The saviour of Dealey Plaza wasn't a committee of cultural elitists and architectural experts. No politicans or businessmen saw potential in such a cause. Even the saviour didn't have preservation on his mind when he approached the Depository early on the morning of November 22, 1963. Destruction and mayhem were his goals.
A review of Oswald's background and writings comprise Chapter VII of The Warren Report called "Lee Harvey Oswald: Background and Possible Motives." The Report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1979 noted the conclusions of this chapter, adding: "Politics was the dominant force in his life right down to the last days when upon being arrested for the assassination, he requested to be represented by a lawyer prominent for representing Communists."
Ironically, Oswald, as he planned the assassination of Dallasite General Walker an outspoken critic of Castro might have been expecting the act would ensure for him a prominent position in Havana, where he planned to eventually defect. The nighttime attempt on Walker on April 10, 1963 failed when Oswald's bullet was deflected by a window frame.
That summer, while living in New Orleans, Oswald was very active in defending Castro through leafletting and debating on radio. Oswald apparently tried to infiltrate some anti-Castro elements, perhaps to gather intelligence to impress Havana. All this effort turned out to be for nothing when Oswald was rejected at the Cuban embassy in Mexico City in early October a dejected Oswald wrote the Soviet embassy in Washington about the episode in a letter mailed November 12.
Oswald may have read David Harker's September 1963 interview with Castro that appeared in major US newspapers, quoting Castro as saying: "United States leaders should think that if they are aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, they themselves will not be safe."
Jean Davison, in the 1983 book Oswald's Game, suggests Oswald could have read in The Militant the Socialist Workers' newspaper which he subscribed to of Castro's suspicions of US sponsored assassination attempts against him by the US, and acted in retaliation. Oswald would show Castro what a great revolutionary he missed out on.
To Oswald, Kennedy was probably seen as a privileged politician who refused to condemn McCarthyism during the 1960 election, had dragged his feet on civil rights, humiliated Castro in the Missile Crisis, permitted far-right and anti-Castro extremism (as personified by General Walker) to increase, ordered the largest buildup of US Armed Forces in peacetime history, called for a 1,000 ICBMs, etc. This was before the canonization of Kennedy that followed his death by the fall of 1963, JFK was receiving a lot of criticism from both the right and left.
Instead of co-operating, Lee Oswald retrieves the revolver at his rooming house, eludes police as much as possible, then resorts to homicide when his path crosses that of authorities. In the pages of The Militant, all police were painted as thugs Oswald didn't think he would survive arrest.
Critics conveniently fail to disclose the full context in which Oswald announced he was a "patsy" as he passed reporters in the halls of the Dallas Police Department:
"They're taking me in because of the fact that I lived in the Soviet Union. I'm only a patsy."Now, you might ask: What does Oswald's defection to the Soviet Union have to do with the reasons for his arrest at the Texas Theatre? Not a thing. Oswald was already posturing for the political trial he envisioned, becoming the typical political prisoner: victim of police brutality, denied an attorney, and railroaded for being a Marxist.
As soon as Oswald found a like-minded attorney, he would teach the world a thing or two about revolutionary Marxism. Oswald tried unsuccessfully that weekend to contact John Abt, a New York lawyer commended in The Militant for his work with the US Communist Party; Abt happened to be out-of-town at an isolated cottage in Connecticut.
In the letter to the Soviet embassy mailed November 12, Oswald complained of harassment "tactics by the notorious FBI." That same day, Oswald delivered a note to the Dallas FBI office, warning Hosty to stop bothering his wife.
On Monday, November 18, President Kennedy campaigning in Miami delivered his last major address, criticizing Castro's betrayal of the democratic seeds of the Cuban revolution. The headline in the Dallas Times Herald the next day proclaimed "Kennedy Virtually Invites Cuban Coup."
As chance would have it, the President would be making an early campaign swing through Texas that very month. Circumstances such as Kennedy passing beneath windows Oswald knew were usually deserted at lunchtime and access to a familiar weapon would have seemed fortuitous.
Oswald was observed placing a wrapped package on the backseat of Frazier's car for the trip to work. Frazier also suspected nothing, accepting Oswald's explanation about bringing back "curtain rods," something he failed to mention to Marina and Mrs. Paine the night before, and would later deny to police.
After parking at the company lot two blocks north of the Depository, Frazier saw Oswald take the long, bulky package into the building. The sixth floor was in upheaval; workers were preparing to re-enforce the floor surface with plywood, and had opened up floor space by shifting boxes from along the west wall towards the east wall. Oswald had ready access and some privacy to build the Sniper's Nest and possibly assemble the rifle at intervals through the morning.
