Presentation on theme: "Warren Commission Conclusion 9. The Commission has found no evidence that either Lee Harvey Oswald or Jack Ruby was part of any conspiracy, domestic or."— Presentation transcript:
Warren Commission Conclusion 9. The Commission has found no evidence that either Lee Harvey Oswald or Jack Ruby was part of any conspiracy, domestic or foreign, to assassinate President Kennedy. The reasons for this conclusion are: (a) The Commission has found no evidence that anyone assisted Oswald in planning or carrying out the assassination…. (b) The Commission has found no evidence that Oswald was involved with any person or group in a conspiracy to assassinate the President… (c) The Commission has found no evidence to show that Oswald was employed, persuaded, or encouraged by any foreign government to assassinate President Kennedy or that he was an agent of any foreign government…. (d) The Commission has explored all attempts of Oswald to identify himself with various political groups … and has been unable to find any evidence that the contacts which he initiated were related to Oswald's subsequent assassination of the President. (e) All of the evidence before the Commission established that there was nothing to support the speculation that Oswald was an agent, employee, or informant of the FBI, the CIA, or any other governmental agency. It has thoroughly investigated Oswald's relationships prior to the assassination with all agencies of the U.S. Government. All contacts with Oswald by any of these agencies were made in the regular exercise of their different responsibilities. (f) No direct or indirect relationship between Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby has been discovered by the Commission, nor has it been able to find any credible evidence that either knew the other, although a thorough investigation was made of the many rumors and speculations of such a relationship. (g) The Commission has found no evidence that Jack Ruby acted with any other person in the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald. (h) After careful investigation the Commission has found no credible evidence either that Ruby and Officer Tippit, who was killed by Oswald, knew each other or that Oswald and Tippit knew each other….
Soviet KGB This theory is popular among right-wing conspiracy theorists. Oswald spent two years in Russia, married a KGB colonel's niece, and came back to put an end to the President at a time when the Cold War was at its most frigid. Oswald was a KGB spy who infiltrated American society and eventually served his purpose to kill Kennedy. The question mark for this theory is motive. Kennedy had embarrassed the Soviets in the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962, but their geopolitical situation was, if anything, stronger in 1963 than in the previous year. Kennedy had removed missiles aimed at Russia from the Turkish border as a concession, and he also had taken a hands-off posture toward Cuba. By all accounts Soviet Premier Kruschev liked Kennedy and could expect no softer treatment from Johnson or possible Republican successors like Barry Goldwater. This version of events offers the most interesting explanation for the Warren Commission coverup. Presumably President Johnson, on learning of Russian involvement, ordered the Commission not to overturn that stone. If it were learned that the KGB or Castro controlled Oswald, the American public would demand war. The Democrats, afraid to appear soft on communism during an election year, would be forced to start World War III. A variation of the KGB theory was the account of Professor Revilo Oliver, which merited 123 pages in the Warren Commission Hearings. Oliver explained that the international communist conspiracy killed Kennedy because he was not serving it as efficiently as he had promised. Kennedy was behind schedule in delivering America to communism and was eliminated when the conspiracy learned that he planned to "turn American." Oliver concluded by noting sorrowfully that while Kennedy, a communist tool, was the object of national grief, not a tear was shed in this country over the sad end of Adolf Hitler.
Castro Cubans This theory is also popular among right-wing conspiracy theorists. Fidel Castro had Kennedy murdered in reprisal for numerous attempts on his own life by the Mafia and Cuban counterrevolutionaries, both of whom were acting at the behest of the American CIA and the President's brother Robert F. Kennedy. An enraged Castro sent out multiple warnings to the US government to stop these plots which he likely suspected were approved by JFK. The Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban missile crisis only strengthened Castro's belief that he was in a kill-or- be-killed situation. Frustrated by the futility of his warnings, the Cuban leader decided to hire Oswald to kill Kennedy. Oswald met with Cuban intelligence agents in Mexico City and may have even visited Cuba. Certain Cuban intelligence agents seemed to have foreknowledge that Kennedy would be killed, and they may have planned to fly Oswald to Cuba after the assassination. Cuban intelligence may have paid Oswald several thousand dollars to kill Kennedy. Oswald believed that there was an escape plan for him prepared by Cuba, which Jack Ruby thwarted. Although highly unlikely, this conspiracy theory is palatable because it involves an “outsider” committing the crime and allows for Oswald to be the chief culprit. It assumes that Oswald went to Mexico City and had Communist sympathies and connections. But Castro had nothing to gain from a change in American leadership, and evidence of his involvement is limited and speculative at best. President Lyndon Johnson believed that Castro arranged Kennedy's death.
