would resent any president who took office at the abrupt and violent end of Camelot. But Johnson was a complex man — a mixture of honor and ruthlessness, of vulgarity and a genuine passion for social justice. Historian Max Holland examines one facet of his character in this article from the Atlantic Monthly. Holland offers a plausible account of how Johnson believed in an assassination conspiracy, but never spoke of his belief until the very end of his life.

Was It All About the Federal Reserve?

Yes, some conspiracy buffs think that the Federal Reserve, or at least forces allied with it, had Kennedy killed. Supposedly, President Kennedy was killed because he was trying to wrestle power away from the central bank. Supposedly, Executive Order 11,110 was to replace Federal Reserve Notes with silver certificates. Economist Edward Flaherty deals with this issue on his essay "Debunking the Federal Reserve Conspiracy Theories".

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"

Source: Jim Marrs' Crossfire

Since so much information concerning the plot to kill Kennedy has been destroyed, altered, or masked by false leads, it remains impossible to state with authority details of the plan. Even those involved were probably not informed of every aspect of the plot.

However there is enough information available today to begin to construct a likely scenario of what happened:

By the beginning of 1963, serious talk against President Kennedy was circulating within many groups—organized crime, the anti-Castro Cubans, the CIA, business and banking, the oil industry, and even the military.

There were many connections among all these groups and, once word of this pervasive anti-Kennedy feeling reached the ears of certain members of the Southwestern oil and business communities, secret meetings were held where money was raised and tacit approvals given.

From this point on, there would be no further contact between the individuals who initiated the plot and those who carried it out. Consequently, there is little likelihood that the originators of the plot will ever be identified or brought to justice. However, the broad outlines of the plot can be discerned by diligent study of all available assassination information.

Because of his family's great wealth, John F. Kennedy was incorruptible by bribes. He was also the only president since Franklin Roosevelt who was an intellectual. Kennedy had a rich sense of history and a global outlook. He apparently had an idealistic vision of making the world more peaceful and less corrupt. In other words, he really believed he was president and he set out to shake up the status quo of Big Banking, Big Oil, Big Military-Industrial Complex with its powerful Intelligence Community, and Big Organized Crime, which had gained deep inroads into American life since Prohibition.

There were—and most certainly remain—numerous ties among all of these powerful factions. It is now well documented that the mob and the CIA worked hand in glove on many types of operations, including assassination. The various U.S. Military intelligence services are closely interwoven, and in some cases, such as the National Security Agency (NSA) are superior to the FBI and CIA.

Therefore, when Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, began to wage war on organized crime, it quickly became a matter of self-defense to the mob and the banks and industries it controlled.

Officials of the FBI and CIA, likewise, were fearful of the Kennedys, who had come to realize how dangerously out of control these agencies had become. The anti-Castro Cubans felt betrayed by Kennedy because of his last-minute orders halting U.S. military assistance to the Bay of Pigs invaders and were quite willing to support and assassination.

However, no matter how violent these crime-intelligence-industrial cliques might be, they never would have moved against this nation's chief executive without the approval of—or at the very least the neutralization of—the U.S. military.

Already angered by Kennedy's liberal domestic politics, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and his signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union, top military brass undoubtedly were incensed in late 1963 when Kennedy let it be known that he planned to withdraw all U.S. military personnel from Vietnam by the end of 1965.

With that decision, the military turned against him and, even if they wouldn't openly plot against him, the military leadership would not be sorry if something were to happen to Kennedy.

The stage was set. Gen. Charles Cabell, the CIA deputy director fired by Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs, was back in the Pentagon, and his brother, Earle Cabell, was mayor of Dallas.

It was widely rumored that Vice President Lyndon Johnson—long associated with dirty politics, gamblers, and defense officials—was to be dropped from the Democratic ticket in 1964. Texas oilmen, staunch friends of Johnson and the military-industrial complex, were dismayed that Kennedy was talking about doing away with the lucrative oil-depletion allowance.

International bankers were shocked when Kennedy ordered the Treasury Department to print its own money, rather than distributing the traditional Federal Reserve notes, which carry interest charges.

Soldiers, mobsters, and conniving businessmen feared their apple cart was about to be upset by this youthful president.

So the decision was made at the highest level of the American business-banking-politics-military-crime power structure—should anything happen to Kennedy, it would be viewed as a blessing for the nation.

And simply voting him out of office wouldn't suffice. After all, what was to stop someone from carrying on his policies? Two more Kennedys were waiting in the wings for their turn at the presidency. A Kennedy "dynasty" was in place.

Therefore the decision was made to eliminate John F. Kennedy by means of a public execution for the same reason criminals are publicly executed—to serve as a deterrent to anyone considering following in his footsteps.

And the men at the top of this consensus didn't even have to risk getting their hands bloody. . .

. . . Once such a consensus was reached among the nation's top business-crime-military leadership, the assassination conspiracy went into action. Operational orders most probably originated with organized-crime chieftains such as Carlos Marcello and his associates Santos Trafficante and Sam Giacana—who were already involved with the CIA.