Perhaps it occurred to Oswald whom we're told supposedly "liked" the President how difficult it would be to shoot another human being whose face is visible, as compared to shooting in the back the "symbol" of US officialdom he so despised. Later, it was obvious the arrangement of boxes in the Sniper's Nest best accommodated firing down Elm Street, indicating Oswald had discarded any plans to shoot the President on Houston.
In 1979, the Select Committee's Photographic Panel observed:
"The first reaction by any of the limousine occupants to a severe external stimulus begins to occur in the vicinity of Zapruder frames 162-167. At this time, Connally is looking to his left, when his head begins a rapid, sudden motion to the right. In quantitative terms, he turns his head approximately 60° to his right in one-ninth of a second."This would be consistent with the Governor's testimony that he was looking left when he heard a gunshot that caused him to turn right. Being familiar with firearms, Connally said he knew immediately the first loud report was from a rifle.
Connally's head turn along with the slowing down and turning towards the Depository of a young girl running alongside the motorcade named Rosemary Willis indicate a missed first shot by Oswald around Z160. The bullet likely disintegrated off the pavement, sending a lead fragment to the Underpass to nick James Tague.
The Tague wounding is one of the most interesting puzzles of the Dealey Plaza shooting. Many believe that Tague was wounded by a fragment from the head shot.
One of the true mysteries of the Kennedy assassination why did Oswald miss? can never be resolved. Perhaps the trigger was accidentally nudged as Oswald was bringing the Mannlicher-Carcano to bear on the limousine, or Oswald hurried a shot as he saw the oak branches approaching in the scope, or the branches caused a deflection. Each succeeding shot demonstrated an increasing familiarity and accuracy with the weapon.
Photographic evidence in the Zapruder film strongly supports the notion that Connally and Kennedy were hit at Zapruder frame 223.
The metal-jacketed bullet struck just six inches below the assumed target: JFK's skull. By errie coincidence, it had passed through the soft tissue of JFK's neck without directly striking a bone, leaving the bullet 100-percent intact and undistorted. The distance through the neck was just 14 cm, too short to cause the bullet to seriously tumble, so it emerged from the throat leaving a clean circular wound many mistook for an "entrance" wound.
By the time the bullet reached Connally, its tumbling caused a slightly elongated entrance wound. As with Kennedy's throat, the bullet coursing along Connally's right chest muscles did not directly strike a bone; rather pressure from the missile caused the fifth rib to implode into the right lung.
The bullet, now considerably slowed, first suffered distortion (an elongated twist) when it glanced off the right radius bone. Connally's right wrist would heal without pins or an artifical joint because the deflected bullet had taken no bone with it. The nearly-spent bullet then nestled into the left thigh where it apparently stayed until Connally was lifted from his stretcher onto the operating table at Parkland.
Any inhibitions towards taking life now dissolved, the assassin's last shot became the easiest. It would later be determined that Oswald had caught the President's upper right skull by just an inch. If the bullet had struck the intended target, the center of the rear skull, it would have likely exited out through the President's face.
The precise instant of the double-hit has now been pinpointed on the Zapruder film. The physical and medical evidence has always pointed to injuries caused by two bullets, in turn ballistically matched to Oswald's Mannlicher-Carcano, whose trigger-housing displayed his fingerprints.
Recent books by lawyer Gerald Posner, archivist Richard Trask, and Gary Savage reveal the extremes by which some critics encourage and then embellish foggy memories, hearsay, and minor discrepancies in the record.
It comes as news to the pathologists at Bethesda Naval Hospital (where Kennedy was autopsied), several medical panel reviews, and the Parkland doctors who visited the National Archives in 1988, or were interviewed by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1992, that the autopsy photographs are forgeries that conceal a rear exit wound, as charged by the leading critics since the photos went public.
If Lee Harvey Oswald's goal was to shock American society, the conspiracy theorists have served his cause well in maximizing the misery Oswald wrought Their view that politicians and agencies are totally corrupt fulfills the Oswald agenda.
Why the continued fascination with President Kennedy's assassination?
Some have called it the most historic singular event of the 20th century. Others are drawn to the tragedy of a young leader full of promise cut down in his prime. The assassination is also a human drama that touched countless lives. Through the witnesses and principals, we can measure what we hope would have been our own responses to such a devastating event.
Politics, drama, heroism on a grand and local scale. All compelling reasons in themselves to study the assassination. Even without a conspiracy, it's the most fascinating chapter of the last century. Still plenty of reason to brave the traffic in Dealey Plaza.
© copyright 2000 Jerry Organ. All rights reserved.