Anti-Castro Cuban Exiles This theory points the finger at right-wing Cuban exiles in America who killed Kennedy because they felt that the President had sold them out. Kennedy's refusal to allow US forces to participate in the exile army's Bay of Pigs invasion, which was instigated and financed by the CIA, left the exiles easy prey for Castro's air force. Thousands of Cuban counter- revolutionaries were killed or imprisoned by the Castro regime, and those escaping or left in America were outraged. Also, in the aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis, it was widely believed Kennedy guaranteed the Russians that Cuba would be left unmolested in return for a withdrawal of Soviet missiles from the island. Again, the Cuban exiles felt that Kennedy sold out to communism. Cuban exiles viewed Kennedy as a traitor. Seeking revenge, these desperate men who were no strangers to violence had Kennedy assassinated and set up Oswald, who was somehow duped into following them, as the patsy. While the exiles had the means and motive to kill Kennedy, and little to lose, it seems impossible that they could have escaped the police, covered up their role, and arranged for Jack Ruby to silence Oswald. The Cuban exile community was so riddled with CIA infiltrators in the 1960s that any plot would likely have been noticed by US intelligence. The idea of Cuban exiles acting under CIA guidance is rather more interesting and plausible. Reports of Cuban involvement in the assassination may have been disinformation generated by elements of the CIA, possibly as part of an effort to incite an American invasion of Cuba in the aftermath of the shooting. The hand of Castro is also suspected as his agents thoroughly infiltrated the Cuban exile movement. Castro's agents may have encouraged and assisted Cuban exiles to assassinate Kennedy, or they could have taken part in such a plot, while posing as anti-Castro Cubans.
The Mafia This theory gains momentum, if not credibility, with mob-connected Jack Ruby’s “hit” on Oswald. The mob prospects continue to grow in light of the Kennedy brothers’ much more aggressive stance against organized crime than previous presidents, much to the consternation of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover who boasted that he had stamped out organized crime in the United States. Attorney General Robert Kennedy was waging an unprecedented war on the Mafia, a war that targeted not just Mafia operations but also Mafia leaders themselves. In particular, he had earned the acrimony of Teamster's Union boss Jimmy Hoffa, as well as other mafia bosses, such as Carlos Marcello of New Orleans, Santos Trafficante of Miami, Sam Giancana of Chicago, Johnny Roselli of Las Vegas, during his probes and racketeering prosecutions. The Warren Commission’s denial / dismissal of Ruby’s evident ties to organized crime in Dallas, New Orleans, and Miami also arouses suspicion of Mafia involvement in the assassination.
Carlos Marcello Mafia "kingfish" Carlos Marcello is most commonly identified as a leading figure behind Kennedy's death. Five people, two of them police informants, have testified under oath that they heard Marcello admit to being involved in JFK's assassination. The Kennedys were waging a relentless war on Marcello, whose hatred for Robert Kennedy deepened after the Attorney General ordered him deported to Guatemala in 1961. Undercover informants reported that Marcello made several threats against John F. Kennedy, at one time uttering the traditional Sicilian death threat curse, "Take the stone from my shoe." In September 1962, Marcello allegedly told private investigator Edward Becker: "A dog will continue to bite you if you cut off its tail… [meaning Attorney General Robert Kennedy] "...whereas if you cut off the dog's head…" [meaning President Kennedy] "...it would cease to cause trouble." Becker reported that Marcello, "clearly stated that he was going to arrange to have President Kennedy killed in some way." Marcello told another informant that he would need to take out "insurance" for the assassination by “setting up some nut to take the fall for the job, just like they do in Sicily.” Jack Ruby had considerable contact with Marcello's lieutenant in Dallas, Joe Civello. Ruby also met with several Marcello associates, including Frank Caracci and Cleeve Dugas, before the assassination. Furthermore, one of Marcello's men, Nofio Pecora, once bailed Oswald out of jail. Evidence of Marcello’s role is purely circumstantial and speculative, but intriguing.
