by Stephen E. Lewis


   At 12:30 p.m., CST, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository.


   Often referred to as the "Crime of the Century", there have been more than 2,000 books and articles published to date surrounding the events on that seminal day in American history.  Unfortunately, the majority of these works deal with conspiracy.  In a span of over thirty years, no one has produced a single piece of hard evidence to support a conspiracy, small or large. Conspiracy buffs take a misstatement, a word out of context, or a blur on an old photograph and turn it into a book that puts a lot of money in their pockets.  All this accomplishes is a distortion of the truth. There will always be misstatements, words out of context, and fuzzy photographs to contend with, but that does not justify conspiracy.  The Warren Commission made mistakes, no doubt, but they did the best they could under the circumstances.  Their findings were sound, then and now.  William Manchester, author of THE DEATH OF A PRESIDENT, did extensive research beginning shortly after the assassination while witness memories were fresh.  He reached the same basic conclusions as the Warren Commission Report.  Gerald Posner, author of the national bestseller, CASE CLOSED, repeated the research using documented evidence and modern scientific advances in technology.  His investigation proved likewise.  Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone on that tragic day in November.  The facts are indisputable.


   Black is black, and white is white.  Strip away the "well, I think" theories and the testimony of less than credible witnesses and you will find that the truth jumps out at you.  Oswald told Buell Frazier that he had curtain rods in the package he was carrying the morning of November 22nd.  If so, what happened to them?  He carried a parcel into the Texas School Book Depository, but all that was found was the package the curtain rods were supposedly in and a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle that was later proven to be the weapon used in the assassination.  Howard Brennan saw Oswald standing in the sixth floor window a few minutes before the first shot rang out.  He looked up again and horrifyingly watched Oswald fire the second [i]and third shots in the direction of the motorcade.  He was 93 feet away.  Conspiracy buffs have attempted to discredit Brennan by saying that he had poor eyesight.  He did not.  In fact, he was farsighted, meaning that he could see very well at distances.  They also said Oswald was a poor shot.  He was not.  He qualified as a sharpshooter in the Marines and only after he received his second courts martial did he become lackadaisical in his military marksmanship.  Through the 4X scope mounted on the rifle, his target appeared no more than 25 yards away.  One school of thought tries to discredit the "lone assassin" conclusion by insisting that it was impossible for Oswald to be so accurate in the limited time span.  What accuracy?  His first shot missed the motorcade completely; with 3.5 seconds to reload and aim, his second shot was low and not fatal; and, with 5 seconds to reload and steady his aim, his third shot hit JFK high on the right rear of his head.  An inch and a half higher or to the right and Oswald would have failed.  The buffs try to use the Zapruder film as their "proof of a conspiracy" by insisting that because President Kennedy's head moves back and to the left at the instant he is hit by the fatal bullet, he must have been shot from the front.  If he had been shot from the front, his head would have moved forward.  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  His head moved back and to the left as a result of the force of the right temporal area exploding outward.  A close look at the film clearly shows no damage to the back of the President's head.  A frontal shot would have caused extensive damage to the rear of his head.  Of course, the buffs also contend that the Zapruder film has been altered to hide evidence that Kennedy was shot from the front.  This is nothing more than another feeble attempt to misconstrue the truth. 


   Dealey Plaza is a contained area that was swarming with over 300 people that day.  How could anyone fire a high-powered rifle from the grassy knoll or railroad overpass without being seen or heard?  Not one single witness saw anything to indicate a second shooter.  A few witnesses thought they heard shots from the grassy knoll and that is understandable.  Dealey Plaza is like an echo chamber.  One loud shot can sound like three or four, coming from different directions.  Compound this with shock and fear and you have mass confusion and conflicting testimony.


