JFK Assassination Theories Linger as 50th Anniversary Approaches

As the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination approaches, American fascination with his life and especially the circumstances of his death remains strong.

Though he served less than one full term and had a number of fiascoes while in office, the 35th president is still popular, usually ranking just behind Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton in presidential popularity polls. And one thing is for certain: many Americans have never bought the idea that his murder was simply the job of a lone, leftist gunman Lee Harvey Oswald. 

Although Secretary of State John Kerry said that it was “inappropriate” to discuss JFK assassination theories, a November 15 Gallup poll found that 61 percent of the American people believe that JFK’s Dallas assassination was the product of a larger conspiracy.

Oswald's bizarre murder by nightclub owner Jack Ruby just several days after the president’s murder merely fueled the fire over suspicions that the assassination was part of a much bigger plot.

Though the Warren Commission, the official government investigation into Kennedy’s death, came to the conclusion that Oswald acted alone, there continue to be a number of lingering theories regarding the events in Dallas 50 years ago.

The New York Post released a list of six popular conspiracies surrounding JFK’s murder, as well as books that detailed them.

The Mob

Rumors persist that the Kennedy family had deep ties with the mafia, and a number of theories have developed that connect JFK’s assassination with either a falling out with or simply a crossing of the mob. JFK’s brother, Robert Kennedy, had effectively countered organized crime as Attorney General, and some have surmised that the mob wanted to get them both out of the way. In The Hidden History of the JFK Assassination by Lamar Waldron, the author claims that mob boss Carlos Marcello orchestrated the hit with the help of fellow gangsters Santo Trafficante and Johnny Roselli.

Particularly suspicious was the fact that Oswald’s killer, Jack Ruby, had ties to the mafia. While the Warren Commission denied that the mob had direct involvement with Kennedy’s murder, it did not rule out the possibility that connected individuals  may have had influence in the assassination.

Joseph P. Kennedy

A derivative of the aforementioned theory regarding Kennedy’s assassination is the idea that it was JFK’s father's arrogance and connections with the mafia that led to his murder. In The Poison Patriarch by Mark Shaw, the author explains that JFK’s father had ties to the mob as he built his massive bootlegging business and may have used these connections to get his son elected.

However, when the Kennedy brothers aggressively targeted organized crime, the mafia turned on them.

Shaw wrote that JFK’s brother Robert said, “I thought they [the mob] would get one of us… I thought it would be me.”

Lyndon Johnson

Few individuals had more reason to knock off Kennedy than then-Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Johnson, a staunch liberal but with cultural and personal reasons to hate the Kennedys, was a phenomenally ambitious man and a brutish politician. His vicious campaign against Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater lives in infamy for the incredibly provocative campaign commercial that tied the images of a little girl and nuclear holocaust to Goldwater being elected.

That Kennedy’s murder took place in Johnson’s home turf of Dallas, Texas only increased suspicion that he might have had some involvement. Roger Stone’s The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ, highlights a pretty clear-cut motive for Johnson. Stone said that Kennedy told his secretary that LBJ would be left off the 1964 presidential ticket because of the Texan VPs link to several financial corruption scandals.

Stone claimed, “Lyndon Johnson would order a murder the way you or I would order a ham sandwich.”

Cubans

There was much bad blood between American and Cuban leadership that went beyond the larger clash between the free world and communism. The Bay of Pigs fiasco and Cuban Missile Crisis made Cuba the front line in the Cold War and nearly plunged the world into World War III. In Brian Latell’s Castro’s Secrets, the possibility is presented that Oswald may have shot Kennedy to impress communist Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Oswald, a communist who married a Soviet-born woman and had traveled several times behind the Iron Curtain, had traveled to Mexico a month before the assassination and failed to obtain a visa to Cuba.

A particularly stunning revelation is that Cuban defector Florentino Aspillaga Lombard, who worked with Cuban intelligence, was ordered to turn his radio from the CIA headquarters in Florida to Texas on the day of the murder.

The CIA

One thing is for sure, if there is a conspiracy theory involving a mysterious murder, the CIA will almost always be implicated in some way. But why would a clandestine federal agency kill its own chief executive? The theory goes in CIA Rogues and the Killing of the Kennedys, by Patrick Nolan, that a group of rogue “right-wing” CIA operatives had the means and the will to hire hitmen to take down the president. Noland postulated that these agents may have been fearful that Kennedy would make peace with Cuba and the Soviet Union.

Nolan claims that leftist Oslwald was merely the fall guy, and that the real murderers were perhaps three gunman hired by the rogue agents.

Lone Wolf Leftist

Perhaps the most compelling conspiracy theory is not really a conspiracy at all, but the idea that Oswald was simply a deranged, America-hating leftist that found a perfect opportunity to kill the country’s elected president. Reclaiming History, by Vincent Bugliosi, details the life of Oswald, his anti-social behavior, rabid anti-Americanism, and attempt to defect to the Soviet Union.

According to this theory, Oswald, a former U.S. Marine, turned against his country, and, in order to impress America’s enemies and further the worldwide communist cause, he shot America’s president and the leader of the free world.

That Oswald was a radical, America-hating communist runs counter to the occasional liberal assertion that “right-wing paranoia” in Texas caused the death of JFK. There are many theories revolving around Kennedy’s death, but few would accurately portray Oswald as anything other than a hardcore leftist.


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