But these mob bosses were smart. They realized the consequences if their role in Kennedy's death should ever become known.

Therefore a world-class assassin was recruited from the international crime syndicate—perhaps Michael Victor Mertz, the shadowy Frenchman with both crime and intelligence connections who may have been in Dallas on November 22, 1963, according to a CIA document. Armed with a contract from the world crime syndicate, the premier assassin was given entree to the conspiring groups within U.S. intelligence, the anti-Castro Cubans, right-wing hate groups, and the military.

Slowly, several assassination scenarios utilizing agents already involved in a variety of plots were constructed.

As the true assassination plot began to come together, word must have reached the ears of J. Edgar Hoover, a power unto himself with plenty of cause to hate the Kennedy brothers. Hoover was in contact with his close friend Lyndon Johnson and with Texas oilmen such as H. L. Hunt and Clint Murchinson of Dallas. His agents and this informers were in daily contact with mob figures. This was only one cross point for mobsters, politicians, the FBI and wealthy Texans. There were many others in New York, Washington, Las Vegas, and California.

Aided by ranking individuals within federal agencies and organized crime, agents from both intelligence and the mob were recruited. Many were like Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis in that they had connections to criminal circles as well as to U.S. intelligence and anti-Castro Cubans. It was a military-style operation in that overall knowledge of the plot was kept on a strict need-to-know basis. Many people on the lower end of the conspiracy truthfully could say they didn't know exactly what happened. . .

. . . Acting on orders, Oswald was put into contact with unsuspecting FBI and CIA agents, anti-Castro Cubans, and others to confuse investigators after the crime.

Oswald was a perfect fall guy. His capture or death eliminated a possible Soviet agent and implicated Russia, Cuba, and leftists—drawing attention away from the true right-wing perpetrators. Naming Oswald as the assassin also implicated the FBI and CIA as organizations, thus forcing uninvolved agency officials to help cover up incriminating evidence.

One of Oswald's managers in late 1962 and early 1963 may have been George DeMohrenschildt, himself connected to Texas oilmen and various intelligence agents. While it now seems clear that DeMohrenschildt had no inkling of what was to become of his young friend, it is entirely possible that it was through DeMohrenschildt that the assassination conspirators learned of Lee Harvey Oswald.

It was just at the time of the DeMohrenschildt's departure to Haiti that Oswald left for New Orleans, where he became embroiled with anti-Castro Cubans, ex-FBI agent Guy Banister, his old friend David Ferrie, and others involved in assassination plotting.

On November 22, 1963, there were many people in Dealey Plaza who were not just innocent bystanders.

There were cars roaming the area behind the famous Grassy Knoll with out-of-state license plates and extra radio antennas, men brandishing Secret Service identification when officially there were no agents in the vicinity, and an odd assortment of people pumping umbrellas in the air, waving fists, speaking into walkie-talkies, and even one man firing a rifle who apparently was wearing a uniform similar to that of the Dallas police.

Professional gunmen—the "mechanics"—quietly into position, secure in the knowledge that security was minimal. . .

. . . Three volleys of shots were fired—at least six and as many as nine—most probably using fragmented bullets or "sabot" slugs which would be traced to Oswald's 6.54 mm rifle.

Shots were fired from the Depository building to draw attention there while other gun teams were on the Grassy Knoll and perhaps even at other location, such as the Dallas County Records Building. . .

. . . The slaying of Officer J. D. Tippit may have played some part in this scheme to have Oswald killed, perhaps to eliminate coconspirator Tippit or simply to anger Dallas police and cause itchy trigger fingers. . .

Jack Ruby—the mob's "bag man" in Dallas and the man who apparently handled funds for the local activities of the assassination conspirators—received his orders to kill Oswald from organized-crime leaders eager to protect the secret of their contract, and there were no alternatives for a mob directives.

The key to understanding the Oswald slaying is not that Ruby somehow knew when Oswald was to be transported from the police station, but rather, that the Oswald transfer was delayed until Ruby was in position—thanks to mob influence in the Dallas Police Department, one of the nation's most corrupt at that time. . . .

One shot and Oswald was dead, leaving only his mother to question the official version of the assassination.

While this assassination scenario cannot be undisputably proven at this time, it neverless represents the only theory to date that conforms to all of the known facts. . .

. . . President Kennedy' wounds were altered between Parkland Hospital and his autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital, making it appear that all wounds were to the rear of his head and body and forever confusing the medical evidence. Here lies another key to the Kennedy assassination. Who had the power and impunity to have the President's wounds altered and to misdirect the national investigation? These accomplishments could only have come from the very pinnacles of power in the United States. Power such as that wielded by Lyndon Johnson and his friend J. Edgar Hoover, backed by the business-banking-defense communities.

There was never a real cover-up of the assassination, only official pronouncements for the major media and lots of red herrings for devout investigators.

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.

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