   Lee Harvey Oswald was a pathological liar and a sociopath. He could barely hold even a menial job and then not for very long. Frequent episodes of spouse abuse, the attempted assassination of General Edwin Walker in April 1963, and the murder of Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit demonstrated his penchant for violence. His disillusionment with life in the United States and the Soviet Union only intensified the fires raging in his own psyche.  This, however, is not mentioned as a motive for murder.  The reasons for his actions went with him to the grave. He was called a "nut".  He was not.  The motorcade route was published in the two local newspapers on Tuesday and Wednesday.  He had the weapon. He had the opportunity. The President drove right past his work.  He knew exactly what he was doing. He obviously did not have an organized escape plan. After a head count, Oswald was the only employee not accounted for at the Texas School Book Depository following the assassination.  Officer Tippit most likely stopped him simply because he fit the physical description provided to the police by Howard Brennan.  Many other people were stopped that same day for the same reason.  Twelve eyewitnesses identified Oswald as the murderer of Officer Tippit.  He drew even more attention to himself by sneaking into the Texas Theater without paying the seventy-five cents admission. When arrested, he had $13.87 in his pocket.  Does this sound like a player in a major conspiracy or simply a murderer on the run?  Oswald's wife, Marina, visited him in jail and knew in her heart that he had done it just by the look in his eyes, as she testified later to the Warren Commission.


   On the morning of Sunday, November 24th, 1963, as they approached the fifth-floor elevator of the Dallas Jail, Police Officer James Leavelle said to Oswald, "If anybody shoots at you, I sure hope they are as good a shot as you are."  Oswald "kind of laughed" and said, "Nobody is going to shoot at me."  Three minutes later, he lay mortally wounded – shot through the abdomen by Jack Ruby on national television. Ruby was a troubled man, just like Oswald.  He had his own furies to contend with and in a spontaneous act of rage started what were to become the roots of the conspiracy theories. The only reason their paths crossed that morning was because Oswald stopped to put on a sweater.  If that had not occurred, he would have been transferred minutes before Ruby entered the Dallas Jail basement. Again, the buffs contend that Ruby was ordered to kill Oswald to silence him.  He had several opportunities prior to Sunday to eliminate Oswald if that were the case.  Why would the conspirators wait so long?  The more time Oswald spent in custody, the more chances he would "talk". Ruby honestly believed that he would be hailed a hero for killing Oswald and would not spend one minute in jail.  If he were part of a conspiracy, do you think the perpetrators would have allowed him to live as long as he did?  He was quite the talker.  He granted many interviews during his time in jail, died there in 1967, and was apparently quite insane at the time of his death.


  Why is it so difficult to accept the truth? William Manchester said in a letter to the Editor of THE NEW YORK TIMES, and I quote, "Those who desperately want to believe that President Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy have my sympathy.  I share their yearning.  To employ what may seem an odd metaphor, there is an esthetic principle here.  If you put six million dead Jews on one side of a scale and on the other side put the Nazi regime – the greatest gang of criminals ever to seize control of a modern state – you have a rough balance: greatest crime, greatest criminals.  But if you put the murdered President of the United States on one side of a scale and that wretched waif Oswald on the other side, it doesn't balance.  You want to add something weightier to Oswald.  It would invest the President's death with meaning, endowing him with martyrdom.  He would have died for something.  A conspiracy would, of course, do the job nicely.  Unfortunately, there is no evidence whatsoever that there was one."  Gerald Posner said, and I quote, "The desire to find a conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination will continue to be answered for years by more "confessions", witnesses who change their testimony to recall disturbing events, the appearance of papers of dubious authenticity, and by writers and researchers who present cases of guilt by association supported by rumor and innuendo.  But for those seeking the truth, the facts are incontrovertible.  They can be tested against credible testimony, documents, and the latest scientific advances.  Chasing shadows on the grassy knoll will never substitute for real history."


   Real history…what a concept.  Why must we continue to search for the truth when it is right before our eyes?  Historians and authors have reviewed the remaining "classified" documents relating to the Kennedy assassination and proclaim that there is absolutely nothing there to alter the original findings.  Grasp reality and discard perception.  With the indisputable facts in hand, we know what really happened in Dealey Plaza on November 22nd, 1963.  To believe otherwise, in the words of Gerald Posner, is to absolve a man with blood on his hands, and mock the President he killed.

1. Posner, Gerald.  Case Closed.  New York: Anchor Books, 1994.

2. Manchester, William.  The Death of a President.  London: Michael Joseph, 1967.

3. Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and 26 accompanying volumes of Hearings and Exhibits, 1964.


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