Santos Trafficante Santos Trafficante was particularly concerned about the mob's Cuban connection. Before the Castro revolution, US mobsters had a lucrative stake in the Havana casinos and were doing whatever they could to regain their foothold on the island nation. Mafia families funnelled money to the Cuban exiles, knowing their payback would come after Castro was deposed. The CIA endeavoured to employ mob hitmen to eliminate Castro. La Cosa Nostra was understandably irritated at the shabby treatment it received in return from the Kennedys. The House Select Committee on Assassinations reported that Trafficante was a key subject of the Justice Department crackdown on organized crime during the Kennedy administration, while CIA officials were clandestinely using Trafficante’s services in assassination plots against Castro. Trafficante was associated with Marcello and Ruby in gunrunning and gambling operating out of Cuba. On his deathbed, Trafficante allegedly told his lawyer, Frank Ragano: “Carlos [Marcello] fucked up. We should not have killed Giovanni [John]. We should have killed Bobby.” Evidence of Trafficante’s involvement is circumstantial and speculative, although he is, along with Marcello, the mostly likely Mafia candidate to be involved.
Sam Giancana Sam Giancana was upset with the Kennedys because, at the behest of Joseph Kennedy, father of John and Robert, he had arranged to deliver votes in key precincts in Chicago which swung the state of Illinois to Kennedy's side in the cliffhanger election of 1960. Having helped Kennedy to become President, he expected to be repaid handsomely, only to find himself persecuted by the Kennedy brothers' campaign against organized crime. Giancana's antipathy may have been fuelled further by jealousy over sharing a mistress (Judith Exner) with JFK. Half-brother Charles Giancana and nephew Sam Giancana Jr. claim in Double Cross that Kennedy was murdered by a team of Chicago hitmen sent to Dallas by Sam Giancana Sr. Giancana was murdered in 1975 prior to testifying before a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation.
Corsican Mafia Even the French and Corsican Mafia feared that the Kennedys were going to disrupt or halt their lucrative heroin enterprise. A CIA document that was declassified in 1977 reports that a French assassin who belonged to the violent, anti-Kennedy French terrorist organization known as the OAS was in Dallas on the day of the shooting. The hitman's name, according to the document, was Jean Soutre, who had also gone by the name of his actual rival Michel Mertz. Both Soutre and Mertz were ruthless hitmen in the French Mafia (Corsican / Marseille), which had a strong motive to kill Kennedy. Christian David, a jailed French mobster, publicly named fellow Corsican gangster Lucien Sarti as one of the shooters. They were paid in heroin. Nigel Turner’s documentary “The Men Who Killed Kennedy” devotes an episode to this theory. The evidence to support this theory depends too much on criminal testimony to be credible.
The Credibility of Mafia-based Theories The Mafia had the motive and the means to kill JFK and exact revenge on his troublesome Attorney General brother. And in Jack Ruby, the Dallas strip-joint owner with ties to the mob in Chicago, New Orleans, and Dallas, they even had means to cover up their involvement partially. On the other hand, the mob could not have influenced the Warren Commission and its FBI investigators, let alone the Secret Service, although influencing the Dallas police force was not out of the question. Lee Harvey Oswald was supposedly duped to participate in the plot either because of his connection with Jack Ruby or Oswald's uncle Dutz Murret. It is difficult to imagine that a group as corrupt as the organized crime syndicate could have kept this secret for over forty years without a rapid wholesale slaughter of everyone connected to the killing. The consequences of discovery would be devastating; like the Russians and Cubans, the Mafia had much more to lose than to gain. Like the anti-Castro Cubans, Mafia members were associated with CIA members who could have used mob "muscle" in a potential murder plot or cover-up plan. But the idea that the Mafia of its own accord could successfully execute the President of the United States and be allowed to get away with it does not seem realistic. Nevertheless, the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1979, in arguing for a "probable" conspiracy in the JFK assassination, pointed the finger first and foremost at organized crime, with the anti-Castro and pro-Castro Cubans also receiving some consideration as possible conspirators.
The Palatability of "Outsider" Conspiracy Theories The "outsiders" are more palatable conspirators because they do not bring so much into question fundamental American values and institutions. It is easier for Americans to believe that, if Kennedy was indeed assassinated as a result of a conspiracy, it was generated outside of the fabric of American society and politics, even if there were some tenuous and embarrassing associations that came into play. For if insiders, that is government officials, were somehow involved, then the legitimacy of American democracy comes into question.