Nearly Half a Century Later, the Kennedy Assassination Still Fascinates the Media — but the Case Is Closed

While researching my first novel, Exchange Alley, I spent several weeks at the National Archives, working with the JFK Assassination Records Collection material, which was then housed there. I went through the FBI reports, the CIA reports, the taped conversations between LBJ (who was terrified at the notion that the Soviets might have had a hand in the killing, given that Oswald was a self-declared Marxist who had defected to the USSR and then returned home) and various figures in the government, including J. Edgar Hoover. (The plot of my novel has to do with a renegade KGB agent trying to sell his agency’s file on Oswald, which has never been seen in the west.)

I also pored over Oswald’s hand-written notes, his middling translation of an aria from Tchaikovsky’s opera, The Queen of Spades, handled the famous photographs of Oswald with his rifle. At the end, there was only one possible conclusion: that Lee Harvey Oswald brought his rifle to work that day in Dallas, went up to the sixth floor, and shot the President of the United States from behind as the motorcade turned into Elm Street in Dealey Plaza.

Everything else — his connections to the KGB, the FBI, the Cubans — is commentary that may or may not speak to motive, but not to action.

So this is sad, really:

For the definitive study of the assassination, please read Gerald Posner’s indispensable Case Closed. For an even more exhaustive treatment, recommended for assassination buffs only, there is Vincent Bugliosi’s 1,600-page Reclaiming History.

To answer just one point raised in the video, consider the “impossible feat” of a Marine sharpshooter’s being able to get off three shots in under eight seconds, something widely cited by conspiracy nuts to “prove” that Osward couldn’t have fired that many shots in that short of time.

When you stop to think about it, Oswald didn’t fire three shots in that period: he fired two. With Kennedy’s car turning very slowly into Elm Street, directly beneath his sniper’s perch, he had plenty of time to line up the first shot, and so the clock properly starts from the moment he pulled the trigger, after which he got off two shots in under eight seconds. And his target was in an open automobile with his back to him.

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Sadly, expect more of this sort of thing as we approach the 50th anniversary of the assassination in 2013.